Campfire Talk Part 6 with Larry Weishuhn

03 September 2012

“Change! We need change!” Came the chant as I walked down the urban street. The assembled group continued chanting, “We want change!” With those requests I dug down deep into my jeans felt around in my right front pocket and pulled out twelve pennies, two dimes, one nickel and 3 quarters! It was all the “change” I had! From the looks of the chanters I hoped my financial contribution would help them. They really seemed to be wanting “change” and needing it! As per their request I tossed all the “change” I had in the chanters’ direction. A shocked expression came across their faces, followed by rather harsh looks. Hey, I was simply giving them what they requested and they didn’t seemed to appreciate it. In retrospect, although I hadn’t planned it that way, quite possibly that was the best and most entertaining $1.12 I spent in a long time! Fast forward to the last days of June and I was attending the 27th Annual Texas Wildlife Association Convention. Those of you from Texas know TWA as the most important organization in the state when it comes to hunting, wildlife management, private property rights, youth hunting, and proper youth education in terms of wildlife management. Through TWA and its Texas Youth Hunting “group” something over 51,000 people, mostly youngsters have been introduced to hunting through the gracious contributions of private landowners. That number is growing each year in terms of both young hunters and participating landowners. I’m proud to say I was one of the organization’s three co-founders, along with Gary Machen and Murphy Ray. If you’d like to learn more about the Texas Wildlife Association, whether you’re from Texas or not, please visit the website, texas_wildlife.org. It was at our recent convention that I remembered talk about “change”. When it comes to wildlife and hunting not only in Texas but throughout North America we face some interesting times when addressing the things we hold dear and love, if you’re a hunter! There are those who would dearly love to do away with hunting across not only North America, but throughout the world. Should that ever occur, we can then kiss wildlife as we know it “Good-bye!”. Do away with hunting and pretty quickly all those we call game animals would go by the way-side, so would the song-bird and non-game animals and birds that benefit from the habitat created and maintained to keep “game animals” healthy. Several years ago when I was working, more as compared to now, as a “practicing” professional wildlife biologist I had the opportunity to work with many parcels of private property, including some where there had been no emphasis on big game animals. For starters I did an inventory of species present on the property (both animal and plants). There were very few birds of any kind, very few small animals, and very few game birds and animals. Our first step was to increase the abundance of plant species particularly those that produced mast and browse. This was accomplished by doing some selected controlled burns (many brushy browse species of plants require their seeds to be scarified either manually or by fire), scattering native browse species seeds near the crest of hillsides (that way as they rolled or were washed down the hill the hard coated seeds were cracked or decreased in size to the seeds could germinate). I also planted several types of woody, grass and forb seeds when the creeks which wound through the property were filled with recent rains and flowing. I poured seed into the streams where they entered the property and allowed the flowing water to take them down stream. I also planted existing agriculture fields with a variety of forages (to determine what to plant I went to the local farmers to learned what they planted, that grew well in the area, and what deer seemed to eat to the ground, then I went to the local farm and ranch supply store and bought those seeds). Doing so I knew the plant grew well in the area, deer knew what it was and loved it. And since I bought it as agricultural seeds I saved great amounts of money rather than buying foreign seeds sold in fancy bags at sporting goods dealers. The planted forage kept browsing pressure off of the native species I planted. Birds, insects, small animals and big animals flourished. Along the way for starters we limited the harvest of bucks, does and game birds and small game based on what the land produced. That money was “invested” into more native seeds and the manipulation of habitat by fire and mechanical means. Three years into the program I again surveyed both plants and animals. The number of plant species had increased several tens fold, as did the wildlife populations of song birds, insect, small animals as well as game birds and animals. All brought about by hunting the property. Good habitat management equates to lots of wildlife of many different species, both small and large. This is something anyone can do that loves wildlife whether it’s your backyard or a huge parcel of property! There is no doubt “change” is important! I have to tell you too, one of the true hits at the Texas Wildlife Association Convention was the Nature Blind TreeBlind. Everyone who came by the Nature Blind booth, which included everyone who attended, stopped and admired the TreeBlind. Most all stepped inside and proclaimed it the finest, best and most interesting “blind” they had ever seen. Many ordered blinds while there! Don’t forget, if you’re interested in purchasing a Nature Blind TreeBlind or any of their products and want to get it at a discount with free shipping anywhere in the continental USA, start out by going to www.NatureBlinds.com/Larry. Doing so will entitle you to the discount and free shipping! Until next time, when we go hunting once again, enjoy your days of summer, knowing with each day that passes there is a promise of cooler fall weather ahead. Hunting seasons are only a very few short weeks away....