& SURROUNDING AREAS
DEER Country 2021-2022
TPublished HE JUNCTION EAGLE in Kimble County Since 1882
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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, 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 busi-
ness. 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, 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 information they provide each year. This year we are also pleased to publish the work of Kimble County Historian Frederica Wyatt, Texas Tech Junction, as well as the beautiful wildlife photography from the following: Amy Simon, Paula Swenson, Carmen Bierschwale, Philip Leach, Mike Carter, Matt Sodolak, Jim Barker, Colt Brandenberger, Macy Ledbetter, Wade Ledbetter, Matt Nuernberg, Marcus Whitworth, Andy Murr, David Doyal, South Llano River State Park, Scott Richardson, Jordan Keeton and Daniel Henderson. 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
THE JUNCTION TEXAS AND SURROUNDING AREAS
Message from KC Game Warden - pg. 7 Spring Creek Outdoors Contributors - pg. 8 Kimble County Hunting Forecast - pgs. 9-12 Wildlife Survey Methods - pgs. 14-16 Deer Season Tidbits for 2021 - pg. 17 Protecting Texas’ Natural Resources - pgs. 21-23 The Bears are Back - pg. 25 Exciting Events in Junction - pg. 26 Places to Set Your Sights On - pg. 28-29 Local Spotlight - pgs. 30-31 Christopher Columbus Smith - pg. 33 Exotic Explosion - pg. 35 Fencing for Deer - pgs. 36-38 What is Hypogonadism? - pg. 39 Cottonseed - pg. 41-43 Wild Game Recipes - pg. 45 Lock Away Danger - pg. 47 Pond Turnover - pg. 48 Mapping a Route - pgs. 49-50 Field Dress for Success - pg. 51 Was that a Porcupine? - pg. 52 2021 TTU Axis Deer Project Update - pgs. 53-54 TTU Outdoor School - pg. 54
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 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. Sincerely yours, Andrew Murr Member Texas House of Representatives
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A MESSAGE FROM KC GAME WARDEN
Hello Kimble County! It’s that time of year again, when the population explodes for a few months and we welcome in hunters from all over Texas, the United States and even some from around the World! I’m Marcus Whitworth and I am your new Game Warden. I was raised in Dripping Springs. I graduated high school in 2005 and left for the Marine Corps the following day. In my four years of service as an infantryman, I did two combat deployments to Fallujah, Iraq. Following my service, I moved back to Texas and got a BS in Biology and Environmental Studies from Texas State University. After two years as a private sector biologist, I began my career with Texas Parks and Wildlife. I graduated from the Game Warden Academy in 2016 and was sent down to Laredo for my first few years. Once eligible, I transferred up to Conroe, where I stayed until Kimble County had a vacancy. Although I was raised in Dripping Springs, my family and I spent as many of our weekends and as much of our summertime as we could at our property near Segovia. I have countless childhood memories all over Kimble County, from family reunions at the Stevenson Center to mutton bustin’ at the fairgrounds. I may not have been raised here, but Kimble County sure feels like home! I am excited to be here and hope to stay for a long time. I didn’t get to spend much of last hunting season here, transferring in at the first of the year. But, in the few weeks I did get, I noticed several trends that need to be cleaned up. I saw quite a few tagging violations,
such as untagged deer in camps and harvest logs not filled out. A few ranches didn’t have their lease licenses and some folks were not aware of the CWD check station in Segovia. This will be the second year of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance within the Kimble County CWD Zone. The check station will once again be located on the north side of I-10 in Segovia. Although it is required to bring in all CWDsusceptible species, like white-tailed deer, sika, elk and red deer, harvested within the zone to the check station for sampling, folks are also encouraged to bring deer, including axis deer from the surrounding areas. The zone is a result of multiple whitetailed deer in a local deer breeding facility having tested positive for CWD in 2020. The immediate concern was the possibility that the disease could have spread beyond the fence line of the breeding facility. Last hunting season, the Segovia Check Station received and tested over 700 samples with no new positive results. The hope is that the surveillance zone can eventually be reduced in size or eliminated altogether if CWD is not detected in subsequent hunting seasons. Kimble County CWD Check Station Location: North side of I-10, Exit 465 at Segovia, Old Truck Stop on FM 2169 Required Zone: The Western boundary follows 83 S up to I-10 then continues along I-10 until it meets the Northern boundary at FM 2169 just East of Junction. The North/East boundary stairsteps from FM 2169, to CR 410, CR 412, CR 470, CR 420, along FM 479 and down CR 443 until meeting the southern boundary of US 290 and the County line. (Maps available online or at the check station.) Contact: (512) 803-6174 Dates of Operation: Open: Oct 2 - Nov 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time; Nov 6-Jan 16 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; Jan 17 - Feb 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time. Closed: Nov 25, Dec 24 (@12 p.m.), Dec 25, Dec 31 (@12 p.m.), and Jan 1.
For more information, please visit TPWD.TEXAS.GOV/CWD. As population grows and the land continues to be divided, more and more folks are enjoying our beautiful county. With this comes safety concerns. We’ve already had one severe hunting accident in Kimble County this dove season. Hunting from any roadway is illegal and an arrestable offense, no matter the species or ownership of adjacent land. I have personally worked a hunting accident where an individual was shot and killed while hunting his own property by people shooting at pigs off a public road. Let’s be sure to place our feeders, stands and ranges in a manner that does not allow for our projectiles to leave our property. Finally, we need to always get landowner permission before retrieving game that has crossed into their property. After a busier than expected summer, there are also a few water related trends that should be addressed. If we’re setting lines or jugs, they need to have a gear tag. It’s tough to prosecute someone for messing with them if they were not legally set in the first place. The specifics of the gear tag are in the outdoor annual (which is back this year!). If using a paddle craft, we’ve got to have an accessible life jacket on board. Do not block roadways at the water crossings and be sure to stay within the banks of the rivers and off any private property. Let’s also be sure to pick up any trash and leave the rocks and riverbed how we found them, as the relationship between river goers and adjacent landowners is key to the county’s future. Again, I’m excited to be here and look forward to meeting everyone and becoming a part of this great community. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or to report any suspicious activity. My cell number (325-280-5224) is easily found through a quick online search for Kimble County Game Warden. Good luck this season and let’s protect the most beautiful county in Texas!
Guest contributors: sprinG creek outdoors Matt NuerNberg
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 whitetail deer while in still in high school. While Matt was a student at Texas A&M-Kingsville, and after graduating in 2013 with a B.S. in Range and Wildlife Management, he worked in the wildlife industry. His range of experiences include working as an assistant biologist and hunting guide on a King Ranch corporate hunting lease, and serving 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 in Poth, Texas. You can reach Matt anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or check website at www.SpringCreekOutdoors.com
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 his 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 two 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 8
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. Being homeschooled most of his life, 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 of 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 email@example.com
s 2021 comes to an end, Kimble County wildlife are in good overall shape. Even with the disastrous ice storm in mid-February, the native wildlife made it through in pretty good condition. The same cannot be said for many exotics species, however. Beyond February, the rains were favorable for the most part and well-timed with overall mild summer temperatures. The brush is currently in great shape, the grass is tall and local hay producers have been busy. It is hard to believe that February was only nine months ago. As you likely know, I spend every single day in the field starting in August looking, counting, photographing, monitoring, measuring and judging wildlife and habitat conditions throughout my travels. The entire month of September finds me in a helicopter all over central Texas primarily counting deer, turkey, quail and shooting predators, so I get to see some incredible wildlife on incredible ranches up close and personal. The ice storm was very hard on most exotic/non-native species, particularly blackbuck antelope, axis deer, scimitar horned oryx, wildebeest and “super” exotic species such as kudu, gemsbok and sable. Such exotic species can take the cold for short periods of time and they can take wet for short periods of time, but they simply cannot take both cold and wet for long periods of time as their bodies are not designed for intense heat production. Many, many succumbed to the elements, despite mankind’s best efforts to support them. Two exotic species in particular did not miss a beat, fallow deer and elk. Both have longer, dense hair and are very hardy critters. Very few, if any, struggled with the February weather. On the native front, whitetail deer managed through it with only a few isolated issues. Some bucks that were
Macy Ledbetter Spring Creek Outdoors
pulled down from prolonged rutting activity or ultra-old deer perished but few overall middle aged or otherwise healthy deer died. The native brush and trees are amazingly hardy. It obviously broke many tree limbs and split some trunks that will cause eventual death, but it appears the bulk of the native habitat will recover. Some mast producers such as persimmons and acacias did not produce their normal
Continued on Page 11 9
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2021-2022 KIMBLE COUNTY HUNTING FORECAST Wade Ledbetter
number of seeds because of the shock effect but I expect they will bounce back in no time. The extreme weather was a very hard reminder just how animals depend on terrain and diverse habitat to survive. It also taught us the value of cedar thickets in strategic places and how important windbreaks can be. The next time you plan to do any major brush work on your ranch, keep February 2021 in your mind and plan for the next big weather event in order to help both the native and non-native species on your property. The following are my 2021-2022 hunting season forecast for Kimble County based on my recent helicopter surveys and landowner meetings throughout the county: Whitetail Deer: The county-wide fawn survival average this year is 60-65%. However, it ranges from 50-70% and the 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, five and six year 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 Kimble 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 rocky hills and deep draws of Kimble County. Turkey: Turkey numbers are down this year. No doubt the freeze impacted the adult birds and some of the spring and summer rains simply came too late for a good hatch.
I have also documented a sharp decrease in turkey production in those immediate areas of the Kinder Morgan pipeline because of heavy construction and prolonged disturbance occurring during nesting season. Turkeys have a very low tolerance level for nest disturbances and heavy livestock grazing and/or equipment in the pasture are prime causes for low poult production. You can help the birds more by keeping the feeders running and taking out as many predators as you can this fall. Quail: Quail numbers are up throughout the county this year. The grass and grasshoppers are likely the reason but every ranch I flew recently showed more covies this year than in years’ past. Production varied depending on pasture disturbance similar to the turkey but that the observed number of covies this year was well up from last year. 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. The February freeze was hard on both species of rabbits but the cottontails all but disappeared and now only the adult jackrabbit remain. There is a disease that hit rabbits hard the past two years in the panhandle and west Texas but no known cases in central Texas. I have been monitoring it closely. The best I can tell at this point is that their drop in abundance was simply weather-related and nothing else. They should recover with more average rainfall and a milder winter. Feral hogs: Speaking in general terms once again, feral hogs did suffer from the February freeze. Sounder size is down this year as sows struggled to raise their normal litter size. I 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
2021-2022 KIMBLE COUNTY HUNTING FORECAST to help the other wildlife and native grasses and shoot as Carmen Bierschwale many feral hogs and as often as you can this fall and winter. Predators: Most predator species (coyote, bobcat, fox) have had a very good year. Our surveys and aerial shoots show the numbers are up across the board. There are many coyote pups out there this year. The females appeared to raise all three or four pups this summer, so do your part this fall and harvest predators when and as often as you can. Nine months ago we were all sheltered in place or outside feeding animals and breaking ice for them. Most made it through, but not all. Some species took it much harder than others and as outdoor observers and lovers of wild things, we should be taking notes and putting it on our hard drive. Why did the animals that died die? Why didn’t more animals die? How did some simply survive while others thrived? What could I do differently to have a better outcome? What did I do wrong? What did the animals teach me that they needed most of all? Everyone should reflect on these questions and answer them around the campfire this fall. You should make a plan, an action plan, a group decision action plan to make your property as good and prepared for the next event as it can possibly be. 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 Koda Bierschwale knows how to take care of predwe have lost since last year’s campfire. Do your best to ators! Here he is pictured with the two predators introduce a child to hunting this year. he shot.
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Wildlife Survey Methods Macy Ledbetter
trail cameras have been around for almost three decades now and are very popular. Camera technology has improved exponentially with color and infrared (IR) options, high resolution digital imagery and even text and email notifications sent directly to your smartphone. Trail cameras are great survey tools and do a very good job of inventorying your deer herd, provided you have enough cameras to adequately cover the property, and if you have the time and energy to analyze the thousands of images captured.
still a staple method, but losing popularity due to the shortcomings involved. Originally, the method was widely used and accepted as the “gold standard” but more recent options have shown that it too is far from perfect. The spotlight survey method involves a predetermined route throughout the property that is driven at dark using three people and two lights to observe the deer. The route is calibrated based on visibility, and deer are counted along the route with two people shining the lights and one person driving the route. Ranch roads are typically not evenly distributed nor in the most rugged of places, but instead likely to be located along the most easily accessed areas with the best soils and smoothest terrain. That being said, they typically are in the lower elevations with the best soils and likely the best habitat. As deer are observed in the lights, they are identified based on the assumption of antlers versus antlerless and fawns. It can be difficult to accurately age or even sex a deer in thick brush or at distances at night so misidentifying deer is a common problem, especially when the grass is tall or deer spook from the light and run off as soon as encountered. So the
spotlight route is typically in the best soils and habitat areas that traverse near ponds, fields, feeders and other areas that obviously consolidate deer. A typical route of a spotlight survey includes acres of visibility that translates into 12-15% of the total acreage of the property, consequently, when the total deer observed (accurately or not) is totaled and then extrapolated using that small percentage observed, the results can be far from accurate. It is very easy to over-estimate your deer herd using the spotlight and extrapolated data method. If the harvest recommendations are based off of the extrapolated dataset that may or may not be accurate, you can very easily get into trouble with your deer herd in short order. So care must be taken when using this method to ensure the data is as correct as possible and that the line is established in a way that accurately samples all portions of the
ranch, not just the bottomlands and best soil areas. The idea is to sample the property, not count every deer. The survey effort must be completed on at least three separate nights using three people each time and this can pose a logistical challenge for some properties and people’s schedules.
the helicopter survey method is popular because it offers so much more than just a deer survey. While observing deer and very accurately identifying them, you can also categorize them into general classes (young, middle, mature, cull, management, trophy) for additional management decision-making and, most importantly, you can gauge body condition of the entire herd in just a few minutes— something impossible to do with the
Continued on Page 16 JUNCTIONTEXAS.COM
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Wildlife Survey Methods control their numbers and you can take aerial photos of the bucks for more detailed harvest instructions or photograph the habitat for future management projects. So a helicopter survey is way more than just a deer count. It can be used to manage the entire ranch. I tell people that we do not count every deer on the property but we do see every acre of the ranch and that is mission critical when trying to manage an ecosystem and diverse property for maximum efficiency.
previously mentioned methods. As the deer flush from the helicopter, a trained observer can easily observe the rump, hips, ribs, shoulders, neck and head of the animal and instantly identify if it is thin, average or in fat-body condition. Healthy animals mean productive animals and so observing a few dozen animals of all age classes and both sexes within minutes can tell you volumes about the deer herd. Such information cannot be gathered so efficiently with any other survey method. In addition to observing and correctly identifying the deer, you will be checking your fence lines, water gaps, ponds, windmills, road conditions, creek crossings, deer blinds, feeders, livestock herd, predator counts and more. Is the back gate still closed? Are there any livestock stuck in the pond in the back pasture? Did someone leave the door open on your favorite deer blind? Are the lids on your feeder secured? How many coyotes and feral hogs were observed? You can even move your livestock with the helicopter after the survey is completed, saving much time, labor, and hassle of saddling the horses and hoping you get all of them out of the pasture. You can monitor your quail and turkey populations too. You can take up a gun (with prior permitting of course) and harvest coyotes and feral hogs to help
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Some of the drone advertising may be a bit overdone and overstated to say the least. The ideas of using video or even thermal technology to count the wildlife sounds wonderful and easy, however, I am here to say otherwise--for now. Currently, drone surveys are not recognized as an approved method by TPWD for Managed Lands Deer Program (MLDP) permitting purposes, however, at Spring Creek Outdoors, we have been experimenting with them for four years now. We have used thermal drones beginning in August this year on multiple ranches throughout Texas on our client ranches with known deer densities and in various habitat types. We have used the thermal drones at night, before daylight, after big rains, in broad daylight and are still compiling the data to ensure we have the best possible information available. At present, drones appear to have much promise if you want a total head count of all animals but it may mis-identify a few of them. Is that a fawn or a jackrabbit? Is that a fawn or a yearling? Is that a spike buck or a doe? Is that a whitetail deer or an axis deer? So the technology is certainly exciting and improving and is already useful but there is still plenty of room for improvement. With time comes new technological advancements and so I have little doubt that drones are going to be useful for certain types of wildlife surveys moving forward. At Spring Creek Outdoors, we will remain on the front lines and will continue to advance the ball of knowledge with plenty more research and data collection, and we will keep you updated as things evolve. In the meantime, if you have questions about using drones for wildlife surveys, give us a call and we can discuss the details.
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by Macy Ledbetter
TIDBITS FOR 2021
The following are bits of miscellaneous information that hunters might find useful this hunting season in and around the Kimble County deer woods. These observations will help hunters and managers to improve their deer herd this fall:
Be careful which does you harvest. This years’ fawn survival is 50%. This means you should be very careful and to harvest the does without fawns this year. Take your time, look carefully with good optics, and take out the oldest female possible without a fawn present.
Don’t accidentally harvest a buck fawn. 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 usually prevent accidentally harvesting a buck fawn later in the season so begin surplus doe harvesting early this year, and don’t wait until later.
Be strategic about deer harvest for genetic gains. 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 the 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.
Two females per male deer ratio is ideal! 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 tighter 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!
Harvest hogs! Coyote and 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.
Early deer harvest = more parasites 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. Only under extreme cases of infestation are these critters a problem for the deer. None of the mentioned critters negatively affect the meat quality.
If you are seeing spotted fawns in November... If you are still seeing spotted fawns in November, you have too many does or not enough bucks, and this scenario is unhealthy. Increase doe harvest and decrease buck harvest until you stop seeing late-born fawns.
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Do I need a lease contract?
Every year, we all hear the same old story, “I know it’s last minute, but I’m looking to get on a lease for this season. The landowner sold the ranch, and we have two weeks to get our stuff off.” Now, the ranch isn’t always sold, sometimes they’ve just found someone new that is willing to pay more, but the result is the same, get your stuff off their property or it won’t be yours anymore. On the other hand, sometimes it’s the landowner who has hunters who are a nightmare to deal with, so bad that the landowners don’t even want to be at their own property. Both of these problems can be largely prevented with a formal signed lease agreement. A written lease agreement does not have to be overly involved or complicated, but needs to be written with all expectations clearly stated because we all know what happens when you “assume”. Sample lease contracts are readily available online, and we at Spring Creek Outdoors are happy to make suggestions if you have one you’d like us to look over. From a landowner’s perspective, you need to make sure the following things are covered: Who is allowed on the property and limits of guests if you want to impose that limit, when are people allowed on the property, what areas of the property are off-limits
THE JUNCTION POLICE DEPARTMENT HOPES YOU HAVE A SAFE TRIP AND A ENJOYABLE TIME IN JUNCTION!
unless special permission is given, what activities (fireworks, night hunting, etc.) are not permitted, what animals are not to be harvested, livestock considerations, emergency services addresses and contact numbers, and what will happen if any of these rules are violated. For the leasee, there are far fewer things that you can demand, any clarifications or changes to the above should be in writing. You want to be sure where the lines are so you don’t accidently cross them. For example, things like night hunting for predators might be common where you hunted in the past, but some folks don’t like it for numerous reasons. One main thing you can request be included is dates the contract is valid and what happens should it be terminated before then, provided you didn’t violate the agreement--is money returned, how long do you have to remove your blinds and feeders, etc.). A last note is a reminder that landowners are required to purchase a “lease license” from Texas Parks and Wildlife if they are receiving payment for someone to hunt their land. This can be purchased anywhere that hunting licenses are sold. Matt Nuernberg, wildlife biologist Spring Creek Outdoors, LLC
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1102 Main St. • Junction • 325-446-2650 • Monday - Sunday 7 A.M. - 10 P.M.
PROTECTING TEXAS’ NATURAL RESOURCES
outh Llano River State Park (SLRSP) near Junction in Kimble County encompasses 2,600 acres, with two miles of river frontage, 67 campsites, 23 miles of hike and bike trails and four bird blinds. According to Becca Manning, SLRSP superintendent, about 2,000 acres of the park is rugged backcountry, offering a more primitive outdoor experience. The river bottom is approximately 500 acres of pecan forests which shelter abundant wildlife. Walter Buck Jr. gifted the land to TPWD in 1976. The Buck family farmed pecan trees, harvesting them for profit, so the pecan bottomland has historic significance to the park. “Different factors such as feral hogs, Axis deer and musk thistle are now negatively impacting that pecan forest and river bot-
South Llano River State Park Restores Pecan Bottomlands By Wanda Blackburn, Texas Hill Country Magazine: July-Sept 2021 issue
tom. Previous clearing of certain areas of the park used for livestock grazing has also removed native bottomland forest habitat. It’s our responsibility to step in with a plan to preserve and restore what we can,” Manning said. A long-term project, designed by TPWD specifically for SLRSP, has begun to restore native under-and-overstory vegetation with pecan plantings. It is part of a larger “Bottomland Restoration” project of the park area closest to the river. “The plan was put together by TPWD’s regional natural resource team in conjunction with park staff and a handful of local volunteers who have historic knowledge of the park and area,” Manning said. “The Llano River Watershed Alliance helped with planning and promoting the
pecan planting.” Other volunteers including park hosts, the Friends of South Llano River State Park and Master Naturalists provided planting assistance. Flyers titled “Help Restore the Pecan Bottomlands at South Llano River State Park” announced the volunteer event. Three days were required for SLRSP staff to prep the site and dig 240 holes for the seedlings. About 20 volunteers and park staff finished most of the planting the first day. “It took many hours of collaboration and site visits preparing the restoration plan. The seedlings were five months old and planted in a grouping formation in irregular planting arrangements designed to give trees a more natural look than a grid format. Seedlings were surrounded by mesh protective
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SLRSP/TPWD. Native pecan seedlings were planted by South Llano River State Park staff and volunteers in October 2020 as part of a program to restore pecan bottomlands. Many of the seedlings survived the February 2021 ice storm and will be monitored and protected as they continue to grow, repopulating native habitat.
exclosures with bamboo supports,” Manning explained. “Surviving pecans will be monitored and additional protection will be put in place. If proven feasible after this initial year, we plan to expand the project to other areas of the park bottomland.” Where did the 240 pecan seedlings come from? That was Manning’s favorite part of the project. “The seedlings were sprouted from native pecans collected by staff right here at the state park. They were stratified by our region team, planted in smaller pots, kept at the park and watered until they were ready to be planted in the ground. Damian and Nancy Martinez helped care for the young seedlings when serving as TPWD park hosts at SLRSP. “It enticed us to return and see the project through to the planting stage,” Damian said. “This planting event was a
great way to give back to the park and help the amazing staff. I also give credit to the staff for being proactive in maintaining the pecan population. These seedlings will help preserve the landscape for future generations to enjoy.” They return often to SLRSP, and Damian said he and Nancy will be proud to point to the field and say, “We helped plant those trees!” Manning explained the project’s goals. “The pecans and site will be monitored for survival rates, and plantings will be planned either every year or biennially. The main goal of our Bottomland Restoration project is to balance an historic agricultural site with a natural aesthetic of historic habitat. This will aid in the interpretation of the park’s resources and improve the overall visitor experience. Specifically, the goal is to establish a minimum of 15 pecan trees per acre that survive a full year from
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.
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Pecan Bottom planting and growing season over the suitable restoration area.” Commenting on weather and other factors, Manning said, “During our pilot year, we saw one of the most severe winter weather storms in our state’s history. We also had a very dry year, so additional watering was a challenge. We’re not looking for 100% survival rate, but we do want to provide the best situation for the new trees possible in a natural setting. As these saplings grow, one of our biggest challenges will be protecting them from feral hogs and native and exotic deer. Once we can determine a survival rate from this Volunteers joined South Llano River State Park personnel to plant pecan seedlings year, we can plan for protection of as part of a TPWD long-term Bottomland Restoration project. Photo courtesy Scott Richardson, board member of Friends of SLRSP and Llano River Watershed those specific trees.” “It’s too soon to tell a survival rate Alliance. of this first round of planted pecan so there’s more work to be done!” seedlings. Staff has been anxiously monitoring the For more info about SLRSP, contact the park directpecans and we are happy to say our hard work was ly at 325-446-3994 or visit https://tpwd.texas.gov/ not in vain. We certainly have some survivors! We state-parks/south-llano-river. For info about camping are anticipating more growth, and another round of or day use reservations, visit www.texasstateparks. plantings. Pecans were gathered in November, 2020, org/reservations.
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Texas Land Lady
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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 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. 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 coincid-
ed 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 northeast-
ern 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, there is a great article on the TPWD website: https://tpwd.texas. gov/huntwild/hunt/resources/ bear_safety/
Art Educaon for All Skill Levels— Beginner to Advanced
Classes in oils and acrylics, includes all materials and equipment.
Fine Art Oil & Acrylic Paintings are available in our Gallery! John Heinrichs, Professional Arst/Instructor 627 Main Street, Juncon, TX 76849, (325)215-2122, Tues.— Sat., 10am—5pm heinrichsartstudio.com
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1907 Main St.
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Welcome hunters 325-446-8664
A Family Tradition Since 1953
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Drive Thru Window
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Business Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (Closed Tuesdays)
Join us in
JUNCTION, TEXAS for these
Exciting 2021-22 Events!
Hunters Welcome Events 1st Weekend in November
Deer Hunting Season Opens
FRI: Hunter’s Appreciation Lunch WEST BEAR CREEK GENERAL STORE Sat: London Hunter’s Breakfast LONDON COMMUNITY CENTER Sat: Hunter’s Lunch SIMON BROS. MERCANTILE/LYSSY & ECKEL FEED/ ROOSEVELT ___________________________________________ Kimble County
WILD Game Dinner
Annually, the Saturday after Thanksgiving November 27, 2021
Eat Wild Game, Win Guns & Hunts & Live Auction of Hunts & Resort Trips! ___________________________________________
• CHRISTMAS TRAIL OF LIGHTS - CITY PARKSunday, November 1, 2021 (evening) • LATE NIGHT CHRISTMAS SHOPPING IN JCT.
Friday, December 3, 2021
• 5th ANNUAL CHRISTMAS AT THE RANCH
Saturday, December 4, 2021 • 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
Friday, December 10, 2021 • At Dark MAIN STREET DOWNTOWN, ENDING IN JUNCTION CITY PARK • Lions Club pictures with Santa
Outdoor Women Gone WILDSM in Kimble County Annually, 3rd Saturday in April Saturday, April 30, 2022
Annually July 4th Weekend July 2nd, 2022 Free Fireworks Display! DARK THIRTY • CITY PARK, ALONG THE LLANO RIVER
Just for Women! Just for Fun! Sponsored by City of Junction ______________________________________________
700 Springs Ranch Tour
April 23, 2022 MEET AT COURTHOUSE IN JUNCTION.
Motorcade leaves PROMPTLY at 10 a.m. for Ranch. Bring Bag Lunch and Lawn Chairs. For more info: 325.446.3190 ______________________________________________
July 2nd PARADE ON MAIN – 10 AM
Celebrate the 4th in Junction!!! ___________________________________________
Hill Country Fair Assoc. Summer Classic Rodeo
Junction A&M Club Scholarship Golf Tournament
Annually, 2nd Full Weekend in August- Aug. 12 & 13 HILL COUNTRY FAIRGROUNDS DANCES & PARADE
www.junctionaggies.com fb.com/junctionaggies ______________________________________________
and Annual Martin Memorial Open Car Show
Annually in April 2022 Dinner & Silent Auction after tournament Kimble County
Disc Golf Events
The Freezer–February 2022
For more info: 325.446.5658 email@example.com ___________________________________________ Junction’s 8th Annual
BBQ Cook-Off & Kow Kick
The Sizzler–July 2022
Family Fun Festival Labor Day Weekend, Saturday, September 3, 2022
South Llano River
LIVE Music • VENDORS • Kids Activities ___________________________________________
For info: Hoyt Moss 325.446.6565 or Lone Star BBQ Society Sanctioned Cook-Off Charlie Chapman 512.557.2482 – $5,000 Guaranteed Payout ______________________________________________
Birding Festival April, 2022
Up & Back Boat Race Labor Day Weekend, Saturday, September 3, 2022
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org SOUTH LLANO RIVER - BEGINS & ENDS AT THE DAM ______________________________________________ For more info: 325.446.2622 or 210.289.2982 __________________________________________
Memorial Day Celebration
Memorial Day Monday, May 31, 2022
Santa Claus will hear children’s wishes immediatly following 8 am - TRIBUTE CEREMONY Honoring Fallen Veterans Predator Calling Contest & Boy Scouts Troop 420 Placing of Flags Saturday, March 19, 2022 the parade in City Park under the Trail of Lights. For more FLAGPOLE AT JUNCTION CEMETERY ON US HWY 377 S A2Z Taxidermy, 401 Main St., Junction info: 325.215.9376 ____________________________________________ Predator contest with cash prizes and For more info: 325.446.3157 ______________________________________________
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 71st ANNUAL EASTER PAGEANT
AMPHITHEATER BELOW LOVER’S LEAP • DARK THIRTY ______________________________________________
Cowboys & Cajuns Together Again
drawing at end of contest on Sunday (Must Be Present to Win).
For more info: 325.446.3190 ___________________________________________
Annually 1st Saturday in June Saturday, June 4, 2022
ON 5TH STREET Beside the Courthouse Street Dance “Jody Nix & The Texas Cowboys” ______________________________________________
“Hit for Sticks”
Benefiting Lexi Cardwell Scholarship Fund
Fort Worth Dallas
Annually, Second Saturday of June
For more info: 214.714.5653 or 325.446.6043 _____________________________________________
FOR EXACT EVENT DATES AND TIMES, VISIT: www.junctiontexas.net OR CONTACT:
Kimble County Chamber of Commerce & Junction Visitor Information
Corpus Christi Laredo
402 Main Street, Junction, TX 76849 • 325-446-3190 • Email: email@example.com
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Visit Kimble County
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
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.
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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 Thurs. and Fri. 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Any other time 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 Nov. 6 (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 Nov. 2, 11:30 Sausage wraps, beans and fixings until food runs out!
These three gobblers were taken by Colt Brandenberger just west of Roosevelt. These birds were harvested during the spring Turkey season using a diaphragm and slate call.
Mike Carter wasn’t expecting to hunt but this large axis crossed his front porch and he couldn’t pass it up!
Above: Kara Sodolak, right, harvested this buck during archery season. Her daughter Kenley Sodolak poses with her. Kenley, pictured right, also shows off the large six-point buck harvested on her family property near London, Texas. Mignon Barker takes a cull buck at the Murr Ranch.
Bobby Swenson has a nice big axis to show off after a day of hunting.
Brock and Koda Bierschwale try to stay warm in their hunting gear.
Paula Swenson shows off her 10-pt. buck.
Kaleb Leach, left, and Ashton Leach, right, are both happy to show off the deer they harvested.
Andrew Swenson harvested this buck south of Junction on family property.
Summer Henderson, below, takes care of nuicance hogs, like the one pictured, with her 5.56 IWI Tavor
Riley Henderson shows off her nice 12-pt. buck.
Christopher Columbus Smith In this year of 2021, the 529th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World, it is well that we pay homage to some of the pioneers of this land who were named for the great voyager. Perhaps some of the namesakes received their “monikers” in the hope that they, too, might achieve some measure of greatness. One of these, Christopher Columbus Smith, was born in Missouri in 1850, to Luke and Alma Smith, born natives of Indiana. Lum, as he was called, was the second son of the couple, who moved to Texas in 1858. Luke and Alma, with their five sons and one daughter, settled on fertile farmland in the Backbone Valley of Burnet County and were living there during the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. The family and their neighbors were confronted with frequent and terrifying Indian depredations. The raids were so devastating that some Burnet County settlers petitioned the federal government to reimburse them for livestock stolen by the marauding Indians. The local vanguard was always on the scout for the redskins, and one tragic day in the late 1860’s, a small group of young men from Backbone Valley went looking for renegades. Scout for the group was W.T. ‘Tom” Cates, an experienced Indian tracker who had gleaned much of his expertise from an older neighbor, Bales Ferguson. Tom, a son of Dr. Stanford Cates, was a veteran of the Civil War and had manufactured Confederate gun powder in the dark recesses of nearby Longhorn Cavern. Tom was accompanied on his latest Indian quest by Marion Smith, age 19, who was selected by his peers as Captain for the venture; Lum Smith, his younger brother; and some neighbors, among whom were Harvey Edwards, a Tennessee native; and the Strange brothers, James and William, late of Alabama. The small group of Texans began their trail at Cates Flat, there in the Backbone Valley, when they suddenly discovered a band of some eighteen Indians, fully armed. Some had rifles (supplied by the government) and some had bows and
by Frederica Burt Wyatt
arrows. Members of both factions were out in open country, but the Indians had yet to discover their trackers. Tom saw that Marion, young and eager, was ready to fight. Tom advised that they get to cover and wait for the opportune time to begin shooting. Marion failed to heed his friend’s words and yelled a challenge to the Indians. This alert brought forth a bloodcurdling war whoop from the redskins, who began to encircle the little group of hapless frontiersmen. The savage yelling and shooting were constant, and some of the young men, unskilled in Indian warfare, made their getaway. The burst of gunfire frightened the horses and made them hard to control. At the first volley from the Indians’ rifles, Marion fell mortally wounded. Tom and Lum, who were nearby, heard him plead, “Don’t leave me, boys”. Tom’s horse was struggling to flee, and it was difficult to retain control while simultaneously fighting the Indians. In a few moments, realizing his brother was now dead, Lum rushed to Tom and said, “Marion is killed; let’s get out of here while we can”. The two survivors made a dash for the narrow opening in the circle and gained refuge in nearby brush and tim-
ber, with Marion’s horse following them. Tom had a thirty foot rope tied around his horse’s neck and saddle to a “horn string”, as was the custom in those days. A shot from an Indian rifle severed the string, turning the long rope loose from the saddle, but still fastened to the horse’s neck. Despite this encumbrance, the horse and rider managed their escape. Lum’s horse had an arrow hole through the top of his head. The horse had his ears back in apprehension, and when he was shot, the flesh at the root of his foretop was pierced, just missing the ears. Tom hurried to his sister’s home for help, while Lum was the messenger of sad news to his widowed mother and seven younger siblings (three more children, including twins, had been born after the Smiths’ arrival in Texas). Upon hearing the news of her eldest son’s death, Alma Smith’s screams could be heard throughout the valley. The Indians made a hurried departure and a group of neighbor men gathered on the bloody scene. They tenderly interred the scalpless body of Marion Smith, another victim of frontier violence. Lum and Tom were to fight other Indian battles, but the two men were haunted the remainder of their earthly lives by the ever-echoing last words of Marion, “Don’t leave me, boys”. Lum married a neighbor girl, Harriet Wisdom, four days before Christmas 1870. In later years they moved to the North Llano River area of Kimble County. Today, the only remainder of the Smith family is a row of small metal crosses in the Copperas Cemetery. The dim etching reveals the names of Lum Smith, “Mother” Smith, and four of the sons - Harvey, Walter, William, and Wade. Nearby is a granite marker for another son, Arthur, and his wife Madeline. Did Christopher Columbus Smith attain a measure of greatness? A friend once said of Lum Smith, “He was true to his family, his country and his God. What more could a man be?”
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Exotic explosion by Macy Ledbetter
I have been a huge fan of whitetail deer ever since I can remember. I learned to hunt them with my father as he carried me into the woods and up to his favorite tree stands to sit with him. Because of my upbringing chasing whitetail deer, I decided to make a career out of them. I ate, drank, slept, dreamed and chased anything and everything to do with whitetail deer. I subscribed to every deer related magazine, and I pushed lawnmowers hundreds of miles to help pay for each subscription. My passion became my schooling, and my schooling became my career, and for that I have been extremely blessed. But something is changing. As I enter my fifth decade loving whitetails and my third decade managing them pro-
fessionally, I see a shift in the paradigm, and it concerns me. My career has carried me into many valleys and thickets throughout Texas managing whitetail deer, and I am beginning to see more people managing for other than whitetail deer. I spent my entire life studying, loving, scrutinizing, researching, handling and learning about whitetail deer and demand has remained very strong---until lately. More recently, the calls are more about exotic species—those non-native species introduced from other countries that include critters such as axis
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and fallow deer, blackbuck/nilgai/kudu/ gemsbok and scimitar horned oryx antelope, just to name a few. Whitetails are being dethroned as the king of wildlife in many parts of Texas, and there are multiple reasons why. One of the primary reasons this is happening (because I ask every new client) is the government over-regulation of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has placed such restrictive movement/hunting/permitting regulations and testing requirements on whitetails that many landowners (and hunters) are losing interest. Another reason is that, as ranches shrink in size, the need for income and yeararound use becomes paramount. Whitetail season lasts only four to five months while the bills arrive all twelve. Exotic species do not fall under TPWD’s regulatory authority and may be hunted each month of the year and able to generate income as needed. Exotic species are, as a general rule, very good to eat. Both males and females are very tasty table fare and provide a steady supply of venison to the families’ freezer, and some female exotic species produce impressive headgear that may
also b e harvested as trophies. Some properties may not be conducive for whitetail deer such as open grassland (native or improved) or rocky hills instead of quality soils with quality browse plants. In such cases, many exotic species excel and flourish because the habitat may be more similar to their original homeland. As larger acreages are split into smaller ones, the habitat becomes more fragmented and exotics are much more forgiving than are whitetails. The proliferation of high fences are three fold these days—high fences are a requirement for some TPWD permits; maintaining control on smaller acreage is difficult; and exotic species value (hunter demand) continues to increase. So as you travel down the back roads of Texas, realize there are many reasons you are seeing more and more exotic species in the pastures these days. I will forever be a whitetail deer enthusiast, but it appears that exotic species are not only here to stay, but are booming their way into the future.
Fencing for Deer No worries here, this article is not about high fences or how some folks love them while others do not. This information is about how to build a good, safe, low fence for your deer. As you likely know, deer do not live on one ranch, unless it is huge. And even at that, they still most likely cross many fences in their daily travels. You have undoubtedly observed deer caught in fences by their rear legs, and I think it safe to say that everyone feels a tug at their heart when this happens. I want to offer some suggestions to anyone considering building a new low fence or if someone wants to improve their existing low fence to minimize any future deer encounters. By nature, deer are lazy animals. They like to take the path of least resistance; they like to walk on trails or roads and they typically take the shortest possible route to where they are going. Deer are capable of jumping over an eight foot fence but it isn’t pretty. They can and do jump “deer proof” fences. I see it often in my travels, but they don’t like doing it. When it comes to low fences, you might think that is a non-issue, but you would be terribly wrong. Low fences kill thousands of
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deer each year—thousands! The problem is not restricted to the very young or very old deer, it affects all age classes and both sexes with no apparent biases. When a deer jumps a fence you will see they first tuck their front legs underneath their chest then push up and outward with their powerful rear legs. They typically jump at a 45-degree angle so they look almost effortless as they glide through the air and over the top wire. But in reality, the jump is very stressful as they must gauge the distance, time the jump perfectly, tuck their front legs, stretch out their necks, tighten the stomach and extend their rear legs straight back in order to get over it and then plan for the landing. You have seen in track and field a high jumper clear the bar by curling his/her back over the bar then kicking their legs up and out. Deer do the same thing except they curl their belly instead of their back. Sometimes the landing is not perfect because the ground is not flat or they strike a tree limb mid-air or they simply are running too fast for a controlled landing:
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Fencing for Deer But building a proper low fence to make jumping over safely is easy and effective, and I want to share a few tips with you because deer stuck in fences negatively affect your management plan whether or not you realize it. The problems arise when the top two wires are spaced only a few inches apart. It may be the top barbed wire and top of the net wire are separated by only a few inches or it may be that the two barbed wires are barely separated, it doesn’t matter: When this occurs, the rear legs drag or just happen to accidently slide between the two wires during a poorly timed or rushed jump. As the deer’s body continues over the top and down the other side of the fence, the two close wires cross and pinch the leg/hoof between the two wires. This twisting of the wires holds the leg/hoof too tightly for the deer to pull out of so they hang upside down by their rear legs and eventually die in a very slow, painful manner. Because of the deer’s momentum and body weight, it is not uncommon for the captured leg or hip to become separated or even broken, further causing damage/death and guaranteeing the deer’s demise even if it was lucky enough to escape the wire entrapment. In order to prevent this from happening in the first place, fence construction should be in a manner than won’t allow a leg/hoof to be caught. The top two wires (barbed or barbed and top of net fencing) should be separated by 10-12” like this:
This wire separation allows for a deer’s leg/hoof to go under the top wire and over the second wire yet plenty of room and time enough for it to be retracted before the wire twisting can capture the deer. Another alternative to a wide wire separation is this technique:
This technique lays the barbed wire directly on top of the net wire so that there is no separation or gap for the leg/hoof to be caught in to begin with. This technique serves the purpose of keeping livestock from bending the fence over and allows for no room for a deer’s appendage to be caught. Existing fences that regularly capture deer can easily be modified in this manner by simply loosening the top wire fasteners and lowering it to join the top of the net wire before retying it. Another trick is that you don’t have to lower the wire along an entire long stretch of fence but rather lower it where the obvious trails cross the fence and/or where the brush allows for safe crossing. You can even redirect deer trails and alter their movement by providing them a more safe and easy to use crossing but if you are not the landowner, make certain to obtain permission before altering the fence. To modify and improve the feed pen panels from catching deer, simply use “hail screen” or hardware wire. Fold the 24” wide small-squared wire over the top portion of the hog or cattle panels and affix the bottom with hog rings to secure it.
Fencing for Deer So there you have it. You have several options to minimize deer hung in your fences and to ensure their safety while crossing and using your land. As property size decreases with each generation, fence encounters increase so please do your part to help protect the wildlife resources we all enjoy and cherish.
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What is Hypogonadism? I receive lots of calls each fall from concerned hunters from central Texas, more specifically Llano, Gillespie, San Saba, Burnet, Mason and Kimble counties about seeing or harvesting late season velvet-antlered bucks with a condition called hypogonadism. It affects male deer primarily in the Central Basin, or Llano Uplift ecological area. These areas are rich in granite gravel soil types and this condition tends to show up in numbers in these general areas in drier years. I have seen it outside of this area but it is very prevalent in male whitetail deer in central Texas. The condition is caused by a diminished function of the testicles. Testosterone production affects all aspects of antler growth from production, growth itself and casting of the antlers, so affected animals have unfinished, velvet covered antlers during the normal hunting season. There have been only a handful of studies on hypogonadism, and some date back to the late 1950’s, but still very little is understood about the condition. Here are some things that we do know about it: We know that the velvet covered antlers, even in the late season, remains soft and pliable and not rigid like hard antlered bucks. The antlers are typically not shed and regrown but rather are maintained year around and often grow abnormally. The physical appearance of the affected bucks may look more feminine, and they do not participate in rutting activity and are socially inferior, especially around other bucks. Testicles are either absent or are very small, and the condition is irreversible. A buck may be affected at any time in his life with no predictability. I have seen bucks progress through the age classes as normal healthy deer, and then one year the condition develops and that it is—they never “get over it” or recover and remain a stag for the remainder of his life. Basically, the condition is chemical castration from a biological sense. Antlers are produced and carried for breeding purposes and once the testi-
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cles are impacted, the antlers are impacted and the whole system falls apart, so I recommend to all of my clients to harvest each one they find. Removing the animal creates more space and more forage for the remaining healthy animals. The stag bucks are typically large bodied and in excellent physical condition, much like a steer is after castration. So from a wildlife production perspective, you don’t need a pasture full of stag bucks running around consuming resources and not adding to the genetic gains of the program. Because the antlers are covered in velvet and are still soft, you need to protect them soon after harvest if you plan to preserve the rack. Placing the rack in a cooler or getting it to a taxidermist quickly is recommended if you want to preserve the velvet antlers. They are very easy to damage during transport so plan accordingly. The meat from a buck with hypogonadism is perfectly fine to consume and may be better than the older rut and post-rut buck you might harvest later in the season, so don’t be afraid to take these deer out of the herd and take them home to the family. From a hunting license tagging perspective, these critters are still legally considered male animals so you must put a buck tag on it immediately after harvest. They certainly are unique and a great conversation piece! I enjoy seeing them and photographing them but I really enjoy shooting them! Pictured is a three year old buck Abby Coffman harvested last November in San Saba County with hypogonadism.
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Pros: Cottonseed is readily eaten by whitetail (and mule deer) and is very high in crude protein. It is high in fat and oils, is high in digestibility and protein, and little else will eat it (such as raccoons, feral hogs or javelina and most birds). It increases weight gain and body condition quickly, especially in post-rut stress periods.
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Wholeseed cottonseed is an alternative whitetail deer feed that has gained in popularity in recent years. Here is what you need to know: Cons: Availability and distribution is not widespread and commonplace. Supply depends on cotton production, so in drought years, the availability is here today and gone tomorrow, which is a huge no-no when feeding deer. Constantly switching the feed, feed type, feed blend and protein content will disrupt the microorganisms and pH levels in the rumen that processes and digests the food. Offering cottonseed for a while, then stopping and restarting over and over, you actually keep the efficiency of the deer’s rumen in a stage of disruption, resulting in poor
Continued on Page 43
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Cottonseed Continued from Page 41 digestion, processing and other blood flow issues that negatively affect the deer’s overall health and performance. Cottonseed is not a consistent source of nutrition among batches or loads. One batch of cottonseed is different than the next, and the first issue comes right back into play again-- minor disruptions of the rumen processes. The physical handling required of cottonseed can be expensive. The actual cottonseed itself is generally cheaper than most bagged protein, however, it is typically handled in loose bulk and cannot be put in bulk grain bins like protein or corn. The handling involves a semi-truck dumping the cottonseed somewhere on your ranch and driving off. Next, you have to move it into the barn or shed or cover it with tarps or just leave it outside to the elements. It will “harden up” and create its own protective cover (remember the oils?) and does a pretty good job of shedding water, but it is still sitting on the ground and out in the open. Next, ranch personnel have to shovel it either into their ranch truck or in the front bucket of the farm tractor and deliver it to the feeder location. Once at the feed station, it again has to be handled either by shovel from the truck into the wire mesh cylinder or dumped by the tractor bucket. Cottonseed cannot be fed from traditional corn or free choice protein feeders due to the fluff and oils so a separate wire mesh cylinder must be used to help contain it. It won’t stand up alone, so the cylinder has to be tall and held upright to provide access. Bagged cottonseed is becoming more commonplace, but still, not many places offer it. Finally, cottonseed creates a condition called gossypol toxicity. Gossypol is a chemical found in the seed that will render male animals sterile. Yes, sterile, as in no babies made that year. This condition is temporary, and it usually affects those animals on poor ranges or in severely overstocked populations. However, the gossypol will leave the animal’s system once cottonseed is removed, and fertility will return in time. Ranches that feed cottonseed should remove the feed, or stop feeding it, as the bucks remove the velvet from their antlers. This timing gives the gossypol enough time to pass through the buck’s system and leave before he begins producing live sperm. Remember: the only time a buck produces live sperm is while he is in hard antler. I have seen several ranches that either didn’t believe it or forgot
to stop feeding cottonseed before hard antler, and they actually had zero fawns produced that entire year. Talk about hard on a deer management program! Again, those instances are due to very poor range conditions and/or overpopulated herds. If you have quality soils, quality browse plants and maintain your density under the carrying capacity of the native range, gossypol toxicity will not be a concern. If you can overcome the challenges of feeding cottonseed--availability, lack of consistency, storage, handling, and stopping it at the right time--it can and will work for you. Many ranches have full time ranch hands to do the feeding, so the owners tolerate the handling and distribution issues, but sometimes the availability and lack of consistency still may impact your operation. Cottonseed is a great feed to help restore body condition after a hard winter and for providing protein to growing antlers. It is not considered a complete feed but can work well in conjunction with a balanced protein feeding program. I recommend to those who ask to use both protein feed and cottonseed in unison to offer your deer the maximum groceries they can consume so that nutrition is never lacking.
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DEER Meatloaf This is a great dish for those who don’t like deer burger! Put two whole eggs in a blender with one large quartered onion and 1/8 cup of cooking Sherry. Liquify for ﬁve seconds. Pour into large mixing bowl and add one pound venison hamburger, 1/3 pound of ground pork, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning and 1 cup of breadcrumbs. Mix thoroughly. Put in buttered loaf pan that you have previously lined with thin strips of bacon. Bake at 375˚ for one hour. Remove from oven, take off strips of bacon, drain pan drippings into container, pour over loaf and serve!
Garlic venison steak stir fry INGREDIENTS 2 pounds venison steaks 1 cup beef bouillon 2 gloves mashed garlic 4 tablespoons peanut oil 1 1/2 cups boiling water 1 cup sliced water chestnuts Sherry or sesame oil 1/4 cup light soy sauce 1/4 teaspoon ginger 1/4 cup cooking Sherry 2 cloves chopped garlic 3 large green peppers cut into 1/2 inch strips 3 tablespoons cornstarch hot boiled rice DIRECTIONS Cut meat against the grain into 1/2 inch strips (this is easier to marinade for the meat by combining soy sauce, bouillon, ginger, mashed garlic and sherry. Marinate steak for 2-12 hours in the refrigerator. Dry meat on paper towels. In a wok, heat peanut oil and saute chopped garlic until it turns golden brown. Remove, leaving at least 2 tablespoons oil in wok. Add meat to oil and saute until brown (add just a dash of sherry/sesame oil to meat with reserved marinade and 1 cup boiling water. Simmer 45 minutes or less time, if desired. When meat is tender, remove and keep warm in oven. Pour marinade in separate pan and add cornstarch. Add remaining 1/2 cup of boiling water, if needed. Simmer until thick. Stir-fry green pepper and water chestnuts in liquid remaining in wok. Add meat and marinade gravy. Add dash sesame oil to tast. Serve over boiled rice.
layered mexican turkey rice salad
INGREDIENTS 1 pound chopped cooked turkey breast 7.6 ounce package Mexican flavored rice (prepared according to package directions) 1 recipe - Mock guacamole (see below) 1 cup low fat sour cream 1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded 2 ounces can black olives, sliced 1 medium tomato, chopped 1 ounce package taco seasoning mix 1 cup salsa 1 cup green onions, sliced DIRECTIONS In large skillet, over medium high heat, saute turkey 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in taco seasoning mix and cook another minute. In an 11 inch pie plate, layer prepared rice, turkey mixture and mock guacamole (spreading over turkey mixture to within 1/2 inch pie plate edges). Top guacamole with sour cream, salsa, cheese, olives, onions and tomato. To serve, slice salad into eight wedges and carefully lift each portion to salad plates. Note: recipe may be made the night before, covered and refrigerated. Mock Guacamole 2 large cloves garlic 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 2 cups frozen peas, cooked and drained 1/2 cup onion, chopped 1/2 teaspoon pepper In a food processor bowl, ﬁtted with metal blade and motor running, drop in garlic cloves, process for 10 seconds. Through feed tube, add peas, cilantro, onion, lemon juice, pepper and hot pepper sauce: process until smooth.
deer in beer INGREDIENTS 2 pound chunk of deer meat 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 cans beer (your favorite) 2 tablespoons molasses DIRECTIONS Place meat in a large bowl and pour beer over it. Cover and marinade in refrigerator overnight. Next, remove venison and pat dry, then pour beer, sugar and molasses in sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper and place in a large heavy skillet, then pour beer mixture over it. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until tender.
cheesy venison hash INGREDIENTS 1 small onion, diced 1 lb. deer hamburger 1 1/2 cup Cheese Wiz 1 package frozen hash browns 2 tablespoons sour cream 1 tablespoon milk DIRECTIONS In a large skillet, brown deer meat. Add spices to taste. Remove meat from skillet. Add onion and cook until clear. Add frozen hash browns and cook until browned well. Add meat back into the skillet and stir well. Add spices such as salt, pepper, Ms. Dash, etc. to taste. Cheese sauce: combine sour cream, Cheese Wiz and milk in small sauce pan. Heat until melted and smooth stirring constantly. Spoon over meat and hash brown mixture. Serve.
hearty dutch oven breakfast INGREDIENTS 1 pound ground venison 1 small onion, diced 1 can jalapenos (small) diced, use green chilies if you like it mild 1 pound cheddar cheese, mild or sharp DIRECTIONS Brown ground venison in vegetable oil with onion and season to tast. Pour off any excess grease. Break eggs and add diced jalapenos. Stir over medium heat until eggs are nearly cooked. Sprinkle cheese over top. Remove from heat and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Serve with salsa or sour cream.
venison hash INGREDIENTS 1 1/2 lbs ground venison 1 green pepper, diced 2 teaspoons salt 1 red pepper, diced 3 onions, diced 16 oz can tomatoes 1/3 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 cup chopped chilies (optional) DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 350˚F. In large skillet cook and stir venison, onions, and peppers until meat is brown and vegetables are tender. Drain off the fat and stir in tomatoes, salt, pepper, chili powder, red pepper and chilies. Heat through and pour into covered casserole dish. Bake 1 hour stirring a couple times while cooking.
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Lock away danger Proper gun storage is essential for safety by Robert Ramirez Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine Those who enjoy hunting and shooting sports bear the responsibility of securing and storing their firearms safely when not in use. Safe storage protects you and the people around you. As a matter of fact, it is against the law to store, transport or abandon an unsecured firearm in a place where children are likely to obtain access to it. Here are some safe gun storage principles to ensure that your firearm is secure and will be operational for your next outdoor adventure.
GUN SH W
Gun Safety Storage Principles • Firearms must be stored unloaded. Make sure that the action is cleared, with the magazine removed or empty. Do not hesitate to ask a friend or hunting partner to verify the status of the firearm. Use a gun lock to render the action inoperable. Never rely on the gun’s safety to perform this function. • Firearms should be cleaned after use with a light coat of oil before storing. • Firearms should be stored in a cool, clean and dry gun cabinet or safe. Desiccants can be added to the gun safe to keep moisture at bay. Never store a gun in a scabbard or closed case because moisture can accumulate inside. • Store guns horizontally or with the barrel down. This will keep the oil from accumulating in the action or softening the wood gunstock. • Refrain from displaying guns in glass cabinets or wall racks as that can serve as an open invitation for the firearms to fall into the wrong hands. • Always store ammunition in a cool, dry place to prevent corrosion, and keep it separate from firearms. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your family will be safe and that your firearm will be ready to use for your next hunting trip.
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If you’ve spent enough time near a stock pond in the spring and fall, you’ve likely seen dead fish appear around the edge of the pond in large numbers. Numerous factors can cause fish kills, but we are going to talk about two specific ways that happen most often in the fall. While this time of year starts to see the first cool fronts moving in, we still have plenty of hot days. A warm sunny day is a great thing for a pond, and you might notice the water being a bright green color on days like that. The green color is caused by planktonic algae, which are microscopic plants that are the base of the food chain and supply the water with oxygen. During the day, phytoplankton use photosynthesis to produce oxygen, and on cloudy days, after a cold front, and at night they can die off, and the bacteria that break them down consume oxygen. This sudden decrease in oxygen can stress fish, often to the point of death. The second common culprit of dead fish is cold rain. If you have a deeper pond with a good phytoplankton bloom, the
bulk of the oxygen is in the top 6-7 inches of water and this is where fish will spend the majority of their time. Anything below that level is low in oxygen and high in harmful gasses produced by decomposing organic matter. In the fall, when we have a cold front blow through and drop cold rain on a pond, all of that rain water sinks to the bottom since cold water is more dense than warm water. If the rainfall is heavy enough, the low-oxygen water from the bottom of the pond can be forced to the top, which will suffocate the fish. These two causes of fish kills happen for different reasons, but the end result is the same. The sad part is that both are completely preventable. Diffused aeration systems help ponds in numerous ways, and preventing fish die-offs is likely the best reason to get one installed in your pond. If you have questions about ponds or aeration systems, give us a call at (325) 623-5464. Matt Nuernberg, wildlife biologist Spring Creek Outdoors, LLC
Mapping a route
by Frederica Wyatt
A cavalcade departing Bejar (San Antonio) on a Spring day in 1808 created quite a sight with an “army” totaling two hundred soldiers and officers equipped with nearly six hundred horses and mules. Each soldier was required to have at least three extra horses and mules for a long journey stretching before them. The purpose of the unusual expedition during the Spanish era in Texas was to map a direct route from Bejar to Santa Fe (New Mexico). An ulterior motive was to impress the plains Indians with the glory and might of Imperial Spain. Captain Francisco Amangual was chosen to lead the journey across an expansive land. A native of the island of Majorca, he was a veteran of forty-six years service and was considered a military expert. His latest assignment as supervisor of a hospital at the Mission San Antonio de Valero (later to be known as the Alamo) was too confining, and he was eager to pursue field activities. Previous attempts to establish a feasible route had been unsuccessful, and just two years before Amangual’s trip, Captain Zebulon Pike of the United States Army had gone West to explore the area. Apprehension accompanied his ill-fated endeavors, as Spanish officers believed the real purpose of Pike’s project was to subvert the loyalty of Native Americans occupying the Texas plains. All things were readied for Amangual’s trip northwestward, and a mid-week date of March in 1808 was selected for the day of departure. Along the journey, the “trail-blazers” were to traverse the eastern portion of the future Kimble County. In future years, portions of the Great Western Cattle Trail and present-day Ranch Road 385 were to follow some of the same “footsteps”. After leaving Bejar, the group camped the following day at Leon Creek, and by Friday,
White Bluff reached a camping spot on Cibolo Creek. Saturday, April 2, was marked by a violent thunderstorm that triggered a stampede of the herd of horses. A blue “norther” blew in Sunday, hindering any progress on the trail. Monday’s segment of the Journey included reaching the creek known as Los Balcones and then to a campsite on the banks of the Guadalupe, where the next day was occupied with searching for the strayed horses. At the beginning of the second week of travel, the group crossed a large ravine known as San Francisco and late in the evening, crossed Arroyo Blanco. Pushing onward, Amangual and his men reached Pedernales Creek at a “pretty hill covered with oak motts”. Thursday, April 7, the party followed the meanderings of the creek, described as “having a bed of rock, a wide deep channel, and some trees.” At each of the five creek cross- ings, it was necessary to prepare a way to descend and ascend, and some of the men equipped with axes, bars, hoes and other tools cleared passage for the slow-moving men and animals. Friday, April 8, found the expedition “hills formed by very rocky and heavily wooded plains”, and finally reached open land with
Mapping a route many evergreen oaks and some thick motts of timber. At “El Chimal” (White Bluff), the marchers killed a bear and espied a small herd of buffalo in the distance. (The “white bluff” resembles an Indian headdress, thus the name Native American name, El Chimal.) Traveling further, they came to a creek (East James River) between two hills with red bluffs. To reach it, “we had to go down a very steep hillside and continue through a plain”. Reliable geologists have related the red bluffs contain deposits of the iron ore “hematite”, so named as its color resembles blood. An Official Texas Historical Marker was placed near this stream crossing in 1967. The following two day’s journey (Saturday and Sunday), was recorded in Amangual’s diary and is herein quoted verbatim: “We left this place and continued our march through country that was extremely intransitable because it was very moun-tainous. The soil is red and there is no grass. In this situation we marched three hours until reaching more open country with many flat hills and level land. At 1:30 in the afternoon we reached some very high hills, barren and rocky, until descending a precipice to the Llano River which is situated between some hills of solid rock. It carries much water and runs East and West. Its flat, low “bottom lands have few trees. They are full of aromatic onions, the same kind that we use for eating. They supplied us well. At said place we crossed, and no unusual incident occurred except that we left a party of four men to search for some horses which were missing at the time of departure.” Next morning, the 10th, en route to Presidio de San Saba, “We continued our march through a tract of high and very rocky hills. After one hour’s march the road continued through high plains with soil, some of which is red sand.” By nightfall, the group had reached the San Saba River. On Monday, April 11, Amangual reported, “At daybreak two Comanche Indians were captured. They said they came from the rancheria of (the Indian) Cordero and were going to Bejar. We did not undertake our march in order to give the horses and mules some rest. This river (San Saba) has abundant water, many walnut and
Historical Marker located at Ranch Road 385 other trees. There are many fish, turkeys, bear, and all kinds of animals.” The diary continued: “This (Monday) morning I went out with an escort of ten men to examine the presidio, and on arrival I found a small plaza enclosed on all sides by a demolished stone wall. There are indications that it had bastions at each corner of the square, and on the north were seen the ruins of high facade. The presidio is located north of the river very near its bank. To the south are three hills of the same shape. A plateau is formed, and it looks as if there were a stairway ascending it.” Leaving Presidio de San Saba the following day, Amangual and his troops continued their journey west/northwest. Before reaching Santa Fe on June 19, the cavalcade officers visited with a number of Comanches along the way. Little did the group realize that in years to come, descendants of those Native Americans were to cause heartache and terror along the Texas frontier! Amangual’s return trip to Bexar began September 20, and ended two days before Christmas. Mission accomplished! It had been a long trip, involving the greater part of nine months!
Field dress for
Mama always said, “When the deer falls, the fun’s over.” And most of us would admit that, unless we’ve bagged a sure enough trophy worth bragging about, there isn’t a lot of joy to be had once the game is on the ground. That’s when the work of field dressing and processing begins, and few get a thrill out of those jobs. There are, however, a few things you can do to make field dressing and packaging your deer easier and less time consuming, and today I’m going to share with you some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned in 32 years of deer hunting, as soon as I think them up. The easiest way to get your deer from the hoof to the freezer is to have someone else do the work. Unless you are rich enough, though, to hire a professional deer processing person, this can be difficult. My uncle, Bob Engdahl, told me he used to hunt with a fellow who never field dressed deer. He shot deer, of course, but he always managed to talk someone else into gutting them for him. Either he had forgotten his knife, or he had an injured hand, or he threatened to tell his buddy’s wife how much the lease cost, or something. He always had some excuse. But unless your hunting companions are deeply indebted to you, you will have to do your own field dressing. Surprisingly, there are some misguided souls who hang a deer up in a tree to field dress it. I have no idea why anyone would do this, but I also have no idea why anyone would wear polyester pants. Go figure. It’s much faster and easier to field dress a deer while it’s laying on the ground, which is, conveniently,
where you usually find dead deer. Start at the very back end of the deer, at the part you tell your children never to touch the cat, and work your way up the belly from there. Another strange thing some people do, when field dressing a deer, is cut the pelvic bone. I have never figured out why they do this, since it isn’t necessary. It also isn’t necessary to cut the rib cage open, but some people do that, too. So there you go. The most important item in field dressing is a good, dull knife. Some of you, no doubt, would rather use a sharp knife, under the pretense that it will cut better, and therefore make the job of field dressing a deer easier. Fine, but you should bear in mind that, the sharper the knife, the fewer fingers you’ll have when you’re done. Sharpness is not necessary in a knife. Hundreds of years ago, before knives were invented, hunters never sharpened their knives, which stands to reason. They used rocks to field dress deer on the odd occasion when they managed to kill one, which wasn’t often, since telescopic rifle sights had also not been invented, so rifles were not very accurate back then. People went hungry a lot, which is why, you’ll notice, no one who was born before knives were invented is currently alive. But some of you will insist on sharpening your knife before use, so I’ll describe here, at no extra cost, the proper method of knife sharpening. The easiest way to sharpen a knife is, again, to have someone else do it for you. Many outdoor shops offer knife sharpening service for a
What you’ll need to sharpen a knife...
by Kendal Hemphill
nominal fee. ‘Nominal’ is a Latin word for ‘exorbitant price to charge idiots who can’t sharpen knives.’ If you’d rather not pay the nominal fee, you’ll have to sharpen your knife yourself. This is a difficult process, which involves a lot of time and blood and pain and unpleasantness. You will need a good whetstone, some oil, a dull knife, a large caliber bullet, and several bandaids. Squirt some oil on the whetstone and spread it evenly with the blade of your knife. Grip the stone with one hand and the knife with the other. Then, holding the knife blade at a 10 to 15 degree angle to the surface of the stone, drag the blade across the grit as if you were trying to shave off the top layer of the rock. Make a few strokes with one side of the knife, then reverse the blade and make a few strokes with the other side. Keep doing that until the knife is fairly sharp, at which point you should allow the blade to slip completely off the end of the whetstone and cut a respectable gash in your other hand. You should have put the bullet in your mouth earlier, to bite down on when you slice your hand open. Use as many of the bandaids as necessary, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a tourniquet handy. But if you’d rather not go to that much trouble to get your knife sharp, there is an easier way. Razor Sharp Knife Service, of Springfield, Missouri, offers a set of sharpening wheels that attach to any bench grinder with a ½ or 5/8” shaft, and take all the blood, pain, and unpleasantness, and also most of the time, out of the knife sharpening
process. The wheels are made of laminated cardboard, and each is about an inch thick and ten inches in diameter. One is a sharpening wheel, and the edge is coated with grit, sort of like sandpaper. The other is a buffing wheel, and has a much finer grit on its edge. The Razor Sharp wheels make sharpening your knife a breeze, and are so easy to use the average idiot can sharpen a knife with them in less than a minute. I consider myself an average idiot, so if I can do it, so can you. They even include a CD with detailed instructions, for those who actually want instructions. We’re out of time here, and never got around to actually field dressing your deer. But all you have to do, really, is open the deer up and take out the stuff you don’t want. It’s not rocket science, for goodness sake, and it takes less than five minutes with a sharp knife, and less than ten with a dull one. I still maintain that a dull knife is the way to go, but if you insist on sharpening yours, the Razor Sharp wheels will do it in a jiffy. But don’t come crying to me when you end up missing several of your favorite fingers . . . Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who never field dresses a deer if he can talk someone else into doing it for him. Write to him at email@example.com Read his columns and more in The Junction Eagle newspaper each week.
In case things go south...
Was that a porcupine?
Matt Nuernberg, wildlife biologist Spring Creek Outdoors, LLC
If you’ve been driving down the highway in central or west Texas and thought you saw a dead porcupine, there’s a good chance you are right. Over the past decade, these large rodents have been slowly expanding their range South and West. While they are still not overly common in most areas, certain locations have seen significant rises in population. Last year on Texas highways, I saw 42 dead porcupines and one live juvenile, with the bulk of these being in the late summer and fall which is their breeding season. So far this year, I have seen 24 dead and one mature live adult. A hot spot for porcupines is in Kimble County, and many of the roadkill ones have been on I-10 in the Junction area. One client southeast of town reported 30-plus porcupines in one night of running a spotlight survey! Now to clear up another misconception since we have established that porcupines do in fact live in Central Texas--they do not throw their quills. They do, however, have excellent aim swinging their tail or lunging at a threatening animal and the quills release easily from their body. Porcupines should be given a wide berth if you find yourself in their immediate vicinity. Quills are not venomous but instead have barb-like scales that expand with body heat, making them difficult and painful to remove. Porcupines are not typically aggressive unless cornered, but they can become a nuisance at protein and corn feeders at times. And to answer another common question about these unique animals, they are considered a non-game species so, yes, you can hunt them, provided you have a valid Texas hunting license. 52
Texas Tech University Axis Deer Project Update by: Matthew Buchholz Wildlife and aquatic researchers from the Department of Natural Resources Management (NRM) and Llano River Field Station at Texas Tech University are continuing to work on a multi-year research project to better understand the ecology of free-ranging axis deer along the South Llano River and the Texas hill country. The goals of this project are widespread due to the relative lack of research on axis deer in Texas over the last 30-40 years. The major goals of the project include assessing the effects that axis deer have on native riparian habitats and vegetation, what vegetation they eat, assess population density, assess the population genetics and potential genetic susceptibility to disease, and assess habitat selection. There are two graduate students working on the project, Matthew Buchholz, who is working on his Ph.D. and Madelyn Hill, who recently started working on her M.S. Both students are advised by Dr. Blake Grisham and Dr. Warren Conway in the NRM department in Lubbock and Dr. Thomas Arsuffi at the Llano River Field Station here in Junction.
Effects of Axis Deer on Riparian Habitats and Vegetation
We completed monitoring deer exclosures for the effects of axis deer and white-tailed deer on vegetation structure and composition in riparian habitats in January. We planned to have one more period of vegetation monitoring in April, but travel restrictions prevented data collection. We have since dismantled all of our exclosures on cooperating private ranches and exclosures at South Llano River State Park have been transferred to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for use as long-term monitoring plots. We started analyzing the data collected on vegetation ground cover and biomass differences between grasses, forbs (flowering plants), woody vegetation, cactus, and bare ground. Our data indicated excluding white-tailed deer and axis deer resulted in a decreased bare ground, suggesting vegetation consumption by the species may be removing vegetation that stabilizes the soil and prevents erosion along the river banks. In particular, we found within deer exclosures, much of the
ground cover was in native grasses. Native grasses provide large root systems underneath the surface that stabilize soil, as well as provide forage for cattle and wildlife Because axis deer are primarily grazers, and whitetailed deer are primarily browsers, between axis deer and white-tailed deer, we attribute in the increase in grass coverage to preventing axis deer from entering the exclosures. This finding suggests axis deer are likely having an effect on the stability of the riparian habitats due to vegetation removal. We also found that over time, the proportion of ground that was covered by grass increased ~ 15% inside of exclosures over the 2+ years that deer were excluded. Conversely, the proportion of forbs outside of the exclosure increased by~10% during the same period. It is possible that as axis deer consumed the grasses outside of the exclosures, forbs obtained a competitive advantage and sprout and take the place of grasses and bare ground. The forbs we recorded outside of the exclosures, such as frostweed and common horehound, have little nutritional value and are considered undesirable by native wildlife and livestock.
We completed our last spotlight survey in December 2019. Again, we were planning another survey in March but travel restrictions prevented us from completing our surveys. Our surveys were conducted using a technique called distance sampling. Distance sampling not only counts how many axis deer are observed during the spotlight surveys, but also calculates axis deer densities and accounts for our ability to detect them, if they are present. This process obtains a more accurate estimate axis deer densities across the landscape by accounting for the spatial distribution of animals along the survey route and how likely we were to detect axis deer during our surveys. During the surveys, we counted both axis and white-tailed deer to compare densities of the two species. During the seven surveys we conducted, we counted 3,514 total deer, 1,806 of which were axis deer. When we put
this data into the program that estimates deer densities, and our preliminary data estimates suggest axis deer and white-tailed deer densities are similar in Kimble County, where we conducted the survey. We also recorded the habitat that we observed axis deer in our surveys to help us better understand where axis deer occur at night. Unsurprisingly, axis deer were more common along riparian areas as well as in grasslands (i.e., pastures) and were uncommon in Juniper-dominated shrublands. Axis deer were at least 1.62 times denser in riparian habitats than upland habitats, reinforcing previous assumptions that axis deer are more common in riparian habitats compared to upland habitats.
Genetics and Disease
We are in the process of conducting an analyses to assess the genetic diversity of the axis deer population in the Texas Hill Country. With the assistance of numerous partners, such as…..we collected tissue samples from the counties where self-sustaining axis deer populations occur. We found that the axis deer population throughout the Texas Hill Country is not genetic diverse, implying that the existing population that occupies the region are genetically similar to individuals in the initial introductions in Texas in 1932. We are also currently assessing the susceptibility of axis deer to disease based on their genetic composition. Specifically, we are interested in Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Axis deer have never tested positive for CWD, and are not currently thought to be susceptible, but do occur within the CWD surveillance zones in Kimble, Medina, and Val Verde Counties, and are closely related to elk. Chronic wasting disease was first found identified in elk, and axis deer are closely related to elk so axis deer may have similar genetic and physiological components as elk that may make them susceptible to contract CWD. We are sequencing the gene in the laboratory from axis deer tissues that codes for the protein that misfolds to cause CWD to assess if axis deer are susceptible or resistant to CWD.
Tooth Replacement and Wear Technique
We are in process of finalizing edits to our peer-reviewed publication of a scientifically-developed tooth replacement and wear technique specifically for axis deer. Our method is extremely similar to the widely used technique for white-tailed deer; in fact, in our paper we report estimated age of axis deer using the tooth replacement criteria for white tailed deer is an unreliable way to measure axis deer age. Axis deer have different foraging and breeding behavior than white-tailed deer, and these components drive different toothwear and replacement in axis deer. We found that estimating axis deer age using white-tailed deer tooth replacement criteria resulted in under estimating axis deer age by several years. We anticipate our findings, and the tooth and replacement wear guide for axis deer to be published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, a peer-reviewed wildlife management journal, within the next 3–6 months. To develop the aging guide, we submitted teeth from axis deer collected from hunts on the South Llano River State Park, roadkill, from processors, or harvested by private landowners to a lab in Montana for cementum annuli analysis. This method estimates the age of the axis deer by counting the rings within the root of a tooth, similar to that of a tree, and one ring roughly equals one year. We then grouped jawbones from the axis deer that we took the teeth for the lab analysis and examined the jawbones for patterns in the replacement of deciduous premolars, eruption of molars, and tooth wear. We identified eight different patterns in the replacement of deciduous premolars, eruption of molars, and tooth wear and can reliably estimate age and place an axis deer into one of eight specific ageclass, starting with extremely young deer (~6 months old) and ending at ~13+ years old. After 13 years old, the jawbones and subsequent patterns were not reliable, because all of the teeth were wore down to the point where we had no reliable measure or patterns to estimate specific age. We validated our technique by having wildlife biologists and students study and then use our guide to estimate the age of axis deer jawbones without knowing the estimate age of axis deer from the cementum annuli lab analysis. We compared the estimated age from the students and biologists to the age estimated in the lab, and found both groups were highly accurate and precise at matching the ages, which suggests our guide is an extremely reliable way to age axis deer. During this process we identified a 15-year-old axis deer doe (as well as 5 other does >10 years old) and a 10-year-old buck. The 15-year-old doe was not checked for pregnancy, but the four does that were >10-year-old were pregnant at time of harvest, and 2 of the 4 does were ~13-year-old, based upon the lab tooth analysis. The 10-year-old buck was a mature, trophy axis deer, and his antlers measured 32 inches on both sides, and a necropsy at the time of check-in on the animal indicated the buck was extremely healthy (minus the gunshot…). Over the course of this study we have received substantial support from private landowners, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Hill Country Alliance, and others. We thank everyone who has supported our work. We thank everyone who provided access to private property, collected data, and provided tooth, jaw, and tissue samples for analysis. We thank the Kimble County Sheriff’s office for coordinating and providing logistical assistance during our nighttime spotlighting survey. We thank the Llano River Field Station and associated staff for extremely clean, comfortable housing, warm meals and cold drinks, and a myriad of various logistical and financial support since 2015. If you have any questions or are interested in more information, please feel free to contact Matthew Buchholz at 715-204-8680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXAS TECH JUNCTION LLANO RIVER FIELD STATION OUTDOOR LEARNING CENTER
by Robert Stubblefield, TTU Junction Director and Brett Mosely, TTU Junction OLC Director
One of the best and continuous successes of the Texas Tech University Center at Junction’s Llano River Field Station (LRFS) is the Outdoor Learning Center (OLC). Since 2003, the OLC has served over 70 independent school districts, 35,000 students, and hundreds of teachers. These students and teachers travel to the OLC from school districts statewide and internationally to experience an outdoor learning experience they can find nowhere else. A high quality, hands-on STEM curriculum has been built for both the elementary and secondary level student, using the hill country landscape as a background. Students explore, experiment, and are engaged in learning about the ecosystems found along the Llano River. These unique learning experiences enhance their reconnection to nature, foster critical thinking skills, and have shown markedly increased student achievement on standardized test scores. For those reasons, teachers choose to bring back their classes year after year. In addition to the OLC, the LRFS summer academic programs bring over 140 college students and faculty to Junction for two 15-day intensive sessions. Courses are field-based and taught face-to-face in areas of Mammalogy, Herpetology, Ornithology, Field Geography, Field Ecology, Photography and Vegetation and Wildlife Inventory and Analysis Techniques. Students and faculty lodge at the field station but spend time in town exploring local businesses and restaurants. With over 80 documented species of birds at the field station, birders from all over the nation gravitate to the center to walk the trails and along the river in order to cross off a greatly sought after bird sighting from their list. The LRFS also hosts numerous conferences and workshops for local, state, national and international organizations. An average of over 4,000 visitors and guests utilize the field station and OLC each year, making it an integral part of the community and rev-enue generator for local businesses and the city of Junction. Visit our website for more information about the Texas Tech University Center at Junction’s Llano River Field Station and
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