When compared to food plot crops and most of the whitetails’ other foods, it’s terrible nutrition and difficult to digest, BUT WHITETAILS MUST HAVE IT! Browse consists of the leaves, buds, stems and twigs of woody deciduous trees and shrubs, but they may also choose conifers such as cedar or white pine. It’s very intriguing because even if they have ample quality foods available, for some reason they still need this low-value, hard to absorb food. The good thing is providing it for your herd is easy if you have a chainsaw. Winter is the perfect time to add extra browse to your property by hinge-cutting (also known as half-cutting) select trees, or simply felling trees you need to take down.
Hinge-cutting a tree is simply felling the tree, yet leaving it connected to the root system. Many choose to make the cut at chest height to as low as around your knees. The idea is to cut through the trunk until the tree is able to fall or be pushed over, leaving as much of the root system attached to the top as possible. The top of the tree is now an immediate browse source for your herd, but the following spring suckers (new growth around the stump) will begin sprouting around the stump area (depending upon the species) and the top (that you left connected to the roots) will also continue to grow.
Species like poplar, maple, yellow birch, dogwood, aspen and sumac are great targets but any species your herd is browsing on should work. Hinge-cutting is a great tactic for creating browse, but it also helps to generate thick cover and if the trees are selected and felled properly they can often be used as a makeshift fence to funnel traffic into a shooting zone or to keep them from traveling downwind of your ambush location.
This tip is courtesy of the GameKeepers Field Notes, a weekly wildlife and land management email newsletter produced by the Mossy Oak GameKeepers.
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