Steve Bartylla Screens
Tip of the Week: Screening
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Screening can serve several valuable purposes for hunters &/or managers:
Reduce social stress levels for deer by helping to compartmentalize them into different areas of food sources (out of sight, out of mind)
Inspire bucks to waist precious seconds on our grounds. By screening areas off, Mr. Big must enter them to check for does and competing bucks, instead of merely glancing at them, from a distance.
Hinge cut screens can significantly increase browse production.
Screen openings inspire most deer to enter and exit through the opening, helping draw them past stands, in safe wind areas.
Screening can hide hunter’s travels.
When the topography lays right, you can use it to hide deer from other humans (screen off fields flanked by roads and areas from fence sitting neighbors.
There are 3 types of screens I commonly use.
Planting Miscanthus X Giganteus (sterile Asian grass. You can learn more at www.mapleriverfarms.com), in two 3’x 3’off set rows. That planting takes 3 years to create a truly effective screen. You can trim a year off of that by going 1.5’ x 1.5’ rows, but that also doubles the cost. Once established, it expands a few inches a year, simply from new shoots coming off the rhizomes, and can effectively last forever.
With spruce, I plant 2 or 3 10’x10’ offset rows. I pack them a bit tighter for screens than for bedding/thermal cover, as I’m not as concerned about losing the inside branches, due to lack of light, and shaving a year or two off of the many years it will take to create an effective screen is a fair trade off, in my mind.
Edge feathering, the act of hinge cutting a 5ish yard wide band of trees, can work virtually instantaneously. Dropping the tops down to ground level provides instant deer browse and cover, with typically a steady stream of new growth filing in the gaps.
In future tips, I’ll likely get into details on how I’ve used screening to accomplish specific goals. For now, I included a couple examples. The video shows what an edge feather screen looks like in year one. As importantly, it shows how much less food and greater visibility there is on the unscreened ends. The pics merely show an example of how I laid one out (3 years old, pic was taken July 4. It will add another 4-5ish feet before season) and of deer shooting the gaps (this is a 2 year old screen….fairly effective, but not completely filled in, yet).