-By Brandon Wikman
As June’s green foliage sprouts like the end of my shaggy bangs, I am reluctant to say that it’s time for some serious trimming. I typically head into the woods during this time for my ritual of summer pruning, clearing, and cutting. Trimming shooting lanes, scraping debris off of trails and marking them is important to do within the coming weeks.
The acreage I hunt only encounters my handsaw about once a year. Even though one cutting seems as little as shaving a few centimeters off a thick head of hair, the results will magnify. I’ve always been told that a little goes a long, long way. The more I experience this common phrase, whether it’s used for dispersing deer scent, providing bait, or hunting a particular stand; it couldn’t be anymore accurate. I’ve been taught to only snip, cut, and bust as few branches, shrubs, or undergrowth as needed.
I’ve witnessed several hunting buddies yank up their sleeves, take out their chainsaw and do work on the grounds near their tree stand. By the time they finish sinking their chainsaw into trees and piling brush, there’s not much cover left! I’ve seen them literally clear an entire 20x20-yard spot in the forest. The once thick and tangled vegetation that the deer loved transformed into a mini-sized field in the middle of the forest. This is bad for several reasons.
If you decide to turn a lush, green hunting spot completely bald and stricken of cover, you are doing more harm than help. Mature deer depend on weaving through thick cover and tangled brush in the cloak of sunset. It’s what makes them feel safe, secure, and invincible. By removing their cover, we’re actually convincing them to skirt the clear cutting and change travel patterns.
We all understand the process of regeneration. That is why it’s so important to make select and strategic cuts on timber. It opens the canopy and sheds beams of light to the ground, which in turn lift seeds from the soil into the air. If we slice into trees and bush hog the woodland’s floor intensely during the summer, new plant life nearly always takes longer to grow. Summer is known for its serious droughts and there’s no telling the amount of rainfall we may or may not receive. It may take years for the new vegetation to lift and the plant life to turn thick.
Instead of going cut-crazy and altering your honey holes’ effectiveness, make a few select openings that will improve your shooting capabilities. Chomp into the branches with a nice pair of shears or let the bite of a handsaw eat and do the work. As you begin piling brush comprised of tree limbs, shrubs, and bushes, use them to your advantage. I like to construct brush fences along certain deer trails and manipulate game movement to my benefit. Trails that intertwine downwind of my stand location are always choked by heaping piles of limbs or tipped trees. I’ve learned this technique from attending several seminars conducted by leading hunting professionals and land managers.
Last year I was able to sink an arrow into the vitals of a nice deer by persuading it to move according to my direction. Hunting is all about trying new strategies that will improve your odds of success. The fact of the matter is that there’s no secret, magical black box that will rein in monster whitetails every time we use it. The field-testing, first hand experiences, and trial-and-error are what ultimately make us better hunters. Tag two techniques with one job this summer by making select cuts and using the excess debris to your advantage.