Hinge-Cutting for Oak Regeneration
Hinging will allow sunlight into the forest floor and if enough sunlight is allowed in, shade intolerant oaks will have a chance at survival if a large parent oak is present to spread its acorns. In areas that don’t have parent oak trees you can hand plant some bareroot seedlings in each spring or plant acorns in the fall into the downed tops. Planting in the downed tops will protect the young tree from travelling bucks and foraging deer. Some people will put a small 2-3 foot tree tube over the young oaks in the downed tops for further protection. Tree tubes are optional but more on this will be discussed on the Tree Planting page.
It is important not to hinge your entire property in one season, do 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 first cutover area tipping the trees over once again.
As mentioned in the beginning, always start by walking your property with your forester to learn to identify good mast trees. Cost share for Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) is usually available through a variety of programs and your forester or local NRCS office can be helpful in that area. Remember, 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 and you can receive some cost share from the TSI program.
Get started on improving your whitetail bedding and browse just by firing up the chainsaw and doing some hinge cutting!