Land Management can be a tricky job especially when applying all four components, Food, water, cover and sanctuary's.
In this blog however we are only going to explain cover as one of the most asked questions is about hinge cuts or stump cuts.
The first thing you need to know is the difference between a Hinge cut and a stump cut. To hinge a tree properly you should cut this tree when the weather is warm and the tree is non dormant and flowing. Cut the tree approx. 3 feet of the ground and about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through the tree until it bends over and touches the ground to create cover. However most hinge cut areas if done right are also used to create corridors for deer and other wildlife to travel.
Stump cuts on the other hand are used for a variety of things and are more of a standard TSI( timber stand improvement). To stump cut you want to cut the tree one to 3 inches above the ground and let the tree drop. This type of cutting is best when the tree is dormant and non flowing. Your desire here depending on the tree type is to get it to stump sprout and re generate in the spring when the tree comes back to life.
Hinge cutting: These areas are great for instant cover and browse. The object is to keep the tree alive while bent over creating cover and browse at the wildlife's level while at the same time creating travel corridors to and from food, water, other cover and sanctuary's. The downfall to this method is over the next 5 to 6 years this tree will slowly die especially in the north as heavy snows along with freezing and thawing eventually take its toll and kill the tree. While this tree did live for years though and served its purpose it also created a canopy over the area. Because of this there has been limited new growth so you may have spotty areas of total regeneration at ground level.
Stump cutting:The area pictured is on a piece of property where the land owner wants Oak regeneration. This area needs to be stump cut to get the proper results. Oak trees are very susceptible to Oak wilt if you hinge cut or just plain cut at the wrong time of year therefore these areas are much better off with the stump cut method. Within these areas you can do both types of cuts to get the best of both worlds however oak's need as much sunlight as possible so it is best to stump cut the entire area and spray the trees you do not want to stump spout. Within 3 years you will have a great regeneration of oaks started. This area will serve as a great bedding area along with an even better browse area for the next 5 to 6 years. Then down the road(years down the road) your kids or grandkids can reap the rewards of the acorn crop during deer season but for now you can reap the rewards as a great bedding and browse area for all types of wildlife(deer, turkeys, birds, rabbits etc.) Remember you are doing great things for not only the wildlife but great things for the habitat and regeneration of our woodlands. The only downfall to this type of cutting is you really can't create travel corridors. You can reopen the existing trails but creating new routes is more difficult.
Both cuts create instant bedding which is great as then you can start designing the rest of your property around these thick bedding areas. Also these bedding areas become great places to check for sheds. Each type of cut has its own place and each does what you want if done properly. Just remember there is more than one way to cut a tree. Good luck and be safe.
Art & Michelle Helin have enjoyed the outdoors their entire lives. Here, they share their passion with you.
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