Strategic Habitat

Deer Habitat Plans and Property Setups

Just in the last few years, the idea that a landowner could improve his hunting experience by implementing a deer habitat plan and property setup is becoming a reality for more and more hunters who once never gave the idea a thought.

It’s been going on for a good 20 years by hardcore habitat experts who still admit there’s always more to learn and discover about whitetail deer behavior and the habitat they prefer. Especially because no two properties are alike.
It’s about as far from cookie cutter as you can get.

There are so many variables to consider when setting up a property with the right deer habitat plan. Getting to know the landowner’s goals, hunting methods, favorite time of the season to hunt, how many hunters per acre, their commitment level to practicing good scent control, their ability and amount of

equipment and help to implement the habitat plan. And those questions are only about the landowners and those who hunt the property.

Then there are the different features of the property itself. Learning about the surrounding neighbors becomes more important the smaller the size of the property. I always want to know where the highest points on property are and check those out first since that most likely is where deer are bedded.

Another key factor of the quality of the hunting property is the amount and density of the cover. If too many mature trees have created an overhead canopy that prevents sunlight from reaching the ground, then the landowner may need a logger to do a timber stand improvement or TSI by either doing a select cut or a clear cut. This will allow the sunlight to start the process of new successional growth which puts a huge amount of natural food and cover at deer level.

Notice that food plots and stand locations have not been mentioned yet. Unfortunately that's where many wannabe habitat guys will start when creating a deer habitat plan and property setup. There seem to be hundreds of them online giving sketchy advice on social media.

So if you ever decide to have a habitat consultant come look at your property to help point you in a positive direction, be sure to first ask him for a few referrals, how long he's been consulting and how many properties he's done.

Hinge Cutting Trees For Better Deer Habitat

The traditional way of deer hunting in grandpa's wide open woods with a firearm is how a lot of today's grandpas started out hunting. It's how deer hunting was done before high tech bows came along.

Now more parents and grandparents are realizing if they want to see their kids get interested in deer hunting at a young age, the solution is seeing lots of deer and giving kids an opportunity to put a deer on the ground not only with a firearm, but with a bow in the early season when the weather is nice.

That means holding more deer on the property and bringing them in close during daylight hours. The fastest way to accomplish this is hinge cutting trees for better deer habitat.

Here are some of the instant benefits you can give deer and yourself within 24 hours of hinge cutting:

- Deer like and need the higher amounts of protien found at the ends of the branches at the top and outside edges of trees. This is an instant attraction of food for deer since woody browse is about 40% of their diet in the fall and more in the winter.

- It creates a sense of security by reducing the amount of distance they can see or be seen. Just like a bass in water, they like to be near some structure or cover.

- Hinge cut trees also produce a wind break and thermal cover in the winter.

- It helps to segment a hunting property by separating competing bucks and doe family groups and allows does to get away from bucks who pester them and their fawns in early fall.

- Hinge cutting trees for better deer habitat also helps the hunter by creating features like hinge cut barriers to force deer to go around them and bring them in closer for a bow shot opportunity or keeping them away from getting too close to ground blinds.

- They also work great for visually screening a hunter's access to and from his stand locations, and they can be used to create travel corridors for deer which helps them feel secure when moving in daylight hours past your favorite stand.

There are also many benefits that will take place over time such as the growth of dormant seeds that have been waiting for years to grow in sunlight but couldn't because of the suffocating shade of the high canopy of trees overhead. In just a few years a shaded and barren woods can go from providing 200# of natural food per acre to 2,000# of food in the same woods.