Enhance Deer Habitat February 14, 2018 New York

New York Deer Population, Management News and Information Archive

Enhance Deer Habitat

February 14, 2018 New York DEC News

February is the shortest month, but it can feel long and cold.  Deer don't have cozy fireplaces to keep them warm; they fuel their internal furnace with fat stored during the fall and woody browse through winter. Thus, February is a great month for habitat management projects that involve cutting trees to provide new food and cover for deer and other wildlife.

Felling trees for firewood or forest thinning makes the tops immediately available to deer.  Later, stump sprouts and new plant growth caused by the gap in the tree canopy may provide additional browse opportunities.

Hinge-cuts are also a popular method of enhancing deer habitat and can often be accomplished with just a handsaw. Hinge-cutting involves cutting two-thirds through a small tree and pushing it over so that the uncut portion remains attached.  This method allows the tree to stay alive, but the top and the new growth are within deer's reach. Hinge-cutting can also be used strategically to improve bedding and fawning cover or create natural screening for woodland openings and food plots.

To maximize benefit and preserve future timber value, learn to identify preferred winter deer foods and consult a forester or biologist for guidance.

Quality habitat improves deer survival and productivity and boosts body and antler size, setting the stage so you can "let young bucks go and watch them grow!"

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