John's Journal... Entry 250, Day 3
THE BUFFALO EFFECT FOR DEER MANAGEMENT
Predator Control: A Must
Editor's Note: I've discovered the mystical Valhalla of the Vikings' dreams. In Norse mythology, Odin chose great warriors to come to his Great Hall, Valhalla, the resting place of brave Viking warriors, to rest and enjoy recreation before finally going to heaven. There they could eat, drink and fight because this magical place renewed everything the following morning, including the healing of their wounds from the "battles" of that day. At today's Valhalla for sportsmen, the Ford Ranch in Melvin, Texas, a deer hunter may say, "I can see more bucks in four hours of hunting in either the morning or the afternoon than I'll see in two to five years of hunting at home." Or, he may tell the other hunters, "I've never seen as many trophy bucks in all my life as here at the Ford Ranch. None of my friends will believe the number of bucks I've seen and passed-up." The Ford Ranch, managed by Forrest Armke produces some of the biggest trophy bucks and the largest number of turkeys of any area I know of in the nation. But what type of management program does the ranch use to yield these numbers of big bucks and gobbling birds? Come back each day this week, and I'll answer this question and more and show you how you can use the buffalo effect on your lands to improve your wildlife.
Another aspect of Forrest Armke's management program for both deer and turkeys involves a highly-effective feral-hog eradication program. When Armke first came to the Ford Ranch almost 20 years ago, the entire 30,000 acres homed a tremendous hog population. "Hogs aren't native to Texas," Armke emphasizes. "They were brought into this country by European settlers. When there wasn't enough food for the hogs, they became carnivores, killing and eating lambs, calves and deer fawns." The hogs not only killed and ate the fawns and other livestock newborns, but they also disturbed turkey nests and ate turkey eggs. For almost eight years, Armke went to war against hogs. Armke recalls, "For about eight years, we shot hogs as hard and heavy as we could possibly shoot them. I think we filled-up every freezer in and around Melvin with pork, trying to get the ranch's hogs under control. Today I've given strict orders that anyone who sees a hog on the property is to shoot the hog immediately." In 2004, a hunter never would see a hog track on the entire 30,000 acres of the Ford Ranch.
In recent years, Armke has tried to eliminate coyotes, another predator that severely has limited the growth of the deer herds and the turkey flocks on the Ford Ranch. Although you occasionally may spot a visiting song dog on the Ford Ranch, probably that coyote is just passing through the Ford Ranch or is about to become a victim of Armke's successful coyote-eradication program.
To learn more about the Ford Ranch, contact Forrest Armke at Route 1, Box 81, Melvin, Texas 76858, Phone: (325) 276-4572, or visit the Web site at www.fordranchhunting.net.
TOMORROW: EXPECTATIONS OF THE FORD RANCH