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Old 11-28-2017, 04:47 PM   #1
Casey
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Default Cedar Removal and the Impact to Deer Herds

What is the prevailing wisdom on the effects of cedar removal from property with regards to whitetail numbers, management and quality?

Discuss.
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Old 11-28-2017, 04:52 PM   #2
Red_RaiderHTC
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It will remove bedding cover but significantly improves available forage... you will notice a change in travel path.
Also depends what you plant or what grows back in place of the cedar?
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Old 11-28-2017, 04:54 PM   #3
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Also, if you have a tank, etc. that is spring-fed, removal of the cedars will help the spring.
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Old 11-28-2017, 04:55 PM   #4
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There’s a million factors involved. Our property is in Mason County, has rolling hills and draws, and about 10 other shrub and trees. We cut as many cedars as possible and have removed around 350 Acres so far which is about 1/3 of the ranch. We also use rotational grazing and prescribed fire, therefore we have great grass cover. We have not seen any decrease in deer numbers and surveys are actually showing that we have more deer now than before. We now have more food available for deer and livestock because of the removal of juniper. If it were up to me I’d remove every one on the property, but that isn’t feasible. We will continue to leave those thickets in the roughest rockiest terrain.
That being said, if you have a flat property without much other woody species you can really decrease deer numbers by removing too much juniper. So keep that in mind.
If you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer them.
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Old 11-28-2017, 04:57 PM   #5
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Good friends family owns the West Kerr Ranch. They remove as much cedar as they can yearly on the 10k acre ranch. Every year they kill about 100 bucks and 100 does along with numerous exotics. I donít think it changes the quality of the game but it will definitely open up more browse and grassy areas for them to feed on. Google the Ranch and you will find a lot of information about how they manage the land.
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Old 11-28-2017, 04:59 PM   #6
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I wouldn’t do I*t* the last place i hunted was covered in deer. Could find beds in tall grass next to Ceder’s all over that place. If I*t* came to clearing i would do very little and let grass grow up 4 foot tall.
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Old 11-28-2017, 05:23 PM   #7
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We have a ranch in Menard County and have a lot of cedars. We can't afford to clear every cedar but we like to clear strips of cedars around 20ft wide by 100 yards long every year to help improve the habitat. We only do these strip clearings on flat ground. We leave the cedars on the rocky hill sides. It's amazing to see all the forbs and grass growing in these areas in just one year.
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Old 11-28-2017, 06:40 PM   #8
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If it’s the dominant cover species on the place, you don’t want to clear it all out, but you’ll certainly want to thin it out to improve habitat/allow more valuable forage to take its place. Deer should improve with better/more forage available.
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Old 11-28-2017, 07:47 PM   #9
BrandonA
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Cedars are considered invasive. Clear and replant with more beneficial hardwoods
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Old 11-28-2017, 07:52 PM   #10
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I would look at what other species of trees or shrubs are on the place first. If I were removing cedars I would do pockets here and there in the better soils. I would cut cedars or use a shear and leave the lay on the ground where the fall or in small open piles to allow new plants a place to grow. Birds will set on them and "plant" new seeds for you giving the seedlings a place to grow without browsing pressure.
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Old 11-28-2017, 07:54 PM   #11
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I spoke to a TPWD biologist about this a couple years ago. His recommendation was to leave all of the large, mature cedar trees with peeling bark. Apparently threatened black capped vireos and golden cheeked warblers like to use the bark in their nests. He said to selectively keep the 6-12' tall cedars I like and get rid of anything under 6' tall.
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Old 11-28-2017, 08:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WBT View Post
I spoke to a TPWD biologist about this a couple years ago. His recommendation was to leave all of the large, mature cedar trees with peeling bark. Apparently threatened black capped vireos and golden cheeked warblers like to use the bark in their nests. He said to selectively keep the 6-12' tall cedars I like and get rid of anything under 6' tall.

I received similar advice last spring from a USDA NRCS rep that evaluated our place. He said old growth cedars should not be removed. They are native and healthy for the ecosystem.
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Old 11-28-2017, 09:17 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Puncher51 View Post
There’s a million factors involved. Our property is in Mason County, has rolling hills and draws, and about 10 other shrub and trees. We cut as many cedars as possible and have removed around 350 Acres so far which is about 1/3 of the ranch. We also use rotational grazing and prescribed fire, therefore we have great grass cover. We have not seen any decrease in deer numbers and surveys are actually showing that we have more deer now than before. We now have more food available for deer and livestock because of the removal of juniper. If it were up to me I’d remove every one on the property, but that isn’t feasible. We will continue to leave those thickets in the roughest rockiest terrain.
That being said, if you have a flat property without much other woody species you can really decrease deer numbers by removing too much juniper. So keep that in mind.
If you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer them.
Well put per usual in regards to this topic. We do the same as you described as well as leaving select larger cedar trees. It’s a slow and steady process but rewarding and gets easier with time, particularly the burns.
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Old 11-29-2017, 12:12 PM   #14
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Got the county Gubment coming out next Friday to look at some cost sharing options. Hoping they will give us some monetary help we plan to attack all the "bad" stuff on our creeks and flatter areas. With or without them we are always working on the cedars. My theory is areas that wont grow grass or increase water on the property will probably not have the cedar cut off it. Only caveat to that is around oaks. All cedars get cleared from under and about 1 1/2 times the diameter of the oak canopy. Even the large mature oaks explode with growth after doing this.

In a nutshell our cedar cutting program is:

- Everything within 20' of a road or fence.
- Everything under and around oaks.
- Everything near creeks and areas that feed the creeks.
- Anywhere that we can grow grass.
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Old 11-25-2018, 08:23 AM   #15
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A TPWD biologist came and reviewed our new land last week, had a lot of good info for us to follow in improving it.
The land's cover is very diverse in mostly bottom-land environment but he strongly suggested removing most of the cedar pockets and thickets. As he pointed out, the ground under heavy cedar will be bare because of the lack of sunlight. That is not what you want. Yes, a few deer may hide in them but the grass and other plants/forbes that would then grow from clearing them would provide bedding, plus food as well. Plus, the bare ground in cedar areas will also erode very quickly. He also recommended leaving the few large cedars as they looked to be very old.
He helped us discover many other benefits and types of good trees we were not aware of but since this post is concerning cedars, I'll stop here unless someone is interested.
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Old 11-25-2018, 08:58 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdwinklr View Post
A TPWD biologist came and reviewed our new land last week, had a lot of good info for us to follow in improving it.
The land's cover is very diverse in mostly bottom-land environment but he strongly suggested removing most of the cedar pockets and thickets. As he pointed out, the ground under heavy cedar will be bare because of the lack of sunlight. That is not what you want. Yes, a few deer may hide in them but the grass and other plants/forbes that would then grow from clearing them would provide bedding, plus food as well. Plus, the bare ground in cedar areas will also erode very quickly. He also recommended leaving the few large cedars as they looked to be very old.
He helped us discover many other benefits and types of good trees we were not aware of but since this post is concerning cedars, I'll stop here unless someone is interested.

Please PM or post if you would like on the other sentence above ^. Would be much appreciated
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Old 11-25-2018, 01:36 PM   #17
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Do you guys treat the cedar stumps or just cut them down? Or are you digging them up by the roots?
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Old 11-26-2018, 09:16 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Grayson View Post
Do you guys treat the cedar stumps or just cut them down? Or are you digging them up by the roots?
The Hill Country has Ashe Juniper which can be killed by removing all green vegetation, therefore no need for chemical or uprooting them.
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Old 11-26-2018, 09:37 AM   #19
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I have started removing some cedar from our place. It will be work,but plan on clearing all my better soil areas & leaving the pockets in areas. Thanks for the info on the big mature cedars. The biologist never mentioned that about leaving some. I will leave some of them & concentrate on the smaller stuff . My ultimate goal is to keep the bigger pockets contained & go from there. The TPWD biologist suggested I leave them where they fall. Grass will sprout through them & get a good start.
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Old 11-26-2018, 09:43 AM   #20
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Great information

Last edited by bgleaton; 11-26-2018 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 11-26-2018, 09:47 AM   #21
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If they are blueberry cedars you can cut the stump and it will die without the need of any chemicals as long as you remove all the green growth. If they are redberry cedars you will need to use chemicals or bulldoze them to remove the roots.

It's also very beneficial to cut the cedars and let them lay on the bare ground. They will add organic matter (i.e. needles), prevent erosion, keep the soil cooler, and will act as a grazing enclosure while grasses and forbs start growing underneath.

There was a study done somewhere in the texas edwards plateau and they found some of the most fertile soils in areas where cedars are cleared due to the amount of organic matter from the needles, branches, etc. This was obviously a bottomland area and not a rocky hillside.

We mulched clearings of cedars and now have a lot of great grasses, forbs and browse growing in these clearings only after 1 year.

Last edited by bgleaton; 11-26-2018 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 11-28-2018, 10:26 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgleaton View Post
If they are blueberry cedars you can cut the stump and it will die without the need of any chemicals as long as you remove all the green growth. If they are redberry cedars you will need to use chemicals or bulldoze them to remove the roots.

It's also very beneficial to cut the cedars and let them lay on the bare ground. They will add organic matter (i.e. needles), prevent erosion, keep the soil cooler, and will act as a grazing enclosure while grasses and forbs start growing underneath.

There was a study done somewhere in the texas edwards plateau and they found some of the most fertile soils in areas where cedars are cleared due to the amount of organic matter from the needles, branches, etc. This was obviously a bottomland area and not a rocky hillside.

We mulched clearings of cedars and now have a lot of great grasses, forbs and browse growing in these clearings only after 1 year.
We cut at ground level with a shear and let them lay until they are completely brown and dried out. Trying to burn green cedar can be frustrating. Also, I have seen that letting them lay for a few months protects the grass underneath them from grazing. When we stack the dried cedar its not uncommon to have little stands of grass 2-3x taller than the rest of the grass in the area.

While I've never read the benefits of the organic matter breaking down in to the soil it does make some sense.

My new theory on clearing is as follows.

We cut cedar in:

- Flat areas that we feel native grasses have a good chance of returning to and flourishing.

- Areas of gentle drainage towards ponds and creeks.

- Areas around ponds and creeks where we don't see future erosion as a result being a possibility

- Everything within 50' of a road.

- Everything from under and around oaks equal to 2x the oak canopy.
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Old 11-28-2018, 05:20 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puncher51 View Post
Thereís a million factors involved. Our property is in Mason County, has rolling hills and draws, and about 10 other shrub and trees. We cut as many cedars as possible and have removed around 350 Acres so far which is about 1/3 of the ranch. We also use rotational grazing and prescribed fire, therefore we have great grass cover. We have not seen any decrease in deer numbers and surveys are actually showing that we have more deer now than before. We now have more food available for deer and livestock because of the removal of juniper. If it were up to me Iíd remove every one on the property, but that isnít feasible. We will continue to leave those thickets in the roughest rockiest terrain.
That being said, if you have a flat property without much other woody species you can really decrease deer numbers by removing too much juniper. So keep that in mind.
If you have any questions Iíll do my best to answer them.
Well done
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Old 12-05-2018, 09:55 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DUKFVR View Post
I have started removing some cedar from our place. It will be work,but plan on clearing all my better soil areas & leaving the pockets in areas. Thanks for the info on the big mature cedars. The biologist never mentioned that about leaving some. I will leave some of them & concentrate on the smaller stuff . My ultimate goal is to keep the bigger pockets contained & go from there. The TPWD biologist suggested I leave them where they fall. Grass will sprout through them & get a good start.
Didn't know that about letting them lay, I would think that would choke out any grass? If that works, sure will be easier on me rather than gathering them all up and burning or creating brush piles.
One thing I left out about the big cedars and leaving them, he also suggested removing the lower limbs so at least some sunlight could get to the ground.
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Old 12-05-2018, 11:22 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by tdwinklr View Post
Didn't know that about letting them lay, I would think that would choke out any grass? If that works, sure will be easier on me rather than gathering them all up and burning or creating brush piles.
One thing I left out about the big cedars and leaving them, he also suggested removing the lower limbs so at least some sunlight could get to the ground.
The grass will grow up through the cut cedars. If you have cattle, the cut cedars protect the grass from grazing, so it grows taller and creates excellent microclimates for song birds and other wildlife.
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Old 12-05-2018, 11:46 AM   #26
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Ashe Juniper is not an invasive species in Central Texas. keep your old growth. keep knocking back the young stuff.
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Old 12-05-2018, 03:07 PM   #27
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Very cool video about cedar removal:

Around the 5:00 mark is where he talks about how cedar and how it improves organic matter OVER TIME. You will see that they leave all the cedar lay where they cut it and talk about the reason for doing this.
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Old 12-05-2018, 05:51 PM   #28
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Excellent video! That pretty much sums up what everyone has been discussing
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Old 12-06-2018, 12:22 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgleaton View Post
Very cool video about cedar removal:
Hill Country Land Trust - Managing Cedar (Ashe Juniper) - YouTube

Around the 5:00 mark is where he talks about how cedar and how it improves organic matter OVER TIME. You will see that they leave all the cedar lay where they cut it and talk about the reason for doing this.
Great video. Didn't get to finish it but he makes a compelling reason to let them lay. Question: did he talk about eventually stacking and burning? I'm all for letting them lay for a period of time where the leaves break down and enter the soil and provide a shield for grass growth, but leaving them forever wouldn't be very visually appealing.
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Old 12-06-2018, 12:30 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgleaton View Post
Very cool video about cedar removal:
Hill Country Land Trust - Managing Cedar (Ashe Juniper) - YouTube

Around the 5:00 mark is where he talks about how cedar and how it improves organic matter OVER TIME. You will see that they leave all the cedar lay where they cut it and talk about the reason for doing this.
Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12-06-2018, 06:27 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Casey View Post
What is the prevailing wisdom on the effects of cedar removal from property with regards to whitetail numbers, management and quality?

Discuss.
You will have untold amount of natural browse if you cut them down. You could leave a few cedars if it makes you feel better, but the browse is the better bet. If you have a whole forest of cedars, there will be nothing but cedars. They shade out all light so nothing else grows there. A few are ok, but ya gotta keep them under control.
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Old 12-06-2018, 06:32 PM   #32
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Old 12-09-2018, 01:21 PM   #33
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To me it depends on what part of the country it is in. On a big ranch I had in KS, the cedar was the majority of the cover with a few cottonwoods in the draws. After the removal of the majority of the cedar, prescribed burns, the majority of the mature bucks that called that place home have left. It is now majority pasture with lots of cows. The two don't mix with mature bucks being lack of cover and lots of cows.
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Old 12-09-2018, 10:16 PM   #34
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Reduce the red bloom.
4" for fence post. Larger for corner post.
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Old Yesterday, 05:51 PM   #35
bgleaton
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If you don’t want the look of the dead cedars laying down you could conduct a prescribed burn a couple years after letting them lay.
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