Small 50 Acre Deer Hunting Property in MI Gets a Habitat Makeover

Update on the Habitat Improvements to the 50 Acre Project

Ahhh…the smell of chainsaw exhaust in the morning.

Nothing like drowning out the singing of birds chirping in the woods before sunrise with the roar of a Stihl 201T.

Hinge_Cut trees for deerWatching trees go horizontal with a crash while staying connected to the stump to make the perfect hinge is what gets me outta bed at 4:30am in May. All those criss-crossed trees at eye level may look like a crime to your average tree hugger, but to me it’s landscaping at its finest.

Some people might see a mess in the woods. I see visions of deer sneaking through the thick cover during daylight hours under a false sense of security.

This is what usually transforms a disappointing hunting property into a much more exciting place to sit in a tree and watch lots of deer.

Nope…you can no longer see all the way through your woods, but neither can the deer and that’s just the way they like it.

While lots of well-meaning hunters are fretting over what food plot seeds to plant this year, the habitat fanatic is anxiously checking his calendar to see when he can drop more trees to create more cover and browse.

I know planting food plots is all the rage. After all, it’s what dominates hunting shows on TV and in magazines because it’s advertising-friendly. How many isles in the sporting goods stores are filled with cool looking bags of seed with photos of huge bucks in lush green plots on the package.

Food Plot SeedsIt’s appealing to the eye and it speaks to our passion for putting a trophy on the ground. So hunters pull out their wallets and plunk down dineros because this is finally the stuff that’s going to bring ’em in this Fall.

But any mature buck who calls the area his home, probably already knows what happens in a big food plot (1 acre or more) during daylight hours in high-hunting pressured areas.  If his core bedding area is 500 yards away or more, and maybe on your neighbor’s property, it really doesn’t matter if you’re growing the most (awesomest) food plot in the county. He isn’t showing up before dark.

Having bucks and does bedding on your property is the real key to seeing more daytime deer activity and getting more shot opportunities. That’s where it all starts. Not with food plots.

Hinge cutting or select cutting your mature trees is the best way to start the process.

Last month I bought a 50 acre property in NW Michigan that had been select cut 4 years ago during the winter. On 80% of the property they took out almost all the maple and poplar trees while leaving the oaks standing.

This month my son-in-law Joel and I have been hinge cutting on the east end and prepping a food plot on the west end.

The property already had 5 deer blinds and a few food plots, but their locations didn’t make for good deer hunting success, and hunter entry and exit was not very discreet.

So during 2015, Joel and I are going to transform this property into a 5 star resort for deer and create regular video updates of our work and post them to this blog.

If you have a question about something in the video, ask in the comments below.

If you like what you see and want to see more videos like this, subscribe to this blog for new videos as they’re posted.

Here’s one example of those videos: