Habitat and Herd Improvement

Whitetail Hinge Cuts High or Low?

*While you can go too high while hinge cutting, its difficult to go too low.

Should your hinge cuts be high, low or somewhere in between? There is a method to the hinge cut height madness, for making sure that you and your local deer herd are left with a smile. Where paid or unpaid to complete, you can imagine the number of hinge cut bedding areas I have experienced while scouting and designing over 600 parcels across the country. Not all hinge cuts are created equal! One of the largest determinations of your success, hinges (sorry!) on how high or low you create your hinge cuts. The factors of food, cover, effort and safety are all a concern, when creating your next potential hinge cut masterpiece.

Cover - Deer Height Hinge Cut Side Cover

Cutting efforts that place your saw at your neck or head level, begin well above a deer's line of site. On the otherhand, cuttings that take place shin-high, place the bulk of cover below a deer's line of site. What I have experienced to be the perfect blend of high vs low, is to cut at height level to your waist or belly. The entire reason for creating hinge cuts is to create side cover , so make sure your cutting efforts provide the habitat deer need to hide from not only you, but each other.

Effort - No Hinge Cut Canopy Needed

You may hear me say this time and time again, but deer do not needt to hide from airplanes and birds. 100s of thousands of bucks bed every year, without a canopy, across the entire whitetail range. Can a canopy help as snow hinderance cover? Sure, in particular when conifer. However, in my experience on whitetail lands far and wide, a canopy is the least important aspect of creating a bedding area. I would estimate that it may improve a bedding area by only a few percentage points if done correctly and within the 10% of whitetail states it will work - until it caves in, sags or just simply breaks down. While a canopy may add a few % of points in the right region, it can destroy a bedding area by 100% if it fails. While it can take 4 hours or more to create a high quality bedding canopy for whitetails, a quality bedding area builder can knock down several acres of defined bedding movement in the same amount of time. Trust me, your time and effort is better spent elsewhere for your habitat and hunting improvements, when your forget about high hinge cuts and canopies.

hinge cut height

*Lower hinge cuts create food that deer can reach. Daytime Browse is a necessary ingredient for quality deer habitat. For more information, read, Deer Browse for Daytime Bedding.

Food - Low Hinge Browsing Opportunity

Aside from the much needed side cover that can be created, the amount of food that can be provided by using a chainsaw is incredible. Literally, a mature forest of hardwood can be transformed from 50#s of forage per acre per year, to 1000#s of highly preferred daytime browse per acre or more - and that is just in the first year! When you consider the height of your hinge cuts, make sure that you are not cutting too high. Why? Because deer need to eat the browse that you are creating, and if the browse from your hinging efforts doesn't even begin until above their head, you will be wasting an awful lot of food. For getting the most out of your hinge cutting efforts, make sure to cut around waist to bellow high, so that deer can actually reach the plentiful side-sprouts of young growth that you are providing.

Safety - Safe Height Lower Risk Hinge Cutting

A recent client of mine has a scar on the back of his leg from a chain letting loose from his saw. Can you imagine if he had been cutting at neck or head high? While a high hinge cut is sometimes called for when attempting to create side cover for an elevation above your position - is it worth the risk?

*Do you need hinge cuts, food plots or waterholes created for you? Than make sure you consider hiring my partner, Ross Fernandez, from WHS Turnkey Habitatsand Whitetail Services. Ross can create a design for you too, and specializes in expertly completing your habitat work for any of our WHS designs. Ross knows exactly how to get it done right!


Typically your hinge cutting efforts should always center around a level at your waist or belly. Whether it be cover, effort, food or safety, there a several great reasons to forget about high hinge cuts for whitetails.

For your complete guide to making sure your cuttings are on the right track, make sure that you check out my complete Hinge Cut Bedding Guide!


Previous PostNext Post

Whitetail Success By Design Book Series

Revealing “Buck of a Lifetime” Strategies Since 2005

Get the Books

Hands-on Hunting and Habitat Design

Creating the Optimal Whitetail Design

Learn More