The Drawing Power of a Thicket

Food plots have taken all the luster of todays whitetail hunting era. Food plots undoubtedly help in attracting and holding deer, but few people realize the potential a small thicket can create for a great treestand location. The cover and food that a thicket creates will hold and attract mature whitetails season after season.

The nice thing about creating a small thicket is that it doesn’t take a lot of money or equipment. Once created, it’s self-sustaining for several years. Before you get the chainsaw, you need to consider how this thicket is going to affect the deer movement and how you and what wind directions you’ll be able to hunt it on. A thicket no bigger than a couple acres in a rectangular shape is the ideal set up. Even a small 1/4 acre or 1/2 acre forest opening will draw deer. Creating a thicket in a natural travel corridor or funnel is ideal for a bowhunter. Creating an opening adjacent to a major food source can also be advantageous. It’ll act as a transitional area where deer will feel secure traveling through on there way to feed, browsing on the woody growth and forbs as they go.

A chainsaw is all it takes, beginning by opening up the tree canopy allowing sunlight to hit the forest floor. You don’t necessarily have to clear cut an entire acre of trees to create suitable cover but by taking out soft maples or any other non-desirable tree will work. Before any chainsaw work, burning off any type of debris like old logs and leaves will help promote better growth. Hinge cut the trees you do cut to create extra browse and structure for a few years. Hinge cutting also promotes the growth of several different vines that deer are drawn too. If possible, disturb the soil by disking and it will boost the speed of growth of a variety of different shrubs and forbs. Plants like greenbrier and bush honeysuckle are highly preferred by deer into the fall and winter months.

The end of October and beginning of November are typically the best times to be hunting over a small thicket that deer use as a bedding area. Bucks will be scent checking the downwind side for estrous does so your set up should be adjusted accordingly. You’ll probably find several scrapes around the edges of the thicket on major trails going in and out of the thick cover. This is pretty much a bowhunter’s dream set up. Hunting on the downwind side of thick travel corridor with a big, social scrape within bow distance.

-Zach Jumps

huntingmanager@heartlandlodge.com

Last Updated: January 26th, 2018

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