By Jeff Sturgis, Habitat Design Specialist / Owner of Whitetail Habitat Solutions
One of the most effective ways to get deer within bow range of your treestand is by creating a travel corridor right past it. Deer are creatures of habit, and they often take the path of least resistance within the landscape. Corridors serve as a great method of getting deer to travel from point A to point B along a path that you’ve created.
A critical aspect of travel corridor creation is insuring that you choose the right dimensions for the deer herd in your area. Throughout the range of the whitetail’s habitat, there is ever changing topography, cover type, and percentage of agriculture. Depending on local conditions, deer will tolerate different amounts of confining tangled cover. Deer may avoid corridors and bedding areas all together if they are too confining, so be sure to account for local conditions.
Narrow Hooped Corridors
In areas with minimal topographical changes and agriculture utilizing 80-90% of the landscape, deer will tolerate much narrower and confining corridors. In these coverless ag regions, deer are forced to live in close proximity to one another. By compartmentalizing the habitat and movements, you can create more efficient features in the habitat that can accommodate high numbers of deer.
Heavily screened bedding areas, unobtrusive food plots, and narrow travel corridors all help to compartmentalize your habitat improvements. 1-2’ trails between bedding and feeding areas are a great start to effective travel corridors. Remove any logs, branches, or dense vegetation from the trails so that deer can easily meander between habitat features.
A great way to gauge if the trail is clear enough is whether or not you could ride a bike through it with ease. Once the trail is clear, hinge small (4-6” diameter) trees away from and perpendicular to the corridor to create screening side cover. Finally, tie young growth and saplings across the corridor to create hoops above the trail 4-6’ from the ground. In these high agriculture regions, deer will frequently utilize these hooped, narrow and confining corridors, but only if they are free of obstructions, so be sure to clear any fallen branches or debris that may fall and clog your corridor!
Avoid creating a canopy or tunneled corridor in areas that deer are accustomed to a more open habitat. This option offers a safer approach to ensuring that your corridor is not too narrow or confining. Without hinging alongside or hooping over the trails, simply clear logs and branches from the trail so that deer have no obstacles to hop over or duck under. Trails can be 3-4’ wide and should be easy to pass through.
These moderately sized corridors require little to no maintenance, but should be kept clear or fallen logs or large branches. This method mimics a more natural feature in the habitat, and exploits the theory that deer will simply follow the path of least resistance between bedding areas and food sources.
While hooped and hinged narrow travel corridors undoubtedly have their place in areas of little cover and high agriculture, they can be completely avoided in areas where deer are used to more open habitat. The best recommendation I can offer, is to mimic the natural conditions of the region your parcel is located in. If your travel corridors blend with the local conditions, deer will utilize them! With strategic placement, you can easily encourage deer to travel within bow range of your treestands.