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I need to "narrow down" my trails

Discussion in 'Native Habitat' started by Mike Bolin, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. Mike Bolin

    Mike Bolin Buck Fawn

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    The property that I hunt (brother in law's) was logged in November 4 years ago. The logging company left the skidder trails a rutted mess and by spring there was quite a bit of erosion. I leveled the trails with a grader box, added lime and planted them in winter rye and clover. Figured I could slow down the erosion and provide a food source at the same time. This worked very well and I still have a decent stand of clover on most of the trails.
    Being retired now, I spent a lot more time in the woods this fall. One of the things I saw, both with the trail camera pics and while hunting is that the mature bucks avoided using the trails for the most part. Unless a mature buck was right on a hot doe, he would parallel the trail. If a buck was just cruising, he would cut across the trail, maybe grab a bite as he crossed, but definitely not spend too much time on the actual trail. The bucks would still end up in the 1/4 acre clover plot (log staging area).
    I want to try to narrow down the trails a bit. They vary from 8' to 12' wide and I would like them to be about 4'-5' wide. My tractor and all my implements are 54" or less.
    I know that native vegetation will eventually take over, but I'm thinking an early spring planting of Timothy with some clover mixed in on the entire width of the trail, then just mow a 4' strip once it has established, then just let mother nature do what she wants with the in-mowed portion of the trails. I would like to plant NWSG, but once the trees start to leaf out there is only 4 hours of sunlight at best on the trails. Not really sure what way to go here and any input is appreciated!
    Mike
     
  2. TreeDaddy

    TreeDaddy A good 3 year old buck

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2016
    Location:
    walton,texas
    I have a similar situation

    I am allowing trails to grow and will then use a DR mower to "narrow down" trail

    Will follow with gly and be done for the growing season

    bill
     
  3. Buckly

    Buckly A good 3 year old buck

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2014
    I would use a chainsaw and cut a new trail 30 inches wide that parallels the green trail. About 20-30 yards off the green trail so that a stand would cover shooting both the green trail and the new trail. I see this all the time also, bucks paralleling the man trails and food plots. All of my kill plots have these trails 20 yards off them in the cover and stands are set up as to cover both the food plot and the buck trail.
     
  4. sandbur

    sandbur 5 year old buck +

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2014
    Location:
    central Mn.
    Years back there was a series of books on cutting trails for bucks. It said cut them they the thick stuff and just wide enough for a man to walk through. Ken Nordberg or Norberg wrote the books. Now many call them sidewalks.

    I agree. Hunt the side trails.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. Tap

    Tap 5 year old buck +

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2014
    Location:
    SW.Pa.
    Just because bucks aren't actually walking down the trail doesn't mean that they aren't still "using" that trail.
    Mature bucks tend to parallel and surveil the main trails that the herd tend to use. Even in areas that have only natural trails and no logging trails or tractor roads, mature bucks like to parallel the main herd trail. They're often back on a secondary trail that's almost hard for us to see but they're still traveling in relation to the logging road or tractor path.
     
    bueller likes this.
  6. WTNUT

    WTNUT 5 year old buck +

    Joined:
    May 18, 2014
    My two cents: Why does it matter if the bucks or deer use your roads that are left over from logging operations? We build access roads to gas wells all over the Appalachian Basin. I don't think you can have roads that are too wide. I look at roads as EASY access through your property. A way to drive in to hang a stand, a way to drive in and get a doe our or that buck you killed somewhere other than on the road :). It is amazing how quickly vegetation chokes down on a road. I will never forget when I first had the lime company come and spread lime on my farm. I told him he could easy access all of our plots with his lime truck (a Mack I think). He kept questioning me saying I don't want to get hung up or scratch the tar out of my truck. When he arrived he said "Dam_ !!! When you say you have access roads you are not lying!!!!

    When I built our interior food plots by pushing over trees with excavators and doing the rest with dozers, I made the access roads 30 feet wide. So 12 seems like a narrow tiny little foot path to me :).


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  7. j-bird

    j-bird 5 year old buck +

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2014
    Location:
    Decatur County IN
    I guess I don't see what narrowing down the path will do for you. I don't think it will encourage the bucks to follow those paths. All it will do is increase the competition for your clover, in my opinion. I would suggest some post season scouting for rubs and scrapes and maybe even tracks in the snow or some browsing off the main trail and see if you can find those secondary and crossing trails.....those are going to be where I would bet you find your bucks. Older bucks are not the most social critters so they tend to function differently. Young bucks will act more like does.....but for some reason it seems the older bucks develop different tendencies.

    I had a guy explain it to me like this. Take a piece of notebook paper and envision all the lines as a deer trails the does use.....if you are a buck.....how do you check all those trails for a hot doe? Well, I started tracing the lines with my finger. I was promptly told I was young and stupid and surely wouldn't survive as a deer! He looked at me and said....I'm going to use my nose and he moved his finger in a way that crossed all those paths. He said, I'm going to use the cover and the lay of the land to stay hidden while I check these trails in as efficient of a way as I can.....while keeping my own butt as safe as possible. Then...."light bulb"!

    The real world isn't that simple, but it certainly can help us look further and help see things differently. I have started using mock scrape to help locate hubs of activity as well on logging paths. Some work and some don't, but it helps me narrow things down.
     
  8. TreeDaddy

    TreeDaddy A good 3 year old buck

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2016
    Location:
    walton,texas
    My access (perimeter) roads are also 30 ft

    I got tired of knocking every reflector,mirror,light,antenna,etc off the tractor when mowing

    bill
     
    WTNUT likes this.
  9. JFK52

    JFK52 A good 3 year old buck

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2016
    I have access roads on my property so that I can drive the entire perimeter. These roads are wide enough for my Suburban and Kubota to travel. I find that I have the opposite problem. Mother Nature is constantly narrowing my roads for me. I have to trim all sorts of branches and brush that want to grow towards the sunlight opening created by the road. This is especially true on East to West roads which get more sun than North to South roads. The bucks might not use these roads but the does sure do. I drive on them in the winter just to bust tracks into the snow cover. Sure enough, the next day there are deer tracks in the open wheel tracks. The deer expend less energy when they can walk where there is already a track in place.
     
  10. Peplin Creek

    Peplin Creek A good 3 year old buck

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2016
    Location:
    Zone 4b - Central Wisconsin
    I don’t think “narrowing” down the trail will help much for more mature buck sitings. I have a similar setup to you as described, and I only get mature bucks on camera crossing the path or running down it during the rut mostly. Use that to your advantage. Keep em wide, plant your food, find out where the major trail crossings are and where the timber on each side thickens up. Setup an ambush spot. If you have doe using it. The bucks will eventually be there and you’ll know what time of year you need to sit in that stand. To me it sounds like you have a good situation. Bucks are scent checking the paths for receptive doe but aren’t checking the path itself which is your access point. Don’t over think it. If you have already learned their travel habits... that’s half the battle.
     
    bueller likes this.
  11. North Mo

    North Mo Yearling... With promise

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2017
    Tie down plenty of shoulder high branches on the edges of that winding 30 foot wide clover plot and it should help to draw in the bucks to make scrapes. Maybe a couple rubbing posts in the center of the road and a couple water holes on the edges. Give them a reason to be in the road.
     
    TreeDaddy likes this.
  12. tynimiller

    tynimiller A good 3 year old buck

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2016
    Location:
    Zone 6A - Northern Indiana
    I've heard this illustration before, and have used it myself for folks. That light bulb moment is intense and incredible for many.
     
  13. Natty Bumppo

    Natty Bumppo 5 year old buck +

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2014
    Location:
    Western Massachusetts
    It sounds like these trails are being used for access, correct? Tractors and implements. One thing the OP hasn't mentioned is if these trails are also being used for access to his stands while hunting. The last thing I would want is to encourage more negative deer/human encounters by attracting deer to my trails. For the work involved in planting something on a forest trail to gain a couple feet on each side of that 5' desired trail I personally would just let mother nature do its thing and invest my energy elsewhere. Then keep the strip mowed.
     
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