Big bucks love secure bedding areas, and providing them on smaller properties is often the only way to hold them, at least a portion of the time. Though cover might not be limited in most areas, high-quality cover often is.
Creating high-quality cover is not as hard as many people believe. It can be done using prescribed fire and cutting. Bigger is not always better. Focus on a manageable area and do it correctly.
Even the best prescribed fire cannot overcome a closed canopy. If there is high canopy density, with little to no sunlight breaking through, cutting some larger trees will be in order.
Sunlight must reach the forest floor for many high-quality deer foods to grow. Remember, deer live at 6 feet and under, so those mid-story trees have little value to them. But you can turn them into high-quality cover (and browse) through hinge cutting.
I like to hinge cut right after a prescribed fire. This newly formed horizontal cover provides great browse and bedding structure. Think of it like fish cover. Where do the big bass hang out? Near cover, of course, and the same goes for big bucks.
By creating a definitive bedding area, you are not only more likely to hold bucks on the property, but also have a better idea of where they will be during hunting season.
— Jeremy Flinn is a professional deer biologist living in Missouri. An avid bowhunter and Deer & Deer Hunting contributor, he has provided valuable information to hunters and landowners for more than a decade.
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