Hinge cutting is an effective and economical habitat management tool that can be implemented on nearly any size property. It requires very little expense other than a chainsaw and some effort. The term “hinge cutting” describes the process of chainsawing partially through a tree trunk to create a “hinge” that allows the tree to remain connected and alive when tipped over. Generally, these trees survive for several years. With forethought and planning, hinge-cut areas enhance wildlife viewing and/or hunting opportunities.

Lindsay Thomas, an editor with the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), practices extensive hinge-cutting and shared his thoughts.

“It is a great way to turn otherwise low-value trees deer will browse, such as tulip poplar, maple and sweet gum, to a productive use. Strategic hinge cutting trees can create bedding areas, thicken or screen sanctuaries, screen the edges of food plots or hunter-access routes, block trails or other travel routes to manipulate deer movements to favor hunting, and more,” said Thomas.

If this is your first time hinge cutting trees, consider these 10 tips.

  1. Use a tree-reference guide and a local forester to identify high- and low-value trees.
  2. Look for natural wildlife bedding areas.
  3. Wear protective clothing  and cut with a partner for safety.
  4. Study the area before cutting to find a starter tree.
  5. Locate trees next to the starter tree that can be hinged over or alongside it to open the canopy.
  6. Avoid trees that will hang up on others when cut.
  7. Visualize how trees will fall before cutting.
  8. Choose trees less than 1 foot in diameter.
  9. Position your saw for a downward-angled cut opposite of the desired fall direction.
  10. Saw about halfway through or until the tree can be tipped.

RELATED: Hinge Cutting To Create Better Hunting Spots

This article originally published in THE NEW PIONEER® Spring 2015 issue. Print and Digital Subscriptions to THE NEW PIONEER magazine are available here.