TDHA Habitat Program

Helping Texas Landowners improve property for game birds.

As the 2017-2018 season nears, most dove hunters are thinking about where they are going to hunt this year or if the crop they planted will mature in time to provide seed in September for birds. It’s about this time we get lots of calls asking if it’s too late to plant certain crops in various locations of the state.

Generally speaking, most seed crops (though not all) take about 90 days for maturity. This is a good rule of thumb to remember when you’re planning your crop for the next season, if not this season. By the time this article comes out you will have missed your window for the start of the 2017 season. But all is not lost as you can be taking steps to research the best methods for your land for next year. Start paying close attention to what crops are maturing around your property.

• Watch the birds to see what their patterns are in and out of those fields (and what fields they prefer).

• Determine where the closest water source is and what trees are available for nesting.

• Start planning when you will disc or drag your property. Are you betting on a native crop that will be less overhead or are you looking at a production seed crop planted each year like sorghum, sesame or even a peredovik or black oil sunflower?

Texas Dove Hunters Association is available to help. As part of our Habitat Program, we will schedule a time to go with you to your field/property and assist you in evaluating your current habitat and your desired goals. This past spring TDHA kicked off its program. We have numerous properties on the calendar already and continue to schedule more. We also field many phone calls offering answers to a simple general questions about planting.
TDHA will try to provide you with the information you need to find the resources that will help you to reach your habitat goals for gamebirds.

Getting the most out of your property is usually not difficult but may take some time. Lots of properties have been over utilized in the past for commercial crop production. Later inyears, for one reason or another, these fields are no longer planted for production and the fields are left unattended. Improvements to properties like this are simple. Whereas some properties are unimproved and have thick brush, high grasses, rocks and many other issues that may require a little more complex approach such as spraying, dozing or burning.

After a lot of thought and research has gone into the consultation, the decision on what to do to the land is left to the land owners. We will provide a report with options for the best results and then it is up to the land owner to put some or all if any into practice. This is where the availability of proper farming equipment becomes a factor for some. To say that a field needs to be disked and cross disked then planted and sprayed may be well beyond the means of the land owner and his/her resources. We understand that you may or may not have those resources and will suggest other alternatives. Without a game biologist on staff at TDHA we look to other professional resources for help. There are many options depending on the condition of the property or the degree in which you wish to make changes. We call on wildlife biologists from Texas Parks & Wildlife offices all over the state to determine who is most familiar with the landscape in your area. Other times we seek guidance from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

We also work with an individual game specialist who specialize in game that might also benefit from the improvements to habitat you are looking to make. Dr. Eric Grahmann with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the TDHA habitat program. We are fortunate to have Eric and the other resources to assist us in the development of the best possible plan to bring your properties back to their native habitat.

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