The Smell of Fresh Cut Pine

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Hunters cringe at the sight of feller bunchers, skidders and log trucks... the thought of "losing" available woods drives most folks crazy.

A complete clear cut is one thing... that certainly takes some time for the deer habitat to recover - at least 2-3 years before the deer really start to feel comfortable and begin to use the area well. These areas are typically planted back in pine and regrow rather rapidly. When they do grow back, they are dynamite areas to hunt - but that does take time....

A select cut - as shown below, however - is an entirely different matter!

These cuts - while it does hurt if they do them during hunting season (which is happening right now on our club - these photos are from today) - are particularly GOOD for deer browse - they open up the canopy and let great foods thrive between the rows. Honeysuckle really grows well in these areas in the south.

There is another great benefit of these cuts too, they open up great shooting lanes where none existed before.... of particular interest to the hunters should be areas where these lanes form an intersection and allow a hunter (elevated or not) to see in several directions from his or her stand.

In some cases, these lanes (at times, they are wider than others and will admit more sunlight) can even be tilled up and planted in foods that are appealing to the deer.

Short term, they may be painful but long term, they are great for the deer - and thus - the hunters...

Look for areas like this one land that you hunt and see if they do not pull some deer in and also allow for greater visibilty!

Good luck!


arrowflipper's picture

good information

Some good information here Jim.  I think most hunters would agree that a certain amount of cutting is beneficial to our hunting.  Even clear cuts are at times valuable.  The one time that a clear cut would be disastrous, would be if they cut your only hunting area just before season.  But where I live, if you move around a bit, you'll encounter clear cuts, selective logging and virgin timber.  Each one of these environments is attractive to wildlife some of the time.

Just a year after a section has been clear cut, new growth is beginning to come up and it is some of the best food for wildlife.  Much like a fire, it provides the necessary sunlight for new growth to sprout.  And the hunting opportunities are wonderful in early morning or late evening when the deer are standing out in those clear cuts eating the new vegetation.  That's when you want a flat shooting rifle.

Selective cutting is also great.  Like you said, it opens shooting lanes and lets you see a lot farther.  But it too opens the forest floor to sunlight and gives the new vegetation a chance to grow. 

And then there are the virgin forests with no cutting.  This makes for a great place for wildlife to hide and feel secure.  It provides a place where they can get away from the average hunter, rest and settle their nerves. 

What one must do is find the balance of where deer bed down, eat and travel.  All environments hold a different key to our hunting.  Thanks for a great article Jim.  And by the way, I too LOVE the smell of fresh pine.


ManOfTheFall's picture

Thanks for the tips and

Thanks for the tips and information. In 2009 one of my favorite area's was cut sporadically. That year I was very disappointed in the hunting there. I went back there again in 2010 because this area has one of the best track records I have ever hunted on. The area recovered nicely and my osn and I took both of our bucks from this area. I am really looking forward to this area in 2011 to see what it will bring this time.

hunter25's picture

A lot of good information

A lot of good information here that some people don't realize. Logging and the new growth associated with can be essential to the deer herd survival in some locations. Many areas where the logging has been stopped or severeley limited for the past years have seen a corresponding decline in the deer herd.

Another thing worth mentioning is even when the logging is going on it can be used to your advantage. When I was a kid in the U.P. my dad used to work cutting cedars on a large piece of property. When the work was done for the day and the other guys headed home my dad would set up his stand and settle in for an evening December archery hunt. It seems the deer had gotten used to the sounds of the saws and when everything shut down for the day and the trucks went home the deer would come out to feed on the fresh cut limbs scattered all over.

It was all he had time for and it did pay off once in awhile.

groovy mike's picture

very true


That's very true Jim.  We don't have a lot of pine forest where I hunt, but it seems to hold true for the hard wood forest as well. 

In fact, the area that I a have been having such good luck hunting in for these past few years was all logged off four or five years ago.  It was almost but not quite a clear cut.  What I mean is that almost everything over eight inches in diameter was cut down, but now the young saplings that were left standing and new growth sprouting up have made fantastic browse.  And the old trees that were left standing got a lot more sunlight.  They have reallyresponded and leapt toward it, making massive amounts of new growth and at least this year maiking LOTS of acorns too.  The end result is a fantastic area for deer to come and feed and some thickets for cover where they feel safe to bed down and that is a fantastic combination.  The thickest areas of briars that have sprung up in the clear cut areas have become deer havens where they seek refuge when they are pressured by hunters on neighboring property.  This makes a fantastic hunt for me as I sit at the edge of teh refuge and watch the deer run in from off my property.  I love it!

We didn't end up with any logging roads through the woods per se, so I still have to cut shooting lanes, but the end result of that is that the deer have started to use the paths that I cut as shootiong lanes and as paths for my four wheeler ATV.  Those paths have become DEER paths too!  So as I sit at my stand and look down a semi open shooting lane, I actually get to see deer using my shooting lane as a path to come towards me.  I as you, can it get any better than that?  If so, I don't know how.

So like you said, the year that the cuts are made may be bad for hunting, but it means that you just might have GREAT hunting ahead.  So don't be mad at the loggers.  They just might be doing you a favor like they did for me 

ecubackpacker's picture

Yea, a lot of hunters look at

Yea, a lot of hunters look at logging crews with discuss. But, I for one, welcome them. First, they are just doing there job. Secondly, if you talk to them and ask, most of the loggers I know will cut lanes for stands as straight as an arrow and even pull the oak tops they can't sell  to a select location for you to cut up as firewood. Most of the loggers I've talked to are hunters themselves and will look out for fellow hunters.

As for new hunting opportunities, logging can open up an assortment of hunting opportunities. Like you have said, lanes can be trimmed for hunting and some lanes tilled and planted in food plots. They can open up access for other parts of the woods around you and make walking to and from your stand much easier.

Generally, deer will travel newly cut lanes as these lanes are the easiest travel routes. Deer, like us hunters, can be lazy at times.

So next time the logging crew moves in to cut, go introduce yourself. You may make a friend or two.  

jim boyd's picture

Very good points, ECU - well

Very good points, ECU - well stated!