Hinge-Cutting for Deer Bedding
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 in safety and solitude. This does not involve creating one bed but a whole area where “bigger is better” is applicable. Observation is the key in learning what deer seek when it comes to bedding areas. Watch for natural beds and how deer react to your hinge cuts to learn what they seem to prefer. One thing to note is deer love south facing slopes with conifers as a backdrop and hinging trees around those areas is very helpful in creating a good bedding area.
Hinging trees often leaves an area looking like a tornado went through it and it 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. Deer immediately respond to the cover the tops provide and begin to bed in it within days after cutting. 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.
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. In some cases the top of the hinged tree may die but the stump will send up lots of new cover and browse.
Every landowner may have different species to work with, but contact your local forester or private lands biologist to walk through your timber to identify trees that are less desirable and would be ones you’d want to hinge. Tipping them over helps create bedding and browse and allows shade intolerant oak seedlings to emerge. Hinging is a great way to create whitetail deer bedding area but takes some learning to be able to identify trees before cutting them, you’d hate to hinge a nice young oak thinking it was something else.