Farm and Ranch Living October 2020

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October 2020

Buckle Down Horace McQueen See page 3

The Straggler Baxter Black See page 5

Game Warden Field Notes Texas Parks & Wildlife See page 8

‘Ethelsgiving’: Fishery honors original sharelunker By Shelli Parker Athens Review

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t was a cold morning in November of 1986, Mark Stevenson trolled and made one pitch on a 6-year-old Lake Fork, and the fight was on.

“She was as big around as she was long,” Stevenson stated. But he had no idea the impact Ethel the largemouth bass would have on anglers and fishing. Ethel put Lake Fork on the map and became a poster child of the Sharelunker program, and the reason for its success. She was visited and revered at the Bass Pro Shop in Missouri until her death at 19-years-old where over 1,000 people attended her funeral. According to a video presentation by Texas Parks and Wildlife, Founder and CEO Johnny Morris said she was a shining example of what can happen if you manage your resources properly and invest in the future. Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is hosting an “Ethelsgiving” where visitors can bring a nonperishable food item to celebrate Sharelunker number one. The event will last throughout November. It has been 34 years since Ethel the bass was caught and spawned the official Sharelunker Program and is still one of the greatest fishing stories ever told. She was 17.67 pounds and 27.5 inches long, still holding second place on the top 50 largemouth ever caught. Experts spent hours and days helping Ethel get her See ETHEL on Page 3

Worms at Work

Mildred Elementary students study vermiculture Staff Reports Corsicana Sun

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ildred Elementary School students recently received $500 through the Texas Farm Bureau Clover Cash Texas 4-H Grant Program to establish a vermicompost program by setting up seven worm bins. The funds were used to purchase bins, bags of compost, garden tools, and most importantly, two thousand red wiggler worms. Third, fourth, and fifth grade Gifted and Talented students Levi, Chloe, Brayden, Lexi, Ronni, Zachary, and Caleb are participating in the program. Prior to establishing the worm bins, students conducted research to become knowledgeable about

the types of foods that could safely be composted by the worms. They learned that worms consume the scraps of most fruit and vegetables, with the exception of citrus products, and that paper can also be consumed by the worms. Teacher Corrine Thompson said the objective is to give students an opportunity to actively participate in the project and to bring awareness to the connection between science and agriculture, specifically the aspect of food production. Through setting up and maintaining their worm bins, students will learn how the worm castings can increase soil nutrients and density of mineral uptake in root systems, thus helping to produce a greater abundance of See WORMS on Page 3

Big Time Texas Hunts Winners Announced

Palestine man wins Wild Hog Adventure

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Staff Report

he Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has announced the winners of this year’s Big Time Texas Hunts, following personal notification to these 14 lucky individuals. The winners were selected in a random drawing from 135,714 entries. More than $1.2 million was raised this year from Big Time Texas Hunts entries, and proceeds from the drawing go to support wildlife research, habitat management and public hunting. “Big Time Texas Hunts continues to be an important conservation fundraiser for TPWD and we greatly appreciate the support of our Texas hunters that purchase entries each year,” said Justin Dreibelbis, TPWD Private Lands and Public Hunting Program Director. “If a hunter is lucky enough to win, they will experience the hunt of a lifetime. If they don’t, they can feel good knowing the funds from their entry go directly to wildlife conservation and public access projects on public hunting lands in Texas.” This year’s winner of the Texas Grand Slam hunting package, Brad Christopherson of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is making plans for four separate guided hunts for the state’s top four premier big game species – desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, pronghorn and mule deer.

See HUNTS on Page 3


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October 2020

Hunting Season: Relationship interruption 5 things to do while your honey hunts this fall By PennyLynn Webb Palestine Herald-Press

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he falling leaves, the crisp air, mean fall is here and so is deer season. This means deer hunters are working their two month window to shoot a trophy buck or fill their freezers. Many women complain about becoming a deer hunter’s widow, however, I feel they need to change their perspective and look forward to some much needed “me time.”

or craft. And, if you play your cards right and send your kids to grandma’s or with day, you might get to enjoy your favorite snacks without having to share or hide in the closet or bathroom to eat them.

Brunch, shopping or do something with the girls He’s out at the deer camp with his friends, why shouldn’t you go out with yours. Hunting season is the perfect time to spend time with your girl squad. Dress up, meet for brunch and then do a little retail therapy. With less than 100 days until Santa’s big visit, this is a great time to start your Christmas shopping.

If you play your cards right, you can sleep in, when you would otherwise be doing family chores or cooking breakfast, spend the day doing whatever you like and rely on the crockpot for supper.

Deep clean and organize your home

Enjoy guilty pleasures

Girls, this is your chance to forgo all weekend responsibilities, except laundry and dishes, and do whatever you want while your man is in the woods.

Many hunting wives have husbands that watch the hunting channel 24/7 when they are home. This is their time to indulge in any show, series or movie they can’t otherwise watch, especially the Hallmark Channel. It’s also a good time to read, sew

Here’s five ideas of ways to enjoy your new found hunting widow status:

Beauty days Whether its at home, or at your favorite salon or spa, plan a day of beauty for yourself. Enjoy a day of being pampered with a hair appointment, eyebrow wax and getting your nails done. Follow up with a full body message or facial. At home, take a bubble bath and put on a face mask. Relax and rejuvenate. Put your feet up and put some cucumber slices over your eyes. Self-care is an important part of a balanced life. Nothing wrong with giving a little more attention to you while your honey is out hunting.

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Take your kids to grandmas or send them in the woods with your man so you can clean the house without more messes being made and enjoy a completely clean house in peace until they come home. Wash bedding. Take inventories on household items that need to be replaced. Cull through your kids’ toy chest and get rid of broken and old items your children no longer play with. Go through everyone’s clothing and get rid of holey socks, damaged clothing and shoes and items they’ve outgrown or no longer wear. This is also a good time to organize closets and pantries and get rid of items that are broken or no longer being used.

Go with him If you just can’t stand to be apart and you miss him so much that it hurts, then by all means, load up and go into the woods with him. I, myself, have never relished smelling like doe urine all day or being ‘shussshed’ because I’m bored and have questions. But there are some women who actually enjoy sitting in silence for hours on end, or even taking up hunting as their own new hobby. I say, ‘go,’ if this is what will make your heart content. There is no reason for you to be stuck at home alone while your man has all the fun.


October 2020

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Buckle Down – a rough ride coming!

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t last an election to “end all elections” is over—we hope! The angry voices, lies and widespread anarchy in many cities has disgusted many Americans. The incoming Biden-Harris presidency is viewed with a lot of uneasiness by most Republicans. But the socialists in the Democratic Party are eating it up. Get ready for tax increases, legislation to control firearms and more government intrusion into our lives. But our folks are tough and

we will survive this four year invasion into our lives. Matter of fact, I figure incoming President Joe Biden will have his hands full trying to keep his running mate Kamala Harris from stealing his thunder—and maybe his office-- as we go further down the road. Biden is bound to know that unless he has some magical powers, he will be just a figurehead for the left wingers in his party of Democrats. At least, we won’t have to worry about the radicals coming on to our farms and ranches with their

dictatorial mandates. The few I know are not going to shovel manure from horse stalls or bend over to pick peas or milk cows. That would be beneath their dignity! When it comes to this Covid 19 virus pandemic, I get confused as to what the real statistics are showing. We just learned a couple weeks ago that the incidence of the virus in our area is actually a lot more than what we are told. According to the Texas Department of Health only positive cases from certain

testing facilities are being reported. But there are a lot of positive cases being reported by other testing outfits. In our area, several urgent care facilities test for the virus. But even with positive results from the tests, many of these are not accepted by the Texas Department of Health. Rather than being labeled “positive” the state mandated these be reported only as “probable”. Doesn’t make sense, but that’s the bureaucracy at work!

ETHEL, continued from page 1 appetite back because they knew the impact she would have on the program. Some believe Ethel is the reason there is a jewel like the Fishery in Athens. What better way to celebrate the season of sharing than a food drive? “Feed the hungry and feed the fish,” said Katelyn Juenger, TFFC events coordinator. “We wanted to do something for the anniversary of the day Ethel was caught. Her catch date falls on Thanksgiving this year, so we decided in the spirit of the season we would hold a food drive in Ethel’s name to continue the act of sharing with our community.” Ethel’s shared genetics, research and the program have helped bass and anglers for over three decades and made Texas a Mecca of big bass. During the months of January, February and March, if you reel in a big largemouth over eight pounds or 24 inches, you can call the Sharelunker hotline. The fish is then taken back to the hatchery, treated for stress and any other needs, then used to breed other large fish and replenish the lakes. “The thing that is so great about it, is the wild is wild,” said Tom Lang, Director of TFFC. “We make our hatcheries the ideal situation for our fish to survive. We are able to restock more back into the wild than would ever survive to that size in the wild. The hatchery at TFFC is top notch and gives them the best opportunity

to survive and thrive when we do restock them.” Each bass has a threshold of what it can take, so if you catch a big one, handle it with kid-gloves. This optimizes the bass’ chance of survival and spawning successfully. Experts suggest handling it as little as possible, if they get stressed they die. Hold with two hands, aerate, keep your hands wet when you do handle it, and call the experts at 903-6810550 immediately. They will come to you. During the rest of the year anyone who catches a bass over eight pounds can enter a picture of it on the app and they will be sent a catch kit.

protocols. I love it.” People travel to this local gem and it is a very family friendly and educational place to visit. Admission is only $2.50 a person, bring your own tackle, and if you don’t have any, they do offer sanitized poles and tackle. Bring the kids, feed some fish and enjoy nature. TFFC is located at 5550 FM 2495 in Athens. Current hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information on Ethel and the Sharelunker program, visit tpwd. texas.gov

“The more information we have to share with our biologists help them make better management decisions and better fishing,” Lang said. “We are also working on our breed stock program so we can eventually make them all Sharelunkers.” He said that TFFC has a heart for the community that made it possible for them to be here. Since the pandemic they have not been able to have the events they normally do and that has been difficult. He said TFFC has an amazing events coordinator in Juenger who was able to come up with a unique way to protect visitors and still help the community. “We are glad to do something,” Lang said. “It was a unique way to serve the community and have an event while keeping in mind the

WORMS, continued from page 1 food products. With the current COVID-19 situation, there is a somewhat diminished supply of many food products in grocery stores. Being able to produce more and better quality food at home is quickly becoming a necessity for many people to feed their family. The vermiculture project will help fill this need. Students will maintain their worm bins throughout the school year. They will give bags of worm castings

to gardeners in the Mildred community in early May as a culmination of the Vermiculture - Worms at Work project. Students wish to thank the Corsicana Daily Sun for donating outdated issues of the newspaper and circulation manager Teresa Watson for being available every week to supply papers. This ensures the worms will have a continual food supply and the project will be a success.

HUNTS, continued from page 1 Following are the other category winners of this year’s Big Time Texas Hunts: • Wild Hog Adventure – David Ryder, Palestine, TX • Ultimate Mule Deer Hunt – Jason Haynie, North Richland Hills, TX • Nilgai Antelope Safari – Daniel Mora, Socorro, TX • Premium Buck Hunt – Jonas Brooks, Fort Worth, TX • Exotic Safari – Clint Dillard, Cypress, TX • Whitetail Bonanza – Israel Ball, Manor, TX; Brandon Kirby, Spring, TX; Timothy Urbanek, Waco, TX; Robert Davis, Richland Hills, TX; Timothy Beck, Tyler, TX • Big Time Bird Hunt – Chad Snow, Granbury, TX • Gator Hunt – Todd Daniels, Arlington, TX • Powderhorn Cast and Blast – Roger Wolfe, Lubbock, TX “This year we saw an increase in the number of entries, which was due in part to the addition of a combination hunting and fishing package for the first time in the program’s history,” said Janis Johnson, TPWD Senior Marketing Specialist. “We always strive to keep Big Time Texas Hunts fresh by adding new offerings. This year we introduced the Powderhorn Cast and Blast, an exciting new package that offers the winner and their guest on opportunity to hunt on our newest wildlife management area on more than 17,000 acres, along with a guided fishing trip on Matagorda Bay. “ Entries for next year’s Big Time Texas Hunts will go on sale May 15, 2021. Big Time Texas Hunts is made possible with support from Toyota and the Texas Bighorn Society.

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October 2020

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The LBG for Your Garden Lydia Holley

Master Gardener

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n fashion, a little black dress for formal wear or cocktails is so well known it it often abbreviated as just LBD. Supposedly, every woman needs a little black dress. The same could be true of your garden. You just might need a LBG — a little (or a large) black grass.

prefer to pair it with the yellows of Japanese fountain grass (/Hakonechloa macra/) or zebra grass (/ Miscanthus sinensis /’ Zebrinus’). Since black mondo grass is evergreen, it will also add interest to your landscape in winter.

Black mondo grass (/ Ophiopogon planiscapus/ ‘Nigrescens’) is a short edging plant which will grow in full or part shade. It looks striking against variegated hosta or Annabelle hydrangeas. Or you might

Another way to incorporate black mondo grass into your landscape is through containers. You can use just one or a few to bring a touch of the dramatic to your container plantings. If you have full sun and

would like to have a black grass for your landscape, go large. Princess Caroline Napier grass, a hybrid Pennisetum, is stunning when used as a focal point in a landscape. Growing to six feet tall, Princess Caroline Napier grass is designated as a Texas Superstar, so it will take the Texas heat and is drought resistant. However, it may not grow as tall without adequate irrigation.

age cut off in early spring. It is fascinating to watch the early shoots spring up from the ground to grow to such a commanding size in such a short period of time. Once you put a black grass in your landscape, you will probably never want to be without one.

Perhaps one day black grass, either little or large, will just be referred to as a LBG. For more information, call 903-675-6130, email hendersonCMGA@gmail. com, or visit //txmg.org/ hendersonmg/

Pair your Princess Caroline Napier grass with yellow or white plantings. It also looks fantastic with magenta. Or, you might choose to use several as a tall hedge. Deciduous, it dies back in the winter and needs to have the old foli-

Turkey supplies down, prices up amid holiday uncertainty

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Staff Report

holesale turkey prices are up and production is down amid looming uncertainty over how COVID-19 will impact traditional consumer trends this Thanksgiving, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert. David Anderson, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist, Bryan-College Station, said the turkey market has been more interesting than normal going into the holidays.

USDA awards $132,800 grant to Navarro College By Michael Kormos Regional Editor

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he United States Department of Agriculture recently awarded Navarro College $132,800 through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program. The grant will support distance learning programs in STEM, Career, and Technical Education. The opportunity expands across the College’s rural communities to support educational programs on the Mexia campus and with the following partners: Mexia State Supported Living Center, Avalon High School,

Blooming Grove High School, Buffalo High School, Frost High School, Italy High School, Leon High School, Milford High School, Oakwood High School, and Wortham High School. Navarro College is one of the 116 award recipients across the United States to receive funding under the DLT grant program. “Navarro College is thrilled to receive this grant to increase program offerings for dual-credit, traditional and non-traditional students,” said Tammy Galloway, Navarro College Executive Dean of Workforce, Career & Technical Education. USDA representatives will be on campus this month to present the award.

Supply, demand and the subsequent pricing and marketing of turkeys in 2020 appears like it could be heavily influenced by COVID-19, Anderson said. Some aspects of the market are already being affected. On the supply side, turkey production is down 7.7% for October compared to the same time last year, Anderson said. And overall production is down 2.7% for 2020 so far compared to 2019. Turkeys in cold storage, which are typically stocked up for the holiday rush, were down 11.5% in September, he said. “The turkey industry has struggled with profitability and some of the trends when it comes to consumer choices around the holidays and the consumer trends when it comes to deli meat,” he said. “You have producers trying to gauge demand and what the market will be, and that’s been difficult the last few years.” Lower supplies have driven prices up this year, Anderson said. Wholesale turkeys, both tom, which are typically 16-24 pounds, and hen, which are 8-16 pounds, prices were 19% higher compared to last year due to tighter supplies. Last year, wholesale turkey prices were 20% below the five-year average. Anderson said it would be interesting to see if retailers continue the practice of running specials on turkeys to draw shoppers. But COVID-19 adds uncertainty surrounding typical holiday gatherings and the subsequent choices consumers will make this year, Anderson said. A marketing survey by the Food Industry Association and marketing consultants, the Hartman Group, showed 33% of Americans will have fewer people at their traditional Thanksgiving celebrations. Around 26% of respondents said they would avoid long-distance travel. “That’s interesting in relation to the normal demand side of all things related to these traditional holiday gatherings,” he said. “If people are scaling back, it will be interesting to see how the market for turkeys and traditional Thanksgiving dishes plays out.”


October 2020

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The Straggler O

l’ Wayne was real particular about his steers. He figgered if he spent his hard earned pennies tryin’ to get a few extra pounds, he dang sure wasn’t gonna sweat it off ‘em durin’ the gather. Nobody’s horse had broke a trot all day as they trailed the bunch to the corral. One brahmer-cross turned back. “Jes’ let ‘im go, boys… Don’t want to rile the others.” Durin’ the next week Wayne scattered a little hay each day for the lone holdout. By Saturday he had him up to the little knoll above the corral. Saturday, Wayne had Billy come out ahorseback with a plan to finally capture the wary brute. Wayne baited the steer

with a little hay and coaxed him toward the pickup. Everyone was as still as a courthouse on Sunday afternoon. The steer edged within range of Billy’s rope. “Okay,” whispered Wayne. At the sound of the command, Wayne’s good cow dog shot between his legs and made a dash for the steer! Billy’s loop caught the air! The steer wheeled and lit out across the pasture! Billy managed to turn the steer. The dog slid to a stop. He tried to stare the steer down… but he blinked! The steer bellowed at the dog! The dog turned tail and made for the pickup with the steer in hot pursuit! Meanwhile back at the pickup, Wayne stood waving a flake of hay and cursing the dog. The dog sailed by Wayne, leaped

and cleared the tailgate by 4 feet and a tail! The steer showed no sign of slowing. Wayne realized his predicament and ran toward the pickup! At 71 he couldn’t leap as high as the dog. He jerked on the tailgate futilely, then dropped and rolled under the pickup.

Now, I can’t swear this last part is true, but it could have happened this way; As the pickup bounced down the hill toward the corral, the steer spied the dog, jumped over Wayne and raced after it. Dog, truck and steer went right into the corral and Billy slammed the gate on the tale.

The steer hit the pickup in high gear with a bone jarring “WHANG!” The pickup, conveniently in neutral, rolled off the knoll toward the corral. The dog peered over the tailgate, obviously relieved as he left the scene of the impending accident. Wayne lay flat on his back in a twosection pasture looking up the nostrils of the foaming steer. Havoc now hung in the balance.

Richland Chambers Reservoir ‘infested’ with invasive zebra mussels From Staff Reports

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he Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has upgraded Richland Chambers Reservoir southeast of Dallas to fully “infested” with invasive zebra mussels. Fully infested status signifies that there is an established, reproducing population in the lake. The status change is a result of recent sampling efforts that revealed new evidence of reproducing and growing populations of zebra mussels in the lake. Zebra mussels were discovered for the first time in 2017 when the Tarrant Regional Water District located several adults on multiple occasions in a single cove near the dam. This resulted in a zebra mussel “positive” designation for Richland Chambers at the time. The Tarrant Regional Water District responded by conducting a localized treatment in the cove, using a novel low-dose copper compound, in an effort to eradicate the mussels. Sampling efforts did not detect any zebra mussels in 2018 or 2019 but in 2020 Tarrant Regional Water District and TPWD staff found zebra mussels at two locations near the cove where they were found in 2017 and at the Kingswood boat ramp approximately two miles upstream. The discovery at the new boat ramp location provided evidence that the mussels have begun to spread in the lake. In addition, multiple size classes were

found, which indicates a reproducing population in the reservoir. “Conditions in most Texas lakes are highly conducive to zebra mussel establishment. Once they are introduced to a water body, it’s only a matter of time before they fully infest the lake and have negative impacts which is why it is so important for all boaters to take steps to clean, drain, and dry their boats to prevent the spread,” says Monica McGarrity, TPWD Senior Scientist for Aquatic Invasive Species Management. Earlier in the summer, TPWD elevated Grapevine Lake and O.H. Ivie Lake to fully infested status after field surveys found more mussels of different sizes. However, TPWD and partners monitor more than 40 lakes for early detection of zebra mussels and no additional detections of the invasive species or their larvae in other lakes have been identified in 2020. Additional sampling will be conducted this fall and biologists hope to find no new introductions. Currently, zebra mussels are found in 30 Texas reservoirs across five river basins as well as in river reaches downstream of infested lakes. These invaders can litter shorelines with sharp shells, impact recreation, harm aquatic life, damage boats and clog water intakes. “Although zebra mussels are now found in 30 Texas lakes, there are still many, many other lakes they haven’t invaded. Taking a few minutes at the ramp to remove plants, mud and debris from your boat and drain all the water and then opening up compartments once you get home and allowing the boat and gear to dry completely can make a big difference in preventing the spread of zebra mussels as well as other invasive species,” advises Brian Van Zee, TPWD Inland Fisheries Regional Director.

Photo by Chase Fountain/Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Zebra mussels are a small, destructive invasive species that can spread across Texas by hitching a ride on boats and trailers. They grow to only about 1 ½ inches and develop a distinctive zebra-striped shell. One zebra mussel can produce up to one million microscopic larvae. Zebra mussels can cause environmental and economic damage – hurting aquatic life, damaging your boat, hindering water recreation and even threatening your water supply.

If you have stored your boat in the water at a lake with zebra mussels, it is likely infested with zebra mussels and poses an extremely high risk for moving this invasive species to a new lake. Before moving your boat to another lake, call TPWD at 512-389-

4848 for guidance on decontamination. A status map and list of these lakes can be found at tpwd.texas.gov/ zebramussels. The transport of aquatic invasive species can result in legal trouble for boaters or transporters. Transporting prohibited invasive species in Texas is illegal and punishable with a fine of up to $500 per violation. Boaters are also required to drain all water from their boat and onboard receptacles, including bait buckets, before leaving or approaching a body of fresh water. For more information on how to properly clean, drain and dry boats and equipment, visit the TPWD YouTube channel for a short instructional video. To learn more about zebra mussels and other invasive species in Texas, visit tpwd.texas.gov/StopInvasives. Information for marinas and owners of boats stored in the water on lakes with zebra mussels can be found on the TPWD website. TPWD and partners monitor for zebra mussels in Texas lakes, but anyone who finds them in lakes where they haven’t been found before should report them by emailing photos and location information to aquaticinvasives@tpwd.texas.gov to help identify new introductions. Anyone who spots them on boats, trailers or equipment that is being moved should immediately report the sighting to TPWD at 512-389-4848.

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October 2020

Wrangler National Finals moved to Arlington

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n recent weeks, there’s been lots of excitement about the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo moving from Las Vegas to Globe Life Field in Arlington. The 2020 Wrangler NFR is scheduled for Dec. 3-12. But technically speaking, National Finals competition began at the Nov. 6-7 Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping at the Kansas Star Event Center in Mulvane, in the Wichita area. Though steer roping is a lower profile event on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit, and the NFSR traditionally is held separate from the Wrangler NFR, steer ropers have a PRCA world title race like team ropers or saddle bronc riders.

An expensive steer roping world championship gold buckle is awarded annually and earnings count toward the world allaround standings. Trevor Brazile of Decatur, a 25-time PRCA world champion in multiple categories, has qualified for the 2020 NFSR. He entered the NFSR ranked fourth in the world title race with 48,387 points and came in with a mathematical chance of clinching the 2020 world title. Cole Patterson, a Kansas cowboy, came in ranked No. 1 with 54,597.

an impact on the 2020 world all-around title race. With that in mind, rodeo fans are keeping tabs on four-time world champion Tuf Cooper throughout the NFSR.

Brazile, who is semiretired, is the defending PRCA steer roping world champion.

Defending world allaround champion Stetson Wright, a Utah cowboy, is ranked No. 1 in the PRCA’s 2020 world all-around standings with 86,584 points. But Cooper, who has homes in Weatherford and Decatur, was not far behind with 85,546 points going into this weekend’s National Finals Steer Roping. Third-ranked Clay Smith, an Oklahoma cowboy, also is a contender in the all-around race with 80,737.

In addition to crowning the new world champion, this year’s National Finals Steer Roping could have

As he attempts to clinch the world all-around title, Cooper will first rely on his steer roping performances

at this month’s NFSR. Then, he’ll have a chance to tack on more points when he competes in tie-down roping during December’s NFR. Wright will rely on his performances at the Arlington-based National Finals. He has qualified in saddle bronc riding and bull riding. Smith has qualified for the Arlington championships only in team roping heading. And he probably will need to have blowout performances throughout the 10-day Wrangler NFR to have a shot at the 2020 all-around buckle. Cooper lassoed the world all-around title in 2017. His three other world titles are in tie-down roping (2011-12 and 2014).

Cooper, who will be making his 12th Wrangler NFR appearance, plans a careful strategy in the early rounds as he navigates Globe Life Field. “The first three rounds, that’s the most important,” Cooper said. “Especially the first round — go get a feel because it’s going to be new. If I can go get a feel for what the arena is and set myself up, it’s just kind of like building a foundation before I build the house. “That’s kind of always been my goal. It seems like the years that I’ve capitalized on that, the whole 10 rounds goes a lot smoother. It’s better to get going and mash on the pedal after that.” Cooper said that approach was followed by his grandfather, Clifton Smith of Childress who qualified for the National Finals in tie-down roping in 1960 and 1962, as well as his father, eight-time PRCA world champion Roy Cooper who lives in Decatur. “You don’t really run at the barrier as much, you kind of get a feel for your horse, you run in there, you make sure you’re roping sharp and you’re making smooth runs on the ground,” Tuf Cooper said. “You don’t want to make a mistake in the first couple of rounds that you’re mentally not going to get over or it’s going to take four or five rounds to get over. “It’s best to go get a feel, build your confidence and then capitalize on that. But, if you do happen to start that first round off with a 7-second run, you’re already dialed in and you stay with that rhythm.”

SHSU Rodeo scheduled The Sam Houston State Rodeo is scheduled for Nov. 13-14 at the Lone Star Convention & Expo Center in Conroe. Each performance begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 at the gate. Kids 12-and-under get in free.

Photo courtesy of Metro Creative

Trinity Valley Community College will enter the SHSU Rodeo ranked No. 4 in the

HUDSON

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades. Email him at bchoffman777@earthlink.net.

National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southern Region men’s team title race with 740 points. Panola College is ranked No. 1 with 1,450. TVCC’s men’s team has received help from Kaden Profili who is ranked No. 1 in the Southern Region’s team roping heeling standings with 342 points, 60 more than No. 2 ranked Sawyer Denton Patterson of Southwest Texas Junior College. TVCC’s team also has received help from Kyle McDaniel who is ranked No. 3 in the regional bull riding standings, 80 points behind No. 1 ranked Christopher Villanueva of Sam Houston State.

PBR update Professional Bull Riders fans can take in the PBR’s Unleash The Beast, the association’s top tier tour, twice within the next 10 months in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The first will be the 2020 PBR World Finals, which is scheduled for Nov. 12-15 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The second is the PBR Unleash The Beast Fort Worth, which is scheduled for August 2829, 2021, at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. Meanwhile, the PBR scheduled its 2020 Velocity Tour Finals for Nov. 6-7, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. According to pbr.com, four wild card berths for the 2020 PBR World Finals in Arlington are up for grabs this weekend in Sioux Falls. For more information, visit pbr.com.

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October 2020

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Duck Hunting Forecast 2020

Mallards rule, but birds of a different feather are big part of the game By Matt Williams

to hunting pressure and human disturbance and doing some things they weren’t doing 10 years years ago.”

Outdoors Writer

W

hen it comes to ducks and duck hunting, most waterfowlers will agree that mallards rule. There’s something about the big guys with the vibrant green heads, stately neckbands and flashy yellow bills that turn the heads of duck hunters like no other.

It’s all about the Weather While the fall migration of most ducks is triggered largely by changing photoperiods, Kraai says mallards are big, tough stubborn birds that typically demand some additional encouragement to head south for the winter .

It’s a legendary reign that is almost symbolic of royalty, and nothing captures the grandeur better than a wily group of drakes pitching through the through tree tops on a chilly morning — wings cupped and iridescent green heads gleaming in the soft golden sunlight -- as they send the definitive message that you and your decoys are exactly where they want to be. In short, mallards are the juice that fuels the fire for most duck hunters.

“They have to be told to leave,” Kraai said. “They’ll be happy so long as they’ve got open water and food.” Mallards are driven largely by cold fronts, but big rain events can have an impact, too, the biologist said. “Those big flood events are important to Texas and getting a bunch of ducks to come here,” Kraai said. “If you get a big flood event in early November you’re liable see some mallards show up because of the new food source, even though it hasn’t gotten real cold up north.”

Kevin Kraai of Canyon knows a thing or two about North America’s most abundant duck and he’s a staunch proponent of all the lore associated with hunting them. Kraai, 46, is a veteran waterfowler who turned his passion into a career as a waterfowl biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department more than two decades ago. He’s been heading up the state’s waterfowl program for nearly a decade. “Duck hunters are opportunistic,” Kraai said. “They harvest ducks largely in the order to which they are presented, but if there is a species where duck hunters go out with a goal in mind to harvest a limit while passing on others, it is obviously the drake mallard. It’s a regional thing, but for the most part mallards are considered to be the king of ducks. They are the most sought-after species in most areas of the country from prairie Canada, the Dakotas, flooded bottomlands of the southeast and the grain fields of middle America, including the Texas Panhandle.”

Photo by Matt Williams

The 2020-21 duck season in Texas gets underway Nov. 14 in the state’s North Zone. South Zone hunters began their season on Nov. 7; Nov. 6 in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit. Like many other events, the 2020 springtime survey was cancelled because of the COVID scare. It’s the first time the survey hasn’t happened since it began in 1955. With no 2020 numbers available from the USFWS, waterfowl organizations like North Dakota-based Delta Waterfowl (DW) looked elsewhere to find data to feed hunters ahead of the much anticipated fall/winter duck flyaways and hunting seasons. In a late-August news release, the organization painted a rosy forecast based partly on a spring

numbers included 10 species totaling about 38.9 million ducks estimated across the northern U.S and Canada. Mallard numbers totaled about 9.4 million a year ago — an increase of about two percent from 2018 and 19 percent above the long term average. Blue-winged teal were the second most abundant with an estimated population of 5.4 million in 2019. DW bills itself as “The Duck Hunter’s Organization.” The outfit forecast a strong flyaway for the 2020 duck season, particularly for mallards, gadwall and bluewinged teal. Texas teal hunters already witnessed a banner early teal season in September that produced record harvests along the Texas coast. Only time will tell how things will shake out for Texas’ duck season. The first of two splits in Texas’ South Zone got underway on Nov. 7. The first split in the North Zone begins Nov. 14; High Plains Management Unit, Nov. 6. Based on what heard out of the Dakotas, Kraai thinks Texas hunters could be in for a fruitful season. “Duck production in North and South Dakota was reported to be exceptional this past summer,” Kraai said. “We always see a nice increase in hunter success when the flock is made up of a lot of young ducks.”

A Look at the Numbers A key barometer waterfowl specialists rely on to monitor mallard and other duck populations from one year to the next is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Trends in Duck Breeding Populations report. The annual report is based largely on aerial surveys of northern breeding/nesting grounds that are typically carried out each May and June by the USFWS, Canadian Wildlife Service and a host of other partners.

nesting survey conducted by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Long term population trends and good springtime breeding habitat across critical regions also factored into the outlook. North Dakota harbors a large slice of the prime breeding grounds. The DW report says the state agency estimated a statewide breeding population of 4 million ducks that represents an 18 percent increase over 2019 and 64 percent above the long-term average. Last year’s USFWS survey

The North Dakota survey estimated a 58 percent increase in bluewings and a 6.16 percent increase in breeding gadwall, according the DW report. The survey also showed 873,000 breeding mallards, the 18th highest index ever recorded in that survey. “Mallards almost never have a terrible year because their nesting range is massive, and they renest aggressively throughout the breeding season,” said Dr. Frank Rohwer, president of Delta Waterfowl. “I don’t think it will be a phenomenal fall mallard flight, but it should be very good.” Kraai says the fact mallard populations are holding their own across a landscape where critical habitat is on a decline is

a blessing. It also illustrates their resilience and ability to adapt. The biologist added that strong mallard counts are largely to credit for the liberal duck hunting seasons allowed under federal frameworks over the last two-plus decades.

ET Hotspots for Greenheads… when it rains Mallards are a dabbling, inland species largely absent along the Gulf Coast. Two areas in Texas that typically attract the most green heads are northeast Texas and the Texas Panhandle. The Panhandle is always at its best during years with ample rainfall to fill playa lakes and plenty of waste grain like milo and corn to provide birds some groceries in the fields. “Northeast Texas sees the highest harvest amounts by far,” Kraai said. “That’s largely because it has an abundance of preferred habitat. Mallards really like to associate with major watersheds. The Red, Sulphur, Trinity and Sabine rivers are the core for mallard populations Texas.” The key ingredient to attracting birds to these areas is water. Lots of it. “Mallards like it when it rains,” he said. “Flooded bottomlands and pastures are exactly what mallards look for, and northeast Texas is where a lot of those events occur. Plus, there are literally thousands of small water bodies sprinkled throughout the region. Because that water is so spread out the birds can often times sit down and not be disturbed. Bowie, Cass, Red River, Hunt, Delta, Hopkins are the counties where most of our mallards are typically shot.” Another major factor that can influence where mallards settle is hunting pressure, or a lack of it. “Mallards like to be where they aren’t going to get shot at,” Kraai said. “We’re beginning to see real strong evidence of all kinds of waterfowl — ducks and geese — beginning to really respond

As a rule, however, it is usually after Thanksgiving and into December before Texas duck hunters start seeing green heads push into the Lone Star state in large numbers. “Those are usually the peak times,” Kraai said. “If you look at harvest data for northeast Texas, the hunting improves every month starting in November. November is always the slowest month and it usually gets progressively better from there. January is when majority of the mallards get shot. It’s all weather driven.” Here a recap of DW’s forecast for other popular ducks: • Gadwall: Though poor conditions hampered nesting success in Saskatchewan, numbers climbed about six percent to 440,379 birds in the North Dakota survey. DW predicts an average fall flight. • Pintails: Less than favorable. Prairie Saskatchewan is heart of the big duck’s breeding range, but dry conditions there spelled trouble for spring nesting success. While experts are hopeful that increased nesting activity in the Dakotas may have helped to offset limited success in Canada, Rohwer said it wasn’t the spring the birds needed to get back on track. • Wigeon: Despite poor conditions in Sakatchewan, nesting success is believed to have been about average. • * Canvasbacks: Dry conditions across Canadian parklands resulted in limited nesting success, while birds that nested in Manitoba fared better. Expect a decreased flight. • Redheads: Though numbers declined in the North Dakota survey by nearly 12 percent, the redhead breeding population remains strong at about 72.3 percent above the long-term average. DW forecasts a stronger flight than canvasbacks. • Scaup: Lesser scaup registered a decent nesting season in the U.S. and Canadian prairies, climbing 39.62 percent in the North Dakota survey. However, greater scaup have experienced poor success in northern Canada’s boreal forest for many years. DW says 2020 was likely no exception.

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October 2020

Game Warden Field Notes on the neighbor’s side of the property. After a brief investigation, the warden learned the identity of the individual responsible for setting up the stand. A few days later, the warden met with the subject to issue a citation for criminal trespass and during the conversation, the violator explained he didn’t think it was a big deal to put his stand on the neighbor’s tree since it was only a few feet on the other side of the fence and it was the best tree around

The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.

Familiar Faces A Titus County game warden caught three men fishing on Lake Welsh without fishing licenses. One of the subjects gave a false name and date of birth, refusing to cooperate in providing his identity and even requested an ambulance because he was so upset. After the ambulance arrived, he refused transport and gave the EMT’s a different date of birth when he signed the refusal for transport. The man was arrested and transported to the Titus County Jail for failure to identify and no fishing license. At the jail, his real name and date of birth was located and found to have been previously issued a citation in 2009 by the same warden for no fishing license. Citations were issued to the man for no fishing license and for failure to identify, and he was released.

Fishing for Trouble Several Bexar County game wardens were patrolling Calaveras Lake when they stopped an unregistered vessel. The operator said he was only test driving the boat, but later revealed he was fishing and had purchased a one-day fishing license. After a short investigation, it was discovered that he was wanted for felony warrants by the Bexar County Sheriff ’s Office. The operator was arrested, transported, and booked into the Bexar County Jail.

Be One With the Tree A Bexar County game warden was patrolling the property around Calaveras Lake where access is restricted when two subjects were caught trespassing on powerplant property. When the warden identified himself as law enforcement, the pair fled into the brush. One surrendered and came back to the roadway, so they were cited and released. The other could not be located because of the thickness of the brush. The warden called for backup and a second Bexar County game warden came to assist in the search for the other trespasser. The wardens searched the brush for about an hour and found the subject hiding behind a mesquite tree waiting for a vehicle to pick him up. The man was arrested for criminal trespass and evading arrest or detention, and booked into the Bexar County Jail.

Creeping on Critters Two game wardens were conducting night patrols in Kimble County where several reports of possible night road hunting had been occurring. The wardens had been sitting in their location for about 10 minutes when they heard the first of multiple gunshots and saw a group of people spotlighting. With the use of night vision goggles, the wardens located the individuals and made contact with them. The 11 individuals had permission to be on the property they were hunting on, but all were from out of state and did not possess a valid Texas hunting license. The individuals had shot several jack rabbits, raccoons and other non-game animals. The wardens issued 11 citations for hunting non-game animals without a valid Texas hunting license.

Axis Denied An Edwards County game warden and a Real County game warden had been investigating an individual for several weeks for hunting from a public roadway. One day, a landowner called in a suspicious vehicle driving very slowly so the Edwards County game warden responded to the call from several miles away. While in-route he received a second call saying the individuals were seen taking an axis deer from the public road. The individuals were apprehended and confessed. Multiple charges have been filed and cases are pending.

Oh, Crap(pie) Two Travis County game wardens were patrolling Decker Lake when they encountered two different groups of men fishing with cast nets from boats and jet skis. Upon further investigation, the game wardens found both groups in possession of multiple game fish including bass and crappie. The wardens took possession of the fish and donated them to a family on the shore. Multiple citations and civil restitution are pending.

Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy A Calhoun County game warden was patrolling Matagorda Bay in the early morning hours when he saw numerous commercial shrimp boats traveling into the bay. The warden observed them for a while when he saw the boats turn their navigation and deck lights off. With the use of night vision, the warden determined that the boats had dropped their nets in the water and begun shrimping. Two commercial shrimp boat captains were issued citations for shrimping at night and all resources were returned to Matagorda Bay.

Follow Your Nose Two Houston County game wardens were patrolling the northwestern end of Houston County when they entered a tract of land and saw an open field with what first appeared to be dove blinds close to a tripod feeder. One of the wardens crossed the field to check the feeder and as he got closer to the “blinds” he smelled a strong odor of marijuana. The “blinds” were improvised grow houses for many large marijuana plants. The wardens then noticed a car parked behind bushes in front of a dilapidated house and could hear an air conditioner running. Upon further inspection around the house, the wardens found more marijuana plants. The wardens returned to their patrol truck and called the local sheriff ’s office for back up. They then returned to the site and arrested the suspect. After further investigation, the house was confirmed to be a grow house complete with lights, fertilizer, surge protectors, timers, air filters, humidifiers and water. The suspect in the house had served time for murder and transporting two kilos of cocaine across the southern border. They were also in possession of a .410 shotgun and .45 pistol. The pistol was reported as stolen. The case and suspect were turned over to the Houston County Sheriff ’s Office. Cases pending.

Neighborhood Watch One evening, a Bosque County game warden received a call from a resident within a local neighborhood who said they had just witnessed their neighbor dragging a deer from a large ranch behind the neighborhood. The warden contacted the suspect at his residence and saw a whitetail buck hanging. When asked why the hunter killed it, the hunter replied to eat. The warden then enlightened the hunter and told him it was not deer season until Saturday. Citations were issued, the deer was seized and donated to a local family.

It Belongs in a Museum! A Bandera County game warden received a call from a landowner who saw a white pickup on the property and hidden in the brush. The landowner said the driver side door was open, but no one was around the truck. The warden arrived on the property and two individuals, a male and female, were standing near the pickup. The warden met with the landowner and told the couple they were trespassing. The individuals admitted to digging for arrowheads without the consent of the landowner. The pair then led the warden to the location where they were digging, and the couple’s tools and cart were still on location. The two individuals were taken into custody and transported to the Bandera County Jail for criminal trespassnatural resource code (antiquities code). Cases pending.

Tree Envy A McCulloch County game warden was contacted by a landowner who found a tree stand installed on his property. The tree was near a property boundary fence and a ladder was placed against the fence

Most of my best memories come from some old dirt road.

Butt-Dial A Harris County game warden received an Operation Game Thief complaint about two individuals shrimping in nursery waters. The warden responded and saw the individuals leaving the scene in a white boat. After watching the individuals stop at a dock, the warden went to their address, but they had already left. However, the identities of the pair were provided by relatives who owned the dock. The warden again located their white boat further up the channel and saw as the female occupant received a phone call. Both individuals hastily pulled a shrimp trawl into nearby brush on an island before jumping back in the boat and fleeing the area. The warden attempted to contact the woman by phone, but she hung up on the call. The person who reported the incident helped provide the warden a boat ride out to the island to retrieve the shrimp trawl and the several undersized fish in it. The woman later called the warden by accident and a private conversation between the two suspects was heard. The pair discussed dragging the net into the brush and said “maybe the game warden didn’t see it…” The next day, two wardens returned to the subject’s address and located both individuals. The white boat was trailered in the front yard. After interviewing both subjects, the wardens received a confession. Multiple citations and cases of civil restitution were issued for shrimping

in closed waters and failure to possess individual bait shrimp trawl license and the undersized fish.

Prove It One weekend, two game wardens teamed up to patrol La Salle County and made several cases for over the limit of mourning doves, hunting mourning doves over bait and no hunting license. In total, 114 mourning doves were confiscated and donated to families in the community. One of the cases involved four hunters checked at a camp with 68 cleaned mourning doves. The hunters claimed to have hunted near two tanks on a mowed roadway on the ranch. The wardens checked the area on the way out of the ranch and found very little evidence of hunting in the area. The wardens decided to drive around the ranch and discovered tracks leading to a field with a deer feeder converted to a milo feeder next to a water trough. The field had evidence someone had been hunting there. The wardens went back and confronted the hunters. One of the hunters wanted to see the evidence for himself, so he led them back to the field and then confessed to hunting the mourning doves over the baited area. Cases and civil restitution are pending.

Fool Me Once Two Maverick County game wardens paired up with a Zavala County game warden to patrol the county line for illegal dove hunting and managed lands deer program violations. While checking a camp several miles off the highway, the wardens came across a plastic zip lock bag containing two fresh whitetail deer backstraps. After talking to three different individuals in the camp, one admitted to cutting the backstraps out of a deer hit by a car on the highway. After the individual was given a second chance to tell the truth, he admitted to shooting an eight-point buck on the ranch the evening before, cutting the back straps out and leaving the rest of the deer to waste. The individuals were cited for hunting a whitetail deer in closed season and waste of game. One of the individuals was also cited for not


October 2020

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East Texas Farm & Ranch Living

Support Agriculture Businesses... They are the Heartbeat of Our Economy

East Texas Stock Prices HUNTS LIVESTOCK EXCHANGE Updated: 11/2/2020 Head Count: 660

STEERS

ATHENS COMMISSION COMPANY Updated: 11/6/2020 Head Count: 1230 Sellers: 190

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STEERS

200lb - 299lb

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1.00 2.25

300lb - 399lb

.80 1.79

300lb - 400lb

.095 2.10

400lb - 499lb

.80 1.49

400lb - 500lb

0.85 1.60

500lb - 599lb

.80 1.31

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0.70 1.45

600lb - 699lb

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700lb - 899lb

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300-DOWN

1.00 1.70

300lb - 400lb

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HEIFERS 200lb - 299lb

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400lb - 500lb

0.75 1.35

300lb - 399lb

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400lb - 499lb

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SLAUGHTER

500lb - 599lb

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Cows

0.25 0.55

600lb - 699lb

.80 1.25

Heavy Bulls

0.60 0.85

700lb - 899lb

.80 1.07

PAIRS

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$1000 $1250

Cows

0.32 0.66

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$600 $1000

Bulls

0.65 0.88

PAIRS

$850 $1,540

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0.45lb 1.05lb

GOATS

$30hd $300hd

BABY CALVES

$50hd $200hd

STOCKER COWS

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GOATS

NA NA

TRI-COUNTY LIVESTOCK MARKET Updated: 11/7/2020 Head Count: 1028

STEERS UNDER 300lb

1.10 1.90

300lb - 400lb

1.08 1.80

400lb - 500lb

1.05 1.50

500lb - 600lb

1.00 1.38

600lb - 700lb

0.95 1.30

700lb - 800lb

0.90 1.22

HEIFERS UNDER 300lb

1.00 1.60

300lb - 400lb

0.95 1.50

400lb - 500lb

0.90 1.35

500lb - 600lb

0.85 1.22

600lb - 700lb

0.85 1.20

700lb - 800lb

0.80 1.18

SLAUGHTER Cows

0.15 0.62

Heavy Bulls

0.70 0.87

PAIRS

$1200 $1400

BABY CALVES STOCKER COWS LOW-MIDDLE

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ANDERSON COUNTY LIVESTOCK Updated: 11/4/2020 Head Count: 260 Buyers: 45 Sellers: 43

STEERS Under 300lb

1.10 1.50

300lb - 400lb

1.35 1.75

400lb - 500lb

1.23 1.43

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600lb - 700lb

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700lb - 800lb

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PACKER Cows

0.44 0.60

Bulls

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1.18 1.70

405lb - 500lb

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Support Agriculture Businesses... They are the Heartbeat of Our Economy

October 2020

Old meets new at Womble Feed by Shelli Parker Athens Review

W

alking into Womble Feed is the perfect picture of old meets new. As you walk through the 100-year-old doors, cups of noodles, feed and plumbing parts are neatly organized and the smell of coffee hovers in the air. If you live in rural areas, traveling to “town” can be prohibitive and costly. Ellick Glenn built a solution to this problem, centrally located between Athens, Canton, Eustace and Martin’s Mill in the 1940s. “It served as a small community grocery store and feed store for the rural community when traveling to town can be prohibitive and still does,” said Chris Womble, co-owner. “Over time we have added a coffee shop, more feed barns, and more space to the store.” Originally Glenn built the property and then sold it to Clyde Gilmer, whose son, Odell, took over in the 1960s. Finally, it settled with Chris’s parents, Horace and Nelda Womble, in the early ‘80s. “Mom and dad worked really hard to keep the prices low for the community. It was more about community service than making a large living,” Chris said. Chris and his brothers, Layne and Chuck, inherited the store after their parents passed away, and grew up in the attached house built by Odell who lived there with his wife and children before them. Conveniently located between Canton and Athens, the store is a welcome site for those passing by in need of gasoline or a bite to eat. Womble said many celebrities have thought so too and stopped in for snacks and a chance to stretch their legs. He regrets not asking for pictures, but the family felt there was value in allowing them to be normal people for a minute. Speaking of celebrities, how many feed stores can claim a house band? Dirty Bynum, a group of three up and coming artists can be found practicing in the back. The store really seems to offer a little bit of everything. “The coffee shop is frequently filled with war stories and old friends,” Chris said. “Overall it is a great place to pop in. We also have plans for expansion and upgrades.” If plans work out, a new building will be built with modern gas pumps, clean public restrooms and hot food. Original parts of the building will be included as well to preserve the rich heritage and history of the space. “We are trying to build up and keep a broad enough selection including farm and ranch, hot food and other things people typically have to drive to Athens or Canton for,” he said. “Having a clean restroom for travelers to stop at in such a wide open space is vital.” “We are going to do our best to update, while preserving the historical parts,” he said.

Making Outdoor Plans

Scheduling hunting trips often done well in advance of season By Luke Clayton Outdoors Writer

S

ome folks schedule hunting and fishing trips months in advance, which is a necessity for trips that require travel. This coming summer, I’m planning to fish up in northwestern Saskatchewan, for giant northern pike and lake trout, assuming the border reopens. I will be fishing with friends at Tazin Lake Lodge which is a ‘fly in’ destination with float plane being the only viable means of getting there. I’m also planning a roe deer hunt in Poland next September with Al Lou, a biologist friend of mine that owns land in the Black Forest of Germany. This will be my first time to hunt this ‘Old World’ species of deer. These destinations obviously require a good bit of planning While it’s

exciting to make plans for these distant outdoor destinations, I truly get just as much fun planning for hunting/fishing trips closer to home. With the general deer season now underway, I’m sure many of you have plans to put some venison in the freezer in upcoming weeks. I always get fired up when deer season opens but so far this year, I’ve yet to take to the deer woods but that’s soon to change. This coming week, I am planning to spend a couple days with my newfound friend Bryant Sheets hunting at Cedar Cove Ranch not far from Athens. In a recent column, I highlighted the ranch and from the game camera pictures and the number of deer I witnessed on a scouting trip, I’m excited about the opportunity to hunt this ‘free range’ ranch. As I tell most folks where I hunt, I have shot lots of

big antlered deer in my life but today, when choosing a buck to shoot, I look first for age. A five year old forkhorn with 24 inch main beams that is packing a lot of good venison is a likely candidate for me to settle my sights on. Another spot I plan to hunt is Dale River Ranch situated on the Brazos River in Palo Pinto County. I have hunted this ranch for years with my buddy Randy Douglas who manages the place and last year, used my 45 caliber ‘Texan’ big bore airgun to harvest a dandy buck. This ranch is home to a large populations of Rio Grande turkeys and hen turkeys are legal during the fall hunting season. While there, I will definitely be looking for a mature buck but I am hoping for a flock of turkeys to come through the area I will be hunting. There is something special about serving smoked wild turkey for Thanksgiving. The trick to

smoking a whole wild turkey is to make sure after the initial couple hours of smoking to either wrap the bird of place it in a roaster with a little liquid and slow cook for several hours. Just like venison, wild turkey meat is very dry and requires slow cooking with moisture. My ‘home base’ for hunting deer is my friend Jeff Rice’s Buck and Bass Ranch near Yantis on the upper end of Lake Fork. We have set up several Snap Lock Hunting Blinds on the place and Jeff has a multitude of tree stands from which to bow hunt from. The ranch has a year round creek near one of the property lines and beyond the creek is miles of very remote Sabine River Authority land. With 13 feeders throwing corn year around, deer and wild hogs are pulled out of the dense bottomland. Bucks have been chasing does for the

Photo by Luke Clayton

It’s deer season and time to plan your hunts. Thinking about harvesting a buck such as this has caused many deer hunters to lose sleep this time of year.

past couple weeks in this area of the state and I am looking forward to spending some time hunting with Jeff and hopefully adding a buck or doe to my winter’s stock of venison. Albeit I didn’t devote a great deal of time to early season deer hunting, I will make up for it during late November and into early January. I am planning a hunt out south west of San Angelo with my long time friend Kenneth Tallent who hosts the TV show, ‘Double Lung Outdoors’. Kenneth has shown me some trail camera photos of some fine bucks and fat does from his ranch. We’re making plans for Larry Weishuhn aka. ‘Mr. Whitetail’ and Jeff Rice, to joins us here to film a segment or two of our weekly video, ‘A Sportsman’s Life’. I am also hoping to harvest a west Texas mule deer this fall hunting with my friend John Eason out near Iraan, Texas. John’s well managed ranch hosts a good population of whitetail deer as well as desert mule deer. I’ll probably only have a couple days to hunt and plan to keep my options open. It’s always fun to hunt mule deer here in our home state but if one of those mature ‘management’ whitetails provides me the opportunity, I probably won’t hesitate. Back when I was guiding elk hunters, I always advised my clients not to pass up a bull on the first day of their hunt that they would shoot on their last day! I’m sure many of you have already planned your fall/winter hunting schedule. But in the past couple weeks; I’ve had several emails from readers looking for a place to hunt. If I can help you find a spot to hunt, feel free to contact me. Who knows, we might just be able to schedule our hunts to coincide. In past years, I have enjoyed some great times in the outdoors with readers that became friends while on fishing or hunting outing. Contact outdoors writer Luke Clayton via email at lukeclayton1950@gmail.com or visit his website www.catfishradio.org


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