The dateline below lists the daily activities of Macy Ledbetter of Spring Creek Outdoors, (www.SpringCreekOutdoors.com), a professional wildlife biologist and consulting service located in north central Texas. Macy manages properties throughout the state of Texas and into Mexico. When most of us are thinking about summer vacation and fishing trips, let’s take a look at what a typical week is like in the life of a wildlife biologist. We begin this journey in the middle of summer, when most of us are not thinking of deer management:
June 1-3: I flew to Chattanooga, TN to attend the Quality Deer Management Association’s national convention. The meeting was a huge success, hunters from not only the SE but also the NE attended. I was there on behalf of Whitetail Domains and our mission was to spread the word on the latest and greatest whitetail deer social website in the world. Great seminars, good food and friendly people, a great time was had by all and the public really embraced the Whitetail Domains website. Hunters from the NE and SE are great people, very dedicated and serious about their passion.
June 5: Met with a new landowner client in central Texas wanting a wildlife management plan and technical guidance assistance to improve the quail and deer on his ranch. Toured the ranch, returned to the office and began writing the wildlife management plan late into the evening, between phone calls and emails.
June 6: Got up before daylight and traveled three hundred miles to deliver a deer management speech to 45 landowners in west Texas interested in quality deer management on their lands. On the way to the program, I stopped to meet a new landowner client interested in deer management on his recently high fenced property. We toured the ranch quickly and I gathered information to write a wildlife management plan. After the successful seminar, I drove back home and arrived about 2 a.m, tired but satisfied I help educate some enthusiastic deer managers.
June 7: Stayed in the office, worked on several written wildlife management plans, returned calls and emails and scheduled the following week’s appointments and four fall helicopter surveys. My office is located on my family’s ranch in northern San Saba County. I am the fifty generation to own this property and very proud of it. It is managed for quality deer production and we have small neighbors surrounding us. I work with all the neighbors and their neighbors and together, we try to manage the deer herd best we can with both friend and family and lease hunters. Our goals are simple: to keep the adult sex ratio tight and to only harvest a quality buck if you are willing to shoulder mount it. Select management bucks are harvested as needed, but overall, a light harvest of bucks is mandatory to increase age structure and improve antler quality. I filled up the feeder near my office so I could view the deer and their fawning and antler growing progress. We don’t hunt around the office feeder so it is a great tool to observe deer in a relaxed environment.
June 8: Left the office before daylight and drove three hundred miles to attend and speak at a deer management field day in north Texas. Deer management in north Texas is really picking up and hunters from the metroplex don’t necessarily have to drive six hours south now to harvest a trophy buck.
June 9: Returned to office, returned calls and emails and scheduled two more fall helicopter surveys. Worked on wildlife management plans and more fall scheduling activities and worked on Whitetail Domains website.
June 11: I left before daylight and traveled to deep south Texas to visit three client ranches. All went well but I didn’t get to bed that night until after midnight, a long and intensive day of deer and habitat management discussions and seeing some great brush country.
June 12: Left shortly after breakfast and continued travel to two other client ranches. More bumpy ranch roads and intensive deer and habitat management conversations and great food and fellowship before bedtime. I looked a several jaw bones from harvested deer last fall and gross scored a half dozen racks from the bucks taken from each ranch.
June 13: Left at daylight to continue traveling to two other client ranches. Lots of note taking and sight seeing and later that evening, finally headed back home. I got home just as the sun was setting and the deer were still visible under the corn feeder near the office. Looked like five bucks total, two mature bucks for sure.
June 14: Office work, written wildlife management plans, emails, phone calls, next week’s scheduling. Two bucks at the feeder in the morning, both young. One adult doe showed up, obviously had a fawn but not traveling with her. Same deer showed in the evening, they are nice and red with their summer coats now. They appeared healthy with shiny coats. The rains have been so plentiful, the grass is almost belly deep to the younger deer.
June 15: Left before daylight and drove three hundred miles to a client ranch in South Texas. We toured the ranch and the results of last year’s prescribed burn and saw how the recleaned earthen ponds were now nearly full of water. The drought of last summer was horrendous and most earthen ponds in South Texas went dry. This ranch basically ran out of surface water and used bulldozers to reclean and enlarge them. With all the late winter and early spring and summer rains, they were over three quarters full now, a very welcome sight to see. Left late that evening headed home, happy to see so much pond water now in place throughout the area.
June 16-17: Home for some rest and clean laundry and good home cooked meals. Five bucks at the feeder again. Two mature bucks appear to be good ones, one with wide sweeping beams and the other with extreme mass and narrow spread. Tines are short and stubby, but obviously good bucks. The younger buck’s beams are out to the eartips at most, signs of brow tines now obvious. No does show up when the bachelor group of bucks are present. The two older bucks are obviously dominant over the younger ones.
June 18: Left at daylight and traveled back to South Texas for two client ranch visits. Two does at the feeder when I left, both mature. Spent the entire day touring two great ranches and going over last year’s harvest data to make adjustments for his coming season. Viewed lots of video footage from last year to select bucks to watch this fall. Talked intensive deer management strategies late into the night.
June 19: Left early and traveled to the coast to meet a client and do some fishing in the bay. I am not a big fisherman, but enjoyed the trip to the beach house and seeing all the birds and cruising through the shallow bay waters. Shrimp were in the shallows and it was nice to watch the fish chase the shrimp around.
June 20: Got up before daylight to meet the fishing party and fished until mid afternoon. I caught the first redfish of the day but not the most or largest. I am not a fisherman of patience but did have big fun. Have you ever caught a seagull on a fishing lure? Pretty darn exciting to say the least. I left sunburned and tired midafternoon with a large bag of fish fillets and traveled to a client ranch two hours to the west. As the sun set, we drove the ranch roads and discussed the extensive brush management techniques that were ongoing on the ranch. This ranch is a fine example of quality habitat producing quality animals. During the previous fall’s helicopter survey, we saw six bucks grossing over 175” and on Thanksgiving Day, the ranch foreman found a 178” and a 180” buck locked together and dead near a pond. We had seen both bucks from the helicopter one month earlier, about one mile apart, and I photographed each buck from the helicopter. The bigger buck had kicker points on each G-2 and they held the two bucks locked together to their death. The landowner is mounting the bucks locked together, just as they were found. What a testament to intensive deer management.
June 21: I returned to the office, but not before getting a speeding ticket along the way. The DPS officer was an avid deer hunter and we talked about the Thanksgiving Day locked bucks and I thought for a minute he was going to let me go with only a warning. My luck was not so good, so I donated some hard-earned money to the local county in which I was caught speeding through. When I got home late that evening, I return calls and emails, scheduled two fall helicopter surveys, and work on written management plans.
June 22: I left early in the morning and drove two hundred miles to north Texas to attend Boone and Crockett Club’s national convention and awards banquet. I had never been to an awards banquet since becoming an official measurer and wanted to attend and see the latest trophy heads being inducted into the record book. Oh my, there were four new world record animals and the whitetails were, as usual, incredible. Most whitetail Booners were from the northern states and had incredible mass throughout. I love heavy mass, especially when you throw in a twenty plus inch spread!
June 23: Got up real early and made a brief trip to a ranch nearby and then back to the Boone and Crocket Club Awards banquet. I met lots of great people and heard some incredible hunting stories. I didn’t realize how cold it was while chasing a musk ox. You have two hours to skin and cape it after the harvest before it freezes solid. I think I will stay in Texas and chase a trophy whitetail to be honest with you. I like all my fingers and toes and don’t have a desire to be eaten by a rogue polar bear.
June 24: On the way back home from north Texas, I made another brief visit to another client ranch half way home. I got home late in the evening to rest, return calls and emails and did more Whitetail Domains work on the computer. It was too dark to identify the deer under the feeder, but there were several of them.
June 25: Left mid morning and travel to NE Texas for client ranch visit, stayed with friends overnight. Cooked some great steaks between rain showers and noticed the fawns were out in abundance in the area.
June 27: Left early in the morning and travel to South Texas for a client ranch visit. Stayed up late that night chasing and tagging deer fawns while a huge thunderstorm approached from the north. It was fun yet nerve-racking watching for rattlesnakes, fawns and lightning bolts all at the same time. We finish the job and got to bed about midnight, semi wet from the rain and soaked from sweat and glad no snakes were found. There is nothing in the world as pretty as a newborn fawn deer.
June 28: Huge rainstorms in the early morning hours woke me up, major flooding apparent. I loaded my truck and had to use 4 wd to get off the ranch since the creek was already swollen out of its bank. Cancelled two other ranch visits and headed home, tired and soggy. It is difficult driving four hours in a downpour with little sleep or rest. Thank goodness for Dr. Pepper and chocolate bars, they are my “road fuel” sometimes.
June 29-30: Traveled to Texas Wildlife Association’s annual banquet in San Antonio and met new and old friends and wildlife managers. Met new clients and discussed all sorts of deer management theories and practices and scheduled ranch visits for late summer. TWA represents private property owners and quality wildlife management on private lands throughout the state and is a wonderful organization.
July 1-4: Stayed home to finish writing wildlife management plans, returned calls and emails, scheduled next week’s schedule and six fall helicopter game surveys. Worked on Whitetail Domains website. I enjoyed the brief break, set out a trail camera on my feeder at the ranch, filled corn and protein feeders, wrote two hunting magazine articles and generally rested. Killed a rattlesnake in my front yard, glad the dog found him before the kids did. Heavy rains cancelled many of the July 4th firework displays, so I stayed home and watched the deer under the feeder. Antlers are growing well, points are obvious but main beams have much growing still to do.
July 5: Left at daylight and traveled to South Texas to meet a new client ranch interested in wildlife management. We toured the ranch in detail, I took notes, and we made plans for a fall helicopter game survey. I headed home late that evening.
July 6-8: Back in the office to write the newest wildlife management plan, return calls and emails and put the finishing touches on the magazine articles. Landowner meeting rescheduled due to wet weather. Fawns present with their mothers at the deer feeder now. Bucks are growing well, beams are longer and G-3 and G-4 tines are now present. Brow tines are nice and long but all other tines are short overall. The grass is so tall, the fawns are difficult to spot.
July 9: Took my truck in for needed repairs and maintenance work. If the truck isn’t working, neither am I! My “new” truck is now just over a year and a half old and has 82,000 miles on it.
July 10: Left the house about 5:30 a.m. and drove three hundred fifty miles to west Texas for some mule deer work and meet with new client ranches. Collected brush species for protein analysis and took photos of velvet-antlered mulie bucks. The plant diversity really is amazing in the desert once you get away from the ranch roads. I collected all the primary mule deer forage plants I could find for some protein feed research I am involved with. There are no mule deer specific protein feeds available in Texas and I am working with a progressive company that wants to change that.
July 11-12: Spent more time on two other client ranches in west Texas discussing mule deer management and gathering more brush species for protein analysis for the lab. Headed towards home later that afternoon but stopped halfway home to score a desert bighorn sheep that netted the minimum for Boone and Crockett Record Book. Ram was harvested two months earlier in west Texas and was the first “Book” sheep of the year for Texas. His horns were very broomed at each end and would have scored much higher without the damage, however, he still made the minimum score and was a great animal anyway. I arrived home late that night, everyone already in bed and it was too dark to see the feeder.
July 13-15: I stayed office bound three days catching up on emails and phone calls, finishing up the previous wildlife management plans and beginning the mule deer management plans. Completed the paperwork for the Book sheep and mailed it in. Scheduled the following week’s events and worked on Whitetail Domains information.
July 16: Left early and traveled to NE Texas to meet a new client ranch, inspect his Scientific Breeder pens, and write a management plan. The habitat in NE Texas is dramatically different than any other place in Texas and poses its own challenges and management implications. Pine trees and red sand are a big difference from heavy clay and thorny brush species. My knowledge of soil types and responses has increased dramatically over the years. Soils support the habitat and the habitat supports the animals. Without a good understanding of soil types and their proper management, wildlife management will suffer.
July 17-18: Office work all day returning calls and emails, making fall appointments and helicopter surveys, writing management plans and categorizing all the west Texas photos and paperwork. Heavy rains throughout the day and evenings and few deer present at the feeder.
July 19: Traveled to South Texas for a new client ranch until mid afternoon, then met another rancher about a joint venture with Whitetail Domains. Return home late that night due to rain cancellations. Drove three hours home in the pouring rain and had little trouble falling asleep that night.
July 20-21: Office work again, returning calls and emails, finished up mule deer management plans, worked on Whitetail Domains website. Bachelor group of bucks at the feeder now looking impressive. A typical fourteen point with short tines and narrow spread, a typical ten point with a forked brow tine and a small drop tine on his left side, two younger ten points and one young eight point. Two other yearling bucks show up periodically and both are six points. The bachelor group of bigger bucks are not very predicable and alternate mornings and evenings on their visits. I have been managing this small family ranch a long time and it is beginning to pay off. I love seeing mature bucks in their natural environment with little or no cares in the world at the moment. I couldn’t get much work done for staring up at the feeder and deer. My eyes hurt from looking through the binoculars for so long.
July 22: Left again at daylight headed for West Texas mule deer work again, this time with the family in tow and we called it a vacation. We stopped by a large ranch that evening to view mule deer and pronghorn antelope up close and personal. I killed a rattlesnake with a rock and we got some great photos of wildlife and scenery. Blue quail are beautiful animals and very difficult to photograph. I collected a few more plants for protein analysis later. As we drove down the road, I almost ran over three mule deer does, not a good idea in my wife’s vehicle.
July 23: We played tourist all day and I ended up with a client meeting for supper that night. We ate too much, stayed up too late, but had a good time doing it. We discussed various mule deer management strategies and predator control in the desert environment.
July 24: More tourist stuff and I learned more about desert plants from the local university plant botanist and greenhouses. Client supper that night, ate too much and stayed up too late that night too. I caught a vinegaroon that night, ever seen a vinegaroon? It looks like a stinging scorpion on steroids, is not poisonous, but has two sets of claws much like a lobster. It was black, armored, and about four inches long and it looks very menacing. We put it in a jar and carried it home with us, the ten year old boy is excited.
July 25: Long drive home, but not before stopping by the university greenhouses again and meeting more desert plant specialists. Over three hundred fifty miles later, got home late that evening and got the vinegaroon settled into his new aquarium home. We scared the deer from the feeder when we drove up.
July 26: Left the office before daylight to meet two new client ranches in the western hill country. Spent the day on both ranches touring the property and habitat, discussing deer management philosophies, scheduled two fall helicopter surveys and took lots of notes. Returned home after dark that night and couldn’t see any deer under the feeder.
July 27: Three day trip to Mexico cancelled due to rain there. Stayed in office and worked on management plans, fall game surveys, returned calls and emails and trying to catch my breath. Many more management plans to complete and now the emails are really picking up with request for deer work and helicopter game surveys for the fall. I can always tell when people return from vacations and family reunions because the phone action increases instantly around the same time each year. The vinegaroon is settling in nicely and appreciates the grasshopper and crickets my son catches for him each evening. Heavy evening downpours kept the deer from visiting the feeder.
July 28: Office bound again due to the rains and cancellations. I needed the time anyway to catch up on paperwork and return calls and emails. Refilled the corn and protein feeders between rainshowers and finally remembered to retrieve my trail camera memory card to view the deer. Photos were decent of the many different bucks but I needed to readjust the camera further away from the rising sun and closer to the feeder.
July 29: Still more office work and time to actually clean off my desk. It is amazing how paperwork accumulates over time. Not sure where it all comes from, but I keep it organized in a filing cabinet when I can. Continued working on Whitetail Domains information. Some good questions getting asked in the Forums section, beginning to take more time and energy answering all the good questions. This thing is growing fast and people are loving the Shoot or Wait educational aging video section. The new Log Book and deer management record book section is incredible once more people find it and begin to use it. Long term trend data is critical to managing a deer herd and the new Log Book keeps track of all of it for you and even provides visual grafts and charts to make it even easier to use and understand.
-- 8/2/2007 8:54:24 AM: post edited by drawal.
-- 11/26/2007 6:36:42 AM: post edited by powelwa.
HEAVEN IS JUST A LOCKED GATE AWAY!