The best place to work, play, raise a family and retire!
The best place to work, play, raise a family and retire!
Hunter’s Guide demonstrate that they want, will work for, and appreciate your business. They have years of experience in stock ing what you need, and they will go out of their way, with typical Hill Country hospitality, to make sure you are well served.
Message from KC Game Warden - pg. 7
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 experi ence ever.
Kimble County has a lot to offer hunters: whitetail deer, exotics, turkey, feral hogs, quail, jave lina, 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
We hope visitors to Kimble County will enjoy this publica tion. We’ve attempted to give you some hunting information, a little local history 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 infor mation they provide each year. This year we are also pleased to publish the work of Texas Tech Junction, as well as the beauti ful wildlife photography from the following: Macy Ledbetter, Wade Ledbetter and Matt Nuernberg.
Thank you for choosing to visit us. Be careful; have a great time while you’re here ..... and come back soon!
Jimmy and Debbie Cooper Kistler, owners
Spring Creek Outdoors Contributors - pg. 8
Kimble County Hunting Forecast - pgs. 9-10
How do antlers grow? - pgs. 12-13
In the crosshairs - pgs. 15-16
Which deer do I harvest?- pg. 19
Outdoor Learning Center @ TTU- pgs. 20-22
Places to Set Your Sights On - pg. 24-25
EHD - pg. 26
Proper handling of game - pgs. 28-29
Real world results regarding supplemental feeding - pgs. 31-32
What happens to deer in a dought? - pgs. 34-35
Texas Tech University Center @ Junction - pgs. 36-37
Exciting Events - pg. 39
What is the deal with exotics? - pg. 40-41
Bridging the gap - pgs. 42-44 Deer warts - pg. 47
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
Kimble County’s pastures and pristine river banks. The opportunity to spend time surrounded by nature, with family and friends, proves to be a constant enticement for folks visiting our “Land
of 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 in the years to come.
Kimble County Farm Bureau
Finally! Deer season is back!
I would like to say a big CONGRATULATIONS to both our recently retired Wildlife Biologist, Gilbert Guzman and our newly hired one, Amanda Young. She has Gilbert’s old number if anyone needs to get ahold of her! A quick google search for Kimble County biologist will also bring up her contact info.
I’ve got a few CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) updates for our area and then I’ll address some of the more frequent questions and issues from this year.
Our CWD zone in Segovia had two more deer test positive for CWD last season. Fortunately, both of those positive tests were from the original property. Although this is a bit of a setback, our Wildlife Division is still very hopeful that the disease is contained within that property. We have had nearly two thousand samples come back negative from the surrounding area and hope to get a bunch more this year. The more con fidence that we can gain through negative tests, the sooner we can get that mandatory check station closed. We were hoping to reduce the zone down to neighboring properties for this season, but those two positive tests shot that down.
After hearing concerns from both hunters and local business owners, we were able to add the area within the Junction City limits to the mandatory sampling zone for this season. This will allow the susceptible species that were harvested inside the zone to be taken to our local processors and taxidermists more easily. Previously, because the head and spine are not allowed to leave the zone, the ani mals had to be skinned and caped before leaving the property and being brought to town.
HARPER/DOSS Zone. Two more deer have also tested positive at a facility in Doss. Due to both positive deer being born within that facility, the concern is the question of where they got the disease. So now, two of the State’s nine zones will affect us here in Kimble County. This zone only affects
a very limited part of the county north of Falls Prong Creek and east of KC 433 near the Gillespie and Mason county lines. All landowners within the zone were sent a letter detailing the boundaries and the testing requirements of susceptible species harvested within the zones. KC 4301, FM 385 and Highway 290 have also been included as travel corridors to allow hunters to more easily reach the Harper and Doss check stations.
If you are near either Zone and/or just want to have your deer aged or a sample taken, please feel free to stop by and chat with our seasonal technicians at the check stations.
I received a lot of calls this year from residents concerned about incoming subdivisions. One of the prime concerns was the safety of hunting activity on these newly divided smaller parcels. As this is becoming more common in Kimble County, it is important for individuals to remember that it is their responsi bility to ensure that no projectile, such as a bullet or an arrow, leaves their property boundary and that they have a sufficient backstop while hunting or recreational shooting. Failure to do so could result in both criminal and civil penalties and even worse, serious injury or death.
While the lack of rain this year was tough on our livestock, wildlife, and rivers, it seems like it also opened more people’s eyes to the Llano River. While many of the popular Hill Country fishing, swimming and paddling spots became dry and stag nant, the Llano River through Kimble County remained resilient and had some flow all summer. Unlike last year, I didn’t get many calls concerning illegal access or even unsafe situations regarding our many waterways throughout the county. If the border surge remains consistent, folks recreating near the river crossings need to continue to consider that pursuits coming north up Hwy. 377 can be very dangerous for families near the bridges. Just keep that in mind when deciding where to set up chairs or let
your kids swim.
It seems that over the last few months, calls regarding animals being shot or even darted off the road have started to pick up. Several landowners in different areas of the county have had holes cut in their perimeter fences with obvious signs of animals being removed. These property owners spend tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars locally on construction, fencing, feed, and heavy equipment work to care for these animals. Some might consider these victimless crimes, but realistically, they are causing thousands of dollars in damage and causing a distrust between some of these landowners and local services. Please continue to call and report any suspicious activity and try to get license plates off any vehicles seen parked or operating in places they shouldn’t be.
Another year, another hunting accident. Rifle season hasn’t even started yet, and we’ve already had one serious hunting accident in the county. Please continue to follow all firearms safety rules and make sure those around you are doing the same.
Thanks for the read and feel free to call if you have any questions or need assistance.
Game Warden Marcus Whitworth 325-280-5224
Macy Ledbetter is a professional wildlife biologist with a lifelong passion for wildlife, habitat, and hunting. Macy earned his degree from Texas A&M University and now operates his wildlife consulting business, Spring Creek Outdoors, based in central Texas on his historic family ranch. Macy is a fifth-generation rancher and actively manages his ranch for optimum cattle and wildlife production. His client list totals over 2.5 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
Matt Nuernberg is a professional wildlife biologist and member of Spring Creek Outdoors, LLC team. He became inter ested in wildlife and habitat management at a young age and started working on helicopter captures, sur veys, and with captive white tail deer while in still in high school. Matt graduated Texas A&M-Kings ville 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 email@example.com
Wade Ledbetter is a professional wildlife biolo gist and member of Spring Creek Outdoor, LLC team. He grew up both in the thornscrub of south Texas and on the his toric 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, inten sive shooting instruction classes for individuals, law enforce ment and shooting industry representatives. With his wife Macie, Wade lives in Mason County and can be reached at any time at WadeLedbetter@me.com
The pastures are green and look pretty good right now but oh how much has changed this year. The drought arrived last September, roared through the fall and winter, and kicked in in 2022 with a vengeance. February saw another brutal winter storm, very little moisture and spring never sprung. Summer heat arrived early and often and we suffered through perhaps one of the driest and hottest summers on record. But finally, September rains arrived and helped turn the tide and that brings us here today.
When baby wildlife hit the ground back in the spring and summer, it was hot, dry and there was lots of bare ground. Few insects, few seeds and even less cover was available, so baby “everythings” suffered because of it. So, production is down across the board this year and that even includes feral hogs! Surveys are still on-going but every ranch has lower numbers this year than in the recent past.
This means we must adjust our hunting schemes accordingly to keep the populations healthy and productive. So let’s get started with this year’s forecast.
Whitetail Deer: Central Texas and Edwards Plateau has a low fawn survival rate this year, generally speaking. If you practice aggressive predator control and reliable supplemental feeding, you have more than your neighbors, but you are still down from the past few years. So identifying how low is very important because the harvest is controlled by the production. Get active with your surveys to identify the fawn survival rate before you finalize any hunting plans to be successful. Regardless of the low rate, harvest is still required to remove those animals not needed or wanted on the range. There will always be bucks that do not impress you or have traits you want to remove such as no brow tines, narrow spreads, few number of points, so work on those typesMacy Ledbetter Spring Creek Outdoors
this fall and leave the bucks you do like in the pasture for breeding. I would not recommend harvesting any yearling bucks this fall because they are struggling. Spike antlered bucks comprise 30-75% of the entire yearling cohort so harvesting spikes this year will remove the bulk of your entire cohort and we know those little guys are struggling with nutrition. I would be aggressive on the mature bucks
with eight or fewer mainframe points and leave the tenpoints alone this year. Surveys have shown the bulk of the mature bucks have eight points this year while far fewer possess ten or more. So hunt hard and cull deep, but be very conservative on the high quality bucks this year.
Of the antlerless deer to select for harvest, start early by harvesting the oldest female you can find that does not have a fawn present. There is a need to lower the total densities on average this year, and identifying the older does without fawns is easier early in the season. Do not wait to harvest antlerless deer late this year because bucks will be shedding their antlers much earlier this year due to the stressed habitat and body conditions and it removes the chance of accidentally harvesting a buck fawn as well. So be done with all of your antlerless harvest before January 1 this year so that the best bucks breed the best does and they have more forage available since you already removed the ones you do not like.
Turkey: Production has been down for the past three consecutive years. Overall turkey numbers are down so take it easy on the birds this year. They are struggling from the back-to-back February freezes and now the drought. With few insects and few seeds available, turkeys are having to really work hard just to make a quality living, so you can expect to see many of them at your feeders this fall.
Quail: Covey counts are way down this year for the same reasons as turkey. Some adults are now pairing back up and fixing to nest again this late in the year. Success will be very low, but the little birds are thankfully tough and resilient. I recommend putting some milo or chicken scratch or even bird seed in your corn feeders this fall and winter to help give them and the turkeys some extra help this year.
Feral Hogs: Amazingly, hog numbers are also down this year, so you know the drought was a tough one. Sounder/litter size is less than half of what it normally is so this is the year to make real headway on controlling their numbers. Trapping, shooting, aerial gunning are all recommended. You can expect to see many hogs at the feeders this year but realize their overall numbers are down substantially so do your part and help keep those numbers low for as long as possible.
Rabbits: You will see far fewer rabbits this fall. With little to no ground cover and almost no green grass this past spring and summer, rabbits are really struggling this year. The jackrabbits fared better than the cottontails because they are more desert-type survivors but even their numbers are down. Rabbits are a great “indicator species” of what is going on in the pasture so when rabbit numbers decline, you know it has been a rough year for the rest of the wildlife species.
Exotics: Most exotic numbers are up, except for blackbuck antelope. Axis are rebounding nicely from the freezes and all populations are growing once more. Blackbuck are still struggling so take out any predator encountered this year in order to help them recover even faster. Most of the exotic species found in central Texas are great eating so once you finish harvesting the whitetail allotment this fall, take a few exotics home with you too because they are typically very good eating.
So the weather patterns have made this a tougher year than normal. Animal numbers are down this year but we have much work still to be done. Surveys, fawn counts and targeted harvesting is required this year. Use your binoculars carefully, deer will hit the feeders hard this year and so it looks to be an active season despite the tough growing conditions.
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 lucra tive 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 complete 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 calci um and phosphorus) from other bones throughout their bodies. Shedding and re-growing such an energetical ly 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 environmen tally 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, a 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, and therefore the total nutrition that that deer receives. 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.By
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 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 is 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, tick bites, and infections can cause all sorts of ripples, grooves, curves, holes and lumps in the final product.
One interesting phenomenon in ant lers 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 to raise and harvest deer with bigger antlers? Here are some harvest and management strat egies 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 inter action can all negatively impact a buck’s antler growth. Consistent and good-quality supplemental food and water are an 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 majority of bucks will produce the biggest set of antlers of their life at the ages of 6 ½ or 7 ½ years old. A handsome fouryear-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, travelling, 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 some times 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 healthi er bucks, more competitive fighting, and more enthusias tic rutting activity.
With tables and counters crowded with paints, epoxy, glue, and bonding agents, Kade Wimberley and Ashton Thomas’s workspace looks more like an artist’s studio than a taxidermy shop.
Country music strums in the background, as the duo works to fill their string of orders, “We’re over 250 since January,” Crosshairs owner Wimberley says of their commissions. “Last hunting season we took in 300ish...so 600 or so total animals.” He nods and shrugs, “Not bad for our
Wimberley holds a tanned, loose fox pelt in his gloved hands. Filling and shaping the ears with a bonding agent to act in place of its long-gone cartilage, he gets it ready for the foam body propped up at the edge of the table.
Beside him, Thomas molds a tanned deer hide around its foam mount and places a glass eye in the hollowed socket, smoothing the clay eyelids with his fingertips as he goes. He looks up from the deer mount he’s working on and details the process, “First, we keep the antlers and send the hides off to be tanned. When the antlers are in velvet like these, we have them freeze dried,” he explains, gesturing to the delicate fuzz enveloping the Axis antlers. “When we get the antlers back in a few months, we take the measurements and choose a foam head
to mount it on. Later on, we’ll airbrush the nose and eyes to give it a realistic color.” He pauses from rolling clay in his palms, “I guess if you think about it, it’s a type of art.”
Taxidermy is a natural fit for the duo. For Wimberley, it started five years ago. “I started it ‘cause I got a criminal justice and range wildlife degree and wanted to be game warden. So I did the academy and passed that, but at the interview portion they only take 25 out of 100 and I didn’t make it. But you have to wait a whole year to reapply, so I thought, ‘I’m not sitting around for a year. I’ll go to taxidermy school.’” Wimberley
shrugs. “The plan was to do this while I waited to reapply for game warden, but it just took off.” After discovering his love of taxidermy and founding Crosshairs Taxidermy, Wimberley relocated back to his hometown and hasn’t looked back since, “My favorite part is that every animal is different. I just like the outcome. When it’s finished--to see how it ended up.”
Thomas’s move into taxidermy is more recent. One year ago, he was working as a teacher and coach and was looking for a career change. “My grandpa used to do [taxidermy] and it seemed like a safe bet after leaving coaching,” Thomas laughed.
Ringing the workshop’s native stone walls is a variety of game, in various stages of being preserved and mounted. From the more common Whitetail and Axis bucks, to
the less common more interesting (to this writer) fish and rattlesnakes, and all the way to the unusual and exotic aoudad and zebras, the lobby and workshop at Crosshairs Taxidermy are a sort of a still life menagerie of wildlife. When asked if there was anything he wouldn’t mount. Wimberley had to take a minute to think it over, “Probably a porcupine,” he grimaced. But other than a specific spiny rodent, nothing is too strange for them. “We did a lion,” Wimberley says, referring to the Bierschwale ranch mountain lion shot earlier this year, “Oh, and I did a polar bear.” He chuckles, “That was different.”
Whether local or exotic, a lot of work goes into the finished product. Between the delicate work of skinning the heads to send them off to the tanner and the time spent crafting the skin into a lifelike mount, Wimberley and Thomas spend a lot of time on each individual piece. It can take anywhere from eight to ten months to complete one from drop-off to pick-up. But for the duo, it’s all worth it in the end. “My favorite part [of taxidermy] is seeing people happy when they pick up their stuff,” Thomas says, “Every one is a memory to someone.”
Hunters will face this dilemma each time a group of deer present themselves this fall. This article is to help you answer this question based on conditions stemming from the historic 2022 drought and the results of many, many hours spent in a helicopter counting deer this year.
If you have not, or will not, conduct any type of meaningful surveys on your ranch/lease this year, know that this year is entirely different from the last decade. Deer struggled hard during the spring and summer drought, some localized dieoffs occurred, and things are different. Do not assume things are the same as last year and I strongly recommend that you do not keep harvesting deer at the same historic rate or using the same criteria. For low fenced, unmanaged proper ties, here are my recommendations for this year: All of the bucks are struggling this year, even the good ones. So can you image how good a good one will be next year if we receive decent and timely rains? Do your part to
Unless your protein feeders never went empty and you hauled water or were lucky enough to have reliable water throughout the entire property this summer, do not harvest any yearling bucks this fall. Half or more of your yearling age class are spikes this year and they struggled all summer long just to survive, and many did not. Do not remove half or more of your yearling bucks by shooting spikes this year.
This age class is not overly abundant this year due to the low fawn survival rate of 2018, but they are out there. If these are the oldest bucks on your ranch, they might surprise you. This cohort of bucks are either very good or not very good, meaning their true genetics are showing this year. Harvest those bucks with less than ten mainframe points and go very lightly on trophy class harvest with those having ten or more points. We need to save some quality seed stock for the future and some of the top end four-year-olds are pretty shiny this year.
help the local herd and leave the good bucks this year and take out the trash.
OK, meat hunters, here goes. Do not shoot, for any rea son, an immature buck that does not fit in the age criteria listed above and make up the sad and ridiculous story about needing meat to fill the freezer. You will have passed multiple older does to select for that one buck, so I don’t buy it at all. If you really and truly need just meat, I can’t think of a single reason why you have to shoot a buck to do it. Instead, select the oldest doe in front of you without a fawn present this year. You may need to harvest two does to fill the freezer because body condition is down, and we need to get the extra mouths off of the range until more favorable rains return.
Again, I know this doesn’t apply across the board to every one, but I hope you realize benefits of proper deer management during times of stress. By harvesting the biggest buck in the woods and doing nothing about controlling the does, you are NOT managing the population—except in a nega tive way. Do your part to improve the herd and the habitat and make the correct decisions this fall.
These young bucks suffered the most of all of the buck herd. They were not able to hang out with their mothers, were isolated into small bachelor groups and were dominated by the older bucks all summer so they had little to no access to quality hab itat or opportunities at the feeder. This age class antler development went backwards substantially so make sure you know what you are looking at and be very conservative. Perhaps harvest those bucks missing one or both brow tines or with frames you don’t like, but know they struggled all summer long and are nowhere near their potential this year.
As with the four-year-olds, this is an easy age to cull. If he impresses you with his rack, don’t take him out. We need more quality breeders than ever before, so leave the good ones and take out the ones that do not impress you.
All photos on this page are courtesy of Macy Ledbetter, www.springcreekoutdoors.com
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 yearround 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 envi ronmental 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 engineer ing 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 theseBrett Mosley, Texas Tech Junction Outdoor Learning Center Director
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 conserva tion, 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. 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 occa sional 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, identify ing, and classifying these macroinver-
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 fasci nate the young people that attend. Part of the course allows students the opportunity to identify the bird species in Junction as they hike across cam pus. 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 stu dents lists when going on bird watch ing hikes. While birds are certainly
tebrates, these future biologists can infer 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, song birds, and ground birds declining at a staggering rate, the chance to see certain migratory or rare species
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 crea tures while having fun birdwatching.
The classes at the OLC don’t just happen during the daytime. For overnight groups, the OLC provides kids 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 students are stargazing. Upcoming eclipses, meteor showers, the parade of plan ets, and the lunar cycles give us a new show each evening. While these are only a sam pling of what is being taught to these elementary, middle school, and high school stu dents, these examples surely show the unique environmen tal 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 reconnect ing them with nature leads to so many positive outcomes that it so important to be able to offer these exciting
With the current state of the world, mentioning a disease can get a wide range of reactions. Some people imme diately cringe, and some roll their eyes. Misinformation runs rampant at times, so this article aims to clear up a few things about a disease that effects deer.
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD, often gets mixed up with Chronic Wasting Disease in conversation, but the two diseases are quite different. EHD is fairly common in the south,
and tends to spike every few years, much like Anthrax does in southwest Texas. Typically referred to broadly as Hemorrhagic Disease, this covers EHD and blue tongue (BT), which are very similar in symptoms. These diseases are spread by the bite of a small flying insect called a midge. These midges are small er than house flies and mosquitos, and concentrate around water. The midge lays its eggs in mud, which is the main reason why we see higher mortality from this disease in times of drought. When water is plentiful across the landscape animals are not forced to concentrate and compete for resources.
Even with the recent rains, with which we have been bless ed, there is still significant loss across the hill coun try this year. From the helicopter, we are seeing losses varying from min imal up to 25 percent.
Once infected, symptoms generally show up within a week, and these include loss of appetite, lethargy, fever which pushes them to water, swelling forward of the shoulders and loss of fear. Before hunting season starts, we get pictures every week of deer floating in ponds or dead on the shore, and EHD is often the culprit.
EHD is not always fatal; some deer do manage to survive it. Hoof shedding or deformation is common, as is antler deformities in bucks. Scaring on the roof of the mouth is also a known sign of a deer that made it through the illness.
EHD is not transmissible to humans, either from the midges or from consum ing deer that have been infected. The best way to minimize the effects of this disease on your property is to spread out water in times of drought, ideally in the form of water troughs instead of pumping water on the ground creating more mud. If you have questions about EHD or other wild life diseases, we would be glad to talk to you about your specific situation.
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 field processing.
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 stom ach, 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 so as to not spread hair 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 car cass hang overnight is perfectly fine as long as the tempera tures do not 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 degrees F. A common mistake at this step is to lay meat in direct contact with the ice, but this should be avoided! Leaving the meat in sustained contact with ice and the result ing water encourages the growth of bacteria and causes the meat to break down and discolor, so meat kept on ice should be sealed in plastic bags. 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.
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 crucial than with meat, it is essential to get the hide cooled as soon as possible, at most within 2-3 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 animal 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, 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, bet ter-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!
I have been blessed to “job my love and love my job” for thir ty years come this December. That’s thirty years of counting, catching and producing deer for a living. I have been even more blessed to work with some of the greatest landowners in Texas, and I have seen things that money cannot buy nor words can adequately describe. But I can relay some hard-learned experi ences that may save you time, money and gray hair, and most folks can appreciate that approach.
Regarding supplemental feeding, I do believe I have seen it all. As a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff biologist for a decade and now a privately-owned consultant biologist for nearly two additional decades, I have worked with every type of ranch scenario under the sun. These include low fence, high fence, partial fence, no fence, one owner, group owned, corporation owned, charity owned, inherited, gifted, lottery won, lawsuit won, stolen, taken and foreclosed, just to name a few. I have worked with hunters, non-hunters, anti-hunters and folks who just want to have a pretty place to look at.
Supplemental feeding also comes in a variety of shapes and forms. From sporadic to “as needed” to part time to full time to none at all and “all natural”, I have worked with them all. When clients hire me to help them improve their habitat and wildlife, deer in particular, I enter the project with eyes wide open, notebook at the ready and I begin the data collection process. Management is about data collection, monitoring and con stant adjustments to reach your defined goals and objectives. Management is not an act; it is a process. Processes take time and a steady approach where you don’t take your eyes off the ball and you remain constant and flexible, even when Mother Nature occasionally tries to trip you up. Management is a long game, a marathon, not a sprint and not for the impatient.
Since the historic drought of 2011, we have had pretty good rains, good range conditions and positive results using supple mental feeding as a tool. Yes, a tool, not a crutch, but a tool.
Supplemental feeding, related to deer still, reduces the peaks and valleys of the seasonal nutritional swing deer have through out any given year. The 2011 drought was brutal, and it taught us a hard lesson. Fast forward eleven more years and here we are again, in school learning about how important a long-gameprocess supplemental feeding program is for our deer herds.
The 2022 drought actually began for most folks back in November of 2021, but many folks failed to notice. Thanksgiving, Christmas holidays, Covid, great hunting, family time and the occasional rain shower kept us distracted. But the soil moisture, the browse plants, the trees, the food plots—they were aware of it long before we were. The spring of 2022 fizzled, never “sprung” and was a complete bust. Little to no green appeared on the landscape, and folks started talking drought. The summer of 2022 was horrific with record high temperatures, abundant wildfires, dying browse plants and trees. Wildlife across the land scape and across the spectrum from creepy crawlers to winged took a beating. Plants failed to bloom and set seed, grass didn’t grow, trees defoliated, and plants simply shut down production trying to ride out the drought storm.
So how did supplemental feed help the deer, get to the point here, right? Well, it depends…..
If you fed not at all or “all natural” or if you fed part time or sporadically, you may be disappointed this fall. When you head to the pasture soon, you will find very few fawns, below aver age antler production, far fewer points on the mature bucks,
many more yearling spike bucks, and depressed body weights. You may even find a few carcasses in the pasture as some areas experienced varying levels of a deer dieoff. According to our recent helicopter surveys through out central Texas during the entire months of September and October, deer numbers across the board are down. Fawn survival rates ranged from 2-30%. When we do surveys, we inventory the yearling bucks as spike-ant lered or forked-antlered and for those ranches not feeding consistently, at least half of the yearling bucks this year are spike-antlered. Clearly, this is due to nutrition and not of genetic making so do not harvest any spike bucks this year, or you may wipe out the majority of an entire age class!
For those ranches that are capable of the long game process, you are set for a better season, but one not to compare to the past few years. You too will find spike-antlered yearlings in your herd but they will range from 5-10% of the yearling cohort and they can be harvested as genetic spikes if you prefer to do that technique, or you can let them grow another year before passing judgement. The middle-aged bucks on your ranch suffered the most due to competition at the feeders. The older bucks dominated the feeders, and they have impressive racks this year since they consumed the
bulk of the feed you offered them. They kept the middle-aged bucks away so you may want to harvest those middle-aged bucks missing brow tines or with short G2 tines or with frames you do not like. And the mature bucks are easy to select this year, they are either multi-pointed impressive or they are not. With a reli able feeding program, the older bucks stayed at the feeders longer, consumed more total feed and some of them literally “blew up” and grew giant racks, thus the reason we always see some giants taken during tough drought years. During our helicopter surveys, on ranches that have
fed consistently, the fawn pro duction ranges from 40-65%, few yearling spike bucks exist, the trophy bucks are either very impressive or they are not, and body condition held up well. So if you see a mature buck this fall and he does not impress you, put him in your ice chest.
All of this is to let you know that if you are not happy with the results of your hunting season this fall, there is a solution; there is hope; and there are great lessons to learn from a drought. If your ranch is in the first group mentioned above, you should take it easy on the bucks this year, particularly the yearlings and mature bucks because their antler production is way off. But if your ranch is in the second group described, prepare for a good hunting season with lots of animals to harvest.
Supplemental feeding is a process, not an act. Feeding takes time, good feeders and large feed pens well distributed across the landscape. You should use a high-quality feed manufacturer and not switch brands because one is cheaper than the other each time you order a new batch. Nutrition is one of the three tenants of deer management—nutrition, age and genetics. And if nutrition is limiting, then genetics can’t be expressed, and age is much harder to determine. With a strong nutritional program in place, aging and selecting deer to shoot or not to shoot becomes so much easier and efficient. And that will save you time, money and gray hair.
At the time of this
the Drought Monitor lists the entirety of central Texas as either in “D3- extreme drought” “D4- exceptional drought” conditions. In most places, this dry spell is subjecting habitat conditions rivalling those during the infamous 2011 drought that wreaked havoc across state. We at Spring Creek Outdoors are com monly asked during these seasons about what happens to wildlife during a drought, and what a land manager can do to help them. Here some of the effects that the conditions have your animals, and some guidelines for how as much as possible.
The most immediate consequence of reduced that plants reduce or completely halt new growth. Prolonged dry spells will cause plants to go dormant or even die, depriving deer and other animals of quality food, valuable cover, and moisture. Deer are browsers, meaning they feed primarily on the leaves, twigs and fruits of woody plants and the soft shoots of forbs. In periods of reduced rainfall, forbs and browse are much less available, so deer must resort to eating less palatable and less nutritious foods. This lack
in their own body condition. Growing a fetus requires a lot of nutrition, and if conditions are poor enough, a doe’s body will abort the fetus to conserve resources. So in a spring or early summer drought, does that were successfully bred in the previous rut may never give birth at all. If they do give birth though, the lack of quality forage leads to reduced fawn birth weight, reduced milk production, and increased predation of fawns. For the first several weeks of life, a
fawn must stay hidden in order to survive. Drought, espe cially when combined with overgrazing, results in reduced ground cover and makes fawns much more susceptible to predation. In severe cases of a too-low birthrate, too many predators, and too little ground cover, a property may not produce a single surviving fawn in a season. Many ranches had very few or no mature bucks in 2016-2018 because few or none survived infancy in 2011!
So, what to do about it? Consistent supplemental food and water are two obvious answers, but what exactly does this mean? Corn is an attractant, not a supplemental food because it offers very little actual nutrition to deer. Quality pelleted protein feed, cottonseed, soybeans, and minerals are all useful supplements that can help get your deer through rough seasons. Consistency is key, both in keeping the feeders full and consistently providing the same type of feed so as not to disturb deer’s sensitive rumens and cause illness. Switching up the type or brand of feed, or even abruptly switching 20% protein for 16% protein feed can cause an upset to the digestive tract, resulting in severe diarrhea and dehydration.
During wet seasons, deer can metabolize much of their
needed water from the browse that they eat, but during dry seasons they may have to drink several times throughout the day. Lactating mothers especially have a high need for water, and rarely stray very far from reliable watering holes. Poor distribution of water can prevent deer from fully utiliz ing all the space and resources available to them, because they must stay near water. As a rule of thumb, one water source per square mile (640 acres) is a bare minimum to support a healthy deer population. A water source doesn’t have to be large to support wildlife, but it must be consistent. Rainwater guzzlers, small troughs, drip-pipes, and small springs or seeps can make an enormous difference for wildlife.
A common mistake that is made during dry hunting seasons is to reduce the harvest of deer, for fear of removing too many and harming the population. However, since there are fewer resources to go around, reducing the num ber of mouths to feed accordingly will result in a healthier ecosystem and deer population. A limited amount of food and water will be of much more use concentrated in ten deer, than it will be when divided between twenty deer. Aggressively harvesting unproductive does and old or poor-quality bucks is good practice on any year, but during a drought it is essential to maintain the health of the entire deer herd. Just like a rancher will sell off cows to protect his pasture from damage, a wildlife manager must reduce the number of animals that are competing for resources.
River Field Station (LRFS) and the Outdoor Learning Center (OLC).
The OLC has focused on K-12 STEM-based curriculum since 2003 and offers hands on learning opportunities year-round. Over 70 inde pendent 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 opportu nities for local students. Students that visit the OLC benefit from the positive outdoor experi ences offered through the opportunity to engage with their surroundings in a safe environment. These opportunities strengthen their connec tions with nature, build relationships and social skills with their peers, and allow them to further explore what the science fields have to offer.
The Texas Tech center also offers under graduate 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 fieldbased courses, the Llano River Field Station also coordinates numerous ongo ing research projects with Texas Tech and other universities. Major upcoming studies include Rio Grande turkeys, pur ple martins, feral hogs, black tailed rat tlesnake, and deer surveys. While the students and faculty lodge at the field sta tion, 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 abundance of Texas hill country wildlife, including over 80 doc umented 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 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.
1ST WEEKEND IN NOVEMBER
Deer Hunting Season Opens
FRI: ANNUAL LIBRARY BAKE SALE
@ WBC, LOWE’S & PARKER LUMBER
FRI: HUNTERS APPRECIATION LUNCH
WEST BEAR CREEK GENERAL STORE
SAT: LONDON HUNTERS BREAKFAST
LONDON COMMUNITY CENTER
SAT: HUNTERS BBQ LUNCH
SIMON BROS. MERCANTILE/LYSSY & ECKEL FEED/ ROOSEVELT
Annually, the Saturday after Thanksgiving November 26, 2022
Eat Wild Game, Win Guns & Hunts & Live Auction of Hunts!
• CHRISTMAS TRAIL OF LIGHTS - CITY PARK
NOVEMBER 1, 2022 (EVENING)
• LATE NIGHT CHRISTMAS SHOPPING IN JCT. DECEMBER 2
• CHRISTMAS AT THE RANCH
First Saturday in December • 2 - 5 p.m.
SOUTH LLANO RIVER STATE PARK
Fun activities for the Family. For more info: 325.446.3994
• COMMUNITY CHRISTMAS CANTATA Annually in December
FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, MAIN ST.
• Lighted Christmas Parade
MAIN STREET DOWNTOWN, ENDING IN JUNCTION CITY PARK - TBA
• Lions Club pictures with Santa Santa Claus will hear Children’s wishes immediatly following the parade in City Park under the Trail of Lights.
Open every Saturday from March 18-December 16
JUNCTION CITY PARK
9 AM TO 12:00PM
Events with live music and free draft beer-March 18, May 27, July 1, August 12, October 14, December 16 9:00 AM TO 1:00PM
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.
DRESS UP YOUR PET & JOIN IN THE FUN FOR FREE! Easter Eve
72nd ANNUAL EASTER PAGEANT
AMPHITHEATER BELOW LOVER’S LEAP • DARK THIRTY
Outdoor Women Gone WILDSM
in Kimble County Saturday, April 22, 2023
Just for Women! Just for Fun!
MEET AT COURTHOUSE IN JUNCTION. Motorcade leaves PROMPTLY at 10 a.m. for Ranch. Bring bag lunch and lawn chairs. For more info: 325.446.4219
Annually in April 2023 Dinner & Silent Auction after tournament www.junctionaggies.com fb.com/junctionaggies
Kimble County Disc Golf Events
The Freezer-February 2023
The Sizzler-July 2023
For info: Hoyt Moss 325.446.6565 or Charlie Chapman 512.557.2482
Memorial Day Monday - May 29, 2021 8:30 am - TRIBUTE CEREMONY Honoring Fallen Veterans & Boy Scouts Troop 420 Placing of Flags FLAGPOLE AT JUNCTION CEMETERY ON US. HWY 377 S
For more info: 325.446.3157
Annually 1st Saturday in June Saturday June 3, 2022
ON 5TH STREET BESIDE THE COURTHOUSE STREET DANCE “JODY NIX & THE TEXAS COWBOYS”
Benefiting Lexi Cardwell Scholarship Fund
Annually, Second Saturday of June
For more info: 214.714.5653 or 325.446.6043
Annually July 4th Weekend Saturday Night—July 1, 2023 Free Fireworks Display!
DARK THIRTY • CITY PARK, ALONG THE LLANO RIVER Sponsored by City of Junction July 4 PARADE ON MAIN – 10 AM Celebrate the 4th in Junction!!!
Hill Country Fair Assoc. Summer Classic
Annually 2nd Full Weekend in August- 11 & 12 HILL COUNTRY FAIRGROUNDS DANCES & PARADE
Annual Martin Memorial Open Car Show
Saturday, August 12
For more info: 325.446.5658 firstname.lastname@example.org
Junction’s 54th Annual Kow Kick
Family Fun Festival • BBQ Cook-off • Dance Labor Day Weekend, September 2023
Lone Star BBQ Society Sanctioned Cook-Off LIVE Music • VENDORS • Kids Activities
Labor Day Weekend, September 2023
SOUTH LLANO RIVER - BEGINS & ENDS AT THE DAM
For more info: Hoyt 325-446-6565
Annual Predator Calling Contest March 25-26
AIIZ Taxidermy, 401 Main St., Junction Predator contest with cash prizes and drawing at the end of the contest on Sunday. (Must be present to win.)
For more info: 325.446.3190
By now, most every hunter in Texas knows what exotics are, maybe not all of the names (since there are so many species running around), but the presence of something besides a whitetail at the feeder is no longer completely foreign. Species such as axis, blackbuck, aoudad, fallow, elk and red deer are free ranging all over Texas these days, with many more species to add to that list. And for most hunters, the sight is not an unwelcome one. I know more than a handful of guys who have changed weekend plans and made unplanned trips to the ranch after a cellular game cam era photo has shown a surprise visitor. So, what are the rules with hunting exotics? You are now required to have a Texas hunting license to hunt exotic animals, but beyond that, the rules are fairly lax when hunting on private property with landowner’s con sent. One thing to keep in mind if you are hunting on someone’s property is that even though the law says you can shoot an animal, the landowner might not want you to. This is something that should be clarified in your hunting lease agreement. I have heard of landowners getting mad at lease hunters for shooting an axis buck because they hoped it would stick around and draw in
more axis deer.
Another thing to consider is if there is a visible tag or brand, which is more common on the more expensive (or “Super Exotics” such as kudu or sable), these animals can fall under the protection of Texas Estray Laws, the same laws protecting domestic livestock. If you find a tagged animal on your property, or the property you are hunt ing, you should contact the local sheriff and inform them of the situation so they can try to track down the owner. Safe return of some of these super exotics could even land you a reward if you are lucky, as the value of these animals can be astonishingly high. Just this summer, several sable cows sold at auction for over $53,000 each.
how you might feel about them, free-ranging exotics are here to stay in Texas. They offer hunting opportunities outside of normal hunting seasons, and with far fewer reg ulations. They are great table fare, and make for a great mount on the wall, and make for a lifelong hunting story that’s hard to beat.
If you would like to make a donation, please use the QR code at the right or you can make a deposit to Kerr County FCU. For more information on this program, please call 325-257-7060
Tucked between a sleek new hospital and a historic cemetery on the outskirts of Junction, the Kimble County Historic Museum celebrates the area’s rich and lively past. It brings to fruition the dream and extensive work and contribution of lifelong resi dent and county historian, the lat Frederica Wyatt.
With a population of just 4,375, the county of Kimble may not be a highlight in most history books, but it’s got plenty of very, very interesting history, which includes a Texas governor, a longtime US represen tative, the Texas Ranger who took out Bonnie and Clyde... the county is named for one of the heroes who gave his life in the Alamo. Every corner of the museum building and property houses antiques, with even the adjoining lot show casing a historical chink log cabin, bygone farm equipment and nineteenth century markers of the Old Spanish Trail. “We outgrew our other building,” Museum Director Connie Low explained, detailing the 2016 move from the “Old Museum” across town to its present location. “Truthfully, we’ve outgrown this building too,” Low laughs and shrugs,
looking at the carefully arranged arti facts around her.
Taking a serpentine path through the building, the museum is arranged in chronological order, starting with limestone shells from the Permian Period, when the char acteristic hills of the area were being formed under a vast inland sea, and continuing past the prehistoric peoples showcased by a dazzling array of arrowheads, and then through the time of lawless gangs that settled and thrived among the canyons until the famous round up in 1877 by a group of 40 determined Texas Rangers. The remainder of the
“I say it’s so awesome that you can walk through the history of Kimble County by going through this muse um,” Low commented giving a tour. “[People] don’t realized how much Kimble County was a part of Texas History,” she says, pointing out the more notable pieces, such as the 165-yearold bar where Robert E. Lee had a drink while stationed at Fort Mason in 1853, or the specta cles belonging to Davey Crockett’s kinswoman.
The sheer amount of local history, rich and dramatic as it may be, is not soley responsi ble for the museum’s sizable stockpile of arti facts. The level of com munity engagement is what truly makes this a remarkable place. “We don’t buy anything.” Low said gesturing to the artifacts around her. “Everything here is donated. Donated or loaned.” That interest and care is easy to spot, evident in the tags attached to items through out the museum designating arti facts as ‘On loan’.
“We have a lot of people in this county who really care,” Low remarked.
Local history is a subject of intense curiosity.
This local obsession was evident in the “Old Museum” as well. Before
the 2016 move, the museum was housed in a small American Legion building near the courthouse, con structed by volunteers after World War I. Built to be a home-base for the var ious patriotic gatherings and activities hosted by the American Legion, the site was designated as a museum one month into its construction. Volunteers imbedded artifacts, limestone fossils, fossilized wood, weapons, and memorabilia into the concrete and native stone, displaying the ancient and recent history of its people in the very walls of the building. Plaques bearing the names of local soldiers who fought and died in World War I were inset, and later after another round of heartbreak and war, another plaque bearing more names of Kimble County’s World War II fallen soldiers was added. In 1965, the building was set apart for exclusive use as museum, and the Survey Committee invited locals to donate or loan interesting or historic items. The locals again responded enthusiastically. Among the early items donated to the museum were dinosaur teeth, a bear skull, 1880s clothing
“[The old building] was built to commemorate some of the guys in the war,” Low said, detailing how historical artifacts were set in the walls during construction, “but you couldn’t see some of that when it was a museum because there was so much stuff.”
The need for more space became evident, and after a new hospital was built on the adjacent lot, the county sold the present building to historical commission for one dollar. The building was extensively refurbished using donated money and materials. To honor the building’s origins and showcase the history that took place there, one room was preserved in its original mint green state: the alleged-to-behaunted ICU room, where the dying were cared for until their final moments.
The resulting building, tiled in green, yellow, and orange of the surrounding juniper hills, ochre grass fields, and rusted farming equipment, is simultaneously modern and historic and the winner of John L Nau, III Award for Excellence in Texas Museums. It houses two wings for exhibits, a meeting room, media room for lectures and genealogy department. Serving as a community staple, it not only shows artifacts of long-gone people from a long-gone era, but explores and celebrates the collective identity and foundation of the current community. In a county where most people can list their family history back to the settling of the area, this is not an abstract exercise, but a concrete thing.
As Low explained, “If you get into it and start looking, near everybody is gonna find a relative. It’s their history. We just hang onto it for them.”
Just inside the front entrance, the museum’s motto is embedded in the wood floor: ‘By honoring our yesterdays, we define our tomorrows.’ If the past is any indicator of the future, the Kimble County Historic Museum can only grow and thrive as the people of Kimble County cherish it, just as they always have.
Deer warts, or more technically, a cutaneous fibromas, are not uncommon in Texas whitetails. In fact, I see multiple impacted deer throughout all regions of the state during my fall travels. I get countless phone calls and photos sent to me about them from concerned hunters so here are the facts about “deer warts” that you need to know:
• The dark, hairless tumors attach only to the skin and do not affect the meat so you can safely con sume the meat without fear.
• The wart is actually caused by a papilloma virus and can be spread from deer to deer by either physical contact or even biting insects.
• It will not spread to humans and this particular virus is different than the ones you see on domestic live stock. Deer cannot spread it to livestock or livestock spread it to deer.
• Usually the warts are found in the front half of the body (head, neck, shoulders) but they can also be located on lower legs and rump on rare occasion.
• As the warts grow, they may fall off or be knocked off by the brush.
The attached location may bleed temporarily but will quick ly heal, and hair will once again be replaced. I have pulled many tumors off of both live and dead deer with a twist and a tug so try it next time you have the opportunity.
• Does, fawns and yearlings tend to have more fibromas because of increased physical contact and interactions but they may occur on either sex and on any aged deer.
• Sometimes the fibromas remain on the deer year around and sometimes they do not.
Some hunters elect to harvest a deer with fibromas in hopes of pre venting it from spreading throughout the herd. The jury is still out as to whether this actually works or not so I would exercise caution to this approach. The fibroma cycle does appear to ebb and flow in certain herds so I would not recommend harvesting them for that sole reason. Again, the meat is unaffected so if you harvest a deer with “warts”, proceed to the skinning rack and process the carcass as usual.