Note: All photos come from ranches hunted by Adobe Lodge Also: Click on an image to enlarge it.
5-23-18 Here is something we don't get to say very often:
"Now that it's dried out, we can get the photos from the trail cameras." Max Sanders, our trail camera specialist, uttered these very words. And sure enough, he furnished the photos taken during the recent rainy spell.
By the way, the rain has made a huge difference where it fell. Unfortunately, the amounts have varied quite a bit. A couple of the ranches we hunt had 4+ inches; others much less. The Middle Concho River has been dry for the past couple of years, but over the past two weeks, there have been no less than three different floods on the river. So our outlook for wildlife and livestock is much better now. Again - Thank You Jesus.
Max notes that the hilltop pile of cottonseed is now drawing more deer than the lower pile, the reverse of the situation a few weeks ago. We had wondered if the rain would affect the deer's visitation to the cottonseed. Nope, they still come as they did before. How long will it last? Who knows? The weather forecast promises our first hundred-degree day soon.
As with earlier postings, the lower pile of cottonseed is shown first with the hilltop pile following. The hilltop location is distinguished by the prickly pear plant in the lower left foreground. The hilltop seems to draw many, many more bucks. I spotted very few males at the lower pile. Conversely, there are but few females up on the hill.
Other observations: a gate was left open and horses encroached. Horses are not supposed to eat the cottonseed. It can cause severe stomach problems. Sure enough, one of the nags showed the symptoms of colic. A couple of the deer seem to be fighting (sparring is a better word). Are they males or females? It's hard to tell.
5-20-18 There are not many images in this week's collection. Here's the story.
My son and daughter-in-law were traveling a seldom-used ranch road when they spotted a young red fox. As it so happened, they found his den and alerted me to the fact and the location.
A couple days later, my old buddy, Max Sanders was out for his weekly trek across the ranch, and I suggested he might put a trail cameras nearby to collect some fox photos. After only a couple/three days, the rewards of his efforts are shown below.
What is not shown: cow photos. Lots of them. With that camera in place, here came many bovines to check it out. How the hell do they find such a tiny device in hundreds of acres? But here is their real passion: Tumping over trail cameras. In anticipation of this trait, a t-post driven deeply into the ground held Max's camera in place. But poor Max had to wade through numerous photos of cattle before he was able to find the few fox photos.
Anyway, shown below are several photos of a baby red fox. In traveling our pastures and hunting areas these days, we see many gray's , but few red's. Red foxes are not nearly so numerous. We will continue to post photos from the fox den each week. At this point, there are unanswered questions. Are there more than one young fox? Does his mother live in the same hole in the ground, and will we get her photo, as well? How long will the young fox continue to use this den?
It is our hope that a few fox photos can be shown in each week's collection. It will be a treat to monitor his (her?) growth over the coming few weeks. Maybe we can buy a sack of dog food to keep them on site?
Otherwise, here is what is going on since this time last week: Rain. Several events. Flooding on our river. Ranch roads too wet to travel. Who knows what's going on with the piles of cottonseed? Max cannot get there in his truck. The first sentiment that comes to mind on this turn of events is this one: Thank You, Jesus.
5-13-18 Happy Mother's Day.
But I doubt many mothers follow this weekly posting of photos and news. Oh well.
Once again, the photos supplied by our trusty amigo, Max Sanders, are separated into two groups. The lower pile of cottonseed is featured first. Max says it draws many more deer, and all times of the day, too. The other pile up on the hill collects mostly night photos.
It's noteworthy how many deer use the cottonseed for a bed. One of these days, that will come to an end when the cottonseed has all been consumed. But there still seems to be plenty of it. With the rain a couple of weeks ago, we wondered if the seed would still attract deer or would it spoil? Looks like we have our answer.
Antler growth can be seen on some of the deer. But so far, you don't see much, and I'm betting that many of the bucks have not yet started the process. Do the "late-bloomers" produce small antlers? If only we had a way to follow particular bucks through the summer to monitor their progress.
A couple of the ranches we hunt got together to hire a helicopter to eliminate feral hogs. They killed 25, but sadly, that doesn't begin to eliminate them. Another hunt is scheduled next month, I'm told.
That inch-or-so of rain didn't last long. The grass has quit growing. Our cattle are now showing the signs of poor nutrition.
Speaking of signs: there are several which foretell rain. Rattlesnakes, and indeed, other kinds of serpents seem to move during the days before rain comes. Several have been seen lately, so we are all hoping that the rain predicted for next Wednesday falls in abundance. Just a shower won't be enouogh - we need a gully-washer.
We had one, single turkey hunter last week. His host on the hunt he had booked broke his hip. With his airline tickets from California already bought, he wondered if we might accommodate him. Yes, come on. We don't normally hunt the tail-end of the turkey season because, historically, the turkeys have migrated away where we find them in April. Yes, he did see some toms but was unable to connect on one. But we did get a handle on what the turkeys are doing. As with all-things-turkey, the situation is difficult to decipher.
The signs are in conflict. When he saw single hens coming to a water point, that would seem to indicate they are nesting. But on tours of some of the pastures, I have seen groups of 4-6 hens, all alone. Have they given up on nesting are are re-grouping into their summer flocks? The hunter saw a few lone gobblers, but they did not respond to his calling. As yet gobblers have not re-gathered into all-male groups.
We will have to wait until June to get a handle on the 2018 hatch of baby turkeys. And it will be that same month when we begin seeing baby deer. Hopefully, we will have enough rain for the mothers to raise their young.
5-6-18 Finally, we got some rain last week on two successive nights totaling around-about an inch to a couple tenths more. Nope, it doesn't break the drought, but it will surely help. And we count ourselves lucky. Friends as near as twenty miles to our west got only three tenths or so. No doubt some of the ranches we hunt got more; some, sadly, less. But as I've said before: we are not greedy people. Never have been. All we ever wanted was just one more rain.
Max Sanders' trail cameras continue to monitor the two piles of cottonseed. Will that rain spoil the seed? Who knows? If it becomes unpalatable, the deer will surely quit their visits. Max notes that the lower pile in the trap attracts mostly does and in greater numbers than the hill-top pile where most of the deer appear to be bucks. Of course this time of year, it is mighty difficult to tell the boys from the girls.
In the collection of photos below, the lower pile where the does are is featured first. The hill-top is second and is easy to spot due to the prickley pear plant in the foreground. Yet a third camera owned by Max shows some feral hogs on another ranch eating the milo used in the turkey feeders.
Regarding the lower area: some does are fighting. Due to the position of their ears, I first thought they were bucks. Max says the does come day and night. But deer at the upper pile, however, come mostly at night. Already, antler growth has started on some of them. A couple have several inches to show-off while others are mere buds, so to speak.
From this visiting hunter this week, perhaps we will get a handle on the turkey hens. Are they nesting? Or have they re-grouped into flocks of females. Will the gobblers still respond to calling? It is getting mighty late, but old-pro hunters say once all the hens are nesting, the lonely gobblers are much more responsive to their calling.
April 29, 2018 With a day-and-a-half left in our turkey season, and before all the statistics on all the birds must be compiled, there is a bit of time to turn our attention to deer.
Max Sanders, our trail camera addict, has submitted photos of the two piles of cottonseed. When he first started collecting photos from these locations, he was getting more photos from the Klein Trap than he was from the hill top which is much higher in elevation, about a half-mile away.
Then, it switched. There were more photos coming from up on the hill. Now, with this latest batch, the numbers have changed once again to show more deer below. Reason: who knows?
About a month ago, reports from our guides who were scouting for turkeys said "deer were everywhere." They were seeing many more deer than they saw all deer season. Perhaps, those few weeks ago, the deer were out and about chasing after the very meager crop of winter weeds and forbs. But that didn't last forever. We have had almost zero rain all of April, and those little plants are about all gone.
As you might guess, rain or the lack of it, dominates conversations between ranchers at the auction, feed store, at funerals, at restaurants, or wherever such agriculture folks might be found. Up to now, this area has received less than half our normal rain so far this year. But are we closer to the ending of the drought? Or are we closer to the start of it, with many more dry days ahead of us?
If the answers to these questions could be known, perhaps we could do a credible job in predicting this year's fawn crop. And this year's hatch of baby turkeys. No doubt, the animals know, if we could just read the signs that are right before our eyes.