Note: All photos come from ranches hunted by Adobe Lodge Also: Click on an image to enlarge it.
7-8-18 Max Sanders, our trail camera amigo, outdid himself once again. He submitted more photos than ever before, fifty-someodd, culled from the hundreds he collected. For space reasons, our webmaster then had to do his own reduction in numbers. Even so, more photos than ever are posted below for your review.
As you will see, deer are still coming to the cottonseed in large numbers. The water-point photos were hampered by the lack of water in the trough for a few hours. One of our wells began "pumping-off" and a 3000 foot line was laid to another well. Believe-you-me: when a well goes dry, or nearly so, whatever else you had in your "to-do" notes goes to # 2 on your priority list. All is now o.k., Thank You Jesus. A water crisis is grim. Water is again falling into the storage tank.
Anyway, the few water-point photos still show an array of critters coming for a cool drink. It is only this year that we are beginning to get regular photos of coyotes. One wonders if they can catch a fawn, thereby reducing our fawn crop. On my frequent mesquite-spraying missions this past week, I have seen only two jackrabbits. Their numbers have been in decline for the past few years. Maybe the proliferation of coyotes and foxes are contributing factors? The ever-important fawn crop numbers won't be known until the census work comes in October.
Here during the first week of July, already the trail photos are showing some impressive antlers on a few of the bucks. Interestingly, some of the bucks seem to be way-behind in the process. Are they the younger bucks? Do the mature bucks grow their antlers earlier/faster? What causes the variation? To get a sense of the size of the early July antlers, scroll down to the bottom of this page to see what they looked like a month ago. By this mid-point in the summer, already we can see lengthy G-1s or eyeguard points on some of the racks.
Thankfully, this weeks batch of photos from the protein feeders show fewer raccoons. If you stop by the feeder in the middle of the day, you will find a few pellets on the ground, spilled, no doubt, by the deer who are not having to pay for the feed and are not concerned by wastage. The raccoons are the beneficiaries of this carelessness.
We are seeing zero baby turkeys on the ranches where we conduct our spring hunts. But Tony Kieffer, one of our guides who lives on the south side of San Angelo not far from the lake, spotted a couple of hens recently with 8-10 babies. Good news. At least there will be a few young ones raised. There are studies which show how far yearling turkeys migrate during that first year of life.
7-1-18 Happy Fourth of July to one and all. We owe our Founding Fathers an eternal debt of gratitude for what they did. And we owe all our soldiers an equal debt for their service to our country.
Here in the heart of the summer, hardly anyone is thinking about deer hunting. Except us. Summertime is when we repair blinds and feeders. Just getting around to check the hundred-plus of the locations is a major task. Also, brush must be trimmed or sprayed. Can't have a stray limb hit by a bullet instead of a deer.
Horn growth continues with some bucks, as has been noted, much farther along the trail than others. The variation seems significant, but exactly what we are learning remains a mystery.
Varmints - coons and that fox - are ever-present at the protein feeder. In photo after photo, the deer seem to pay them no mind.
Max Sanders is doing a tremendous job in sorting through 1000+ photos to send me the best ones he finds. Even though he has pared them down, I try to limit their number to around twenty for each week's posting. But I had a hundred or more to choose from. Amazingly, the cottonseed continues to draw many, many deer. As yet anyway, that particular food source is of no interest to our eternal enemies, the raccoons. Good news. No telling how much deer feed is consumed here in Texas by the thieving bandits.
6-24-18 Similar to last year, rainfall patterns in Texas are mighty spotty. As far as our area west of San Angelo, we have been mighty dry lately. A storm blew up about sundown yesterday dumping lots of rain and hail on a small area north of town. And the abundant lightening caused numerous grass fires. As yet, there has been no news giving the extent of the wild fires.
Max Sanders had to wade through over a thousand photos for this week's collection. We are eternally indebted to him for his efforts.
His camera at the cottonseed pile in the trap yielded 500+ images. Max says despite the heat, there were plenty of daytime visitors. He got an image of a spotted fawn for the first time this season. Most of us country-types have been seeing the little ones for a few weeks now.
Antler growth progress continues. Some are way-more advanced than are others. Exactly what causes a tine to begin to sprout up from the main beam continues to be a riddle. In one image below, the buck already has main beams almost as wide as his ears, but other than the G-1s or eye guard points, he shows little evidence of growing additional points.
At the protein feeder location recently activated, raccoons have made their appearance as they regularly do when feed magically appears there. But this year, we have installed coon-guards to thwart their thievery. The devices are made by Haden Popnoe. They look like a welding helmet mounted on the feeding tube. A clever spring keeps the device open for business for deer. But if/when a coon tried to get his hands into the tube, the hood drops down to prevent his mischief.
Finally, the varmints are reduced to eating the few crumbs which fall to the ground. The deer, at least in the photos, seem to pay them no mind. Sometimes, there will be a half-dozen of the masked bandit around. Also, amazingly, a fox has been making a regular appearance. What in the world?
At the protein feeder, unlike the cottonseed piles where deer can be found all day, their visits cease around 9 a.m., according to Max.
6-16-18 The saga continues as before. Lower cottonseed pile shown first; hilltop pile shown second; water point third.
But here's the deal: the water point, which has been so productive recently, yielded only one photo. Reason, according to the owner of the cameras, Max Sanders: some varmint (probably a raccoon) fiddled with the camera and turned it away from the action. But it has now been re-set and we will hope for better results next week.
Amazingly, the two piles of cottonseed, put out way back in late January, continue to draw deer. The lower pile, according to Max, furnished many more photos than does the one up on the top of the hill. The cameras are probably a half-mile from each other.
This weeks offering shows the buck's horns are making good progress. There are several images of deer fighting with each other. Gosh. Why can't they just all get along? There is plenty of seed for all of them.
The hilltop location shows a photo of a jackrabbit. Years ago, we had hundreds of them. No longer. I was out spraying mesquite for four hours today and saw only two of the bunnies. It is a rare treat to get a glimpse of one anymore. What has caused their diminished numbers is a hot topic of conversation among local ranchers, guides, and outdoorsmen. Old timers swear their population varies on a cycle of seven years. But that bit of wisdom doesn't seem valid anymore. Both jackrabbits and cottontails are almost, but not quite, endangered species. Some of our New England hunters vow the same decline has happened to their rabbit population. They say there aren't enough to even work their rabbit dogs anymorere.
6-10-18 This week's trail camera postings, courtesy of our hero, Max Sanders, are from three locations.
Posted first are the photos from the cottonseed pile in the Klein Trap (a.k.a. Bull Trap; Lower Pile); from the hill top pile (with the prickley pear in the foreground); the third location is the water point.
Interestingly, the cottonseed still continues to draw deer. Max notes that many, many more deer appear in his photos from the Klein trap. They eat the seed. They repose and sleep there. They get into scraps there.
The cottonseed pile up on top of the hill still continues to attract deer, just not as many. In the collection below, a careful observer will note that one of the deer is severely emaciated. Ribs are showing. What's wrong? Who knows? The poor thing doesn't appear to have much chance of surviving.
The water point had images of only a fox this time. Oh, and a roadrunner. In one of the images of the fox, he (she?) appears to be holding something in his (her?) mouth. Trail camera images can be so exasperating. You think you see something, but is it really there?
The rest of the deer in all the photos appears to be in good flesh and plenty healthy. Good news. Especially, as you will note, our bucks are now actively growing antlers. How big they will eventually get depends on their level of nutrition. Dry weather continues to plague us, but livestock and wildlife seem to be weathering the storm in good shape.