Junction, TX - Hunter's Guide 2023-2024

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& Surrounding Areas

DEER Country 2023-2024


The Junction Eagle Published in Kimble County Since 1882

The best place to work, play, raise a family and retire!

First state Bank has been providing banking services here for over 70 years, serving the local

real estate market as “the #1 real estate lender,” promoting the business community, supporting the ranching industry and helping our community and our youth. Enjoy your stay in this beautiful county, and let us know how the friendly folks at First State Bank can help you.

First state Bank offers a variety of loan types to serve you: real estate lending, home construction, consumer, home equity, as well as internet banking service. The Friendly Bank

First State Bank 2002 Main St. (325)446-3391


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WELCOME TO JUNCTION! We hope you stay safe while you are here!

Should you need medical care, our local medical providers are here to help! LEVEL IV TRAUMA CENTER OPEN 24 HOURS


349 Reid Road Junction, TX 76849


Publisher’s Message

The staff at The Junction Eagle welcomes hunters and visitors to the best hunting country in the great state of Texas. While you’re here in the splendid “Land of Living Waters”, we want you to enjoy yourselves, forget about the shenanigans in Washington (What a mess!) and have the most successful hunting experience ever. Kimble County has a lot to offer hunters: whitetail deer, exotics, turkey, feral hogs (Please kill feral hogs!), quail, javelina, bobcats, coyotes, red fox, predator contests, welcoming free breakfasts and lunches; and there are some of the finest folks here that you’ll ever meet anywhere. We encourage you to shop with our advertisers. The local merchants who advertise in our

Hunter’s Guide demonstrate that they want, will work for, and appreciate your business. They have years of experience in stocking what you need, and they will go out of their way, with typical Hill Country hospitality, to make sure you are well served. We hope visitors to Kimble County will enjoy this publication. We’ve attempted to give you some hunting information and info about local services. We are always grateful to the Spring Creek Outdoors and its wildlife biologists Macy Ledbetter, Matt Nuernberg and Wade Ledbetter for the wealth of information they provide each year. This year we are also pleased to publish the work of Texas Tech Junction, as well as the beautiful wildlife photography from the following: Macy Ledbetter, Wade Ledbetter and Matt Nuernberg. Other contributors include: Ashley Putnam, Upper Llano Prescribed Burn Association, Jessica Ehlers, Clay Sterrett, Aldofo Ponce, and Stephanie Pearl. Thank you for choosing to visit us. Be careful; have a great time while you’re here ..... and come back soon! Debbie Cooper Kistler, owner


The Junction Texas and Surrounding Areas

Hunter’s Guide

Message from KC Game Warden - pg. 7 Spring Creek Outdoors Contributors - pg. 8 Kimble County Hunting Forecast - pgs. 9-10 Deer Season Tidbits - pg. 12 From the Lease to the home- pgs. 15-16 Can I shoot a deer with an ear tag?- pg. 19 Outdoor Learning Center @ TTU- pgs. 20-22 Places to Set Your Sights On - pg. 24-25 Texclipse Music Fest - pg. 26 Predator Control - pg. 29 Why do we harvest data? - pgs. 30-31 How do antlers grow? - pgs. 32-33 Texas Tech University Center @ Junction - pgs. 35-36 The rise of exotics in Central Texas - pg. 37-38 Exciting Events - pg. 39 Which exotics are best for me? - pg. 41 Porcupine - pg. 43 Why are my bass small? - pg. 45 Fire implecations - pg. 46 Wildlife taxes - pg. 47

A Welcome from State Representative Andy Murr

On behalf of my friends and neighbors in Kimble County, I’d like to welcome you to Junction on the banks of the beautiful North and South Llano Rivers. As someone who grew up here, served as Kimble County Judge and is now serving as our area’s State Representative, I suppose my objectivity regarding the allures of Kimble County could be called into question. But in my humble opinion, you have chosen to visit the finest 1,251 square miles Texas has to offer, and we are all very happy that you did. Our part of the Texas Hill Country is deeply important to the multi-billion dollar hunting, fishing and recreation industry. Texans purchased well over a million hunting and fishing licenses last year, and many of those hunters and anglers chose to spend their time in

Living Waters.” Please know that I, and the members of Texas Legislature, remain committed to ensuring that the State of Texas remains a reasonable and pragmatic steward of native wildlife and waters, a protector of our fundamental rights to hunt and fish, and a supporter of continued research and study of the natural world around us. As someone who grew up on the land, I zealously support the gifts of the outdoors that surround us all. Once again, welcome to Kimble County. I hope your stay is pleasant and enjoyable, and that we will see you again Kimble County’s pastures and pristine in the years to come. river banks. The opportunity to spend time surrounded by nature, with family Sincerely yours, and friends, proves to be a constant Andrew Murr, Member enticement for folks visiting our “Land of Texas House of Representatives



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A message from KC GAME WARDEN

Opening Weekend 2023! I sure am glad to see some water in the creeks and finally some cooler temperatures. Unfortunately, like last year, this late summer rain has mother nature tricked into thinking it’s springtime and all the deer will likely retreat to the thick brush to browse on all the new growth, falling pecans and acorns. I can’t tell you how many calls I got last year from people wondering what happened to all the deer - just for them to all show back up after the new year. All our canyons and creeks have proven to be great habitat for all sorts of cool and rare animals. Several landowners reported seeing black bear this year and they had the pictures to prove it. Another big cat was brought in to one of our local taxidermists already this season; and some folks sent in video of a black-tailed rattlesnake and a Jaguarundi! We need to continue to pressure the wild pigs. Bob-white quail are trying to make a comeback and I am starting to see them more and more on county roads. This summer was good for local business as the South Llano held up better than most other central Texas streams through record-setting heat and lack of rain for months. On that note, local rivers and creeks are on the front of everyone’s minds due to the attention that several local planned dam projects have brought to the area. With that said, I’ve got a few reminders regarding surface water law. A stream is considered navigable by either of two definitions. Navigable by Fact: in their natural state for a considerable portion of the year, are useful to the public. Navigable by statute: if they retain an average width of thirty feet from the mouth up. The width measured is the distance between the fast (or firmly fixed) land banks (effective December 14, 1837). The banks of a stream or river are the water washed


and relatively permanent elevations or acclivities at the outer lines of the riverbed which separate the bed from the adjacent upland. We’ve got several rivers and streams that are navigable by fact throughout the county and probably tens that are considered navigable by statute. Along a navigable stream, the public may boat, fish, swim, camp, and in general carry on any legal activity – as long as one remains confined within the stream’s bank. If a stream is considered navigable, it is also illegal to operate a vehicle within its banks (unless a landowner owns both sides and is directly crossing), disturb the sand, gravel, and/or bed rock and to build a dam or road without permit. As of September 1, the state legislature also made it illegal to fire a weapon in a public freshwater riverbed unless using it’s shot shell. This will probably get mixed reactions, as many landowners along our rivers and streams will be happy to hear that the riverbeds will no longer be open to rifle and archery hunting, although they, in turn, will also be restricted by the same law. Another year, another CWD issue. Seems like it’s become all too common. After a confirmed CWD positive deer was found in a breeding facility on KC130 in South Central Kimble County, we now have a new surveillance zone and a 24-hour drop box near the South Llano River State Park’s entrance. The manned station at Segovia will remain in place this year as well. Unfortunately, this latest deer was found positive just before the start of the season, leaving TPWD and landowners struggling to get things figured out in time for this hunting season. For those affected on the west side of the county and who may be headed further west after leaving camp, there is also a manned check station at I-10 and RM864 near Sonora. All landowners within the surveillance zones were mailed a flyer in

September notifying them of the new zone and the regulations involved. If you have any questions regarding the new or existing zones, a quick online search of Kimble CWD will bring up an informative link to theTPWD website with specific locations, hours of operation and contact info. Please be respectful of your neighbors and try to practice as much hunting, fishing, and small-town etiquette as you can! If you can shop local, please do! I know things may be cheaper near the big cities but these folks sure work hard to try and bring some convenience to you. Don’t be surprised if you see some new faces patrolling the county towards the end of deer season. My wife and I are expecting a baby girl mid-December, so some out-of-town wardens will be making an appearance to help check hunters throughout the county. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns, stay safe and good luck to everyone this year! Texas Game Warden-Kimble County Marcus Whitworth 325-280-5224 Marcus.whitworth@tpwd.texas.gov


Guest contributors: Spring Creek Outdoors Macy Ledbetter is a professional wildlife biologist with a life-long

passion for wildlife, habitat, and hunting. Macy earned his degree from Texas A&M University and now operates a wildlife consulting business, Spring Creek Outdoors, based in central Texas on his historic family ranch. Macy is a fifthgeneration rancher and actively manages his ranch for optimum cattle and wildlife production. His client list totals over three million acres in all corners of Texas and Mexico. He understands and explains wildlife management processes like few others and can make each individual step palatable and educational for his clients. When he is not surveying wildlife, hunting, or writing about game management, he may be found supporting legislative projects or involved in a wide array of public speaking activities. Macy and his wife Cathy live on their family ranch in northern San Saba County, along with a wide array of pets. You can reach Macy anytime at Macy.Ledbetter@gmail.com

Wade Ledbetter is a professional wildlife

biologist and member of Spring Creek Outdoor, LLC team. He grew up both in the thornscrub of south Texas and on the historic family ranch in San Saba County. Wade has spent years in the family business working directly with landowners, conducting helicopter surveys and wildlife captures and has more hands-on experience with intensive wildlife management than most professionals three times his age. As a sixth-generation landowner, he firmly grasps the responsibility of landownership and intensive wildlife management. Wade received his Wildlife Ecology degree from Texas A & M in 2020, was a member of the Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Team where he won seven different collegiate national championships. When he is not counting or catching wildlife, Wade conducts private, for-hire, intensive shooting instruction classes for individuals, law enforcement and shooting industry representatives. With his wife Macie, Wade lives in Mason County and can be reached at any time at wadeledbetter@me.com

Matt Nuernberg is a professional wildlife biologist and

member of Spring Creek Outdoors, LLC team. He became interested in wildlife and habitat management at a young age and started working on helicopter captures, surveys, and with captive white tail deer while in still in high school. Matt graduated Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2013 with a B.S. in Range and Wildlife Management and has worked as an assistant biologist and hunting guide on a King Ranch corporate hunting lease, and as manager, biologist, and guide on two large South Texas ranches and a North Texas exotic game operation. With his wife Shelby and daughter Sarita, Matt lives near Poth, Texas. You can reach Matt anytime at mattn73@live.com



2023-24 HUNTING SEASON FORECAST Macy Ledbetter Spring Creek Outdoors Kimble County wildlife are coming to the end of 2023 in pretty good overall shape. The drought in the middle was brutal, but thankfully we had good spring rains on the front end and some nice rains behind it. The brush is healing slowly, the grass is green--albeit for a short while, but the big trees continue to struggle. As you likely know, we spend every single day in the field starting in August looking, counting, photographing, monitoring, measuring and judging wildlife and habitat conditions throughout our travels. The entire month of September finds us in a helicopter all over central Texas primarily counting deer, turkey, quail and shooting predators, so we get to see some incredible wildlife on incredible ranches up close and personal. The native brush and trees are amazingly hardy, but you will see obvious signs of stress, injury and even death this fall. Many tree limbs are dead or dying and some trunks have splits that will cause eventual death. You will see large patches of bare soil in strange places—open fields, on slopes and just randomly in the pastures. These areas were likely caused by termites. Termites feed on decayed organic matter and once that is gone, they construct the vertical tubes around the surviving standing grass so they can feed on it both day and night. Termites did an incredible amount of damage this summer, and it will take a very long time to recover. Persimmons, prickly pear and tasajillo had a banner summer and produced incredible fruits in abundance. Some mature mesquite trees produced surplus beans but that was about it. Acacias, oaks and other mast producing plants did not fare nearly as well, and that means wildlife will struggle because of it. Summer and fall mast are very important to all wildlife, and without it,


they have to hustle to meet their daily requirements. This fall, it looks like acorns will be very hit or miss with many more misses. Activity at corn feeders later this winter should be very strong. The following are our 2023-2024 hunting season forecast for Kimble County based on our recent helicopter surveys and landowner meetings throughout the county:

Macy Ledbetter


Whitetail Deer: The county-wide fawn survival average this year is 55%. However, it ranges from 35-80% and that variable is grass. If you have good grass on your ranch right now, you are likely in the high end of that range. But if you see more rocks than grass, you are certainly on the low end. This means if your fawn survival is low, you need to make certain you know your herd dynamics before you start shooting deer this fall. And for sure you need to harvest the correct deer this fall to ensure production will continue next summer. Antler quality and body condition are above average this year. There is a strong cohort of four- and fiveyear-old bucks this year and there are some very nice bucks out there. Every buck photo you see in this years’ Guide was taken in September in this county by our Spring Creek Outdoors team of wildlife biologists. We saw above average numbers of kickers, forks, splits and even a few drop tines this year and it is always fun to watch those unique animals thrive in the rolling hills and oak thickets of Kimble County. Turkey: Turkey numbers Macy Ledbetter have been down for the past five consecutive years, but they have increased significantly this year. No doubt the two February freezes impacted the adult birds, and rains have not been well-timed the past few springs. You can help the birds by keeping the feeders running and taking out as many predators as you can this fall because we need every poult to survive so that they will enter the breeding population next summer and hopefully rebuild the populations to their historic levels. Quail: Quail numbers are up throughout the county this year. To be such a fragile bird, they can be very resilient. The late spring rains and the rains more recently have produced covey sizes averaging about 12 birds per covey, and that is a welcome sight indeed. Every ranch we flew this year showed more coveys than in years’ past. We are not claiming huntable numbers yet, but it sure is nice to see (and hear) the birds in the rolling hills again. Rabbits: Rabbits are a “boom or bust” species, meaning when times are good, they do good, and when times are hard, they don’t do as well. Like fawns, you need grass for rabbits to nest, hide and feed in so if your ranch has grass, you have rabbits. If your ranch is more rock than grass, you can do better to produce more rabbits. Rabbits are the first tier prey item for predators

so produce rabbits to help keep your larger mammals safer. Feral hogs: Speaking in general terms once again, feral hogs did suffer from the drought. Sounder size is down this year as sows struggled to raise their normal litter size. We conducted many feral hog aerial shoots after game surveys this year, and what we observed and harvested was way down from a typical year. Continue to do your part to help the other wildlife and native grasses and shoot as many feral hogs and as often as you can this fall and winter. Predators: Most predator species (coyote, bobcat, fox) had a very good year this year. Our surveys and aerial shoots show the numbers are up across the board. There are many coyote pups out there this year, the female appeared to raise at least two or three pups this summer so do your part this fall and harvest predators as often as you can. If you need assistance and you want answers, give us a call because we work with outdoor observers and lovers of wild things, and we want to help you help yourself. Enjoy this time with friends and family; never forget those who we have lost since last year’s campfire, and do your best to introduce a child to hunting this year. This is going to be a good hunting season and our team wishes you well this fall. Macy Ledbetter Wade Ledbetter Matt Nuernberg Spring Creek Outdoors


Macy Ledbetter


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Deer Season Tidbits for 2023 The following are bits of miscellaneous information that hunters might find useful this hunting ––woods. These observations will help hunters and managers to improve their deer herd this fall:

This year’s fawn survival is diverse because of the drought. If you have good ground cover (grass), you are on the high end of the spectrum. If you have plenty of bare ground, you are on the low end of the spectrum this fall. Deer don’t eat grass, but they live in it. If you want a viable deer population, you must produce fawns. If you want fawns, you need grass.

When harvesting antlerless deer, make certain it is a female and not a buck fawn. If the deer is alone, the ears appear large in proportion to the head, the forehead is flat, it is the first deer to the feeder or in the field, it very well could be a buck fawn, so don’t shoot until completely confident of its identity. Doe fawns usually travel in groups, are smaller and less confident by nature than their brothers, and their foreheads are round, not flat across the top. Harvesting mature single does early in the season will prevent accidentally harvesting a buck fawn later in the season so begin surplus doe harvesting early this year and don’t wait until later when mistakes can happen.

You should strive to harvest the majority of your recommended antlerless harvest before December 1 each year. If not, you will be harvesting bred does and run the increased chance of making mistakes.

An adult sex ratio of two females per male is ideal for optimum breeding and production for sustained harvest; however, more intensively managed ranches can have a much tighten sex ratio. If your adult sex ratio exceeds two females per male, you need to step up the antlerless deer harvest this fall. This strategy will result in less buck stress and natural mortality, tighter fawning rates next summer and a much healthier deer herd and habitat. A box of bullets is cheaper than a ton of feed!

Macy Ledbetter

If you are still seeing spotted fawns in November, you have too many does or not enough bucks and this is unhealthy. Increase doe harvest and decrease buck harvest until you stop seeing late-born fawns.

When selectively harvesting bucks, allow only the better-quality bucks within each age class the opportunity to breed and pass the more favorable genetics into the herd. The earlier in the season you remove such undesirable bucks, the quicker genetic gains will be realized. Buck management is simple—if you like him, let him walk to breed. If you don’t like him and don’t want to see more just like him, shoot him before he gets away.

In a healthy deer herd, there are no spike yearling bucks. If your herd has spikes, you have a nutritional or density problem that should be addressed. Do not shoot a spike simply because he was born late (adult sex ratio issue) or he is hungry (too many deer on the ranch). Spike antlered yearling bucks are canaries in your coalmine, they are telling you of a problem, do not shoot the canary that is letting you know of a problem.

When harvesting deer early in the season, expect to encounter more parasites than normal. Do not be alarmed if elevated levels of nose bots, ticks, deer keds, or even lice are found. Under only extreme cases of infestation are these critters a problem for the deer. None of the mentioned critters negatively affect the meat quality.

Predators such as coyotes and bobcats are more successful when ground cover is lacking. Do your part this fall and harvest as many predators as you can until the habitat heals and tall grass returns.

Feral hog numbers are strong this year. Continue to harvest every pig possible. Do it for the habitat, do it for the landowner, and most of all, do it for the betterment of the deer herd.



Welcome to Kimble county

sheriff allen Castleberry deputies:

steve Brown-CHief travis griffin terry CHaney stePHen wHerry matt suttle mattHew CHristian natHan green H.t. CooKe will allen sHelBy maCHa-sro



Kelli Harames-admin Jeff adKins Kyle Carlile Kyle storms JaKe Biggs olivia Penn austin Benditz


will CHaPman-lead reserve deputies: disPatCHer randy milliCan-eoC t ravis trimBle a dmin a ssistants : travis Brown Clarissa romo setH BarClay Misty PhilliPs CHanCe CondarCo riCK davis emily vanCKHoven



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Macy Ledbetter Macy.Ledbetter@gmail.com | 361-449-6376 | San Saba Wade Ledbetter Matt Nuernberg Wade.Ledbetter@icloud.com | 361-449-6702 | Mason Matthew.Nuernberg@gmail.com | 210-324-8904 | Poth

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From the lease to the home: Proper handling of game meat and hides Wade Ledbetter, Spring Creek Outdoors Every hunting season, our poor patient taxidermists and processors are assailed with a wide range of crimes against their craft. Taxidermists are asked to work with damaged, rotting, and hairless hides, and processors are asked to make gourmet food out of dirty, waterlogged, bloodshot cuts of meat. I’ve asked several professionals of these crafts for tips and pointers that will help hunters end up with better mounts on their walls and better food on their tables. Safe and efficient meat handling Improper handling of game meat results in lots of lost meat in the best case, and consumption of low quality or unsafe food in the worst case. Properly caring for this meat begins with planning before the hunt even begins. First, ensure that you have the proper equipment and that it is clean and ready to go. Sharp knives, a saw or hatchet, coolers, ice, plastic bags, clean rags or paper towels, and plenty of clean water are essential to hygienic processing.

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The key to producing a good haul of quality and tasty game meat is to get it cool, clean, and dry as soon as possible. This begins with making a clean and ethical shot that kills the animal quickly and doesn’t contaminate the body with debris from the digestive tract. Gutting should be performed quickly after the harvest, both to help the body cool more quickly and prevent bacterial growth. Avoid perforating the stomach, intestines, colon, or bladder as this will spread bacteria throughout the carcass and can putrefy the meat. Next, you’ll skin the carcass, and this should be done carefully to not spread hair all over the carcass. Hair can be removed from meat at a later stage using a damp cloth or a quick pass with an open flame. After gutting and skinning, remember to wash your blades and hands to prevent cross-contamination when quartering or deboning. After gutting and skinning, the meat should be cooled as soon as possible. For cold late-season hunts, letting the carcass hang overnight is perfectly fine as long as the temperatures don’t dip below freezing. For the majority of Hill Country hunts though, it will be necessary to put the meat either in a cooler or on ice to get it to the desired temperature of between 32 and 40*F. A common mistake at this step is to lay meat in direct contact with ice, but this should be avoided! Leaving the meat in sustained contact with ice and the resulting water encourages the growth of bacteria and causes the meat to break down and discolor. Meat kept on ice should be sealed in plastic bags or kept above the ice on racks to keep it dry. If you desire to dry age your meat (which is an excellent choice for deer), keeping it dry in the cooler will allow this in a hygienic way. Remember to check the cooler frequently so that you can drain off stagnant meltwater and top off the ice as needed. As long as it is kept cool and dry, game meat will keep for many days until it can be delivered to a processor or your freezer at home. Caring for hides and keeping your taxidermist happy If you intend to mount a trophy, proper care of the hide is essential to ending up with a beautiful and long-lived mount. Even more crucially than with meat, it is essential to get the hide cooled as soon as possible, at most within two to three hours. If cooling the hide is not feasible within this timeframe, then it must be salted to aid in drying and prevent the growth of bacteria. If a hide is not chilled or salted within a couple hours of death, the hair will begin to “slip” or fall out, resulting in a mangy looking mount or even an unusable hide. Also important is to try not to drag your ani-

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mal too much, or over rough ground. Dragging is a surefire way to lose hair and damage the hide, and can result in a scarred-looking mount. When skinning it is important to minimize the number of cuts that must be repaired by the taxidermist. If planning on a shoulder mount, cut the hide up the back of the forelegs as straight and clean as possible, and leave at least ten inches of extra hide behind the shoulders. If you choose to cape the head yourself, try not to cut the hide up the back if possible and take extreme care around the antler pedicles, Macy Ledbetter

eyes, and lips. Most taxidermists will prefer that you simply bring in the head with hide attached and allow them to cape it for you, since it’s such a delicate task. Whether the hide is still attached to the head or not, fold it neatly, place it inside of a plastic bag to keep it clean and dry, and put it in a cooler or on ice. Folding instead of bunching will ensure that the entire hide is cooled evenly, instead of insulating itself from the cold. Following these tips will result in better quality meat, better-looking mounts, and an all-round better hunting experience. Respecting the resource is a core component to ethical hunting and ensuring that care is taken through the entire process benefits everybody involved. Safe travels and happy hunting!


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Chase Pearl, 7, poses with his very first deer, which he shot while hunting with his dad, J.W. Pearl.

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Can I shoot a deer with an ear tag? Matt Nuernberg, Spring Creek Outdoors

Extreme heat or not, every year around August, folks start going to the ranch or deer lease to get prepped for hunting season. Feeders get filled, roads trimmed back, game cameras put out and the next hunting season will be here before you know it. For those folks not using cellular game cameras, we get the first reports around the opening weekend of dove season. Many of the reports we get relate to known deer, high or low numbers of fawns, lots of pigs, etc. But inevitably, there are always a handful of “Check out this ear tagged buck! What should I do?” And like most questions we get thrown at us, the answer is the same, “It depends.” When an ear tagged deer shows up in an unexpected place, typically on a low fenced property, from a legal standpoint it is completely fair game to harvest, provided you have a hunting license, available tag, and there is an open season. Regardless of where that deer came from or who put the tag in it’s ear, the State of Texas considers it a wild animal. When deer breeders release animals from a facility into a surrounding ranch, or haul them down the road in a trailer and deliver them to another high fence ranch, they are treated the same way any other deer is treated, regardless of any jewelry. Now, if you know your neighbor releases deer and you know this animal came from that ranch, it is definitely a polite thing to do to inform them the animal has escaped and

allow the courtesy of having a hunter harvest the animal so they can recoup some money, but this is not a requirement. Whether or not they compensate you for this courtesy or not is between the two of you. Often times people are aware of what other local ranches are doing with their deer herd, but sometimes ear tagged deer are a complete mystery. Now let’s say you decide to let the animal walk, then what? Not all ear tagged animals are from breeder pens. In years past, Spring Creek Outdoors has trapped thousands of wild deer and moved them from one ranch to another via the TTT permit through Texas Parks and Wildlife, most of which were bred does. These deer were surplus animals on the capture ranch and were moved to properties with lower deer densities. The photo shown below is a doe that was caught on a trail camera outside of Ozona. SCO relocated this doe from Tilden after the 2019 anthrax outbreak and fitted her with the ear tag shown. Based on GPS data collected at the time of release, the ear tag color, and GPS data provided by the person who sent in this photo, this doe had travelled ten and a half miles from her release location. She looks worn down but did survive and remained in the immediate area for many months. The majority of capture ranches that utilized the TTT permit are intensively managed and have been for many years, which increases the odds that the tagged doe under your feeder possesses desirable genetics, much like a pen raised deer. Allowing these animals to live and produce offspring on your property does up the odds of more large antlered bucks roaming around in the future. Spring Creek Outdoors

The land isn’t just made for working. It’s ripe for playing, too. Whether you’re a hunter, fisherman, four-wheeler or simply a nature lover, there’s land all around suited for those pursuits. At Capital Farm Credit, we’re here to finance recreational land with flexible terms and competitive rates. To learn more, visit CapitalFarmCredit.com.

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The Outdoor Learning Center at the Texas Tech University Center at Junction Brett Mosley, Texas Tech Junction Outdoor Learning Center Director The Texas Tech University Center at Junction celebrated its 50th year of providing unique outdoor learning for students of all ages and backgrounds. On the banks of the South Llano River and with over 400 acres of Texas Hill Country ecosystems, the Center boasts year-round educational opportunities for students that can be found nowhere else in Texas. With summer courses for Texas Tech students, the Llano River Field Station providing research opportunities in natural resources, and the Outdoor Learning Center engaging K-12 students in STEM education, the Texas Tech Center is leading the way in providing world class natural resources research and environmental education. A key program at the Texas Tech Center at Junction is the Outdoor Leaning Center. Since its inception since 2003, the Outdoor Learning Center has had a unifying goal of providing elementary, middle school, and high school students the opportunity to experience science, math, and engineering taught outdoors. There is no better way to engage a child’s interest in the sciences than for them to get their feet wet doing it. The education comes from the experience.

The exceptional opportunities to study ecology for these Outdoor Learning Center (OLC) students is found in the wealth of wildlife and ecosystems found in Junction. Its rivers, geology, land features, and creatures give young people an experience and interest in the environmental sciences that they can carry on throughout their lives. This exposure to nature and the sciences will have a proven positive effect on a child’s career, thoughts on conservation, and connection to the natural world. The students that come to Junction to attend the OLC experience courses that can only happen here. Highlighting just three of the OLC’s twenty courses below, we hope to showcase some of the exciting activities kids are engaged in at the OLC at the Texas Tech Center at Junction. The confluence of the South and North Llano Rivers plays a large role in the environmental studies these young people undertake when visiting. With the South Llano bordering the campus, a diverse group of students get the unique opportunity to learn and enjoy a special feature of our hill country community. Unbelievably, this is sometimes the first occasion a student has had access and opportunity to set foot in the pristine waters many of us get to often enjoy.

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aquatic biology the conditions of the South Llano River. Taught either on campus or by kayaking the river, this course brings to the forefront the diverse life found in rivers, our connection to its waters, and the needs to conserve it. As one recent 5th grade student exclaimed, “I never knew science could be fun!” Speaking of the kingfisher that inhabits our river, the birds that live or visit Junction make for just an impactful topic for the students that come to Junction to investigate and explore. With the North American population of common birds, songbirds, and ground birds declining at a staggering rate, the chance to see certain migratory or rare species of bird makes for a special visit. Our spring and summer bird visitors, the purple martins, are at the core of our ornithological studies. Their

beautiful colorations, daring flights as aerial insectivores, and special relationship with humans all intrigue and fascinate the young people that attend. Part of the course allows students the opportunity to identify the bird species in Junction as they hike across campus. Scissor-tailed flycatchers, belted kingfishers, various vireo species, vermillion flycatchers, american kestrels, golden-cheeked warblers, and even our bald eagles are all high on the students lists when going on bird watching hikes. While birds are certainly found around the school yard and neighborhood of these children, seeing the beautiful bird species in their natural hill country habitat brings enjoyment along with the science. Students recognize the importance of preserving a space for these creatures while having fun birdwatching. The classes at the OLC don’t just happen during the daytime. For overnight groups, the OLC provides kids TTU-Junction


A principle focus of the K-12 Aquatic Biology course is the care and concern of Texas’ waterways. The South Llano River is home to a number of species of wildlife. The Guadalupe Bass, belted kingfisher, and an occasional beaver call the South Llano River home. But there exists a special population of organisms thriving on its bottom surface: macro-invertebrates. You may have caught a hellgrammite or crawfish to use as bait, but there are many more tiny species that call the South Llano River home, and they can tell us so much about the river. These macroinvertebrates, which spend most of their lives in the water, give us an indication about a river’s health, and we challenge these young scientists to collect them to study. Each species of macroinvertebrates has its own tolerance to pollutants. Mayflies, Stoneflies, and Caddisflies are all low pollution tolerant. Dragonfly and Damselfly nymphs are somewhat tolerant. Midges, Blackfly larva, and aquatic worms all are highly tolerant to pollutants. By capturing, identifying, and classifying these macroinvertebrates, these future biologists can infer

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the chance to see something spectacular they rarely get to anymore. Stars! Cloaked by all the lights found in the city and lacking the opportunity to spend times outside after the sun sets, seeing the exposed stars for the first time really amazes the young students. “Wow!” “I didn’t know there were so many!” “That is cool!” These are common exclamations once the sun sets, and the telescopes come out. A common fixture in our past, star gazing is becoming less available to people. The chance to study our universe, our Milky Way galaxy, stories behind constellations, and the life cycle of stars mean so much more you can view them in person. No other course brings out the wonder and amazement than when the TTU-Junction students are stargazing. Upcoming eclipses, meteor showers, the parade of planets, and the lunar cycles give us a new show each evening. While these are only a sampling of what is being taught to these elementary, middle school, and high school students, these examples surely show the unique environmental educational opportunities that can happen at the Texas Tech Center at Junction. The Edwards Plateau region, with its watersheds, geology, hydrology, flora, and fauna play an integral role in educating and leading these young people to be the good stewards we inspire them to be.

The Texas Tech Junction Outdoor Learning Center provides year-round exemplary educational and outreach programs to school districts, home-school group, informal educational affiliates, and anyone who loves to do science outside. Getting kids out of the virtual world and reconnecting them with nature leads to so many positive outcomes that it so important to be able to offer these exciting outdoor educational experiences. TTU-Junction

HEINRICHS ART STUDIO Fine Art Oil & Acrylic Paintings are available in our Gallery! Beginner to Advanced Classes in acrylics and oils, includes all materials and equipment. 627 MAIN ST., JUNCTION, TX 76849 (325)215‐2122 heinrichsartstudio.com

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The Bears are Back If you read the accounts of life in early Texas, you will notice that black bears were common all over the state. Have you heard of Oso Bay near Corpus Christi? It was named for the black bears who lived in the coastal marshes when that area was first settled. There are legends about people who traveled around the state with the prime focus of eliminating bears NPS.gov from Texas. Why would anyone want to do this? As anyone who still lives with black bears can tell you, bears can be hard on livestock, especially smaller livestock such as sheep and goats. Black bears were nearly completely extirpated from Texas in the 1940’s by a combination of over hunting and encroachment of sheep and goat ranching, but they started returning to far west Texas in the 1980’s. By the nineties, black bears were being spotted in Edwards County and in the last couple of years there have been confirmed, photographed black bears in Kimble County, one within five miles of the Kimble County Airport. Recently, we received video of a black bear at a hunting camp in Webb County and were able to confirm the location and the date of the video. One was also recently captured in Uvalde, Texas, and is being

Wade Ledbetter, Spring Creek Outdoors, LLC

relocated. Despite having been extirpated from Texas, black bears thrived in the mountains of Mexico that lie near the Rio Grande River. The earlier sightings of them generally coincided with harsh conditions like droughts in the border region. Black bears were extirpated much earlier from East Texas, as it was and is more densely populated with humans. Arkansas had a black bear reintroduction program from 1958-1968 that imported about 250 bears. Bears from Arkansas started appearing in Texas in April of 2020, but they haven’t formed a stable population in Texas as of yet. Still, if you looked at mapped confirmed black bear sightings in Texas, they are clustered around the far northeastern corner of the state. The moral to this story is if you are on your ranch or at your hunting lease in Kimble County and you see something that looks like a bear, you probably aren’t losing your mind nor seeing things! But don’t just grab your gun—Black Bears are protected in Texas, and it is illegal to kill them. If you are interested in learning a bit more about Black Bears in Texas, here is a great article on the TPWD website: https://tpwd. texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/resources/bear_safety/


Golf Tournament

Held annually in April at the Junction Golf Course

We are committed to raising scholarship money so that students from Junction who aspire to attend Texas A&M University will have the resources available to them. Check our social media for more information on Club events.

Meetings are held monthly at Lum’s BBQ. The Junction Eagle Athletic Booster Club is the fundraising arm of the Athletic Department. It is our goal to work with the Athletic Director and Coaches to support and promote the Junction ISD Athletic Program and our student athletes. For Sponsorship & Advertising Opportunities call (325) 446-6169 or

email EagleBoosters@junctionisd.net.

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Facebook is our primary means of promoting events, be sure to like our page. Search Junction Eagle Booster Club. 23

SOUTH LLANO RIVER STATE PARK 1927 Park Road 73 Junction, TX 76849 Five miles from Junction on Highway 377 S

Entrance Fees Adult: $5 Daily Child 12 Years and Under: Free

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CITY PARK & COUNTY PARK Located along the South Llano River, just below the historic metal bridge that leads from town to Interstate 10. • Fishing, swimming, disc golf, BBQ pits, picnic tables, pavilions, canoe launch, playground, basketball and volleyball courts

KIMBLE COUNTY LIBRARY & O.C. FISHER MUSEUM 208 N 10th St, Junction, TX 76849 (325 )446-2342 Hours:

Mon., Tues. & Thurs. 9 a.m. -6 p.m Wed. - 9 a.m. -5 p.m. Fri. - 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.


Houses memorabilia of US Congressman O.C. Fisher, a Kimble County native.

LOVER’S LEAP Beautiful sunrise and sunset views over Junction at Lover’s Leap hilltop. Cross the South Llano Metal Bridge, take Loop 481 to the first “scenic view” which leads you to the top of the hill for a breathtaking view.


JUNCTION DEER HORN TREE The Deer Horn Tree is a must photo opportunity in Kimble County. Sitting in front of Kimble Processing facing Main Street, it is composed of hundreds of deer antlers. It was erected in 1968 by the Kimble Business and Professional Women’s Club.


Brought to you by: Traci Phillips


TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY JUNCTION LLANO RIVER FIELD STATION 254 Red Raider Lane Junction, Texas, 76849, 325-446-2301 Home of the largest inland field station in Texas, and the Internationally recognized Outdoor Learning Center. Call and schedule a tour of the campus!

KIMBLE COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM The Kimble County Historical Museum is located at 130 Hospital Dr. Junction, TX 76849 (325) 446-4219 KCHCmuseum@gmail.com Open Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays by appointment

FT MCKAVETT Historic Site • Reenactments Star Parties 7066 FM 864, Fort McKavett, TX 76841 (325) 396-2358 Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: Adults - $4, 6-18 - $3 Seniors - $3, 5 and under Free

LONDON COMMUNITY London Community Hunter’s Breakfast November 4 (annually first day of open season) Breakfast 9 - 11 a.m. at London Community Center


ROOSEVELT COMMUNITY Lyssy & Eckel Simon Brothers Mercantile 3861 TX-291 Loop (325) 446-2604 Hunter’s Appreciation Lunch Simon Brothers Mercantile November 4, 11:30 a.m. Sausage wraps, beans and fixings until food runs out!


Texclipse Music Festival

Within the span of six months Texas will be the only state to witness not one, but TWO fabulous eclipses! If you missed the Annular “Ring of Fire” eclipse on October 14, 2023, don’t despair! On Monday, April 8, 2024, a Total Solar Eclipse will sweep over Junction, with Totality beginning at 1:34 p.m. and lasting a full 3 minutes and 10 seconds. To celebrate this once in a lifetime event, Texclipse Music Festival, LLC is holding a blockbuster three day event from April 6-8 at the Hill Country Fair Association fairgrounds in Junction, TX. People will be traveling from all over the world to witness the eclipse in Junction and the goal of the Texclipse Music Festival is to showcase Texas music, art, brands and culture. “One aspect of this event is to display the talent in our local community,” says Macy Brooks, Junction native and founder of the Texclipse Music Festival. Local art and merchandise for the festival will be provided by: Christan Powers, muralist; Dillon Mogford, graphic designer; Charlie Wilson, welder, and Wyatt Burton, photographer.

If you are an artist wanting to be part of this event, there is an Art Installation Program and Media Program you can find on the event website at www.texclipsemusicfestival.com. The “culture” aspect of the event will be Rodeo based activities, including but not limited to Team Roping and Bull Riding. “Many of the TexClipse attendees will be from out of state and have never attended a rodeo. We are hoping to create a unique experience for those attending our event.” Texclipse will also highlight local and state-wide musicians, featuring the best of Texas music from different genres. The lineup will be dropping soon, so make sure you are following along at facebok.com/ texclipsemusicfestival or on Instagram @ texclipsemusicfestival. If you are a musician interested in performing, please contact texclipsemusicfestival@yahoo.com Bonnie Tyler isn’t the only one who is “holding on forever” with her “total eclipse of the heart”! TexClipse is offering elopements and vow renewals during the Total Eclipse. Do you really love your significant other “to the moon and back”? Prove


by Macy Brooks

it! Registration and more details can be found on the Texclipse website. Official event camping will be available and can be booked online. All event campers will be offered a free shuttle ride to and from the event! Make sure you are subscribed to our website for the lineup drop, ticket release dates and more up to date camping information. Help us recycle! All aluminum cans will be collected at the festival to benefit both the Junction and London Volunteer Fire Departments. Drink responsibly and please deposit your dead soldiers in special bins that will be placed around the grounds. What is so special about the Texclipse Music Festival? Two great eclipses through Junction in six months is a rare and special occurrence. What better to show off our little piece of paradise than a music and culture festival. Know that when you attend Texclipse Music Festival you will be welcomed at every corner with Texas’ famous warmth and hospitality. Sponsorships and Vendor spaces are available. Please visit our website and email us for more information.


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and dogs. Quail and turkeys are also prey for all of is exacerbated these and smaller during droughts meso-predators such as the one such as skunks, we are currently opossums, feral in. housecats, and The biggest even snakes. determining factor During dry seain fawn survival sons, ground is ground cover, cover is reduced because a newdue to decreased Aerial coyote control in Mason County born fawn must grass growth and stay hidden if it is to survive. For the increased browsing or grazing presfirst four weeks of a fawn’s life, it is sure. During a drought, whatever folihidden by its mother while she forag- age that stays standing through the es for food, and she returns several winter may be the only available cover times throughout the day to nurse. for fawning season. It is very important This strategy keeps the fawn mostly to preserve whatever natural ground out of sight while it is not yet capable cover may be present by not shredding of out-running threats. If there is not or performing brush control until July, adequate groundcover, this strategy and deferring cattle grazing wherever does not work because helpless fawns possible. But most importantly, presare left exposed to both the elements sure must be increased on predators. and hunting predators. Without cover, Trapping, snaring, and calling must a fawn is susceptible to predation by be practiced as much as possible to the usual predators such as coyotes, reduce the number of predators and bobcats, and feral hogs, but addition- give your newborn wildlife a fighting ally foxes, hawks, vultures, raccoons, chance.

Predator control Wade Ledbetter, Spring Creek Outdoors

Despite the brutal summer that we endured, timely rains in May and June supplied just enough cover and resources to carry many fawns through to the fall. This year most of my client ranches are seeing above-average fawn survival, some even near 100%. But just as a rising tide raises all ships, the favorable spring conditions also allowed the coyotes to raise a substantial crop of pups. This year has been the worst for coyote numbers in recent memory, with many ranches containing multiple groups of four or more. Even more than on a normal year, predator control is of the utmost importance for wildlife management. All hunters and wildlife managers are -at their coredevoted to raising baby game animals. Every trophy buck began life as a helpless four-pound fawn, and every turkey or quail started off as a tiny bumbling ball of fluff. The biggest obstacle to the growth of these new additions is predators, and the impact of predators

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Why do we collect harvest data? Matt Nuernberg, Spring Creek Outdoors

If you have ever hunted on a property enrolled in the Managed Lands Deer Program (MLDP) through TPWD, you might be familiar with the logbook that has to be filled out after the harvest of every deer. Collecting data on harvested animals is a requirement of the permit, which currently includes tag number, date of harvest, species, sex, age, number of points, hunter name and license number, and there are also spaces on the form for dressed weight, lactation, inside spread, basal circumference (H1), and main beam length. In the past, much of this data was required to be submitted to TPWD, but the data requirements are much more relaxed these days. After the data has been submitted, many hunters put the log book away for the year and don’t give it much further thought, but we can

learn a ton of information from this little book, and we will cover a few of the many examples. For starters, we can look at the does being harvested to determine how efficiently we are managing our herd, both from a deer production and genetic gain standpoint. When harvesting does, we recommend to clients that they harvest does without fawns present first. While this may seem unfair, there was some reason that that doe didn’t raise a fawn, and it’s anyone’s guess what that reason is, but the fact is, she is a mouth at the feeder that is not contributing to the betterment of the herd, and unless you have a good reason to keep her, she should be removed. So, when we look at the log, the majority of the does harvested early in the season should not be lactating, though this will be less applicable on ranches with exceptional fawn production. If our production is low and we are shooting mostly lactating does, we

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are making a mistake. From a genetic gains point of view, the oldest deer on the ranch are the least “improved”. If we are doing our job as deer managers, this theory should be reflected in the log book, at least with the does since we have typically have no idea what their genetic Adolfo Ponce make-up is, provided she isn’t wearing an ear tag. So, looking at the log book, we should see mostly old does being harvested. If we are shooting mostly two and three year old does, we are restarting the clock on our management. During our helicopter surveys, we record very detailed information on the animals we are counting, not just numbers. Part of our recommendations for buck harvest typically mentions bucks with specific antler characteristics to target first, which are based on the goals the landowner or hunter has for the property. For example, “harvest any middle age or older buck with 9 or fewer points”. If these recommendations, and others in our report, are being followed year after year, you should be able to compare data from years past with current data and see a decrease in the less-desirable bucks, and an increase in bucks harvested that better fit the goals and objectives you have for your property. Data can tell you a lot if you know what

to look for and how to interpret it after the fact. If you have questions about your harvest data collection or want to discuss progress trends for your property, we would be happy to assist in this.



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How do antlers grow? Hunters and outdoorsmen have long had a preoccupation with antlers, especially big ones and strange ones. We spend a great deal of time and energy thinking about them, trying to grow them bigger, hunting for them, and displaying them. Antlers are an integral part of Texas hunting culture, and the center of a broad and lucrative industry. Few people actually know the details about how and why antlers grow, and how truly unique they are in the animal kingdom. Antlers are made of bone, and are, in fact, the fastest growing mammal bone in the world. A complete set takes only 128 days to grow fully and can weigh several pounds apiece. A side-effect of this quick growth is that most bucks develop some degree of seasonal osteoporosis due to their body leaching minerals (mostly calcium and phosphorus) from other bones throughout their bodies. Shedding and re-growing such an energetically and nutritionally expensive set of weapons every year requires deer to have their characteristically selective and nutritious browsing diet. Why do some bucks have bigger antlers than others? Antler growth is genetically based and environmentally influenced. In other words, good nutrition will allow a buck to grow his biggest potential antlers, but genes dictate how big they can get and how they will look. For example, mature buck that has eight mainframe points will tend to stay a mainframe eight-point even if his nutrition is drastically improved, but the overall size of his antlers may increase dramatically. Variations in environmental factors like rainfall and temperature can affect the plants that deer feed on,

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and therefore the total nutrition that that deer receives. Or another example, the son of a mature ten-point buck will more than likely be a 10-point as well when he is fully mature. The genetics of the doe also have an impact on the offspring, but these are harder to determine since bucks represent their genetics on their head, but does genetics are more discreet. When antlers are growing, they are covered by a thin, vascular layer of a unique type of skin called velvet. Velvet transports blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the antlers as they grow and it grows along with them. When the antler is fully formed, the bone “dies” and the velvet dries and is scraped off by the buck to make ready for the rut. While the antlers are growing this velvet, they are very delicate and can be easily injured, leading to unique shapes and growth patterns in the finished antler. Bruising on fenceposts or tree branches, thorns, ticks bites, and infections can cause all sorts of ripples, grooves, curves, and lumps in the final product. One interesting phenomenon in antlers is called “contralateral symmetry”, where an injury to the right side of a buck’s body causes deformations to his left antler or vice versa. A broken bone or an infected wound on one half of the body can cause a stunted or misshapen antler on the opposite antler. This occurrence is not well understood, but it is well documented. Illness and fever can also affect antler growth. The famous “cactus bucks” are thought to be a result of the buck contracting a fever while in velvet, which can affect testosterone production, and which in turn affects the growth of velvet-covered antlers. So what can the individual hunter or landowner do raise and harvest deer with bigger antlers? Here are some harvest and management strategies that can help in improving the quality of your herd’s trophies over the long run. -Nutrition: A buck’s antler growth is entirely secondary to the maintenance and growth of his body, so ensuring that deer have plenty of quality nutrition is paramount. Inadequate or low-quality browse, insufficient water, heat stress, or stress from overcrowding or human interaction can all negatively impact a buck’s antler growth. Consistent and good-quality supplemental food and water are an

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excellent aid for keeping deer well-nourished, but they are no substitute for a healthy and productive habitat. They are just what the name suggests: supplemental. -Age: Numerous studies have shown that the vast majority of bucks will produce the biggest set of antlers of their life at the ages of six and a half to seven and a half years old. A handsome four-year-old ten-point may be tempting on opening morning, but he has certainly not reached his fullest potential. Let him go, and hold out for an old-timer. -Density: harvesting an adequate number of deer each season and keeping the population below the carrying capacity of the habitat ensures that there is plenty of browse, water, and space for the individuals that are left. Most ranches can support either a lot of deer or big deer, but not both. Remember to harvest does as well as bucks, which leads to the next point. -Sex ratio: The rut is an incredibly stressful and injurious experience for bucks to go through. They spend the rut fighting, travelXing, generally making unwise choices, and practicing very little self-care. Maintaining a tight ratio between the numbers of does and bucks allows all of the does to get bred early in the rut, thereby minimizing the duration of the rut. A wide sex ratio extends the rut sometimes for months, and causes a cascade of ill side effects such as increased buck mortality, lengthened fawning season, lower fawn survival rates, and stress-induced antler stunting. A tighter sex ratio also leads to a more enjoyable and exciting hunting experience due to healthier and bigger bucks, more competitive fighting, and more enthusiastic rutting activity.

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Texas Tech University Center at Junction, Llano River Field Station, Outdoor Learning Center Cheyenne Mack, TTU Junction Outdoor Learning Center Outdoor Educator

Located along the South Llano River in TTU Junction, Texas, the Texas Tech University Center at Junction has many outdoor opportunities for all ages. The Center is home to the Llano River Field Station (LRFS) and the Outdoor Learning Center (OLC). The OLC has focused on K-12 STEMbased curriculum since 2003 and offers hands on learning opportunities yearround. Over 70 independent school districts, 35,000 students, and hundreds of teachers have visited the OLC for single-day excursions and multi-day academies. The OLC also offers a Science in the Sun Camp, Explorers Camp, and a variety of other opportunities for local students. Students strengthen their connections with nature, build relationthat visit the OLC benefit from the positive outdoor experi- ships and social skills with their peers, and allow them to ences offered through the opportunity to engage with their further explore what the science fields have to offer. The Texas Tech center also offers undergradusurroundings in a safe environment. These opportunities


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ate and graduate level courses. Summer academic programs in areas of Mammalogy, Herpetology, Ornithology, Field Geography, Field Ecology, Entomology, Photography, GIS, Aquatic Entomology, and Vegetation and Wildlife Inventory and Analysis Techniques. These courses bring over 140 college students and faculty to Junction for three 15-day intensive sessions. In addition to these face-to-face field-based courses, the Llano River Field Station also coordinates numerous ongoing research projects with Texas Tech and other universities. Major upcoming studies include Rio Grande turkeys, purple martins, feral hogs, black tailed rattlesnake, and deer surveys. While the students and faculty lodge at the field station, they also spend time in town enjoying local businesses and restaurants. The Texas Tech Center also hosts numerous conferences and workshops for local, state, national and international organizations. The abun-

dance of Texas hill country wildlife, including over 80 documented bird species, makes the Texas Tech Center a popular destination for wildlife viewers across world. An average of over 4,000 visitors and guests utilize the center, the field station and OLC each year, making it an important part of the TTU

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community and revenue generator for the local businesses and the city of Junction. For more information about the Texas Tech University Center at Junction’s Llano River Field Station and the Outdoor Learning Center, visit www.junction.ttu.edu.

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The rise of exotics in Central Texas Wade Ledbetter, Spring Creek Outdoors

The rising popularity of exotics throughout Texas cannot be denied, especially in the Hill Country. This part of Texas has a long history of whitetail deer hunting, but as time goes on, commercial exotic breeding and hunting operations are becoming more and more widespread. Species such as Blackbuck, Axis deer, Fallow deer, Kudu, Gemsbok, and Scimitarhorned Oryx were once rare curiosities but are now commonplace. The reasons for this are manifold, but the simplest answers are economics and reduced regulation. As ranches continue to fragment and get smaller, their ability to make money diminishes. It is much harder to run a successful farming or ranching operation on 400 acres than 4,000, simply due to the economy of scale. Leasing land for hunting or selling hunts have been among the few ways that a smaller ranch can economically sustain itself in this changing landscape of ranch

Spring Creek Outdoors

ownership. Whitetail hunting is limited to four to five months out of the year, is subject to bag limits, time restrictions, and in some counties, antler restrictions. Exotics bear none of these restrictions because they are legally considered livestock under Texas state law. Exotic animals can be hunted year-round, at any time of day or night, by any means, and with little to no legal oversight. When the bills arrive yearround, it’s easy to see the temptation of stocking animals that can be profit-

ably hunted year-round and without excess regulation. Another benefit of exotics being classed as livestock is that they can easily be bought, sold, and transported from one property to another, making it easy to stock or destock a certain species or selectively breed for trophies. Exotics can be caught in traps, netted from helicopters, or tranquilized with dart guns. They can then be hauled down the road in trailers like any other livestock and then released on a new ranch without any permitting, fees, or oversight. Native wildlife is subject to an incredibly dense and restrictive set of laws and regulations governing their capture and transport and cannot even technically be “owned”, since they are legally considered a public resource. Many ranches that have previously garnered much of their income with native whitetails are switching to exotics due to the increased level of Chronic Wasting Disease-related state regulation. As awareness of the benefits of exot-


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ics becomes more widespread, the demand for exotic hoofstock and hunting increases dramatically. Because accidents happen and there’s no such thing as a perfect fence, some exotic species have escaped their confines and become widespread in various parts of Texas. Nilgai antelope were first released on the King Ranch in the 1920’s, and today more than 30,000 Nilgai roam a large swath of South Texas. A more recent addition to South Texas is Warthogs, which have been appearing

Spring Creek Outdoor

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in small numbers around Dimmit and La Salle counties since about 2010. Huge herds of Aoudad or Barbary Sheep dominate the mountains in West Texas, where hunting them is a booming business. In parts of the Hill Country, Axis deer and Blackbuck antelope have become as ubiquitous as the native Whitetails. Some towns such as Fredericksburg and Mason even have their own semi-urban herds of wild Axis deer, that have in some cases become fiercely loved mascots. So what do all of these newer species mean for native wildlife? In some cases, like Blackbuck antelope and Whitetail deer, their ecological needs overlap so little that they can co-exist with little or no friction. However, issues tend to arise when similar species are forced to compete for the same space and resources, as with Axis deer and Whitetails, Nilgai and cattle, or Aoudad and Desert Bighorn Sheep. Similar species such as these not only compete for the same food, water, and territory, but are also more likely to swap diseases than dissimilar animals. For example, Aoudad-borne pneumonia is

a major obstacle to the reintroduction of Desert Bighorn sheep to West Texas. Axis deer and Whitetails do not seem to have much or any disease interactions, but Axis are displacing Whitetails in some parts of the Hill Country due to their different social characteristics. Whitetail deer form loose groups along gender lines, while Axis group together in cohesive herds. Axis are more gregarious and confrontational than the somewhat claustrophobic and meek Whitetails, so they can easily drive native deer away from feeders or prime foraging ground. This is not to say that we should worry about Axis completely replacing Whitetail, because they are simply not as finely attuned to the climate and habitat of Texas as Whitetail are. Many Axis deer died in the vicious February 2021 freeze, while the Whitetail seemed hardly affected. Axis also have a strong affinity for thick, dense brush while Whitetails can thrive in a wide variety of habitat types. So while Axis and other exotics may be here to stay, there is likely little risk that they can fully replace any of our beloved and historic natives.

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Join us in


Exciting 2021-22 Events! , TEXAS JUNCTION for these

Join us in

Exciting 2023-24 Events!

Hunters Welcome Events

Outdoor Women Gone WILDSM

Freedom Celebration


Just for Women! Just for Fun! _____________________________________________

Sponsored by City of Junction July 4 PARADE ON MAIN – 10 AM

WILD Game Dinner

Junction A&M Club Scholarship Golf Tournament


Deer Hunting Season Opens

Annually, the Saturday after Thanksgiving November 25, 2023 • 6:30 p.m., Stevenson Center

Eat Wild Game, Win Guns & Hunts & Live Auction of Hunts! _____________________________________________

in Kimble County Saturday, April 20, 2024

700 Springs Ranch Tour


Motorcade leaves PROMPTLY at 10 a.m. for Ranch. Bring bag lunch and lawn chairs. For more info: 325.446.4219 _____________________________________________

Annually in April 2024 Dinner & Silent Auction after tournament

www.junctionaggies.com fb.com/junctionaggies _____________________________________________

Christmas Happenings

Kimble County


The Freezer-February 2024 The Sizzler-July 2024


November 30

Disc Golf Events


For info: Hoyt Moss 325.446.6565 or Charlie Chapman 512.557.2482 _____________________________________________

Fun activities for the Family. For more info: 325.446.3994

Memorial Day Celebration

First Saturday in December • 2 - 5 p.m. SOUTH LLANO RIVER STATE PARK


Annually in December FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, MAIN ST. • Lighted Christmas Parade


• Lions Club pictures with Santa

Santa Claus will hear children’s wishes immediatly following the parade in City Park under the Trail of Lights. ___________________________________________

The Junction Area Farmers Market

Open every Saturday through December 2 KIMBLE COUNTY COURTHOUSE LAWN 9 AM TO 12:00PM Events with live music and free draft beer-March 18, May 27, July 1, August 12, October 14, December 2 9:00 AM TO 1:00PM ___________________________________________

Easter Happenings

Easter Saturday Morning CITY PARK PAVILION

• Lions Club Easter Egg Hunt 10 a.m. Ages 1-8 years SCARF PET PARADE 11:30 a.m.


Memorial Day Monday - May 27, 2024 8:30 am - TRIBUTE CEREMONY Honoring Fallen Veterans & Boy Scouts Troop 420 Placing of Flags FLAGPOLE AT JUNCTION CEMETERY ON US. HWY 377 S

July 4, 2024 Free Fireworks Display! DARK THIRTY • CITY PARK, ALONG THE LLANO RIVER Celebrate the 4th in Junction!!! _____________________________________________

Hill Country Fair Assoc. Summer Classic Rodeo

Annually 2nd Full Weekend in August- 9 & 10 HILL COUNTRY FAIRGROUNDS DANCES & PARADE _____________________________________________

Up & Back Boat Race


For more info: Hoyt 325-446-6565 _____________________________________________ Junction’s 55th Annual

Kow Kick

Family Fun Festival • BBQ Cook-off • Dance Labor Day Weekend, September 2024

Lone Star BBQ Society Sanctioned Cook-Off LIVE Music • VENDORS • Kids Activities ____________________________________________


Predator Calling Contest Annually in March

For more info: 325.446.3157 _____________________________________________

Predator contest with cash prizes and drawing at the end of the contest on Sunday. (Must be present to win.)

Cowboys & Cajuns Together Again

Texclipse Music Festival

Annually 1st Saturday in June Saturday June 1, 2024 ON 5TH STREET BESIDE THE COURTHOUSE STREET DANCE “JODY NIX & THE TEXAS COWBOYS” _____________________________________________

For more info: 325.446.3190 ___________________________________________ April 16-18, 2024 HILL COUNTRY FAIR ASSOCIATION FAIRGROUNDS

For more info: www.texclipsemusicfestival.com ___________________________________________

“Hit for Sticks” Softball Tournament

Benefiting Lexi Cardwell Scholarship Fund

Annually, Second Saturday of June For more info: 214.714.5653 or 325.446.6043 _____________________________________________

Cinco de Mayo Dance

Benefiting Lexi Cardwell Scholarship Fund

early May

Fort Worth Dallas


For more info: 325.446-3190 _____________________________________________


El Paso



AMPHITHEATER BELOW LOVER’S LEAP • DARK THIRTY ____________________________________________

FOR EXACT EVENT DATES AND TIMES, VISIT: www.junctiontexas.com OR CONTACT: Kimble County Chamber of Commerce 402 Main Street, Junction, TX 76849 • 325-446-3190 • Email: chamber@junctiontexas.com


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Which exotics are best for me? Matt Nuernberg, Spring Creek Outdoors We get calls and emails multiple times a week from clients old and new asking questions about exotics. Without getting into why so many people are moving towards raising exotics on their ranches, let’s discuss the necessary requirements for successfully raising these animals to begin with. There are a handful of species that are more commonly owned and typically do well on most ranches that are being managed for white tailed deer and quail; these are scimitar oryx, axis deer, fallow deer, and blackbuck antelope. Scimitars and blackbuck are grazers and will heavily utilize open areas and fields. Axis and fallow can and do consume both browse species and grass species, depending on the time of year and pasture conditions, and they will use a mix of brush and open areas. Antelope species in general do better on properties that are more open, say 40% or more open areas. The first line of defense for these animals is their eye sight. They tend to move in groups, and it is likely that one of the animals in the herd has seen you by the time you have seen them. This being said, if you have a high number of predators on your ranch, it is wise to steer clear of blackbuck antelope. You might not lose all the adults, but you will raise very few fawns. Antelope can definitely work on ranches that are brushier, (and some do quite well such as nilgai) but they will tend to congregate in the open areas where they are available. If your ranch has abundant open areas, you should consider species such as addax, eland, gemsbok, sable, kudu, nilgai, roan, and wildebeest. Deer species such as axis and fallow will use a mix of open and brushy areas, much like whitetails. One note on this is that if you have dense brush on your ranch and you release axis deer, there is a very good chance you should expect to go weeks at a time without seeing them. Every year we deliver starter herds of axis to landowners only to hear that the only sightings six months later are limited to game cameras or a glimpse here and there. Hunting small numbers of axis on properties like this can be difficult, and by the time you start seeing them regularly, the population is likely in need of some harvest or capture and removal. Ranches with thicker cover will do well with red deer, elk, Pere David, barasingha, and sika. A note on deer species is

Spring Creek Outdoors

to keep in mind that some are on the list of Chronic Wasting Disease susceptible species in Texas and might require testing post-harvest. Even if your ranch is not a perfect fit for the exotics you want, it does not mean that you cannot have a few of them, merely that you need to consider how well they will perform and if they will require any special accommodations such as supplemental feed and shelter. A good course of action with exotics is to start slow, get a few animals at a time and see how they do, and then add more later on. Another consideration is what are your plans for reducing numbers over time? Do you plan to hunt them or are you planning to trap and sell off the surplus periodically? These plans need to be considered when picking the species you want. If you have questions about what animals will do best on your ranch, give us a call, and we will gladly walk you through the long list of options. https://springcreekoutdoors. com

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Jessica Ehlers

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Ten-year-old Bennett Ehlers poses with her dad, Zach Ehlers, Lightning captured by Clay Sterrett of London during a thunand the buck she shot in Roosevelt last hunting season. derstorm in September.

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Porcupines Matt Nuernberg, Spring Creek Outdoors

A few years ago, we wrote an article about the increased observations of porcupines around Central and West Texas. Since then, we have continued to make note of the increase as they turn up on more client ranches and dead on Texas highways. The map to the right shows some of the locations we have observed dead porcupines on Texas highways in Spring Creek Outdoors the past three years while driving across the state. As these large rodents are to the body and they only stand up when the animal is tense turning up in more places, now is a good time to become a and alert. While the quills are not thrown out as commonly bit more familiar with them. believed, they do release from the body very easily. The Among North American rodents, they are second in size tips of these quills are covered in small barbs that expand only to the beaver, and are typically around 30 inches long with heat, effectively pulling them further into a would-be and 20 or more pounds when fully grown. The only parts of attacker. their body that are not covered by some 30,000 quills are Home ranges are typically around 150 acres for a female their underside and nose. This is why, when threatened, a and up to 1,000 for a male, provided adequate resources porcupine will keep it’s back facing the danger to protect are available. These home ranges will expand during the its vulnerable areas. Porcupines are rarely aggressive and fall breeding season, which is when a higher number are they rarely run from danger as they can barely manage a seen hit by vehicles on the side of the highway. Females quick walk. These quills are mixed in with short, dense fur give birth in the spring, typically to a single infant that will be that is shed during the summer months. This shedding is up and trying to follow mom in 4-8 weeks. Porcupines eat what causes porcupines to look a bit on the ragged side a little bit of everything when it comes to plants. They will much of the year. When the animal is calm, its quills lay flat eat predominately tree bark in the fall and winter, at times

spending weeks at a time eating on a single tree, often times killing it in the end. Porcupines are particularly fond of salt, which has them eating all sorts of things that aren’t meant to be food. The biggest issues most hunters face with porcupines are their run-ins with dogs and their tendency to frequent feeder locations. If neither of these issues are plaguing you, it is unlikely that you will ever have trouble with them. If you chose to harvest one, and yes, it is legal to do so, just make sure you have a valid hunting license and get some really thick gloves! Spring Creek Outdoors


(830) 896-6996 gbroach@ktc.com

2391-A Junction Hwy. Kerrville, Texas 78028

www.rhodestaxidermy.com JUNCTIONTEXAS.COM


Mark your Calendar AUGUST

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For more inFormation: Kimble County Chamber oF CommerCe (325)446-3190 www.FaCebooK.Com/hCFajunCtiontx


Why are my bass small? Matt Nuernberg, Spring Creek Outdoors

Every year we get numerous calls from landowners who are struggling with a pond that just isn’t doing what they want. Sometimes vegetation issues are the struggle, sometimes all of their fish suddenly died, but likely the most common issue we see is a pond full of pound-and-a-half bass that never seem to get any bigger. Along with this issue, we typically hear that the pond used to have much better fish, but it has been trending downhill for several years. For ponds that are managing for trophy fish, harvest is the key. While there are almost certainly several factors at play here, the main driver is too many mouths for the space. As a kid, I remember being told at nearly every pond that I fished in to turn the fish loose so there would be fish to catch in the future. While regulated harvest of anything is a great and necessary idea, it can backfire over time. Bass are very good predators and are also good at reproducing. In small bodies of water with no harvest, it doesn’t take long for the balance to get out of whack. As a minimum, we try to keep the ratio of baitfish to predators at 10:1, or ten bluegill/ redear sunfish per bass, and on trophy-class fisheries we want to see double that. This either means an aggressive (and expensive) supplemental feeding and baitfish stocking program is needed, or regular predator harvest must occur. Even with supplemental sources of food, ponds can still get out of balance even with harvesting fish. What that har-


vest number is will vary from pond to pond, but a general rule is 25 pounds of fish per surface acre is a safe bet in most situations. The next step in this plan is deciding what to harvest, and this requires a little more thought. Based on the numbers above, if you take out five Spring Creek Outdoors fish that are 5lbs each, that meets your 25lbs/year harvest quota. While this seems simple enough, it might not be the right move based on the other fish in your pond, and not just the bass. Aside from the prey/ predator ratio we discussed, we need to consider what the sizes and numbers of the baitfish are. If we electrofish a pond and collect bluegill that are predominately under 2” or larger than 6”, we can tell that there are too many mid-sized bass in the pond. The larger bluegill are too big to get eaten and are still reproducing, but the smaller bluegill are getting hammered before they have a change to grow up. In this scenario, we need to remove a good number of 2-4lb bass, specifically those who are already underweight first. A bass with a large head and a skinny body is a fish that will likely never catch up and turn into a trophy fish and is better suited for the frying pan than back in the water. Ashley Putnam

100 East Uvalde Rocksprings, TX



Photo taken at the dock in City Park, by Ashley Putnam



Fire implications for wildlife Wade Ledbetter, Spring Creek Outdoors Fire and the habitat of Texas have a long history, stretching back to long before Columbus’ discovery of the new world. Prior to the settlement of Texas, the prairies burned regularly, and this maintained the grass-dominant habitat that fed buffalo herds, Elk, and Pronghorn alike. With the settling of the West came the suppression of fire, and this allowed woody species to encroach and produced the habitat of Texas that we have today. Even with these changes to the ecosystem, fire still holds many benefits for the wildlife of Texas. Habitat is a living organism, always changing and adapting to pressures and opportunities. Fire serves as a self-clean function at times, or a reset button in the most drastic cases. In stale and overgrown pastureland, a low, moderately hot fire can remove the dead thatch cover and return nutrients to the soil, stimulating new growth of grass and forbs while leaving brush and trees unharmed. Even in the worst cases such as we’ve seen this summer, the secondary benefits of fire is usually rejuvenation of habitat, control of invasive species, and an influx of animals that take advantage of fresh growth. Fire is sometimes demonized as a force of destruction, and yes to livestock ranches, it can be catastrophic, but it rarely is an actual threat to wildlife. Even in large fires, wildlife mortality is typically very low, and when present, is due to manmade obstacles preventing animals from seeking shelter. Wild animals have an instinctive response to fire

and have clever ways of coping with it. Plowed or otherwise inflammable food plots are a common place to find deer seeking shelter from fires, and they will simply watch it go past from these refuges. In any case, the benefits of fire typically far outweigh any initial costs from a wildlife perspective. The initial burn scar and ash can be disheartening, but it will bounce back healthier and more vibrant than before. ULPBA.org

Prescribed burn on the Jetton Ranch, June 2023

The Original

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Wildlife Taxes- Did you know? Often times when we are visiting with people who are not experienced with 1-D-1w tax valuation, more commonly known as Wildlife Exempt, there is a recurring list of “well I heard..” and other questions that have somehow become common concerns. As the law stands now, a property must be enrolled with 1-D-1 Ag Valuation before then converting to Wildlife Valuation. The tax rate that applies to standard 1-D-1 Ag Valuations is the same rate for Wildlife Valuation, so no change in money, but there are some other requirements that do change. There are many practices that can apply towards the required minimum of 3 practices annually, a good few that you’re probably already doing without trying. Likely the most common question people ask is, “Can I still run cattle when I switch to wildlife valuation?”, and the answer is absolutely yes. The practice of grazing livestock counts towards the Habitat Management criteria, as grazing removes vegetative growth and allows for new growth of fresh grasses and forbs, the hoof action of cattle stimulates the soil, moving seeds and manure

around which keeps the soil healthy. The next most common question is, “How many acres must I have to qualify?” The answer to that is two part: 1) provided that the property did not decrease in size or change ownership in the past calendar year, there is no listed minimum acreage for a property to qualify for 1-D-1w and 2) if the property did decrease, or if it changed hands, the minimum acreage for qualification varies by county. The last common question is, “How is it different than Ag Valuation?”, and this question has many different answers, but likely the most important is the added requirement of annual reporting. When you initially enroll a property in Wildlife Valuation, you are required to fill out the same Ag Application as you filled out in the past, but with more boxes filled in this time. In addition to this, you will need to fill out a Five-Year Wildlife Management Plan, and each year after that you will need to fill out an Annual Report which tells the Appraisal District what you have done to benefit the wildlife that utilize your property in the past year. There are

Spring Creek Outdoors

seven different categories of management practices that qualify a property for Wildlife Valuation, and you must meet a minimum of three each year. These practices can change from year to year, and they can also stay the same, provided you are doing something to maintain their effectiveness, such as keeping water troughs in working order or continuing to fill your feeders. One major thing that needs to be considered is that it is not a requirement of the program that your efforts end with the intended results. Just because there are no deer feeding in your deer food plot does not mean that this practice is disqualified, it is the effort that counts. And to this point, even if there are no deer using your food plot, there is almost certainly numerous other wildlife species that are benefiting from it. Every year we handle dozens of these 1-D-1w conversions and even more Annual Reports. If you have questions about your property or would like to enroll your property reach out to us and we would be happy to get the ball rolling for you. https://springcreekoutdoors.com



Serving Kimble County and Surrounding Areas Since 1992


Office: (325) 446-3375





Chad Gipson


Cell: (210) 416-7820

gipsonconstruction@verizon.net http://gipson-construction.com

Roads • Brush • Pads Dams-Earthen & Concrete • Mobile Rock Crushing Hauling-Dump Trucks & Belly Dumps Red Granite • Crushed Limestone Base

Trimming Handsaw Clearing Fence Line Cleaning Commercial Ranch Trimming/Clearing

Fully Insured

Larry Telles - Local Owner

Serving Kimble County & the surrounding areas

830-928-5161 755 KC 171, Junction, TX 76849 larrytelles@yahoo.com



Let us help you get started with your own Livestock operation ... Start owning all the things you love about the beautiful Hill Country!

Do you enjoy the experience your deer lease has to offer? Why not own it for yourself?

J unction n ational B ank Come see us at Junction National Bank to learn about all our products and full range of services including real estate, agricultural, commercial, and consumer lending.

THE BRAND NAME IN KIMBLE COUNTY BANKING SINCE 1935 701 Main Street • www.junctionnational.com • (325) 446-2531

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