Wildlife Consultants, Inc. Newsletter
Spring  Edition 2013
In this Issue:
  
Editorial

Upcoming Events
  
Wildlife Consultants Seasonal Activities
  
Did you Know?

 

 

 

 

 

 

  


 

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Editorial
  
  

 

My, how time flies. Seems like we just finished with our Wildlife Consultants winter newsletter, but it now it is time for our spring issue. With temperatures warming, so are the activities of gobbling birds. Chasing turkey will be a common activity from April through the second weekend in May for north zone Rio Grande turkey hunters, who have not yet packed up their camo. This spring season is characterized by an abundance of jakes and a fair number of three year olds. Noticeably absent this year, are the two year old birds, because of the poor to non-existent hatch two summers ago. During years like this, it gets fascinating to see which Toms dominate the action. My experience is that, because of overwhelming numbers, those jakes can be a thorn in a big Tom's side, and these groups of jakes can dominate these courtship rituals. Strength in numbers, I guess. Eastern turkey hunters can hunt from April 15 through May 14 in 28 East Texas counties. Personally, I think the best thing about turkey hunting, is sitting and waiting in the early morning hours, listening to birds on the roost. Turkeys are not the earliest risers, and  it is often the cardinal that sounds off first, shortly followed by flycatchers, doves and mockingbirds. Hearing them in the wee hours is music to an outdoors person's ears. Get out there and hunt, but also take the opportunity to listen to those other natural singers that the good Lord has created, as it is a welcome symphony and honestly not one heard often unless one is out turkey hunting. Turkey hunters, if you have not done so already, go by the TPWD offices, or any major hunting license outlets, and pick up your Upland Game Bird Stamp endorsement for only $7.00.

 

Though rains have been lacking in some areas of Texas, spring has sprung in those locales that have enjoyed some timely moisture. The latest drought report shows most of Texas in some form of drought, from mild to extreme. How is this going to affect the wildlife? Depending on the severity, it could cause delayed reproduction from turkey and quail, make life hard during the last part of the fawning period for deer and antelope, and result in a poor start for the antler growing season. A lot depends on how much rain we receive, as well as when we get it. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope we get an adequate amount, to allow for our pastures to green up, gamebird reproduction to take place, and antler growth to get off to a good start.

 

Ruben Cantu & Greg Simons

UPCOMING EVENTS
 Events

Join us for the 2013 Texas Deer Study Group!

The Texas Deer Study Group will be holding its seminar and field day on April 18th &-19th, 2013 at the Somervell County Expo and Texas Amphitheatre, located on 202 Bo Gibbs Blvd. in Glen Rose. This meeting is hosted by Texas Wildlife Association, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and open to all folks interested in deer, deer hunting and deer management.

Day 1 will include topics such as Reflection on Stewardship, Fundamentals of Deer Management, Making a Feeding Program Work, Emerging research Issues, Trail Cameras for Surveys and Scouting, Public Perceptions of Deer Breeding, Perspective on CWD, and more!

Day 2 will be a field tour on Quail Ridge Ranch with plant ID, deer necropsy, and more. (Agenda subject to change.)

For a full agenda including speaker line-up or to register (note: registration fee is $100 and includes meals and handout materials.) please contact TWA's Helen Holdsworth at hholdsworth@texas-wildlife.org.

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Texas Wildlife Association and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension joining forces.

 

 

Texas Wildlife Association and Texas A&M Agrilife Extention have teamed up and are hosting a series of web seminars, covering a wide array of wildlife and land management topics. The free online seminars are held during the lunch hour (noon to 1 p.m.), and anyone interested may tune in. The series provides sound, science-based wildlife management information delivered by experts. How to sign on: On the day of the web seminar, point your browser to https://texas-wildlife.webex.com and click to join the Wildlife for Lunch webinar. WebEx webinars are not supported on handheld devices such as IPads or IPhones. Each web-based seminar is fully interactive and allows participants to engage the experts, make comments, and ask questions. The next online seminar is scheduled for April 18, 2013 and will cover the topic of waterfowl habitat and management presented by Kevin Kraai, the Waterfowl Program Leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife. On May 16, 2013, the webinar topic will cover predator control and is being presented by Mike Bodenchuk, Director of Wildlife Services in Texas. On June 20, 2013, the webinar topic will be small acreage wildlife management presented by Rufus Stephens, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department District Leader in the Edward's Plateau District. For more information, contact Helen Holdsworth at hholdsworth@texas-wildlife.org or 1-800-839-9453. If you cannot make the live webinar; they will be archived and available for viewing following the initial air date at the Texas Wildlife Association website: www.texas-wildlife.org.

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2013 Weed and Brush Symposium to be held in Abilene
 
The theme for this event will be "Brush Control: What's new since 2002." Held at the Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene on April 25, 2013, this symposium will attract a large crowd. Topics that will be covered (partial list) include: Product Development and Labeling; New Herbicides; New Acid-based Formulations; Drift Management; Burn Alliances and New Regulations; Biological Control; Follow-up Management and using New Technology in Web and Smart Phone Development. CEUs will be available and registration, at the door on the day of the event, is $20. For more information, contact Joe Franklin at (325) 944-0147 or Dr. Cody Scott at (325) 486-6744. 

Wildlife Consultants Seasonal Activities

April

Begin preparing warm season food plots for spring planting by shredding, disking, turning over, as needed for new seed establishment, etc. Also, know what you want to plant and how much you want to plant, based on the number of acres (2% - 5% of your total acreage, depending on your deer numbers and quality of the surrounding habitat) you have devoted to food plots, and order your seed now. Optimum time for many varieties of food plot plants is during May. Contact your seed dealer and find out the range of planting dates for the species you want to plant. Note: food plots are not a quick fix to providing nutrition to deer but are more of a supplemental supply of nourishment. If deer numbers are high on your property, you may have difficulty getting your plots established, especially if these plots are not high fenced and protected from grazing during the early stages of plant growth. Also, there is not one best plant or combination that serves all areas. Do your homework and find out what will grow best in your area. Also, from personal experience, do not get caught up in fancy plot blends but rather pick those species that grow best and mix them up. Do not forget to soil test and fertilize, as needed, and if you plant a legume, do not forget the inoculant.

 

Disking fallow food plots, roadsides or field borders helps to promote the growth of vegetation that will produce good food (seeds) and cover for gamebirds like quail, turkey and dove. Seems like the sandier soils are best suited for this practice, often yielding a variety of seed-producing plants. Begin watching your cattle and the amount of grass they are removing at this time of year. Remember, when available, quail will often use last year's grass growth for nest production. If a pasture has been grazed harder than usual and vegetation is lacking, quail will nest in less preferred locations or may vacate that pasture to look for more suitable nesting cover elsewhere. 
 
Deer, especially bucks, are in a replenishment and regrowth mode. They are still building body tissues (muscle and fat) that were depleted from rutting activities, and starting antler development, as well. If the rains have not yet provided green-up, you may consider a protein supplement. A saying, many biologists use is, "Feed what they need when they need it the most." They need protein to build muscle and for the onset of antler development. Body requirements take priority over antlers, and its after body demands are met that there optimal nutrients that are then dedicated toward antler development, so continue supplementing as needed.

When your favorite, even not so favorite, fishing hole reaches a water temperature of about 70 degrees F this is a good time to apply fertilizer. With warm weather that we have recently experienced, this 70 degree temperature may have already been reached. A number of fish pond managers like using a liquid fertilizer as they feel it disperses better than a granular fertilizer. Whichever one you choose, in order to get a good phytoplankton bloom, make sure the liquid fertilizer is a 10-37-0 formulation and a granular fertilizer is a 16-16-4 formulation of NPK.

Monitor wood duck nest boxes at this time and get them cleaned out and replaced with some new wood shavings. If this is the first time you have done this, be careful opening the boxes because other critters may have found these boxes useful for a home or denning site.

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May

Plant food plots with those species you researched and talked about with a biologist. After planting and fertilizing, set up exclusion cages to monitor growth and utilization. The success of many food plots can be a matter of scale. Some plants are so nutritious that they have a hard time getting established because of excessive grazing pressure. If this happens, then they need to be in larger sized food plot rather than a smaller one, to spread out the grazing and allow for them become established. Other plots can be small if planted in the right species. In the Southeast, Alyce clover and joint vetch are two plants that can be planted alone or as a combination in small plots, and can take the grazing pressure put on them. The key to successful food plots is to know your soil, know your plants, know how your plants are affected by grazing, and keep your deer numbers down. If you have perennial plots, comprised of alfalfa, consider spraying with a grass controlling herbicide, if needed; and with Seven to control pests.

Sometimes the best food plots are not the fanciest...no fancy names here...but success can be had with standby species like milo, corn, soybeans and cowpeas (blackeyes). These plants can provide summer forage for deer, as well as produce good seed crops for quail, turkey, and dove. 

 
For quail enthusiasts, it is time to begin conducting quail call counts. These are set up at 1 mile intervals along an established route. Basically, it calls, no pun intended, for counting the number of calls heard over a two hour period, starting at daylight. Run these lines three times and use the results to compare against previous years to establish population trend estimates. Also, it is important to keep up with rainfall data during this time period and see how it correlates with the number of calls heard over time.

Continue monitoring grazing pressure to ensure there is suitable nesting cover for quail.

Last quarter's newsletter mentioned starting to slowly draw down water in green tree reservoirs that you may have. Draw down another  20-25% in order to create additional moist soil. Manage grass and invasive brush, like willow, along the edges and where these species are growing in the moist soil areas.

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June

Those winter food plots of oats and wheat that are still standing may not serve the purpose of providing deer forage anymore, but they are excellent for providing a seed source for quail, turkey and dove. By using a chisel plow as part of management and maintenance tool, you can maximize the number of seeds available for these birds through the summer.

If forage conditions are still dry from a lack of rain, continue providing a high protein supplemental feed to deer. Remember, feed what they need, when they need it. Monitor food plot exclosures for use and establishment of planted species. Apply herbicides to kill unwanted grass in food plots.

Maintain a good watch on grazing pressure as quail are actively nesting or searching for nest locations.

Draw down another 20-25% of moist soil areas in your green tree reservoirs. In the previous month, those soils exposed should be dry enough now to disc and or otherwise disturb the soil surface which can cause plants like smartweed and barnyard grass to grow, which will be extremely beneficial when these areas are flooded next fall. Also, in these disturbed areas, you can broadcast Japanese millet at 20# per acre. Do not forget to fertilize if needed with a good formulation like 13-13-13. 

DID YOU KNOW?

With turkeys, a single breeding (copulation) each spring can fertilize all eggs in a clutch and sperm cells may remain potent for up to 56 days in a hen's oviduct. Crypts in the walls of the upper oviduct serve as reservoir locations for gobblers sperm and can remain potent for up to 56 days in a hen's oviduct. 

Information from: The Wild Turkey; Biology & Management, Editor, James G. Dickson
 
Wildlife Consultants, Inc.
P.O. Bpx 5121
San Angelo, Texas 76902
325-655-0877 office
325-947-7703 fax

 

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