Prescribed Burn February 2016

Here are some pictures of the prescribed burn that Roger Lewellyn had at his place in February of 2016.  He has created an informative 20-minute video about the planning and procedure. Even those who know something about prescribed burns can pick up a new fact or tip from the video.

You can click on the pictures to view a larger version.

photo by Roger Lewellyn

photo by Roger Lewellyn

fire2

photo by Roger Lewellyn

fire3

photo by Roger Lewellyn

fire5 e

photo by Roger Lewellyn

(Indian Creek Ranch does not yet have a video team; 🙂 the video linked above is part of Roger’s YouTube series Indian Creek Bowhunting Journal.)

Water Guzzler

One of our neighbors, Bob Pauken, has shared this information about building a water guzzler.  Bob says that this design may not be easy to copy exactly, because he had access to some recycled materials, and some strong and skilled labor, but we think the information will be useful.  If you do a similar project, please let us know!

And now, here is Bob’s description.

The idea for construction of a guzzler came from discussions with Randy Wood, someone else talking about his at the fall meeting, and seeing the one Gilbert Carmona built on his land. I wasn’t sure exactly how to go about the project so I was discussing the mechanics of it with a friend from Colorado, Rory Birdsey who is a ranch manager for Ernie Cockerl, owner of a ranch on the Taylor River there. One of the guests at the ranch last summer was Andrew Sansom, research professor at Texas State University and author of the book Water in Texas, an Introduction, from the Texas Natural History Guide series. He and Rory had in-length discussions about guzzlers. Rory then went to the internet and designed what he thought would be a working guzzler. He then set about collecting recyclable cabin metal roofing materials from around the ranch. One of his sons who works in the oil fields of western Colorado gained access to discarded drilling pipe. The materials were cut in Colorado to fit a 19ft. long and 16ft. wide structure to be hauled to Indian Creek ranch on a 16ft. trailer.

The materials used for the guzzler.

The materials used for the guzzler.

 The drill pipe was trimmed for welding on our property. Each piece weighed 165lbs. Rory brought both of his sons and the husbands of both of his daughters along with him to handle the weight of the resulting monster. The two-250 gallon water tanks were washed-out and discarded oil field chemical tanks. The roofing materials were riveted and screwed into place to form an inverted roof which drained into a collection trough in the middle. A hose was then connected from the trough to drain into the closest tank and the two were connected together with PVC tubing. From the base of one of the tanks was attached a 75 foot garden hose which ran downhill to a 50 gallon open, metal water tank with a float valve to maintain a full level.
Moving the guzzler into place.

Moving the guzzler into place.

The large structure is designed to collect rain water. However, inside of the inverted metal roof is an upright smaller structure made mostly of plastic, for collecting dew at night when the air cools-off. Metal sides were attached to the main structure to retain daytime heat, thereby enhancing nighttime condensation. A larger metal water tank for providing a source of drinking-water for the wildlife will be brought down on our next trip. Our calculations of rainwater collection based on 26.5 inches of average annual rainfall for a guzzler of this size is 418 gallons per month.
The guzzler in place.

The guzzler in place.

Storage tanks.

Storage tanks.

It does work as I had Randy go by and check it following the first 1.5 inches of rain and we had collected about 300 gallons of water.

Rio Grande Wild Turkey

by David Heft

(This article ran in a slightly different form in our May 2014 newsletter.)

Rio Grande Wild Turkeys

Rio Grande Wild Turkeys

The Rio Grande turkey is the most common of 3 sub-species of wild turkey found in Texas. Their numbers in the Edwards Plateau have actually declined since the highs of the 1980s but appear to have stabilized over the past 2 decades. Current statewide population estimates from TPWD put the number of birds statewide at about 500,000. That sounds like a lot but compare it to 3.8 million whitetail deer in Texas.

Wild turkeys on average only live 2-3 years but some individuals have lived to be 10 years of age. The three most critical components of good turkey habitat are roost sites, nesting cover, and brood habitat.

Roost sites in the Edwards Plateau are most often associated with drainages where larger trees grow due to higher moisture availability. Good roost trees have spreading horizontal branch structure and fairly open canopies that allow the birds to fly into the trees. The majority of roost sites on the ranch are large oak trees. Good roost sites also have open approach areas where the birds can detect any predators before they go to roost. It is critical not to disturb birds at the roost sites as they will abandon them with continued disturbance. It is also illegal to hunt turkeys on the roost in Texas and most states.

The most critical element in good nesting cover is tall grasses, approximately 18 inches in height. Most nests will be found in grasses near the base of some type of shrubby cover. One Texas study reported that 87% of all nests were in this type of grass cover. Most hens nest within ÂĽ mile of a water source.

Recent studies in Texas have shown that only 1/3 to 2/3 of hens will actually try to nest each year depending on the weather and habitat conditions. Each hen will lay an average of 9-11 eggs with up to 16 reported over a 2 week period. She will then incubate the eggs for 28 days until they hatch. A maximum of only 30-40% of the nests will be successful in hatching. The rest will be lost to weather or predation events.

The first 2 weeks of a poult’s life are also characterized by high mortality losses to a variety of causes. The poults immediately begin foraging on their own under the watchful eye of the hen. Semi-open grassy areas with high bug populations and nearby overhead cover provide good brood habitat in this stage of their life. After 2 weeks the poults can fly and will begin roosting in trees substantially increasing their chances for survival. Out of an average of 8-10 poults hatched from a nest only 2-3 are usually still alive at the end of the summer. The point here is that becoming an adult turkey is not a high percentage game for young poults even if the eggs do successfully hatch.

Once fully grown, turkeys are primarily herbivorous but will still take insects and other invertebrates. A large variety of grass seeds, fruits, nuts, and forbs make up the majority of their diet. Under severe conditions supplemental poultry feeds do seem to benefit turkeys but will not make up for poor natural habitat conditions.

Good habitat in a mosaic of open and wooded cover with available water will provide everything a turkey needs. Most recommendations suggest a 50-50 mix of open areas and brush. Some more recent research and my experience is that 30-40% seems to be sufficient. Brush is all species, not just juniper (cedar). Juniper berries are eaten by turkeys but heavy brush cover will deter turkey use since their primary defense against predators is their eyesight.

Two good publications for information are “Rio Grande Wild Turkey in Texas, Biology and Management” by the Texas AM Extension Service (publication number EB-6198, a free download), and “Texas Turkey Talk” by TPWD ( a free 14-page PDF booklet).

Article: Texas drought will harm wildlife habitat for years

Today the Associated Press published an article entitled, “Texas drought will harm wildlife habitat for years”.

As the state struggles with the worst one-year drought in its history, entire ecosystems, from the smallest insects to the largest predators, are struggling for survival. The foundations of their habitats – rivers, springs, creeks, streams and lakes – have turned into dry sand, wet mud, trickling springs or, in the best case, large puddles.

“It has a compound effect on a multitude of species and organisms and habitat types because of the way that it’s chained and linked together,” said Jeff Bonner, a wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

There have been reports in Edwards County of doe abandoning their fawns due to lack of food and water. It’s very important for land owners at Indian Creek to make sure that their water toughs are working and that you are putting out the necessary feed to help protect the wildlife of Indian Creek Ranch.

Read the entire article HERE