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Shackelford County Range and Wildlife Field Day 

Shackelford County Range and Wildlife Field Day

Story Troy D. Reinke, NRCS District Conservationist, Albany

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Texas AgriLife Extension Service (TAES), Shackelford County Range and Wildlife Management Association, and Lower Clear Fork/Brazos Soil and Water Conservation District recently hosted the Shackelford County Range and Wildlife Field Day. The event was held on June 3 at Delafoss Lake in eastern Shackelford County. The families of A.V. Jones and John Rex Jones teamed up with NRCS and other agencies to host the event at their family retreat. A special thanks to Don Taggert, and Mark and Nita Gilger for their help in setting up before and after the event. A noon meal was provided by Ralph Porter, Dow Chemical salesman and Gerald Hobson, DuPont range, pasture, and crop protection specialist.

The field day was planned by Rocky Vinson, TAES Ag agent; Alan Heirman, retired NRCS wildlife biologist and Earth Team volunteer; Jacob Chapman, county executive director for the Shackelford-Throckmorton County FSA , and Troy Reinke, NRCS district conservationist in Albany, all are from Shackelford County. Topics for the field day targeted the management of natural resources for domestic livestock and wildlife. Other topics included how to protect your home during wildfire season, and the extreme weather patterns created by the El Nino and La Nina phenomenon. Over 70 landowners attended the five-hour field day, and three CEU�s were offered to those attendees who have a Private Pesticide Applicators License.

The field day started off with attendees breaking out into three smaller groups during the outdoor presentations. The three outdoor, hands-on demonstrations of brush management, deer habitat management, and grazing management were well received by the small group sizes. Brush management techniques were presented by Dr. Charlie Hart, TAES range specialist and Will Hartley, TAES range assistant from Stephenville. They talked to landowners about the importance of timing and proper treatment methods for different brush species in the North-Central Texas region.

Individual Plant Treatment (IPT) was demonstrated using a backpack sprayer to treat Prickly Pear and show how easy and convenient the method can be. Ricky Linex, NRCS zone wildlife biologist in Weatherford, used actual clippings of browse and forb species utilized by deer to illustrate how much dry matter a mature deer must have each day. Some attendees were astonished to see first-hand the bulk of feed required by their deer. Also, Rafael Aldrich, NRCS rangeland management specialist from Graham, showed landowners techniques about estimating forage production and managed grazing. He had a utilization cage at the field day for attendees to see. Aldrich then displayed three different grazing patterns, which are heavy, moderate and light around the cage. Landowners were able to see different stubble heights compared to what was left ungrazed inside the cage, including grass responses to the different grazing patterns. Everyone walked away from the outdoor demonstrations with a new outlook on rangeland resource management.

The second half of the field day was held inside the lakefront retreat center. Joe Kozlowski, wildlife urban interface specialist with the Texas Forestry Service in Merkel, started the indoor presentations with a presentation titled �Ready Set Go�. He offered tips and advice on how to plan and prepare your home for wildfire season, and how to plan and evacuate when a wildfire is approaching your residence. Jason Johnson, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in San Angelo, discussed with landowners the weather outlook and the effects of El Nino and La Nina with the weather patterns in North-Central Texas. Johnson�s prediction of �it will rain again� was well received, but everyone wanted a time and date guarantee. After a proactive morning session, lunch was served and Bill Thompson, TAES Ag economist from San Angelo, talked about managing your cow herd during drought. He offered pointers on ranch budgeting, purchasing insurance and feed, and culling strategies to help mitigate the effects of operating a ranch during drought conditions.

To wrap up the indoor presentations, Ken Cearley, TAES wildlife specialist from Amarillo, delivered two presentations. During the first presentation, he discussed the feral hog problem plaguing Texas, and offered tips and techniques to manage and mitigate damage from the marauding pests. His second presentation was about fish pond management. Cearley discussed many different aspects of managing ponds and lakes to produce optimum quality and quantity of desired fish species.
 
Attendees left the field day with pockets and bags full of handouts, pamphlets, brochures and other informational items to help them with their day-to-day management of the natural resources entrusted to them.

Rafael Aldrich, NRCS rangeland management specialist in Graham, demonstrates how to set up and use a utilization cage to increase efficiency of grazing management decisions. Will Hartley, TAES range assistant in Stephenville, demonstrates the most common type of backpack sprayer used in Individual Plant Treatment. In this photo, he is showing how to apply chemical to control Prickly Pear.

Rafael Aldrich, NRCS rangeland management specialist in Graham, demonstrates how to set up and use a utilization cage to increase efficiency of grazing management decisions.

Will Hartley, TAES range assistant in Stephenville, demonstrates the most common type of backpack sprayer used in Individual Plant Treatment. In this photo, he is showing how to apply chemical to control Prickly Pear.

Bill Thompson, TAES Ag economist in San Angelo, discusses with attendees purchasing supplemental feeds during his presentation of Managing a Cow Herd in a Drought.  

Bill Thompson, TAES Ag economist in San Angelo, discusses with attendees purchasing supplemental feeds during his presentation of Managing a Cow Herd in a Drought.