We’ve talked a lot about the impact of the drought on farming and ranching, but the drought has also impacted wildlife populations dramatically.
“The deer population has been tested with this drought, with a lack of water and a lack of food and fiber, however, with our intense feeding program, whether it’s corn which supplies simply energy, or our protein we feed through the end of the fall into the spring to help that development of the fetus and/or antler growth.”
Kyle Kacal runs Tonkaway Ranch, a cattle and wildlife operation in Brazos County, and says deer are traveling further than they typically would looking for food and water, and the drought has actually pushed more deer on to his ranch.
“We are a low fence operation. We do not have a high fence. We manage what Mother Nature gave us.
We have been blessed with having a little bit of water left on the ranch with the Navasota River and Carter Creek as our east and west boundaries.”
In some ways wildlife are better equipped than cattle to deal with Mother Nature.
“Native pasture will provide those forbes for the wildlife where the cow is looking for those grasses but can’t utilize those forbes.
The drought has impacted duck hunting at Tonkaway Ranch.
“Typically, every year our ducks and our water fowl populations here in Brazos county are incredible, but do to the drought and the lack of water we’ve lost a lot of these birds. They are flying right over us straight to the coast.”
Kacal says if the drought continues, his focus will need to weighted a little more toward the wildlife side of the ranch.
“From here on out, if we can’t run over 50 to 60 head of mama cows, wildlife’s gonna have to take the lead and we will do more to adapt the country and help it sustain itself. With the management practices we’ve had in place over the last twenty years, we have a, for lack of a better word, a Shangri-la for these white tail deer in the Navasota River bottom.”
I’m Kailey Carey, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.