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#5763755 - 05/28/15 04:12 PM Deer Edibles
titan2232 Online   content
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 12/29/14
Posts: 3000
Loc: Conroe, TX
Been fooling around a good part of the day on whitetail diets in and around the Val Verde area and it's giving me a headache. Different websites claim different consumption amounts and a lot of the plants/browse (whatever they're called) look very similar. Want to learn a little about it so I can see what's there at the lease in a few weeks. I do have some cedar in my shooting lanes that will be removed, but not sure if I should completely remove it all. Any suggestions to any of this stuff?
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#5763832 - 05/28/15 05:09 PM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: titan2232]
passthru Offline
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Registered: 12/05/06
Posts: 10868
Loc: Saginaw, Tx
I would check with the land owner before you "remove" too much. Deer eat forbes when they can get them. Acorns are king when they are in season but in spring broad leaf forbes, shoots of honey suckle, green briar and other vines, get the attention.
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#5763861 - 05/28/15 05:24 PM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: titan2232]
nsmike Online   content
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Registered: 05/02/12
Posts: 4216
Loc: MN
I know that Val Verde county is where three different ecosystems transition together so you first have to determine which one predominates. Are you far enough west for Trans Pecos, far enough south for Rio Grande Plain, or north and east enough for Edwards Plateau to dominate. You also need to be satisfied that you have sufficent water or that should be your first priority.
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#5764083 - 05/28/15 08:08 PM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: titan2232]
rattler03 Online   content
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Registered: 02/22/14
Posts: 739
Loc: Richardson - Archer County
You can cut all the cedar you want and it will only improve the nutritional value of the pasture. Cedars suck up a lot of water and don't allow much underbrush to grow under their canopy. About all they provide is cover, so I would leave some pockets of thick cedar. But, for the most part I'd say chop away on the stuff. There are a lot of other plants that are much more important for deer vegetation and I would focus on learning to identify and protect those plants.
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#5764133 - 05/28/15 08:32 PM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: titan2232]
titan2232 Online   content
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Registered: 12/29/14
Posts: 3000
Loc: Conroe, TX
There's year round water at several locations around the property so we're good there. Other than acorns (lots of oaks in the creek bottom) what other plants would be of good value being in the very eastern part of val verde county? There's sheep on the property if that makes a big difference
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#5764299 - 05/28/15 10:32 PM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: titan2232]
John Humbert Online   content
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Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1625
If you cut the cedar in Val Verde you will end up with nothing left. Seriously, take some advice advice here with a grain of salt. I've spent quite a bit of time in Val Verde county and a LOT of places out there in Badlands are virtually 100% cedar, and there is very little, if any soil - it's all rock.

Even the places that have soil (low lying areas) and have a lot of mesquite - you only go a few inches down before you hit solid rock.

Val Verde is a big county, and depending on the area you could have vastly different setup. A large portion of Val Verde county is badlands with nothing much more than hot rocks and cedar. Some areas have large mesquite areas. A very, very few areas have good soil and hardwoods.

The term "pasture" is almost a joke down there, because a "pasture" is little more than an area of rocks and cedar/mesquite within a fence. It's not like there are fields with grass or stuff growing in them.

Any way you slice it, the Val Verde landscape is tough to survive and thrive in - and this is especially true for whitetail. Unlike other areas, you will find the deer range MUCH farther than other areas of the state. When I was there, it was not uncommon to see the same deer on cams 8 or 10 miles apart - really, no kidding. Browse is so scarce, that any area that has ANY kind of browse usually has every animal in a wide radius as regular visitor. If you feed, you are going to pull in animals - and the more you feed, the better it will be.

Not uncommon for some leases down there to feed a ton or more per month.

And far more important that feed is water. You provide a regular water source and you are going to have animals. It wouldn't surprise me that if you provided water, and no feed, you'd get just as many animals - if not more - as providing feed and no water.

Down there, they will eat anything they can. Especially in tough times. More than a few times I have seen deer eating the pears off cactus or have deer on cam with pink mouths.

I, for one, wouldn't cut ANY cedar down out there unless you were cutting to clear a lane. The thicker cedar will provide the better cover and shelter. Unless you have one of the rare, lucky places with grass, soil, and hardwoods - leave the cedar alone and just feed and water like crazy.

The deer down there have behaviour patterns different than most other areas. They roam more like mule deer than wooded whitetails. Unless there are areas with plentiful food and water sources, or high fenced - you are going to see deer roam great distances. If I was a betting man, I'd bet that a certain percentage of the deer down there are purely nomadic. You might have some deer cross your "pasture" once and never see them again.


Edited by John Humbert (05/28/15 10:44 PM)

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#5764470 - 05/29/15 08:32 AM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: John Humbert]
png Offline
Woodsman

Registered: 11/20/13
Posts: 135
Impressive knowledge, John.

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#5764641 - 05/29/15 10:14 AM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: png]
John Humbert Online   content
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Registered: 12/13/10
Posts: 1625
Originally Posted By: png
Impressive knowledge, John.


Not really dude, anyone who has actually been in that part of the country would know this. No disrespect to anyone, as I know some of these folks are knowledgeable in their own right - and probably 99% of the time making comments to the effect of cutting down all cedar would be correct. But anyone who has been out to the Badlands area of ValVerde county would immediately recognize it is the 1% exception.

I liked the area very much. It was "extreme" and beautiful in it's own right. But it is very different. The first time I went to my lease, I got a little uneasy because I was the only one out there and I realized the closest human being was like 50 miles away. If I got into even minor trouble, there was a good chance I wasn't going to survive. The closest place for fuel, food, water, etc. was Ozona, which at best was close to an HOUR drive. The only paved road close to the lease, you could stand for hours and never see a car come by. If I ever had to dump a body, Val Verde county would be high on the list of places to do so.

Checking on your feeders and cams in the summer months was brutal. Temps reach 110-115 and sun that would bake you alive. After the first trip, I always carried tons of food, water, ice, medical supplies, a backup phone, and a pistol - every time I was on the property. One trip I had a friend come along to help and shoot hogs - we worked most of the day and consumed 8 gallons of fluids between us - and I don't think either one of us peed once until the evening.

There are some BIG deer down there - not many, but the natural genetics are good. IF they have good feed conditions, IF they have water, IF the hogs don't run them out, IF you don't have a predator like a lion or bear camp out in your area, IF the entire herd doesn't get wiped out by Anthrax (which regularly happens), IF a wildfire doesn't burn up your entire lease to ashes and black sticks, IF, IF, IF....


Edited by John Humbert (05/29/15 10:19 AM)

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#5765086 - 05/29/15 02:50 PM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: titan2232]
titan2232 Online   content
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Registered: 12/29/14
Posts: 3000
Loc: Conroe, TX
The south Buckley draw goes right thru our pasture which has plenty of hardwood and other stuff that I'm not familiar with. A lot of the pasture has been cleared of cedar aside from a thick patch near my spot. They are mowing thru the protein and there's year round water. Thanks for all the info. There's been two 160" killed over the last two years so I'm believing the LO when he's says it's been highly managed the past 15 years.
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#5765089 - 05/29/15 02:52 PM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: titan2232]
titan2232 Online   content
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Registered: 12/29/14
Posts: 3000
Loc: Conroe, TX
Very hot, remote, and dangerous out there for sure. Killed 6 rattlers our first trip out
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#5765194 - 05/29/15 03:43 PM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: titan2232]
nsmike Online   content
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Registered: 05/02/12
Posts: 4216
Loc: MN
Here's a brochure that mentions some of the food considerations and things to look for. It's not primarily about food but there's some good info link
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#5769118 - 06/01/15 04:07 PM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: titan2232]
stxranchman Offline
Obie Juan Kenobi

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 52092
Some Cedar is great thermal cover during bad weather. Other than that, it does nothing more than take moisture away from other plants that might be beneficial to wildlife. If the LO is on board with removing some then I would not bat an eye and would say cut it. If there is enough soil to grow watering robbing cedars then it will grow forbs or browse. If you cut the cedar and can get some native seeds to overseed it will grow if you get the rain. Many times just cutting cedar will allow seeds laying dormant to sprout. You will be surprised at what a small amount of soil out there can grow. IMO rocks can be beneficial in shading ground, allowing more runoff to their edges, and allowing seeds to grow around the edges. If you do not have livestock then with a wet year you can see a flurry of new growth when you remove cedar. I prefer to cut and leave the slash laying to allow shading of the ground and protection to new growth. Birds can sit on a downed cedar and "plant" seeds for free.
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#5769825 - 06/01/15 10:29 PM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: titan2232]
passthru Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 12/05/06
Posts: 10868
Loc: Saginaw, Tx
Sheep suck. Better have panels or some good horse wire to make a pen.
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#5770042 - 06/02/15 07:40 AM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: passthru]
titan2232 Online   content
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Registered: 12/29/14
Posts: 3000
Loc: Conroe, TX
Originally Posted By: passthru
Sheep suck. Better have panels or some good horse wire to make a pen.


I've got 160 foot of hog panel with T-Post every 8 feet drove into rock. Should be good to go up
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#5770096 - 06/02/15 08:10 AM Re: Deer Edibles [Re: titan2232]
redchevy Online   content
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Registered: 10/25/04
Posts: 23381
Loc: Texas
What kind of sheep? Pannels and wire fences never slowed sheep down for us, just went right over.
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