In the dead of winter there are very few things you can do to your hunting property to help with your deer hunting. The frozen ground, and snow on top of it make any ground work impossible. You can take down your stands for the next few months to help protect seat cushions and to extend the life of the stands. Another good option is to prune fruit trees on the property.
Winter is the preferred time to prune apple trees in orchards and to prune grape vines at wineries so it makes sense to prune wild apple and pear trees now also. Unpruned trees can end up with a lot of moisture in the canopy of the tree that leads to mildew and fruit loss. Also, by removing sick or injured limbs you can help the tree thrive and produce more fruit.
To do a thorough job, you’re going to want to a pole saw or extendable pruning saw such as the Hooyman brand of saws, some decent gloves, eye protection, and a 6-foot ladder. If you can use a battery or gas-powered pole saw, you can save a lot of time and energy, just be sure to be always be aware of where the bar and chain are. Also, wear hearing protection if using a gas-powered saw.
If you want to limit the height of a tree, prune the central upright branch back to where a limb branches off. This can be handy if you have a stand where you can see beyond the apple tree but if it gets taller, it will block your line of sight. Prune limbs that grow straight up off from lateral branches that will shade lower limbs once they have leaves on them. These branches also tend to be less productive. Also, look at the layout of the branches and prune limbs that grow toward the center of the tree. Too many branches growing in the center of the tree won’t allow light and air to penetrate the tree. Leave branches that grow out from the center of the tree. It may be surprising how much of the tree that gets removed during pruning but have some faith to see it through for a couple years.
While you are pruning your fruit trees, look around at the other trees nearby. Trees that are shading your fruit trees can be pruned or completely cut down to allow more sunlight through. If cut down, they also will be less competition for nutrients in the soil. This is also a good method to help oak trees. By removing competition nearby, oak trees can produce more acorns. So, if you are bored and want to do some property management to improve the deer hunting, give winter time pruning a try.