Spring Project: Trim Access Trails Now

Midwestern weather is full of surprises. The latest is the sudden and fairly drastic arrival of spring, which sent us from below-zero temps last week to nearly 70 now. Shed hunters hit the woods in droves, hoping to find antlers previously buried by snow. While I’ve made a couple loops searching for bone, my hunting buddies Alan, Dave, and I forsook serious shed hunting to throw ourselves at a more important task: cutting entry/exit trails to treestands.

Creating these trails is an important step in hunting a property well, especially if it’s a small one. The ground we were working the last couple of days is only 97 acres, but it has a lot of great habitat (two creeks, tons of thick cover, stands of mature hardwoods, and four food plots). Although only two guys hunt it on most occasions, it would be easy to alert deer if, for example, they both sat near food plots in the evening and then walked out along those plot edges to return to camp. So we spent our time cutting trails that would allow evening exits to avoid food sources, and morning entrances to do the same.

Before we set to work, we studied an aerial photo of the property, to get a general idea of where to create trails and how to route them. Then it was time to take those general directions and walk the actual area, fine-tuning trail placement to avoid major obstacles like steep ditches and to take advantage of terrain features that made for easier travel and/or concealment from deer. Three of the trails run through terrain accessible to an ATV, so we made those paths wide enough to accommodate a machine. The fourth we made into a simple walking path.

We got it all done with chainsaws and hand-pruners. It wasn’t easy but after a day-and-a-half of labor, the three of us had created close to a mile of trails that link food plots, tree stands, and a hunting cabin. Next fall, Alan and Dave will be able to access and exit stands in a far more covert fashion, hopefully flying under the radar of several nice bucks that use the property. And the real payoff will come when one (or both) of them tags a giant.