Deer Hunting Accessories for Spring Wildlife Habitat Projects

Improve Wildlife Habitat with These Simple Tasks


Feature Photo Credit:  Ryan Lisson

Springtime usually means one thing to most hunters: it’s time to hit the woods with a box call and some turkey decoys. That’s great and nobody would blame you for doing that. But there are lots of other ways you can spend time in the spring woods this season – ways that will ultimately pay off over the years with improved wildlife habitat and increased animal abundance and visibility (oh, and hunting opportunities too). That’s right; it’s time to kick off your spring wildlife habitat projects. Just make sure to grab the right deer hunting accessories and tools before you hit the woods so you can get as many of your land management goals checked off the list before your summer projects start. You’ll probably be surprised at just how many animals benefit from your wildlife habitat work too; whitetails, turkeys, grouse, rabbits, bears, and most other animals in between will all have improved habitats (i.e., an increase in available cover and food) for years to come!


Deer Hunting Accessories | You’re Only as Good as Your Tools


As any good carpenter knows, you can’t produce a great and valuable product without the right tools. The same is true for your wildlife management goals. That doesn’t mean the tools have to be the most expensive ones either. It just means you need the right ones, along with the appropriate know-how, to get it done. For most of these wildlife habitat projects, you will be doing some cutting. Mother Nature often responds to destruction with amazing forms of new and vibrant life. That’s exactly what you’ll key in on.


First, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper safety equipment and use all the tools below for the purposes they are supposed to be used. Big Game Tree Stands® has several handheld cutting implements that will be more than sufficient for these wildlife habitat improvements. Unless you’ll be tackling some big trees while hinge cutting, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway, a handheld serrated saw or folding saw will get you through any of them. If there are mature trees that need to be cleared from the area completely, it’s best to get a chainsaw. Some simple handheld loppers or the deluxe ratchet shears are perfect for cutting live stakes off existing shrubs or trees.





You’ll also need a shovel and a few buckets if you plan to transplant anything very successfully. For the food plots, you’ll also need a garden rake to clear the vegetation, and a sprayer and spreader would both be very handy items (though you don’t need them right away). Luckily, you probably have several of these sitting in the garden shed already.


Wildlife Habitat Projects You Can Do This Spring


As we mentioned, these simple wildlife habitat improvement projects will help expand the wildlife habitat on your private land for multiple species. And none of them are complicated! They just take some time and effort, which is well-spent considering the amazing future hunting opportunities you’ll get in return.


Hinge Cutting Wildlife Openings

Hinge cuts are accomplished by simply cutting two-thirds to three-quarters of the way through a tree trunk at waist height and letting it fall down on its own or with a little shove. The goal is to keep some bark attached, which will provide nutrients and water to the downed tree tops. This makes excellent deer browse, which will be the majority of the deer diet next winter. While winter is a great time to get a lot of hinge cuts done, there are a few advantages to spring cuts too. You might have to deal with ticks and mosquitoes, but the trees are a little more pliable in the spring, which should result in more tree trunks staying connected to the bases. If the cuts occur before things really start greening up, it will be a welcomed supply of fresh browse for deer to consume, and they will likely start using it immediately.



Photo Credit: Ryan Lisson


While mature forests have some benefits for the game species we’re after, an abundance of it doesn’t provide much. Unless it’s an oak forest raining acorns down each fall, it could likely be improved. If you’re wondering how to keep deer on your property, you might just need a few small hinge cut bedding areas. They are great for making deer habitat in this sense, but these pockets of dense regrowth are also great for grouse and rabbits. Why? First, lots of downed tree tops provide browse and the catkins/buds of birch or alder trees will be eaten by grouse. Second, the increased solar exposure will result in a thick tangle of new growth the following summer to hide from predators and provide additional feeding opportunities. Because deer can get both food and cover in the same spot, these areas are great daytime bedding areas and they quickly become wildlife sanctuaries if you simply stay out. Finally, downed tree trunks provide great drumming logs for ruffed grouse!


Clearing New Food Plots 

While you’re out there with some saws making hinge cuts, why not create a new timber food plot? The only difference is that you will completely cut the trees down instead of partially cutting through them. Adding food plots may not always be necessary for wildlife habitat, especially this kind of plot, but it’s a valuable piece of the hunting puzzle. And you get ample amounts of firewood to dry for the next few years as a bonus. For remote timber plots, it’s best to make these small (i.e., under half an acre). Why? One, it’s a lot of work to clear that many trees by hand. Two, these forested spots are often great ambush kill plots, so you want deer to feel comfortable entering them during daylight hours. Place one within a few hundred yards of one of the hinge cut bedding areas and it’s very likely to pull deer in during that time frame. You’ll just want to make sure that the southern and eastern exposure is somewhat open to ensure it gets enough sunlight.


Simply start cutting trees down, felling them away from the intended food plot interior. Cut the trunks up into manageable pieces and haul them off to the side to bring back out for fire wood. Pile the slash (unusable limbs and brush) into specific spots around the plot. For example, you don’t want to surround the entire plot with a mess of slash or deer might feel trapped inside the plot. Instead, keep it relatively open on the ends for deer to flow through and pile the brush on the side you intend to place your Warrior DX tree stand. That will discourage them from walking downwind of your ladder stand location. Then rake the remaining debris out of the plot and wait for it to green up. It will respond best if you spray it with a general herbicide like glyphosate after it’s started to grow. Spray it a couple times over the summer and cut any tall vegetation again towards fall. Then spread some fertilizer and lime according to a soil test (you did that, didn’t you?) and plant a mixture of clover, annual cereal grains, and some brassicas. Deer, turkey, and grouse will all spend time in this kind of a plot.


Trail Network

While not exclusively considered for spring habitat projects, trails are a great project this time of year because the increased visibility helps you plan your route efficiently. In between your new food plot area and bedding area, set up a wildlife trail network. Even if the woods are fairly open, you should plan on cutting a wildlife trail. In fact, it’s especially important in that case so you can pattern where exactly deer will travel instead of trying to predict where they will go. Can you always guarantee they will use your trail? No. But deer like to take the path of least resistance, just like us. Make that path for them.



Photo Credit: Ryan Lisson


Start with some flagging tape to make sure your trail follows the land contours and avoids any obvious terrain obstructions. After connecting the two spots, go back with a saw and start hinging trees to fall perpendicular to the trail so deer aren’t trapped along the trail. You don’t want a highway either. Just make it wide enough to comfortably walk down. Linking all of your wildlife habitat improvements with this kind of trail network can help you pattern deer movement much easier.


Staking, Planting, and Transplanting

Another great wildlife habitat activity to do in the spring is plant things to take advantage of the moist soils. If you’ve always been curious about planting shrubs for wildlife, but were put off by the cost, consider live staking. This practice is commonly used in stream restorations, but it is the process of cutting a 12 to 24-inch branch off a shrub and shoving it into the ground to sprout roots and essentially clone the parent plant. Live staking works best on dogwood species (red-osier, gray, silky, etc.) and willow species (black, sandbar, etc.), but can work on others occasionally. Find some parent plants on your property first. Cut a branch with several nodes (buds/branches) and trim the buds off the lower ones. Shove the branch about halfway to three-quarters of the way into the ground so most of the nodes are underground. These will sprout roots, while the aboveground nodes will produce leaves and new branches. This is a great low-cost wildlife habitat project since it only involves your time. While you might be able to make this work in some upland areas, it is better to do along wetland fringes where there is adequate soil moisture.



Photo Credit: Ryan Lisson


If you don’t have many wetland edges or you’d like to move some other plants around, you still have a few options. You can fully dig up and transplant shrubs or trees to a new location, or for species that send new plants up from roots (called “suckers”), you can sever them from the parent plant and grow a new one. For example, if you have an area of your property with lots of spruce and pine trees, consider transplanting some of them to other areas of your property that are mostly hardwoods or deciduous shrubs to increase the species diversity and add some cover. Planting pine trees for deer cover seems to be popular, but spruce will often provide better thermal cover and visual screening than pine species. Transplanting works best for smaller bushes and trees for ease of transplanting and improved success rates, so stick to plants shorter than you. While you don’t need a ton of soil along with it, make sure you include at least enough roots to extend out to the drip line (edge of the farthest branches) and dig down about the same distance. To help your hunting efforts the most, plant them in small wildlife habitat “pockets” of 4 to 5 trees/shrubs and alongside trails. Grouse and rabbits like to use these features for cover, so you can bounce around between these pockets of cover and easily walk the trail to get to them.


Photo Credit: Ryan Lisson


Finally, you could also rake and rough up the soil along your existing trails and spread some clover seed around this spring. Nearly all game animals will utilize clover stands at some point in the spring and summer; deer, rabbits, and game birds will eat the leaves, while turkeys and grouse will also use it for bugging habitat. Since they will also travel along existing trails, why not combine the two to make them super effective?


Better Wildlife Habitat Starts With You


As you can see, habitat management for deer or other wildlife isn’t all that technical or hard to do, but it does take some dedication to do it on a large scale. These habitat management practices are best when tackled with teamwork, so gather up a few family members and friends and spend a weekend getting after it. You’ll have better hunting opportunities next fall and improve your property for the next generation at the same time.

The Unsung Heros of Hunting| Hunting Accessories

Hunting Accessories | Critical Items You Need While Hunting

Feature Photo Credit: Joe Diestel

There is nothing better than enjoying an April sunrise from the comfort and seclusion of your favorite ground blind or tree, just as spending a November morning nestled in your best deer stand is also a magical experience.  Whether you are chasing spring turkeys or white-tailed deer hunting, taking to the woods in search of wild game requires you to be prepared for any situation.  These hunting accessories are the unsung heroes of the woods, critical to making your hunting experience top notch.



Talkin’ Turkey | Turkey Hunting Accessories

Spring is well underway and soon it will be time to dust off the shotgun and hit the woods to do some turkey hunting.  Anyone who has chased spring turkeys will quickly tell you that turkey hunting is a gear-intensive activity that can often require one hunter to carry multiple hunting accessories with them on a daily basis.  The reason is simple, you want to be prepared.  Turkey hunting can sometimes be a game of seconds, so when success is on the line you need to ensure that you have what it takes to get the job done.

There is no doubt that hunting from a ground blind is effective when it comes to turkey hunting.  That said, many turkey hunters much prefer to “run and gun” which makes hunting from a pop-up blind difficult to accomplish.  If you fall into this category, you have no doubt found yourself in a situation where the elements have felt as though they are stacked against you.  Springtime often means frequent rain events, and there is nothing worse than finally getting close to a gobbler only to have the rain set in.  When this occurs, you really have two options.  You can either wait him out and get soaked in the process, or you can leave.  Neither sounds all that appealing.  Luckily, you can do something about it!

A pop-up umbrella system is not only effective in the deer stand, but it is also effective in the turkey woods.  The umbrella can quickly attach to your tree and can be set up with little sound and movement required.  The umbrella system in combination with one of our ground seats will be the ultimate small and compact combination that can easily fit into any pack or vest and should always be part of your turkey hunting accessory list!

Deer Hunting Accessories

Whether bow hunting or rifle hunting, the modern day deer stand has features to not only keep you comfortable and concealed but can also help improve your chances of punching a tag on your hit list buck.  Today, deer stands come in all shapes and all sizes.  What once consisted of a few 2 x 4’s, nails and a few railroad spikes now consists of ladder stands, hang-on stands, two-man ladder stands, climbing stands and this list goes on from there.  Today’s deer stand is generally lighter, stronger and more durable than deer stands of even two years ago.  As a group, hunters a generally not given the credit they deserve in terms of innovation and improvements that they continue to make in the field of deer stands and hunting products.

Pack Fillers

Selecting a deer stand in like selecting a car, it’s a personal decision that is based upon your needs and desires.  While the type of deer stand that a hunter might choose may vary, the list of accessories that typically fills their pack will certainly vary from deer hunter to deer hunter.  Who ever said that deer hunting was not and accessory driven activity was mistaken, as today’s deer hunter typically has enough equipment and gear to fill almost any field pack on the market.

Although there are certainly a number of items that a deer hunter can carry in their packs to help them attract a mature buck to their location, often there are the additional “pack fillers” that also add to the overall success of the trip.  These items are the unsung heroes of most deer hunting experiences, and while these items may often be overlooked make no mistake, these items can greatly improve your hunting experience while in the deer stand and can ensure that you are ready to go when the opportunity arises.

An Extra Hand

Unlike buying a house or a new truck, there is only so much storage that a deer stand can offer.  That said, regardless if you are archery hunting or rifle hunting, white-tailed deer hunting generally requires the hunter to have plenty of gear on hand.  Here in lies the problem, as there is only so much room on the deer stand platform.

Whether it is an extra tow rope, a multi-hook accessory holder or a multi-hanger, having the ability to have those critical pieces of deer hunting hardware out and available at arm’s reach is important.  Sometimes we can all use an extra hand, and each of these items can provide you with just that.  The best feature that each of these items can offer the deer hunter is they are light and can be neatly tucked away in any hunting pack.  They take up very little space, but can really save the day when called upon.  If you don’t have at least one of these items in your hunting pack, then you’re missing the boat.

hunting-accessories-you-need_pic3Clearing the Path

Maybe you are hunting a new piece of property, public land or maybe you are just hunting a deer stand that you haven’t hunted in a while, regardless of the circumstances having a limb right in the way of your best shooting lane is a problem.  While a multi-tool can tackle the small stuff, they are typically outmatched for limbs that are much larger than your pinky finger.

Having a reliable pair of pruning shears at your disposal is nothing short of a life saver.  A set of ratcheting shears can enable you to tackle a problematic limb that is large in size while to remaining concealed and quite.  A good set of shears can also be critical in helping you freshen up that old ground blind or ground set, and the best part, they take up about the same amount of room as two decks of playing cards.  Having a folding saw is better than nothing, but having a good set of shears will trump almost any alternative, and should find their way into your deer hunting pack before next season.

Marking the Way Home

Everything looks different in the dark.  No matter if you have hunted the same area a hundred times, or if you are looking at a brand new property, heading to your deer stand before daylight or making your way to the truck after sunset can sometimes be a challenge.  The last thing that any white-tailed deer hunter wants to do, especially if there is a big buck in the area, is go beating through the brush trying to find their way.


Having a clearly marked trail is an excellent way to ensure that scenario doesn’t occur, and utilizing reflective trail markers or trail marking tacks in certainly one way to accomplish this goal.  These reflectors will shine with even the lowest of light, allowing you to remain silent and move quickly to your location.  In addition to helping you find your way to and from your stand, utilizing these reflectors when blood trailing a deer after daylight can also pay great dividends in determining the path of the animal while also allowing you to easily retrace your steps if you happen to lose the trail.  Best of all, these reflectors take up virtually no room, but can certainly be a lifesaver when in the field.

Before you take out to the deer stand on your next deer hunting adventure, be sure to take inventory of your hunting pack.  If you happen to find that these three items are absent, hit the store and rectify the situation.  You’ll be glad you did!