By Brandon Wikman
The summer growing season sprouts a tremendous amount of foliage. During this time of the year I take advantage of heading into the woods with a pack full of trimming tools. It’s time to trim shooting lanes for early season archery season, pick up any fallen trees or debris off trails, and mark your entry and exit points from your stand.
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, baiting or hunting a particular stand – it couldn’t be more accurate. I’ve been taught to snip, cut and bust as few branches, shrubs or undergrowth as are needed for a clear shot. I say that because less is more and you don’t want to destroy your location, leaving it looking like a tornado blazed through.
Last year I watched several hunting buddies yank up their sleeves, take out their chainsaw and do some serious work on the grounds near their tree stand. By the time they finished sinking their chainsaw into trees and piling brush, there wasn’t 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 was 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 good. 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 lifts 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 serious droughts and there’s no telling the random rainfalls we may or may not receive.
Instead of going cut-crazy and altering your honey hole’s 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 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 that manipulate 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 the technique from listening to several leading hunting professionals and land managers during seminars.
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 reins 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.