Will Hinge Cutting Create Bedding Areas and Increase Forage?

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I’m interested in information about TSI. You may remember when you visited my property that aesthetics (from the “park effect” closed hardwood canopy) were important to me around the perimeter roads. There are several large interior blocks of mixed hardwoods (approx. 50 yrs old) that I intend to take a chainsaw to after we burn it in a week or two. My primary goal is to create bedding areas and secondary is increased forage. I’ll leave the best mast producing trees alone, but for the others, would you hinge cut or completely cut them down and leave them? If hinge cutting is done, would you cut them about shoulder height or down lower?




Hinge-cutting is a fine management tool. There are several websites with detailed instructions about how to do a hinge-cut. I’ll let you find those. In the mean time, I’m not sure it is the best management tool to meet your specific objectives. Hinge cutting places the tops of trees at ground level. This provides some cover and food. The food source will be low in digestibility and nutrition (hardwood twigs don’t normally compare favorable to fertilized forage crops).

I recall your management objectives included allowing the local herd to express a high percentage of their potential and create a habitat that allows you to pattern/predict locations of deer activity. Hinge cutting can create some good growing season cover, but is somewhat limited in producing winter cover. Once the leaves fall, only the stems are left to provide cover. As the stems continue to grow, the canopy (cover) will be above the 0-4 foot level where deer live within a few years. In addition, the canopy will shade out most vegetation growing at the 0-4′ level. Large blocks of hinge-cut cover are not much different from the sapling cover discussed in GDTV 15. These characteristics can be somewhat offset by doing additional hinge-cuts every few years, but this is costly and doesn’t allow deer to establish long-term patterns.

Hardwoods sprouts are usually very low quality forage for a white-tailed deer. Unquestionably, you can produce a higher quantity of quality food by establishing food plots with high quality forage crops. If you could sell the hardwoods for enough to establish the same amount of acreage in native warm season grasses and some quality food plots, I believe you’d like the results much more! Hinge cutting is a good low budget technique. However, it might not be the best technique to meet your habitat management objectives.

Growing Deer together,