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Updated: Jan 18, 2022

Article by: Beau Martonik

My father, Joe Martonik, has found consistent success by still-hunting along former logging roads that wind through old clear-cuts. During the rut, he has used his deer call and rattling antlers to convince more than one mature buck to get up from its bed and come charging in for a fight.

I remember getting that sinking feeling in my stomach when I would go in to scout one of my hunting areas prior to the season, only to see muddy skid trails and trees hacked down. I’d think to myself, It’s only a month before the archery season opens, and everything I know about this area is about to change! Even though all of that is true, I now look at logging cuts as a blessing rather than a curse. When hunting in the “big woods,” it’s almost inevitable you will run into logging activity in your hunting area at some point or another. Timber cuts of all ages provide significant food and cover benefits to deer that inhabit the area. They also improve the health of the forest itself. It may seem counterintuitive that cutting down a bunch of trees actually helps the forest, but the canopy of an old-growth forest prevents so much sunlight from reaching the ground that it is difficult for new growth to occur. This not only hinders forest regeneration but limits the amount of browse available to deer. When an area is cut, sunlight is once again able to shine through to the ground, spurring a plethora of new growth that provides a bounty of food and cover to deer and other woodland creatures. The vegetation in a recently timbered area is also more diverse than that of a mature forest. This variety and abundance of food helps deer maintain healthy body weight and can, in turn, help bucks spur antler growth to achieve their maximum potential.

Understanding how logging cuts are used by deer, depending on the age of the cut, is crucial for successful big-woods bowhunting. In this article, I’ll break logging cuts down into three general categories and discuss hunting strategies for each.

Read the rest of the article about hunting timber cuts at Petersen's Bowhunting here.

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