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#3857382 - 12/17/12 02:44 PM Edwards county ranch management thread
JMalin Online   content
Tracker

Registered: 04/17/12
Posts: 833
I'll be using this thread to document the management of our family ranch just outside Rocksprings, Texas. Our goal is to develop six shooter bucks aged 4.5 or older available for harvest each season, with culls/management being taken out as needed, and does being taken out as needed to keep our sex ratios in line (between 2:1 and 1:1) does per buck.

We hope to increase the body weights and score by 10-20% of the biggest buck harvested this season (119 inch 8 point that field dressed 120 lbs and was aged at 6.5) over the next few years and go from there. 460 acres, low fence along the northern and eastern boundaries of our place and hoping to bring neighbors to our north on board with sound management practices.

We have too many deer on the place right now. I estimate close to 60 just based on what each hunter saw when we had a group of 8 out this past week. We've taken a total of 21 deer off the place this season. 14 bucks, 7 does. More does will be taken in January to even out the harvest. Should be 12 and 9, but a couple of my uncles clients mistook button bucks for does (which really chapped my [censored]), but what's done is done and it won't happen again, or they won't return.

I'll post pictures of several of the bucks harvested this season along with those that survived (if they don't get shot by a neighbor between now and the end of the season). No pics for now, since I don't have access to my laptop.


Edited by JMalin (12/17/12 04:35 PM)

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#3857394 - 12/17/12 02:46 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: JMalin]
stxranchman Offline
Obie Juan Kenobi

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 52092
What is your target density to get you 6 harvestable bucks per year?
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#3857405 - 12/17/12 02:50 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: stxranchman]
txshntr Online   content
T-Rex Arms

Registered: 09/24/10
Posts: 33682
Loc: Mansfield, Texas
This the same place that is HF on 2 sides?

What is your estimated buck/doe ratio? Any agriculture on your place or the neighbors?
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#3857408 - 12/17/12 02:52 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: txshntr]
jshouse Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 6221
Loc: Rockwall
cool thread, good luck with it
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#3857410 - 12/17/12 02:53 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: stxranchman]
JMalin Online   content
Tracker

Registered: 04/17/12
Posts: 833
Probably higher than it should be, given the resources available... I'm going to do a vegetation assessment on the place this spring to identify the species of browse we have and their relative quantities. Damn agarita is all over the place... Cedars have been thinned out substantially (and make up a very small percentage of available cover). Lots of live oak (not great browse) and some patches of shin oak. Persimmon present and what I believe to be yaupon as well. Property is not grazed by livestock.


Edited by JMalin (12/17/12 02:57 PM)

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#3857413 - 12/17/12 02:53 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: txshntr]
stxranchman Offline
Obie Juan Kenobi

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 52092
Originally Posted By: txshntr
This the same place that is HF on 2 sides?

What is your estimated buck/doe ratio? Any agriculture on your place or the neighbors?

Pays to read sometimes:
"460 acres, low fence along the northern and eastern boundaries of our place and hoping to bring neighbors to our north on board with sound management practices."
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#3857417 - 12/17/12 02:55 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: txshntr]
JMalin Online   content
Tracker

Registered: 04/17/12
Posts: 833
Originally Posted By: txshntr
This the same place that is HF on 2 sides?

What is your estimated buck/doe ratio? Any agriculture on your place or the neighbors?


No agriculture anywhere around us as far as I know. Low fence ranch to the east is heavily grazed by sheep. Neighbors to the north have habitat similar to ours.

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#3857422 - 12/17/12 02:58 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: JMalin]
stxranchman Offline
Obie Juan Kenobi

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 52092
Originally Posted By: JMalin
Probably higher than it should be, given the resources available... I'm going to do a vegetation assessment on the place this spring to identify the species of browse we have and their relative quantities. Damn agarita is all over the place... Cedars have been thinned out substantially. Lots of live oak (not great browse) and some patches of shin oak. Persimmon present and what I believe to be yaupon as well. Property is not grazed by livestock.

Agarita will be very edible at a ground level stage. Cut it or burn it down to ground level. Same with Persimons and Shinnery. Fertilizing native plants can bring great results in that area increasing protein, palatablity and mast productions.
In order for you to achieve 6 bucks to harvest at 4+ you will have to have a minimum of 30-35 bucks on hand each year hoping they are all top end quality. Most will be young and then your 6-8 bucks mature to shoot. That means you will have to have same amount of does at one to one and even more at one to two ratios. So you are looking at carrying 60-90 deer on 470 acres. This not taking into consideration your neighbors hunting.
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#3857459 - 12/17/12 03:14 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: stxranchman]
JMalin Online   content
Tracker

Registered: 04/17/12
Posts: 833
Originally Posted By: stxranchman
Originally Posted By: JMalin
Probably higher than it should be, given the resources available... I'm going to do a vegetation assessment on the place this spring to identify the species of browse we have and their relative quantities. Damn agarita is all over the place... Cedars have been thinned out substantially. Lots of live oak (not great browse) and some patches of shin oak. Persimmon present and what I believe to be yaupon as well. Property is not grazed by livestock.

Agarita will be very edible at a ground level stage. Cut it or burn it down to ground level. Same with Persimons and Shinnery. Fertilizing native plants can bring great results in that area increasing protein, palatablity and mast productions.
In order for you to achieve 6 bucks to harvest at 4+ you will have to have a minimum of 30-35 bucks on hand each year hoping they are all top end quality. Most will be young and then your 6-8 bucks mature to shoot. That means you will have to have same amount of does at one to one and even more at one to two ratios. So you are looking at carrying 60-90 deer on 470 acres. This not taking into consideration your neighbors hunting.


What kind of fawn production are you assuming for 30 does? And their survival rate? We've got axis that pass through as well, which adds another management problem.

Never seen a predator on the place. Rocksprings area is goat country. I think most were trapped out of the area when mohair production was being subsidized by the government back when.


Edited by JMalin (12/17/12 03:16 PM)

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#3857476 - 12/17/12 03:20 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: JMalin]
stxranchman Offline
Obie Juan Kenobi

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 52092
Originally Posted By: JMalin
Originally Posted By: stxranchman
Originally Posted By: JMalin
Probably higher than it should be, given the resources available... I'm going to do a vegetation assessment on the place this spring to identify the species of browse we have and their relative quantities. Damn agarita is all over the place... Cedars have been thinned out substantially. Lots of live oak (not great browse) and some patches of shin oak. Persimmon present and what I believe to be yaupon as well. Property is not grazed by livestock.

Agarita will be very edible at a ground level stage. Cut it or burn it down to ground level. Same with Persimons and Shinnery. Fertilizing native plants can bring great results in that area increasing protein, palatablity and mast productions.
In order for you to achieve 6 bucks to harvest at 4+ you will have to have a minimum of 30-35 bucks on hand each year hoping they are all top end quality. Most will be young and then your 6-8 bucks mature to shoot. That means you will have to have same amount of does at one to one and even more at one to two ratios. So you are looking at carrying 60-90 deer on 470 acres. This not taking into consideration your neighbors hunting.


What kind of fawn production are you assuming for 30 does? And their survival rate? We've got axis that pass through as well, which adds another management problem.

I was figuring 100% on mature breeding at does so around 60% on total doe pop. Your gonna need at least 10-12 buck fawns per year at a minimum with 100% recruitment just to stand a chance of gaining 6 mature shooters by year 4. All of which are difficult in that area.
Axis are mainly grazers so they will effect your WT only if you are over populated with WT and browse is hammered.
One other factor to consider in that area is Anthrax. When it happens (yes it will happen again) you will suffer losses if you are not putting out oral dosages of the vaccine mixed on feed annually to insure your future.
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#3857479 - 12/17/12 03:21 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: stxranchman]
stxranchman Offline
Obie Juan Kenobi

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 52092
You will have coyotes and bobcats. The yotes will just not be vocal. Good grass cover and working on the numbers will help in fawn production.
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#3857516 - 12/17/12 03:34 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: stxranchman]
JMalin Online   content
Tracker

Registered: 04/17/12
Posts: 833
Originally Posted By: stxranchman
You will have coyotes and bobcats. The yotes will just not be vocal. Good grass cover and working on the numbers will help in fawn production.


The place was owned by grandmother's late second husband. He bought in 2000 and as far as I know, we never had an incident with anthrax out there. I thought it was a bigger issue in the western part of the county. I don't doubt that there are a few predators, but I sure as heck have never seen a coyote or bobcat. We regularly leave carcasses of deer, and they go unmolested for days/weeks at a time. I think we can get substantial recruitment to 4.5, the greatest threat to bucks coming at 3.5 when they develop their first decent looking rack and novice hunters have difficulty laying off the trigger.


Edited by JMalin (12/17/12 03:35 PM)

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#3857539 - 12/17/12 03:44 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: stxranchman]
newulmboy Offline
Tracker

Registered: 03/20/12
Posts: 808
Loc: New Ulm, TX
Originally Posted By: stxranchman
You will have coyotes and bobcats. The yotes will just not be vocal. Good grass cover and working on the numbers will help in fawn production.


Stxranchman is correct, you will have coyotes and bobcats. I own property 13 miles North of Rocksprings. A rancher with 4300 acres to my South catches at least one bobcat every month. Not sure about coyotes. But I see them hanging next to his bump gate when Im driving by. If your neighbor has goats, you'll have bobcats and coyotes close.

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#3857575 - 12/17/12 03:58 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: JMalin]
stxranchman Offline
Obie Juan Kenobi

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 52092
Originally Posted By: JMalin
Originally Posted By: stxranchman
You will have coyotes and bobcats. The yotes will just not be vocal. Good grass cover and working on the numbers will help in fawn production.


The place was owned by grandmother's late second husband. He bought in 2000 and as far as I know, we never had an incident with anthrax out there. I thought it was a bigger issue in the western part of the county. I don't doubt that there are a few predators, but I sure as heck have never seen a coyote or bobcat. We regularly leave carcasses of deer, and they go unmolested for days/weeks at a time. I think we can get substantial recruitment to 4.5, the greatest threat to bucks coming at 3.5 when they develop their first decent looking rack and novice hunters have difficulty laying off the trigger.

I have seen the ribcage, bones and hide off a mule deer lay on the ground for 2 weeks in Pecos County and we are loaded with coyotes and not much trapping or killing on 70,000 acres. I saw one coyote in 18 days in West Texas. Judging by tracks we have a bunch or either that one is a really nervous son of a gun being all over the ranch daily.
Big outbreaks for Anthrax were mid 80's and then again in late 90's. It is something to be aware of but not panic over. It hits some ranches much harder than others.
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#3857667 - 12/17/12 04:32 PM Re: Edwards county ranch management thread [Re: JMalin]
TxAg Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 3246
Loc: Live in Katy, Hunt in Llano Co...
Originally Posted By: JMalin
I think we can get substantial recruitment to 4.5, the greatest threat to bucks coming at 3.5 when they develop their first decent looking rack and novice hunters have difficulty laying off the trigger.


I would make that 2.5.

Respectfully, I think your aspirations are a little outside reality for a 460 acre LF place. I also think your goal of 6 mature quality shooter bucks conflicts with total herd size based on proper carrying capacity for 460 acres. We have been attempting to manage 380 LF acres for the past few years, all as part of a local WMA. It has been a tough road. Research shows that most WT have a home range of at least 650 acres. That means they are likely off your place a good portion of the time.

It becomes difficult to influence your overall acre/deer ratio or B:D ratio on a place that size. Add to that, it does not take much from the neighbors to throw a monkey wrench into growing mature deer. We manage for min 4.5yo "trophies" as well. Each year we have confirmation that the neighbors pop at least 40% of the promising young deer we've been letting "grow up".

I am not trying to rain on your parade and I applaud your goals to manage. Just trying to share a little reality. Let's imagine you could keep all your deer on your place and re-visit the basic math:

Let's say that you want an average density of 10 acres per deer for optimum health and nutrition (in the ball park for Edwards Plateuau per TPWD). That means you'll want to have an average total herd size of 46. If you achieve a B:D ratio of 1:1 (not likely), and if you figure 60% fawn production and 100% recruitment (also not likely) that means you will have 18 does, 18 bucks, and ~10 fawns. Now figure that bucks 4.5yo old or older make up 20% of your total bucks in a pressured LF environment. You are down to being able to realistically expect ~2 mature quality bucks each year. If you provide good habitat you may get a bonus deer crossing through for a total of 3.

Course, maybe just maybe you will find a way to entice all the good area bucks to come through your place when y'all happen to be hunting. But, I simply don't see it happening.
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