At a point in the life cycle of the pine forest, loggers may return to thin out the crop. Thinning cuts the number of trees back so the remaining mature left have better long-term growth.

“A thinning is a mechanism or tool that we use to reduce competition in the stands of trees,” said Steven Smith of Cross Creek Timber. “We plant somewhere around 500 to 600 trees per acre, and that’s more than the site can handle when the trees are mature. The objective in planting them like that is you want the competition when the trees are young, and you want them competing for sunlight so you get vertical growth.

“The tops of the trees will eventually fill in the growing space,” he said. “If you leave a planted stand of timber untouched, Mother Nature is going to thin it. Mother Nature is going to take the weak out, and the stronger are going to survive. What we do in a thinning is mimic the effects of Mother Nature, but we’re going to do it on a commercial basis where there is income to be achieved from the harvested trees but, primarily, a first thinning is to remove the poorer quality trees before mother nature kills them.”

For deer hunters, thinning is a dream come true. Although tree stands will need to be moved temporarily, deer can resume using the land immediately. Hunters can access thick areas that previously could only be hunted around the perimeters.