Articles by Spring Creek Outdoors, LLC

Articles by Spring Creek Outdoors, LLC

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Podcast: Untamed Heritage with Larry Weishuhn and Ken Milam - Anthrax

May 05, 2020 by

Macy joins Larry Weishuhn and Ken Milam on the Untamed Heritage Podcast to discuss anthrax in Texas. 

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Podcast: How Cottonseed Can Help Grow Bigger Bucks

May 05, 2020 by

Macy joins the WildBuck podcast to discuss the many questions associated with using whole cottonseed as a supplemental deer feed. 

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What You Need To Know About Drones

What You Need To Know About Drones

April 20, 2020 by

What You Need To Know About Drones

Over the past twenty years there have been huge advances in all forms of technology and it is no shock that major improvements have been made to nearly every type of hunting and fishing equipment. As a boy I remember walking behind my dad following a blood trail after dark with a Maglite the size of my forearm, and today I own several flashlights that take up less room than a candy bar with battery life and brightness that far exceed the trusty old 4-Cell D Maglites. As a young kid I often thought about how nice it would be to call a helicopter to look for a wounded deer instead of walking through a forest of prickly pear that I was not yet tall enough to see over. With the relatively recent availability, and affordability, of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) or drones, the idea of looking for animals from the air is suddenly a realistic option. With that being said, it is not legal for the average person to do so in Texas, but we’ll get into that shortly. 

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Invasive Grass Control

Invasive Grass Control

April 18, 2020 by

Much of the Texas landscape as we know it today would be almost unrecognizable to those that lived here only a few generations before us. Early settlers began improving the land they chose to call home almost immediately. Early settlers began improving the land they chose to call home almost immediately out of substance and demand to feed their livestock. Planting grass seed, much of which being from non-native species, made sense at the time and was very effective.  By today’s standards, however, we may wish they had better choices or options available at the time.

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Feed Pen Design

Feed Pen Design

April 18, 2020 by

One popular question I receive regularly is about feed pens--particularly size and design.  In my nearly thirty years of working with a wide range of ranches throughout Texas, I have seen just about every type imaginable and have some solid conclusions based on their performance and results.  The idea behind a feed pen is to allow access to those animals you wish to attract and feed while excluding those that you do not.  Animals to be excluded typically include feral hogs, javelina and domestic livestock such as horses and cattle.

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The Shift

The Shift

April 18, 2020 by

I have been a huge fan of whitetail deer ever since I can remember.  I learned to hunt them with my father as he carried me into the woods and up to his favorite tree stands to sit with him.

Because of my upbringing chasing whitetail deer, I decided to make a career out of them.  I ate, drank, slept, dreamed and chased anything and everything to do with whitetail deer.  I subscribed to every deer related magazine and I pushed lawnmowers hundreds of miles to help pay for each subscription.  My passion became my schooling and my schooling became my career and for that I have been extremely blessed.

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Axis Deer Are On the Move Near You

Axis Deer Are On the Move Near You

April 18, 2020 by

Axis deer, or chital, or the large white spotted “fawn-looking-but bigger” deer are usually found behind high game fences—but not always.  The axis deer is originally from India and was imported to Texas around 1932!  This beautiful red coat with white spots and large white throat patched cervid grows antlers just like our familiar whitetail, but each antler typically only has three points per side!  The beams are long and may extend upward nearly three feet off his head with a top tine creating a fork and a long brow tine jutting straight out near the head similar to an elk.   Only the males have the antlers but both sexes’ coats looks the same.  Seeing axis for the first time, many folks think they look like a giant whitetail fawn based on their familiar camouflage pattern.

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Two Survey Methods In Great Detail

Two Survey Methods In Great Detail

April 18, 2020 by

If you are a practitioner of deer management and have been reading this publication very long, then you are well aware of the importance of deer surveys.  Deer surveys are surveys, not inventories, meaning we likely will never know exactly how many deer are on your property nor do we need to know that exact number.  Deer typically don’t want to be counted and game fences do NOT contain all of them, despite common perceptions.  So a survey is done each year at approximately the same time and by the same method so that any changes in the data must be from the deer themselves.  A survey is meant to provide estimates, ratios, and percentages and then used to apply harvest pressure to alter those numbers into the desired direction and levels.  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offers specialized permits to assist qualifying landowners and those permits are based on survey data.  So know that survey data is mission critical for results-oriented management as well as specialized state issued management permits.  TPWD has a list of approved survey methods and the three most used methods for whitetail deer include spotlight, trail camera, and helicopter.  Each method has specific guidelines to be used in order for the data to be of value, but each technique also has advantages and disadvantages.  For this article’s purposes, let’s look only at the spotlight and the helicopter survey method.

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Velvet Antlered Bucks in the Fall

Velvet Antlered Bucks in the Fall

April 18, 2020 by

I receive dozens of calls each fall from concerned hunters from central Texas, more specifically Llano, Gillespie, San Saba, Burnet and Mason counties about seeing or harvesting late season velvet antlered bucks.   The condition is called hypogonadism and it affects male deer primarily in the Central Basin, or Llano Uplift ecological area.   These areas are rich in granite gravel soil types and this condition tends to show up in numbers in these general areas in drier years.  I have seen it outside of this area, such as this mule deer buck I harvested last fall in Jeff Davis County near Fort Davis, but it is very prevalent in male whitetail deer in central Texas.

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Density

Density

December 28, 2019 by

Density is defined as “the amount of something per unit of measure”.  The density of cattle and deer on a property are the primary factors influencing the overall production of the ranch.  It is a balancing act to match the animals with the ever-changing food supply of the property.  A progressive manager must react in an efficient manner if continued success is to be realized during the good and bad habitat times.

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How to Determine the Rut Peak on Your Ranch

How to Determine the Rut Peak on Your Ranch

August 12, 2019 by

Have you ever wondered exactly when the peak of the breeding season occurs on your very own hunting grounds?  Are the hunting magazine articles too general and not specific enough for you?   Have you read the TPWD brochure showing the eco-region peak breeding dates?  All of these offer great information but some folks desire much more specifics for their own ranches.  Continue reading for more information and details to help you determine the peak of the breeding season on your very own ranch.

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High Fences are Tools

High Fences are Tools

April 22, 2019 by

High fences are tools, just like low fences are.  Heck, FENCES are tools, regardless their height, material used, thickness, cost, color, or design.  Just like a screwdriver, hammer, or nail, either one is used to help get the job done that the operator desires.  If you want to stick two boards together, why use a tape measure?  Why not use a nail and hammer?  If you want to keep the deer on your property and your neighbor’s deer out, why not use a high fence?  If you are only interested in keeping your cows out of the bar ditch, why don’t you build a low fence?   Why don’t you build a cinder block fence and not just a net wire fence?  Why use barbed or slick wire?  Why metal and not wood?  Why not rocks or mud?

Tools, that is all they are.

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Harvest Data: Why Is It Needed?

Harvest Data: Why Is It Needed?

January 24, 2019 by

Harvest data collection is a real necessity of any deer management program.  It tells you about the current and past health history of your herd.  It helps establish trends in antler and body production.  It gives you averages and percentages.  It allows you to separate out portions of your deer herd for closer scrutiny and evaluation.  It takes out the emotion of the hunt and the eye appeal of the antlers.  It is black and white and it is objective.

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Food Plot Experiment: San Saba County

Food Plot Experiment: San Saba County

December 01, 2018 by

Background information:
Four deep sandy soil food plots were plowed and planted on the Ledbetter Ranch in northern San Saba County.  Topography is slightly rolling throughout, but each food plot was basically flat or terraced throughout.   Two separate large plots were divided in half length-wise and planted with different species for comparison purposes.  Right down the center of each large field, one narrow strip was planted (hand broadcasted) to plant both turnips and rape.  Exclosures were constructed at each intersection to fairly and equitably judge plant success and deer preferences.  One long and narrow field was planted with a mixture of wheat and oats together and one exclosure used in the center of the field.  One small plot, the Game Patch, was planted via hand broadcaster with Austrian Winter Peas, Madrid and Mixed Clover Seed.  This plot was very small and no exclosures were present.

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Facts About Deer That You May Not Have Known

Facts About Deer That You May Not Have Known

September 16, 2018 by

* White-tailed deer, mule deer, black-tailed deer, elk, axis deer, fallow deer, and moose all belong in the Family Cervidae. This family of deer is characterized by an absence of a gall bladder, feet are actually four toed (dew claws count as toes), all have 32 teeth (except the elk), and the males grow antlers.

* There are 30 different subspecies of white-tailed deer in North, Central, and South America.  White-tailed deer are also ungulates, which means they have a hoofed foot as well as ruminants which means they have a four chambered stomach and chew their cud.

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Hunter and Landowner Ethics

Hunter and Landowner Ethics

July 21, 2018 by

In my many travels, I see and hear of some pretty amazing deer hunter-landowner related stories.  Some are just funny and others are downright unethical.  I want to share with you some suggestions to help all of us as outdoor enthusiasts to present a fair and ethical face on all fronts.  Some of these may or may not apply to you, but I bet you can relate to all in some form or fashion:

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Does Supplemental Feeding Protein Pellets Really Work?

Does Supplemental Feeding Protein Pellets Really Work?

June 03, 2018 by

Supplemental feeding in the form of pelleted feed is a valuable tool in the serious deer manager’s tool belt, as it provides two things: consistency and a higher level of nutrition.  As it’s name implies, supplemental feeding is something done to augment or increase the natural feed available to deer.  Seasonal cycles, weather patterns and man-made disturbances can cause the nutritional value and availability of native deer foods to be unpredictable with a wide swings in quality.  Supplemental feeding is a safety net or an insurance policy against periods of low nutritional value and/or availability.   Of course, there are different degrees of supplementation and how it is used and its effectiveness, but a supplemental feeding program’s primary responsibility is to lessen the blows of low nutrition and keep the deer on a more level nutritional plane throughout the year.

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Doe Harvest Strategies Examined

Doe Harvest Strategies Examined

April 14, 2018 by

“Back in the day” antlerless harvest was not only unpopular, but also downright illegal in some areas.  Many areas of North America still have permit-only antlerless harvest due to low populations so why all the fuss about why to harvest female deer?

This article is more about the HOW and not the WHY of harvesting antlerless deer.  We know why we harvest females—to help lower the population and keep the herd in balance as best we can; but the how sometimes gets lost or foggy and so perhaps we can clear the muddy waters a bit here.

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What are the Differences Between a Nutritional Food Plot and an Attractant Food Plot?

What are the Differences Between a Nutritional Food Plot and an Attractant Food Plot?

February 25, 2018 by

Food plots are planted primarily for two reasons:  1) to provide a nutritional supplement to deer during times of nutritional stress or when native browse is low in quality or availability, and 2) to attract or concentrate deer for viewing or hunting purposes.  This concept is similar to using protein pellets for a nutritional supplement and corn as an attractant.  A food plot by itself is not a cure-all or magic fix for any problem in deer management, just as feeding protein or corn is not a silver bullet for what ails your deer herd.  These are all just tools to be used in conjunction with others–parts to the whole of a well-rounded plan.

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Deer Blind Location

Deer Blind Location

January 31, 2018 by

Blind placement is one of the most overlooked segments of deer hunting I regularly encounter.  When selecting a suitable location, don’t think like a human, but like that of a deer.  Oftentimes, placing the blind for convenience is much different than placing it where it may offer the best chance for success.

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Antler Growth & How You Can Help

Antler Growth & How You Can Help

December 07, 2017 by

Deer hunters hunt for many different reasons, that is understandable and hard to argue with.  What about trying to produce the bucks with the largest racks possible for hunting purposes?

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Cottonseed: The Good & the Bad

Cottonseed: The Good & the Bad

October 26, 2017 by

I get asked often about cottonseed as an alternative whitetail deer feed.  The answer is not short or quick so here is my typical answer to that question:

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Corn vs. Protein Pellets

Corn vs. Protein Pellets

September 10, 2017 by

What are the differences between feeding corn and protein pellets to your deer herd?  Corn is used primarily as an attractant to lure deer to a location for viewing or hunting and is low in overall nutritive value.  Protein pellets contain a balanced ration with micro and macro nutrients and is used to supplement the natural diet of deer to help them maintain a consistent and high level of health and body condition–which translates to increase body weight, fawn production and antler growth.

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Blind Placement is Critical to Hunter Success

Blind Placement is Critical to Hunter Success

August 01, 2017 by

As my wife gathered her bags before heading to the deer blind, the other hunters stared in amazement.  Binoculars, blue seat cushion, pink blanket, water bottle, spotting scope, video camera, flowery-colored knitting bag, colorful balls of yarn and her rifle all slung over her red sweatshirt shoulders.  “What is going on here, you headed to a circus or what?” one hunter finally blurted out.  The rest of the guys laughed but knew better than to chime in.

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Antler Growth for Beginners

Antler Growth for Beginners

June 15, 2017 by

Who out there can honestly say that deer antlers don’t get them excited?  Whether we manage deer as a profession or a passion, growing bucks with the big antlers is on our minds somewhere down the line.  From the earliest drawings of our ancestors on cave walls, we have always had a fascination with antlers–their size, their shape, their oddities, their growth.  Why else would we get up well before daylight and brave the harsh elements to pursue antlers and their owners?

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Wildlife Habitat–General Requirements

Wildlife Habitat–General Requirements

April 30, 2017 by

Wildlife has a certain requirement for cover.  Cover provides a sense of security from disturbance and protection from inclement weather and predators.  The amount and kind of cover vary with the species.

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Why I Hunt

Why I Hunt

March 23, 2017 by

I hunt because my father hunted, and he took me with him, and so we built a bond that I still cherish. And because his father hunted, and his father’s father, and all of the fathers in my line and yours, as far back as those fathers who invented spears and axes and recorded their adventures with pictures on the walls of caves.

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Which Deer Do I Harvest?

Which Deer Do I Harvest?

February 13, 2017 by

Hunters are faced with this dilemma each time a group of deer present themselves for harvest. This article is to help you answer this question once and for all.

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Tips to Aid Spotlight Surveys

Tips to Aid Spotlight Surveys

January 23, 2017 by

For those choosing spotlight surveys this year, consider the following tips:

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Tips to Aid Aerial Helicopter Surveys

Tips to Aid Aerial Helicopter Surveys

October 11, 2016 by

For those choosing the aerial helicopter survey this year, consider the following tips:

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The Magic of the Rut

The Magic of the Rut

September 13, 2016 by

What, exactly, is the rut in whitetail deer and why do hunters enjoy it so much? What causes the normally secretive and elusive mature bucks to temporarily lose their minds and wander out into a wide open field during the hunting season? In this two part series, we will take a deeper look into the science and biology of this incredible, annual, phenomenon hunters call “the rut”.

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The Fall Armyworm

The Fall Armyworm

August 13, 2016 by

Attention all farmers, ranchers, and deer hunters. The fall armyworms are here once again and causing problems for everyone. Damaging populations of the pests have been reported in north, central, and south Texas again this year, especially on newly established small grain pastures (food plots) and established bermudagrass fields.

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The Diverse Trail Camera

The Diverse Trail Camera

July 06, 2016 by

The foundation of any wildlife management program involves collecting survey data. Survey data may be collected in a variety of ways but consistency and trends are critical.

With recent advances in technology, the use of infrared-triggered cameras (trail cameras) may be used as an acceptable form of gathering such data, especially on properties that may not be conducive to spotlight or helicopter surveys. These devices have become an invaluable tool in the deer manager’s toolkit.

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Rut Hunting, Your Management Window

Rut Hunting, Your Management Window

June 03, 2016 by

Every deer hunter worth his salt knows that hunting during the rut is likely the best time to harvest a mature buck. Last issue, we explored the mechanics and biology behind the rut and why and how it makes mature bucks do the silly things they do and therefore makes them vulnerable to your weapon of choice. This issue, let’s discuss HOW deer managers can use the rut to their benefit to help them manage their deer herd.

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Quantity vs. Quality

Quantity vs. Quality

May 17, 2016 by

How many times have you heard someone say that they would love to see a pasture full of 180” deer? As a private consulting biologist, I hear it often and usually just nod my head when I hear it. Not that growing 180” deer isn’t possible in your pasture, it is very possible. But what may not be possible is producing the proverbial “pasture full” of them.

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Prescribed Burning for Better Wildlife

Prescribed Burning for Better Wildlife

April 21, 2016 by

Wildfire and prescribed fire are similar to illegal drugs and prescription drugs. The first can destroy your home and possibly kill you while the second will improve your wildlife habitat and cure your ailments. Wildfires and illegal drugs carry heavy negative impacts while prescribed fire and prescription drugs carry positive and healing impacts.

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Predator Control and How it Affects Your Hunting Success

Predator Control and How it Affects Your Hunting Success

April 13, 2016 by

Hunters, managers and landowners all have an interest in raising baby animals. Whether it be calves, lambs, quail chicks, turkey poults, or deer fawns, the end result is the same—without babies you will not have adults. Sounds pretty simple and easy doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled. This article is to remind you of the importance of predator control for the sake of wildlife management.

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Now What?

Now What?

January 13, 2016 by

At this time of year, I get many inquiries about what projects there are to help the deer and deer hunting for the fall.  Deer season and growing big antlers happens in a small percentage of the available time and you have to work smart and hard when the time comes. And now is the time.

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Natural Mortality, What is it?

Natural Mortality, What is it?

November 13, 2015 by

Death by Mother Nature–by “natural causes”– accidental death, death caused by something other than your weapon, that is what it is. Shooting at and wounding a deer that eventually dies from the wounds is not natural mortality. Starvation, flooding, fighting, predation, birthing complications, drought, snake bites, hung in fences and car accidents are examples of natural mortality.

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My First Ground Blind Hunt with Dad

My First Ground Blind Hunt with Dad

October 13, 2015 by

When I was about knee high to a grasshopper, I was sitting in a ground blind with my dad.  It was one of my first hunts to sit on the ground and not on a board nailed in the limbs of a tree.  I enjoyed it very much because I could see the critters better, draw in the dirt and sharpen a stick with my pocketknife.

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Management

Management

October 03, 2015 by

We have all heard and probably used the word management when referring to a ranch or a hunting scenario. I know I see and hear it in almost every article, magazine ad and ranch description. But I also make my living physically managing ranches and I am here to say that this term is often used, abused and misused!

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Livestock Management for Wildlife Production

Livestock Management for Wildlife Production

September 15, 2015 by

Grazing management is the planned manipulation of livestock numbers and grazing intensities to increase food, cover, or improve structure in the habitat of selected species. Grazing management includes kind and class of livestock grazed, determination and adjustment of stocking rates, implementation of a grazing system that provides planned periodic rest for pastures by controlling grazing intensity and durations, and/or excluding livestock from sensitive areas to prevent trampling, allowing for vegetative recovery, or eliminating competition for food and cover. Planned deferments can be short or long term, depending on the conditions. Seasonal stocker operations may also be appropriate to manipulate habitat.

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Coyote Management & Recommendations

Coyote Management & Recommendations

August 13, 2015 by

Canis latrans are members of the dog family, with adults weighing 20-40 pounds.  They prey on a wide variety of animals including rodents, rabbits, deer, game birds and livestock.  They also consume vegetation such as prickly pear apples, mesquite beans and persimmons; and readily consume corn and protein feed meant for deer.

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Antler Growth 101

Antler Growth 101

August 11, 2015 by

Who out there can honestly say that deer antlers don’t get them excited? Whether we manage deer as a profession or a passion, growing bucks with the big antlers is on our minds somewhere down the line. From the earliest drawings of our ancestors on cave walls, we have always had a fascination with antlers–their size, their shape, their oddities, their growth. Why else would we get up well before daylight and brave the harsh elements to pursue antlers and their owners?

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Deer Survey: A Basic Requirement

Deer Survey: A Basic Requirement

April 16, 2015 by

Deer surveys come in many forms, but it is up to the individual manager to decide which method is best suited for the particular property and needs. Habitat type, topography, expense, and vegetation density are primary factors influencing the decision as to the type of census one should use.

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