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Edge Feathering and bedding areas


Super Moderator
This thread is about the practice of hinge cutting or falling trees in a variety of places to create screens, encourage new browse, create bedding areas, block off runways and funnel deer.

Before embarking on a hinging project it is imperative that you consult with your area forester and discuss what your goals are for your timber. They can help you identify cull species and discuss timber managment however they do not understand hinging nor advocate it so you will also need to do some research and goal setting of your own

Please read the TSI thread for more help in identifying cull trees and understanding timber management.

The following proffesionals are people I frequently consult regarding anything to do with my timber so some advice given is based on their experience and advice having walked my farms with me.

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Aaron Lumley, forestry supervisor for the Iowa DNR aaron.lumley@dnr.iowa.gov

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Ray Lehn District Forester ray.lehn@dnr.iowa.gov
Paul Tauke, Bureau Chief and State Forester paul.tauke@dnr.iowa.gov
Gregg Pattison
USFWS - Iowa Private Lands Office Gregg_Pattison@fws.gov

Cost share options

Iowa only....REAP Practices must be approved by IDNR Forester and paid once inspected by the IDNR Forester and bill submitted.

TSI - Timber Stand Improvement 5 acre minimum - allowed $160 an acre X 75% =$120

Tree Planting - 3 acre minimum $600 allowed per acre X 75% = $450

Tree Planting/Weed Tree Removal - $160/$600 x 75% (weed tree removal may be less acres then total planted)

Federal Programs...these two have identical practices but EQIP practices allowed are different by county/state while WHIP is nationwide.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)
Check by State

The following is just a brief list of a few of the options available...check this link for the complete list and the payment rates.

2011 Iowa EQIP Practices and Payments

314 Brush Management (weed tree removal)

647 Early Successional Habitat Development/Management (Timber Edge Feathering)

490 Forest Site Preparation

666 Forest Stand Improvement (TSI or Weed Tree removal)

422 Hedgerow Planting

338 Prescribed Burning

391 Riparian Forest Buffer

612 Tree and Shrub Establishment

380 Windbreak or Shelterbelt Establishment

In all cases either the forester or NRCS Tech will need to inspect the finished practice before the operator/landowner can be paid. Usually a simple bill will suffice (10 acres TSI X $160 for example) but in some cases they will want an itemized (seedlings, herbicides, fuel, labor etc) that add up to the total cost share.

The federal programs are not cost share, just a payment per acre so slightly different then the state programs.

Talk with NRCS and your local forester/private land biologist for more details but even they get confused, so look over the links and be informed yourself!
The term "hinge cut" refers to cutting partially through a small tree so that it can be tipped over but yet remain alive. Doing so can create hiding places where deer will bed, feeding places via browse from the downed tree top and shoots sent up from the stump. These downed trees also can be strategically cut to funnel deer past a stand.

This is an example of a hinge cut tree

Smaller trees generally are most conducive to hinging and some tree species more then others but attempting to hinge larger trees can be dangerous and it usually best to just tip them over leaving a 2-3 foot stump. Threes should be cut at this height to keep the tree off the ground to provide cover for bedded deer and other wildlife.

I would caution landowners to first contact your local forester, put together a Forest Stewardship program, and initiate a Timber Stand Improvement program first. Once crop trees are identified and marked (these will generally be white and red oak species) then cull trees can be girdled or tipped over via hinging without worry of killing valuable trees.


Creating safe secure bedding for whitetails involves hinging a large area of trees (if possible) where deer and more importantly, mature whitetail bucks will bed safety and solitude. This does not involve creating one bed but I whole area where "bigger is better" is applicable.

Hinging trees often leaves an area looking like a tornado went through it and depending on the soil type will eventually grow back thick and wild. Some soils will take longer to respond with new growth in which case adding some fertilizer and pel lime can help encourage browse and cover.

Birds tend to roost in brushy downed tops and in turn drop seeds that sprout new blackberries and grapevines to add to the tanglement and help diversify wildlife cover in general.

These are hickory hinge cuttings on a ridge where re-growth has been slow

Deer immediately responded to the cover the tops provided and began to bed in it within days after cutting

The area was full of tracks as deer fed on the downed tops

Note that deer prefer to be on a ridge or slope where they can lay behind the hinge trees and see danger from below and escape over the ridge

They also love south facing slopes with conifers as a backdrop and hinging trees around those areas is also helpful

So use care to not damage young conifers or even plant them in the tree tops for additional thermal cover and screening

Most timber tends to look open or park like which tends to be pleasing to the eye of the landowner but it is the opposite to whitetails seeking safe secure bedding.

Using care to leave good mast producing trees one can dramatically increase cover by hinging and girdling trees to allow sunlight to the forest floor.

Larger trees often break off rather then hinge but they must be tipped over to open up the canopy and by cutting them high on the stump, create more cover.

Observing the natural bedding habits of deer is a great way to learn what they like and how to improve your habitat. Late winter is a great time to go for a walk and notice natural beds and then get down on their level to see why they chose that spot.

These natural fallen tops provide some clues

Deer lay behind them and are able to see approaching danger yet use them as cover should the need to flee arise

Every landowner may have different species to work with, but for me it is often shagbark hickories that have little to offer for whitetail habitat

Tipping them over helps create bedding and browse and allows shade intolerant oak seedlings to emerge

Many landowners spend an inordinate amount of time on foodplots while ignoring the fact that whitetails are browsers and must have natural browse available at all times. Hinging is a a great way to provide browse and bedding at the same time.

Browse comes in two forms...first from the hinged tree itself and secondly from the new shoots and forage that springs up once sunlight is allowed in. Blackberries are a preferred source of browse and they almost immediately spring up when sunlight reaches the soil.

These are pictures of hinge cuttings that are 4 years old and have grown up to blackberries and other new growth in a low area

In summer months, those areas look like this!

Note the shoots sprouting from these stumps while the tree itself also remains alive

Thick cover and browse summer

and winter

The tender sprouts that shoot up from cut stumps provide a source of food and thick cover

Some species such as this honey locust tend to die when hinged but the thorny mass does provide cover

Others such as this shingle oak are more inclined to remain alive and though not a valuable food source do provide dense bedding cover, as the leaves tend to remain on all winter.

The following is a list of deer browse in order of importance or preference from this link:

Winter Deer Foods

Preferred or Best Liked

Cedar, white or arborvitae Yew Apple
Sassafras Mountain maple Maples*
Wintergreen Witch hobble Flowering dogwood
Alternate leaved dogwood Basswood Staghorn sumac

Second Choice

Elderberry Red berried elder Mountain ash
Highbush cranberry Highbush blueberry Willow*
Silky dogwood Red osier dogwood Honeysuckle
Nannyberry Cucumber tree Hemlock
Wild raisin Arbutus

Readily Eaten

White ash Sugar maple Oaks*
Black birch Yellow birch Hickory
American chestnut Black cherry Witch hazel
Spicebush Choke cherry Elm
Black walnut Shadbush, Winterberry Lowbush blueberry
Butternut Black ash Hazelnut
Wild grape Bush honeysuckle Leatherwood

Starvation or Poor Food

Scotch pine** Pitch pine** White pine**
Red pine** Beech Aspen or poplar
Mountain laurel** Rhododendron** Gray birch
Paper birch Musclewood (Blue beech) Ironwood (Hop hornbeam)
Spruces Alder Black locust
Grey-stemmed dogwood Red cedar Balsam**
Raspberry and blackberry Sweet fern Pin cherry
Sheep laurel Tamarack Gooseberry (current)*
Buckthorn Hawthorn

*There is considerable difference in palatability and preference of the different species of this genus.

**This species is often browsed heavily enough to appear to be second choice food in areas where winter food is inadequate.
More links to favored deer browse

MO Deer Browse

Cutting Browse for Deer Feeding

Openings allow all kinds of new lush thick growth to come up such as this elderberry bush

Plants like this are often referred to as soft mast

and creating openings creates a whole new world of cover and feed

Edge feathering is often used to provide screening, browse and funneling affects and is simply a matter of hinging or falling non-mast producing trees along a forest edge. This creates excellent small game cover as well and is a favored method of enhancing quail habitat.

Personally I use it to help block off multiple runways entering a field and to create screening at the same time.

I often fall the trees into the field and then swing them around to create a blocking effect and create a giant brush pile of cover and browse.

Edge feathering often brings up the subject of scrapes and I always leave a small tree with overhanging licking branch at the edge of any runways I do not block off. I do not hunt scrapes because I hunt mature animals that rarely use scrapes in daylight hours but these spots are excellent trail cam sites.

There is nothing more frustrating then seeing deer traveling multiple runways and tipping over trees along the edge is a great way to funnel them through a couple main field entrances.

Deer will also follow these thick edges feeding on the succulent browse

All of this also serves as a screen along the timbers edge to allow for daylight approach to a stand and provides a sense of security for bedded deer. These edges are generally to thick for bedding so no worries about deer bedding to close.


Bottlenecks and funnels are essential to consistently harvesting mature whitetails, especially with a bow. Most hunters seek out natural funnels for stand sites to increase the odds of success and landowners have the luxury of enhancing or creating bottlenecks using hinge cut trees.

As with bedding, observation is the key and this is usually accomplished while hunting key spots and observing natural travel not just by deer but mature bucks. Trail cams can help narrow down natural travel routes, which are often different for does and fawns and mature bucks.

Archers need to keep deer moving within 30 yards or less and sometimes that can be a difficult proposition during the rut when mature animals tend to cut "cross lots" in search of a hot doe.

Hinging trees parallel to natural runways and then crossways not unlike the vanes of a feather can help keep deer traveling by your stand.

Usually it amounts to making an impenetrable mess!

In the woods

or along the edge

but doing so will dramatically increase traffic down specific runways

The downed tops create a natural blocking or funneling effect


and while does may step into it to feed on the new browse traveling bucks will avoid wasting their time trying to get thru it

Extra runways can easily be blocked

and deer will quickly develop new travel habits

Often it does not take much to discourage deer from using a "short cut" and keeping them headed out a main runway

Funneling deer allows me to keep better tabs on mature deer using my property by using trail cams at strategic funnel sites.

Of all the habitat improvements a landowner can make, hinging cull trees is perhaps the single most effective improvement. It requires virtually no expense other then a chainsaw and some effort on a late winters day.
Late winter and early spring are usually the most effective time to work on hinging when sap is rising. If you have invasive trees such as locusts add some Tordon RTU to the stump to keep it from coming back. Others such as maples however usually provide browse and cover and should be left alive.

In areas that have few oak trees I hand plant them each spring into the downed tops. It is important NOT to hinge your entire property in one season, so it in portions so that one has different stages of new browse coming on over a period of years.

Eventually one can start over in the fist cutover area tipping the trees over once again.

As I mentioned in the beginning, always start by walking your property with your forester to learn to identify good mast trees. Cost share for TSI is usually available through a variety of programs and your NRCS office can be helpful in that area.

TSI is NOT hinge cutting, it is culling competitive trees around crop trees however in many cases the trees can be culled via hinging and two birds killed with one stone.

Get started on improving your whitetail bedding and browse just by firing up the chainsaw! ;)
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Super Moderator
Re: Edge Feathering and openings

Angle of hinge cuts

I angle the cut to help tip the tree and encourage bark to "peel" allowing the tree to stay alive after being tipped over.

Larger trees are more likely to break off and can be dangerous because of the weight and size so often I cut them nearly thru and allow the wind to topple them.

Interplanting mast trees in hinge cuts

If the area you hinge cut is lacking in mast trees such as oaks and chestnuts, hand planting seedlings in the downed tops is a great way to get then started.

The tops help protect the seedlings from traveling bucks and foraging deer.
These are Swamp White Oaks planted last spring into hinge tree tops, marked with flags and sprayed with an Oust/Surflan mix.

You can see the flagged trees in the downed tanglement of hinged trees

Big Timber

Some landowners are going to encounter different challenges with large acreages of big timber that often looks like this:

You can see nearly a 1/4 mile through timber like this and with the exception of mast semi mature stands of timber are like a "desert" for wildlife offering almost nothing in the way of browse and beding cover.

As mentioned at the beginning of this thread every landowners should start with a walk with their forester to create a Forest Stewardship program and then Timber Stand Improvement to cull competing trees away from crop trees. Your forester and can help you mark crop trees so that none are killed because of misidentification and the best tress saved for mast production.

I urge you to read through the threads on doing TSI before starting hinge cutting: Timber Stand Improvement

Landowners will need to know what to do when they encounter stands of white oaks such as this one, which to kill and to leave.

You need to be able to identify white and red oaks and kill competing cull trees such as these shagbark hickories near several oaks.

Perhaps your stand is ready to be logged which can rocket your habitat forward by removing some crop trees and opening up canopy while leaving giant tops behind for cover.

In time logged areas will begin to re-grow due to sunlight and nutrients becoming available where once giant trees stood.

Soon the re-growth becomes a jungle of whitetail browse and bedding cover

Shade tolerant trees such as hickory, maple, ironwood and other such trees are of no use to whitetails unles they are utilized for browse and cover. It takes only a few "released" oaks per acre to provide a tremendous amount of high quality mast to hold whitetails and you forester can help recomend the proper rate for your land.

In my case 50 crop trees per acre was the maximum rate and in some areas is much less.

In the background here you can see a 250 year old Savanna White Oak that has low timber value due to it's sprawling low limbs but it produces a tremdous amount of mast and a parent tree to produce new oak seedlings

Hinge cutting low value shingle oak and hickory trees around it lowers competition, allows whitetails to feed and bed nearby in relative safety and new oak seedlings can survive among the downed trees.

Understanding Deer Beds

There is often "much to do" about creating beds for whitetails but one can learn a great deal about a whitetails habitats by simply going for a walk and observing their natural beds in late winter.

Looking over the terrain and getting down on their level helps one understand what and why they choose certain bedding spots. These areas may be slightly different in late winter then summer because sunlight on south facing slopes will be favored while cool shaded areas preferred on hot summer days.

Notice the wind blown tops in this stand of white pines as I stand at the bottom of a ridge

It's a sure bet I will find a lone bed against one of these tops

Note the downed top behind the bed

and the ability of the deer to see danger coming from a long ways off looking down the slope

I literally laid on the ground to get a view from a bedded deers point of view

This slope while semi open is filled with morning sun, welcome relief from bitter cold winter weather yet provides protection. The downed top is the backdrop that allows the deer to blend in and a means of quickly putting cover between him and danger within seconds of being approached.
Hinged trees need not always create a "jungle" because even a few scattered along a ridge will encourage deer to bed there.


When we create funnels or do edge feathering we are in essence 'blocking" deer movement or diverting runways from their previous helter skelter pathways to one or two main runs.

In small natural funnel areas blocking can be done in the interior of the wooded area but when dealing with large timbered areas, it's often more feasbable to use the edge feathering approach. In cases where the landowner is hunting the timbers edge then extrior blocking can help funnel deer and lower frustrating movement down little used pathways 50-60 yards away.

The term "edge feathering" came about as a means of improving quail habitat and then I just adapted that concept as a means of improving edge browse and then trail blocking.

These are some pictures looking out towards a field where I di edge feathering along the edge and more hinge cutting on the interior to create a blocking effect, improve browse, lower competition from low quality cull trees and re-establish oak seedlings through hand planting.

The whole area looks like a tornado when thru it! :shock: :D

and deer skirt the edge of this mess until they reach the main runway leading to the field

If you leave even the slighest small opening...they will use it, as I noticed here

I stuffed a few thorny locust branches into the hole and I have a few cull trees left to tip over such as this shingle oak

This maple...

While using care not to kill trees such as the burr oak in the center here

This is an example of "interior blocking" to create a funnling affect in a natural travel corridor roughly a 80-100 yards wide.

Deer have several fence crossings along this stretch...

which meant that it was impossible to cover them all with one stand and deer could easily get down wind of me. I set up over the most used natural runway following a small ravine in natural cover.

and then hinged trees along that trail to encourage them to use it. I then "blocked" runways parallel with the fence to funnel deer towards the natural runway

This mess is not meant to be a bedding area but simply to create a blocking effect

In the first post I covered the value of the browse that hinging trees creates because many landowners get caught up in the "food plot" frenzy and completely overlook the fact that deer are browsers, creatures of the "edge"...the place where forest meets field.

They are also adaptable however and are quick to take advantage of other high quality food sources and while doing so are highly visable creating the illusion that they do not need or require browse. Deer however must have browse and the obersvant hunter will notice deer returning to the timber at daylight will almost always stop to feed on blackberry leaves or tender buds and twigs of small trees and brush.

Don't overlook the value of browse that hinging trees creates nor the need whitetails have for it.

Every hinged tree will send up new sprouts from the stump and new growth upwards from the downed trunk

Note the sprouts here:

and the growth from the body of the tree, all within easy reach of browsing deer

while at the same time being utilized to create small game habitat and trail blocking along a field edge

These areas are nearly 4 years old and thick with blackberry brambles and new growth

Compared to this open area I have yet to do

Hinge cutting is just another tool in our overall habitat program and only part of our Timber Stand Improvment projects. Stands of screening Native Warm Season Grass will help protect deer and enhance their safety and security and give mature bucks areas where they can bed in solitiude.
Releasing mast producing trees and planting early producing hybrid oaks will insure deer don't need to travel for natural feed. Planting a combination of crops that provide year around food sources will help round out your habitat program.

Consider planting fenced (protected) fruit trees for soft mast and small conifer plantings in your hinge cut areas depending on your habitat needs. Diversity is very important in holding whitetails on your property and improving it for wildlife of all kinds.

This thread is only one of many here on Iowawhitetail so I urge you to look through the others and ask questions that in turn will help others with the same concerns... ;)
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New Member
Re: Edge Feathering and openings

Great time of year to work on edge feathering, TSI and creating openings to encourage browse and new bedding areas.

Great bunch of photos Paul ... I also like to fall the "junk " trees and leave the cedar to grow up between them.

It is a great time of the year for TSI but I would also suggest holding off on edge feathering if your objective is quail habitat and you have an established stand of cool season grass.

It is very important to kill off any cool-season grass with herbicide before you edge feather. Edge feathering for quail is much more effective if you have bare ground, a few weeds, or clumps of native grass under the edge feathered area. A thick mat of sod grass under an edge feathering will be impossible for young quail to negotiate and difficult for adult quail to run through. The benefit of edge feathering for quail is providing overhead cover that they can survive the night in and quickly escape through if needed. Dropping trees on established cool-season grass that has not been killed with herbicide first will only provide marginal quail habitat.

I agree it is a great time of the year for TSI but, unless you have sprayed the cool-season grasses last fall along your timber edge, I would hold off on edge feathering and wait for spring green-up and an opportunity to kill the grass ... if your timber edge is free of cool-season grass, I would grab the saw and go have fun ... :)

Is it German Millet you plant after you EF?

Yes, I broadcast alot of German Millet in May, June and July for quail, deer eat some if it too but it provides great habitat and food for quail. I broadcast it after a burn, where I have applied Round-Up along field edges, and almost anywhere I have done edge feathering. It grows with minumal sight prep, a shot of herbicide or prescribed fire is usually all the disturbance that is needed and then throw it on the ground and watch it grow. It should be broadcasted the day of your burn after a prescribed fire so it gets started before any competition. Millet does like warmer soil temps though so don't plant it before May and it needs about 60 days to mature before any frost.

would it not be equally acceptable to edge feather now and spray the adjacent areas in late March, early April to kill the brome off?

The only problem with spraying after the trees are down is being able to get good contact with the grass. If you have made good cover with your edge feathering, you will not be able to spray all of the grass and likely have pockets that will survive.

I often fall spray areas I intend to edge feather this time of the year.

Like I said before, if you are edge feathering where there is no sod, the spray is not an issue.
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Super Moderator
Re: Openings for bedding areas

I started work on creating a new opening along a ridge for new bedding/browse area.

The shagbarks are pretty easy to identify:

After it looks like "nuclear or tornado" logging as Ghost and Farmland call it /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

The trees that fall into the field I'll push around with the tractor and loader.

Makes cover for small game and can help with making funnels or diverting deer away from or to ones stand or blind areas.

Again, I want to emphasise that this is not TSI but just creating openings by tipping over trees of poor timber or mast value.

I would advise that if your not able to easily identify your timber species that you walk it with your district forester first.

It would be a shame to kill good red or white oaks for bedding areas.

Iowa DNR Districts and District Foresters

Private Lands Management Assistance

You can learn to identify oaks thru this ISUE link:

The Oaks

ISUE links

Creating cover, feed and bedding areas will certainly have a positive influence in holding deer on your property...but have a plan and some knowledge before you crank up the saw!


Life Member
Re: Openings for bedding areas

Are hickorys considered trash trees? I must have missed this one. Aren't hickory nuts utilized by wildlife? I know they are great trees for fire wood.

Large hickories, depending on trunk shape and form may be considered a crop tree for lumber value. Although, it would not take preference in a timber over Oak or Walnut as far as timber value.

As far as wildlife value, if you like squirrels chewing up your sheds, then by all means save your Hickory.

Seriously, deer and turkeys rarely, if ever utilize Hickory nuts as a food source and are of little wildlife value.

There greatest wildlife value is when they are hinged and on the ground for cover. :)
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Super Moderator
Re: Openings for bedding areas

It's getting that time of year again...time to start thinking about edge feathering and creating openings for bedding areas.

Either with a dozer or "poormans" machinery (AKA chainsaw) ;)

This is some of last years work so I need to take some new pics and see what it looks like after a "growing season"

Bedding/cover areas and feeding areas are two of the most important factors in a deers life which in turn makes them priorty to us as landowners managing for whitetails.

In southern Iowa pastures that over time have been taken over by red cedar, locust and MFR become deer cover meccas. In cases where farmers no longer graze cattle in the pastures they quickly become bedding areas "supreme".

That's the case with much of my own ground, very little has valuable timber so I can "open up" areas to allow it to thicken even more without hesitation.

If you have more mature open understory timber however, creating openings can be a difficult decision. Often these areas do not hold deer as it is simply to open and while deer wander thru timber feeding on mast, they may be difficult to hunt or pattern.

We often discuss TSI (Timber Stand Improvement) which is meant to enhance valuable timber by killing competition around the best specimens. Contact your local IDNR forestor for help in this area but TSI does little IMO to create the type of "hell hole" bedding areas that will hold deer let alone mature bucks.

Deer like brush...thick escape cover that they can feel comfortable bedding in and they prefer it in large enough areas that they can feel safe in. I find that a 1-2 acre thick hillside is one which will draw deer like a magnet. They love to be able to "see" danger from a vantage point but have thick cover to bed and use as an escape avenue. 40 acres they like even better!

If you have these type of areas already you may need only to "enhance" them by tipping over trees that begin to cause the area under them to "open up". A little work every few years with a chainsaw perhaps is all that will be needed.

If you have a large stand of mature timber you have a bit more of a challenge. A bull dozer can tip over an area in short order but they can be pricey. Doing the work by hand can be a daunting task but sometimes is the only option.

Start by deciding where your bedding area should be in relation to where there is feed, travel corridors etc. Mature bucks will be checking these bedding areas during the rut...don't put your bedding area where they need only check it from the neighbors property...

I would reccomend marking the area with flagging tape or spray paint and then begin tipping trees or 1/2 cutting in a manner that is safe. Looking at some of my pictures you can see that it would be easy to get "trapped"! Trees twist and turn as they fall and one could be easily hurt or worse...

If trees are to big to cut safely, girdle them with two saw cuts at least several inches deep around the circumference of the tree. As soon as these trees no longer shade out understory..."stuff" will begin to grow and fill in.

An alternative to felling trees is deep girdling. Deep girdling is performed by using a chainsaw to make 2 parallel cuts 1" or more deep all the way around the tree at 3-4 feet height. Girdling severs the water and nutrient conducting tissue and kills the top of the trees, although the effects of girdling may be immediate or may take several years depending on the species. Some species such as red maple are very difficult to kill by girdling alone. Trees girdled correctly rot slowly on the stump providing habitat benefits for wildlife which use dead snags. Girdled trees have a high risk of snapping off at the girdled point - so girdling should be avoided near hazards or along high traffic trails.

You can further enhance these spots by spreading fertilizer to encourage blackberries and other growth. In the right areas planting red cedars can make for an excellent long term bedding area.

These are just some of my own thoughts...if you have created bedding areas or are interested in doing so...please add to this thread. Pictures are always helpful as well. :)

Timber Stand Improvement


Improving Hradwood Timber Stands

Crop Tree Release
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Super Moderator
Re: Openings for bedding areas

Originally Posted By: iowaqdm
dbltree, I've been thinking about doing this to a couple areas on my place. I was thinking about doing a timber burn in March after shed hunting and then cutting down some of the junk trees. I was thinking that the timber burn may help to thicken up the areas faster by getting rid of the ground cover. I am also planning on fertilizing the areas. What would you recommend for fertilizer? Have you ever burned prior to doing the cutting?

I think burning first would be an excellent idea! It should encourage things like blackberries for natural forage.

I use triple 19 fertilizer because nitrogen really makes it lush...use it later in the spring though just as things are greening up (abot the time you would fertilize your lawn)

I have burned early and it did bring on a flush of undergrowth.

Prescribed Fire

Timber Stand Improvement

We did a 2 acre feathering on a hillside about 2 years ago. Its a bedding magnet and I killed my buck heading out of it this year

That pretty much says it all right there! ;)
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Super Moderator
Re: Openings for bedding areas

I have a small piece (1.5 acre) woodlot that is pretty much open (this is common where I'm from and deer actually use these small woodlots). There are a few oaks, but mostly cherry, ash and maple and lots of trash trees (cottonwood and dead standing elm). I would love to somehow thicken up 1/4 acre- 1/2 acre for a bedding area. The area that surrounds the woodlot is surrounded by more open small woodlots.
I'm thinking if I create a thick spot, it might attract deer in the area and hold does for the rut. Would it be better to hinge cut or cut down completely? What trees would you take out? Keep in mind that I don't want to cut everything because it's my only spot to hunt (behind my house). I guess what I'm asking is if you HAD to do something with this spot, what would be your plan of attack? Thanks for listening guys!

These questions are perhaps better off in this thread since TSI is not really about creating bedding areas but about managing for marketable timber.

Each landowner has to decide what their own goals are and which areas/trees to kill to bring enough sunlight in and open up the area for thick new growth.

My thoughts are...if your going to cut bigger trees they are most likely going to "snap" so hinge cutting might not be feasible. The tops from fallen trees however create "brushpiles" which birds roost in and deposit seeds. It's not long and blackberries and other shrubby growth pops up just by giving it light.

If you have maple in the area...that stuff can spread pretty easy so you may have a problem unless you burn at the right times.

I just look at it this way...if it's not producing acorns...it's fair game. That is my own personal thoughts however and I don't just start "whacking" trees down helter skelter. I pick an area that is conducive to good bedding and then I start tipping trees over.
A look back at some of the pics shows a big difference between hinge cutting for bedding and Timber Stand Improvement via girdling. It's not a right or wrong thing...just two very different management options.

In your case I would pick and area with the least valuable trees, mark it out and open it up. think about where deer will travel to and from it and how can you hunt those runways.
Remember you can "create" runways or travel areas as you cut. I fall trees across some runways and open one or two main ones that will be hunt-able.

I hinge cut everything I can but often they break off as they fall, but I hope for some live trees at least for awhile.

Hopefully that answers a few of your questions. :)
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Super Moderator
Re: Openings for bedding areas

Thanks dbltree! You're always kind enough to take a few minutes and go into detail, and I appreciate it. I'm guessing the only trees really good for hinge cutting are the smaller diameter trees (6" diameter and smaller?). I see in your edge feathering it looks like you just made a straight cut halfway through the tree. Did you just let the wind do the work from that point on or did you 'help' it fall somehow? Would it be better to make 45 degree cut to keep it from falling where you don't want to? Not sure if you can control the fall like you could with a normal felling of a tree. has anyone put before/after pics of their hinge cutting on here? just curious.

Junk trees are definitely 'getting the ax' this winter. It is going to be tough for me to cut the maples and hickory- I ablsoultely love these trees in the fall. For some reason, a big old shagbark is one of my favorites. Thanks again

I not an expert sawyer so that advice might be better left to someone who knows what they are talking about:)

I try to cut them on an angle and I do try to use the wind if possible but...it's also dangerous! I've been pinned, had the wind knocked out of me, my brains "rattled" (no wise cracks please... ) so do be careful!

Cutting to fall a tree is one thing but attempting to hinge it is a little trickier...at least it seems so for me.

The edge feathering I used the tractor and loader to push them where I want them but in an opening I just hope they fall somewhere other then...on me!
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Super Moderator
Re: Cutting locust trees

Funny there would be a thread about Killing Locust Trees and I just happen to be working on that very thing... :)

No such thing as eradicating locust trees around these parts...just a matter of trying to keep them under control so my son and I went to work on cleaning some out of an old pasture so it can be converted to prairie grass.

Not easily accessable so we loaded up the sled with supplies:

Don't forget tools to work on your chainsaw and plenty of water and snacks (the saw isn't the only thing that needs fuel! ;) )

Locust trees are miserable things to cut...nothing but thorns top to bottom:

Some are worse then others...if that's possible..

Just a little personal testimony...last summer when my wife was in the hospital I sat there and promised God all kinds of things if he would just make her whole again...not the least of which was to give up cussin and drinking... /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/blush.gif

All I can say is that God invented locust trees to "test" my promise....cause when one of those things flips around and lands on your back...well...let's just say I gritted my teeth and kept my promise...

The only thing worse then a locust tree...is one that has a nasty ole MFR growing around it...

Some were smaller:

Some were bigger:

but all had nasty thorns top to bottom and branches all the way to the ground that make it nearly impossible to reach into without inflicting pain on ones self...

Those thorns are like 16 penny nails I swear!

Draggin' em off wasn't easy either so I had to use "child labor" ;) One of the few times Jess said "Dad...I really need to get back and work on my Algebra"...

Hyaa mule!

Pretty much wore out a brand new saw blade by then end of the day but the "little green saw" worked just fine:

The only thing worse then one locust tree is...a whole bunch growing together...

Just a few thoughts...

Wear a hard hat and safety glasses because no matter how careful you are...you ARE going to get whacked in the back of the head with a mess of thorns (no such thing as one thorn... )

Those trees drop and flip and while I got good at doing the "twist and roll"...there is no escaping some "bloodshed" even with the thickest leather.

One of those in your eye wouldn't be so very funny...

Keeping them cut down with a brush cutter and/or herbicides once cleared will keep us from having to go thru the hassle in the future but it is a never ending task.

Deer love locust pods so the seed is going to end up wherever they travel, just no way around it. Cut em, spray em, cuss em all you want...they will just keep sprouting up in places we don't want them.

The do make great "bunny" brush piles and also work well to block off runways when your doing edge feathering or creating openings for bedding areas.
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New Member
Re: Cutting locust trees

Thanks for the pics Dbltree. Hey, did you take any 'after' pics of the area on the ridge that you openened up? I think there were some hickories in the picture. Just curious to see what kind of growth you ended up getting in one year. I'm in the process of opening up my woodlot. I think it will do wonders, but I have to admit it makes me a bit nervous thinking I am doing irreversible damage. I already have little ash and hickory in the understory though. Again, thanks for the pics. I'll try to post some before/after pics when I'm done.



Super Moderator
Re: Openings for bedding areas

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Hey, did you take any 'after' pics of the area on the ridge that you openened up? </div></div>

Does a wild bear go in the woods? /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/grin.gif /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/grin.gif

I just took up a bunch of pics the other day so I'll get them posted when I have time. It's amazing how much the deer are using that area to bed only one year later! /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/cool.gif


Life Member
Re: Openings for bedding areas

Hmmm child labor laws ? /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif Wow those are just nasty. If you have a nice grassy area deer bed you aloways have them. Seems the thorns have a waxy coating . It must contain some sort if toxic chem. They just cause a nasty redness. Ever been pinned to the ground yet /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif ??? Must be a better man than me ,I aloways say a word or two cutting them /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif


Super Moderator
Re: Cutting locust trees

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Hey, did you take any 'after' pics of the area on the ridge that you openened up? I think there were some hickories in the picture. Just curious to see what kind of growth you ended up getting in one year </div></div>

Here are pics of the hickory ridge I opened up a year later and they are bedding in it like crazy and feeding on the blackberries etc popping up now.

The tops/trees on the ridge give them a place to hide behind yet see down the ridge.


Thick "mess"...

Notice this bed location...

The area is all tracked up from feeding and bedding deer and this area will only thicken and improve over the next few years.

BTW...no "child labor" was used in the establishment of this bedding area...only a tired Old Man... /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/blush.gif /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/grin.gif

Perhaps some "muttering" now and then to Windwalker... /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif


New Member
Re: Cutting locust trees

Dbltree- great pics, that area is looking great. In the one picture, you say 'notice the location of the bed'. I'm guessing it has something to do with being in front of the two vertical stumps from the hinge cuts, as well as being elevated to be able to see? I am thinking about creating this type of situation with trees that I tried to hinge cut but the trees snapped off. I am going to prop them up on top of the stump to make a vertical and somewhat horizontal barrier they can lay next to to feel somewhat 'hidden'. What do you think?

Also, did you end up hinging any of your hickory? Did they grow ok? I have some smaller hickory (1"-4"). Also, I haven't had much luck with hinging ash over 3" or so. I'm going to try the safety/tie down strap idea to hold the bark on while hinging. I'll let ya know how it works. Thanks again!



Re: Edge Feathering

This is a great thread; very informative.
My project this winter is to wage war on sycamore trees in my hunting areas. Worthless tree for a wildlife manager, if you ask me. (Then again, I ain't that smart.)
The area I hunt has been growing up in the last 25 years with the canopy limiting the undergrowth in the last few years. Resulting in fewer deer sightings and usage due to the lack of browse and cover. The last 3-4 years it has been even more noticeable. I have been hitting all the sycamores I can as well as a lot of cedars. I love the cedars but a lot are clumped together with stunted growth. I have been hitting those too. Still leaving a lot for bedding cover but cutting the less desireable ones to thicken the bedding areas and allow browse to grow.
I too, have been trying to hinge cut and have also found that a lot of the trees just snap. Its amazing how quickly the deer come back and start using these areas for bedding cover.


Super Moderator
Re: Cutting locust trees

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: BUCKCRACK</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Dbltree- great pics, that area is looking great. In the one picture, you say 'notice the location of the bed'. I'm guessing it has something to do with being in front of the two vertical stumps from the hinge cuts, as well as being elevated to be able to see? I am thinking about creating this type of situation with trees that I tried to hinge cut but the trees snapped off. I am going to prop them up on top of the stump to make a vertical and somewhat horizontal barrier they can lay next to to feel somewhat 'hidden'. What do you think?

Also, did you end up hinging any of your hickory? Did they grow ok? I have some smaller hickory (1"-4"). Also, I haven't had much luck with hinging ash over 3" or so. I'm going to try the safety/tie down strap idea to hold the bark on while hinging. I'll let ya know how it works. Thanks again!

BC </div></div>

I wanted everyone to notice how deer use the tops to bed behind while being able to see down the ridge. Even though it's not thick yet, they take advantage of it right away. Like being able to see thru the brushy tops while using it for "camo"...and dinner is right beside them!

Most of the feeding is on browse that comes up by allowing sunlight in.

The bigger trees are difficult to "hinge" because they tend to break off. I don't lose any sleep over it...if they stay hinged...great, if not, no biggie (that's just me...)

Some trees send up sprouts better then others and hickories don't seem to one that does. Smaller trees can be hinged much easier for sure. /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif


Super Moderator
Re: Openings for bedding areas

Here are some pics of a "bedding area" I opened up two years ago by hinging and compeletly opening up an area.

I opened it up pretty good in perhaps about an acre of lowland

Makes some good bedding..

and browsing on the new shoots sprouting off the cut stumps

I also managed to block off multiple runways and create a funnel runway that they use almost exclusively now. /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

Notice the blackberry browse that has taken advantage of the sunlight... /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif
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