Our blog will help keep you informed about news and information related to the farm, ranch and rural real estate markets. If you share our desire for wide open spaces and investment in the land, we hope you will subscribe, read and discuss the stories we find and develop here. More than just an investment, ranch, farm and rural real estate evokes a type of lifestyle that was born over a century ago and still provides a certain romance and passion for those who embrace the pioneering spirit from those days gone by.

It Takes a Village…to save Bobwhite Quail

By: Justin Bryan

As we all know, the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” is an understatement. A village (relatives, neighbors, and others) provides a wealth of valuable knowledge and experiences, creating an ideal opportunity for a child to achieve a happy and productive life.  As I reflected on this, I concluded that much the same technique has to be used to create the opportunity for wild populations of quail (bobwhite and scaled) to grow and excel on private property.

It is well documented that wild quail populations are declining throughout their native ranges including Texas, Oklahoma, and the southeast U.S. According to the Texas Quail Initiative, bobwhite populations in the Lone Star State are declining at a rate of 5.6% per year, while scaled quail populations are declining at a rate of 2.9% per year.  Quail are considered an r-selected species having a very high mortality rate of 70 – 80% depending on variables such as  habitat, weather, predators, etc. which is generally offsite by high reproductive rates.  (1)  So what is causing the drop in quail populations?

As a game bird beloved by many outdoor enthusiasts, a mass collaborative effort has begun by researchers and private landowners throughout these regions to try to gain an understanding of how best to stabilize the declining populations which have been heavily impacted by less than ideal conditions such as drought, declining habitat, and parasitic influences.

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To provide the opportunity to be successful in this endeavor, it takes a “village” of private landowners and/or lessees of ranches and farms to simply maintain numbers and, in ideal years – climatically speaking – to provide the chance for those birds to flourish; properties where the owner and/or lessees value the existence of quail and invest substantial money, time, and other valuable resources to both sustain numbers year-in, year-out but also to increase populations. I can say without a doubt that here in Texas the “village” approach has been accepted with open arms. Ongoing research projects and cooperation between researchers and landowners in north and south Texas – the two last strongholds for quail populations in Texas – have proliferated throughout the region.

At the forefront of these efforts in the Texas panhandle is the Quail-Tech Alliance – a joint partnership between the Department of Natural Resources at Texas Tech University and 25 ranches encompassing 38 Texas counties thereby directly or indirectly influencing approximately 22 million acres of rangeland and farmland. Ranches such as the W. T. Waggoner, Mill Iron, Pitchfork, 6666’s, and the Tongue River Ranch, to name a few, have made the decision to allow use of their land for research purposes, and to manage their private rangeland and farmland to learn more about and positively influence native quail populations.

Headed south, quail restoration efforts in south Texas are profoundly influenced by researchers at Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute (CKWRI)/Texas A&M University Kingsville. Within CKWRI, the staff of the Richard M. Kleberg Jr. Center for Quail Research direct the largest research program in the world that is focused on the habitat and population ecology of wild quails.

The farm and ranch managers within the Hall and Hall Resource Management Group are part of this village, as we invest a great deal of our time to learn about management techniques that enhance wildlife habitat on rural properties. Whether it is quail, deer or a fishery, we recognize that wildlife can be as important as crop production in creating value on a ranch or farm.

See Hall and Hall’s exclusive Texas hunting ranches for sale.

(1) Cited Robertson,  Roy , Southeast Farm Press,  ”Where have all the quail gone?”, March 5, 2008 http://southeastfarmpress.com/where-have-all-quail-gone

 

Got Habitat? Got Enough?

By: Justin Bryan

We have a long growing season in Texas, if and when it rains. As a member of the Hall and Hall Resource Management Group it is essential to ensure the habitat I am managing for our clients is in optimum condition so that the animals that use it can thrive. In reality, the vegetation is not only fed upon and used for cover by native wildlife, but also by a diversity of livestock species and in some cases exotic wildlife species.

With this being said, there is plenty of pressure applied directly by livestock and wildlife to the plant life. Then there is the ebb and flow of the weather. Some years it rains and the vegetation has the opportunity to excel and some years (or often is the case, years in a row) we receive average to below average precipitation and the plant life struggles. Therefore, to maintain a healthy habitat, we have to cope with the livestock, wildlife and weather, and hopefully manage those factors when we can throughout the year to maintain a healthy rangeland. Light cattle grazing (less than 35 percent use of primary forage species) to moderate grazing (35 to 45 percent use of primary forage species) usually encourages forb production benefiting wildlife populations. (1)

grazing enclosure

So, how do we evaluate the health or condition of the habitat? One of the simplest tools to use are grazing exclosure cages. These cages are generally made by forming a circle with net wire or welded wire fencing material and using a t-post or two to secure the structure into place. The diameter of the fencing can vary from a foot to two feet and needs to be at least four feet tall. A square exclosure works just as well. The goal of the exclosure is to keep all large animals and a good portion of the small ones, such as rabbits, from feeding or using the vegetation within the exclosure.

The exclosures (I recommend more than one) need to be dispersed equally around a property in all habitat types and should be placed into the area prior to the growing season. Here in Texas that means the exclosures need to be out by late January. As the year progresses, these exclosures provide us with a visual comparable moment in time of how much the habitat is being used (fed on, trampled, etc.) outside the exclosure compared to inside the exclosure where there is no use occurring.

whitetaile deerSo what do we do with that visual information? As the year progresses, if there is a great deal of difference between “use” inside and outside the exclosure, we may need to sell some livestock, increase the harvest of native game such as whitetails and/or increase the harvest of exotic species – or all three – within one year. We can’t control the rainfall but we can to some extent control the amount of pressure livestock, native wildlife, or exotic wildlife are placing on that habitat. If we do that diligently, then we give the habitat the opportunity to thrive year in, year out and so too will our wildlife and livestock.

For more information about the Resource Management Group at Hall and Hall feel free to contact us at 406-656-7500 or info@hallandhall.com.

Click here to see Texas hunting ranches for sale.

Cited.

(1) http://southtexasrangelands.tamu.edu/files/2014/05/Using-Livestock-for-Wildlife.pdf

Historic IX Ranch Update

The Historic IX Ranch makes news in Great Falls Tribune.

The IX Ranch in Big Sandy, Montana is now listed for sale complete with all livestock, feed, vehicles, machinery, real estate deeded lands, leases, water rights and mineral rights.

IX Ranch Tour

Dave Johnson, Hall and Hall Partner (left) at IX Ranch Tour

Changes in federal tax law has allowed the owners to change the structure of  sale terms. Previously the IX Ranch was being held as a C Corp and the owners were selling shares.  “With the change in tax law, the sale is assets only now,” Dave Johnson, Hall & Hall partner says. In 2015, the reduction to 5 years for recognition of built-in gains for S corps was made permanent. 2015. Previously listed at $64.5 million, the ranch is now listed for $69.5 million with the inclusion of the additional assets valued at $13.6 million as of Dec. 31, 2015.

To find out more about the IX Ranch visit http://hallhall.com/ranches-for-sale/montana or contact Dave Johnson at 406-587-3090.

10 Texas Land Management Practices for Winter Months

By: Justin Bryan

When it comes to ranch management the term “ongoing project” is often an understatement. For those of us who enjoy the diversity of tasks that comes with ranch ownership, the winter months are often the best time to get a jump on things. At the forefront, is proper rangeland management, as it is the rangeland that feeds livestock and wildlife, filters water, sustains plant and animal diversity, and provides habitat. It is essentially the foundation for our property’s success.

Fortunately properties in Texas, unlike those in the western and northern U.S., are seldom covered in snow during the winter, therefore providing us with a great opportunity to get ahead of the game in regards to those range management endeavors. To elaborate on this discussion a little more, take a look at Dr. Megan Clayton’s (Texas A&M Extension) top 10 list of winter rangeland projects.

texas ranch for sale, lucky star ranch, texas rangeland

Lucky Star Ranch is a unique and diverse ranch property located in southwest Wise County, TX.

  1. Brush Management - There are two individual plant treatment methods that can be done when the weather is not sweltering: 1) cut stump treatment and 2) stem spray method. Both of these methods involve a mixture of triclopyr and diesel applied to either the freshly cut stump or stem of brush species1,2.
  1. Fecal and Forage Sampling - Send off a fecal sample of your cattle herd to monitor diet quality and see if you need to adjust your supplemental feeding program (cnrit.tamu.edu/ganlab). Alternatively, if purchasing hay, conduct a forage analysis (soiltesting.tamu.edu).
  1. Measure Your Forage - Measure your forage available for livestock3.  Both pre-winter and post-winter assessments of your vegetation can help you determine the number of livestock you can feed.  For example, checking your forage at the beginning of the winter will indicate the amount of grass you have for the winter and determine if adjustments in your stocking rate need to be made OR if you can expect to need hay.
  1. Identify Problem Weeds Early - Identify areas where you experienced weed issues this year and/or where there is bare ground or you fed hay. Learn to identify the problem plant in its early stages of growth so treatment can be done early in the season, when the control will be higher and require less chemical. Check out essmextension.tamu.edu/plants to get started.
  1. Plan Future Management - Be sure to evaluate the pastures you intend to burn, especially if you plan to conduct a prescribed burn in late-winter4. Do you have enough fuel to create the kind of fire you want this year? This is also a good time to plan any chemical treatments you would like to do in the spring/summer or manage livestock pasture rotations to benefit wildlife habitat5.
  1. Install Fire Breaks - Winter is an excellent time to maintain or install fire breaks for prescribed burning4. Fire breaks can also be used to protect pastures, barns, and equipment from wildfires that may spread quickly during dry seasons. Learn how to protect your land and property at http://texaseden.org/disaster-resources/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/protection-of-rangeland-and-pastures-from-wildfire.pdf.
  1. Mend or Plan Fencing - Do you have forage in pastures that has not been utilized well6? Use this cooler time to mend or plan fencing to maximize rotational grazing opportunities in the spring.
  1. Calibrate Sprayers - Save both time and money by accurately calibrating your spray equipment. Be ready for   next spring by visiting http://southtexasrangelands.tamu.edu/useful-publications/ and click on ‘Sprayer Calibration Guide’ to download instructions.
  1. Watch for Winter Plant Toxicities - We are used to hearing about plant toxicities, such as nitrate accumulation, in some plant species after fertilization or drought, but did you know these plants can also build up cyanide after the first frost? Be careful not to turn hungry cattle into a pasture with johnsongrass (or other sorghums) during this frost condition due to the potential of toxic build up in the plant (http://essmextension.tamu.edu/plants/plant/johnsongrass/).
  1. Learn Something New! - Even during unfavorable weather, you could watch an educational webinar from your own computer! The Texas Range Webinar Series (naturalresourcewebinars.tamu.edu) has an hour long webinar every first Thursday of the month at noon OR you can watch them archived all winter long! Watch for free or pay $10 to get a Pesticide Applicator CEU (on qualifying webinars).

 

 

 

Hall and Hall Attends Dallas Safari Club’s Annual Convention

By: Tyler Jacobs

Justin Bryan and I just returned from the Dallas Safari Club’s annual convention.  For those of you not familiar with Justin, he is our latest addition to our Resource Management division, opening our third company office in Texas. Justin will be offering services to our clients’ needs regarding management of wildlife, fisheries and natural resources, meeting a large demand for such services in Texas and the surrounding states.

Open Fences Editor/Publisher David Light, Justin Bryan, and Tyler Jacobs.

Open Fences Editor/Publisher David Light, Justin Bryan, and Tyler Jacobs.

Our  attendance at the DSC convention served as a great reminder of why we place such priority on participating in these venues. At Hall and Hall we have committed to attend a long list of trade shows and conventions, and have for as long as anyone can remember.  Cattle shows, hunting conventions, farm shows, fishing shows, conservation groups, state livestock associations…the list goes on. We make a real attempt and commitment to attend all we can reasonably justify. We invest in booths, displays, and travel to events such as NCBA.

What’s the purpose, and how does it serve our clients?

Hall and Hall runs on one fuel – relationships. Our advertising and marketing runs on relationships. Our expertise and professional development depends on relationships. Our ability to enjoy, participate and contribute to the rural lifestyles we all enjoy is dependent on our exposure to those people and enterprises we draw from.

While the 2016 convention numbers are not released yet, DSC had over 45,000 attendees to its convention last year. There were over 1,000 exhibitors across its 850,000 square feet of exhibition space.  Everyone walking into the Dallas Convention center last weekend has a connection to the same lifestyle preferences that all of us at Hall and Hall have – a love for the outdoors, the land, the wildlife, and all that those assets offer to us as individuals. We want to be among those people, all 45,000 of them.

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More than 1,000 exhibitors across 850k square feet of exhibition space.

So look for us in the next few weeks, particularly Safari Club International in Las Vegas and National Cattleman’s Beef Association in San Diego. See you there.

Dove Shooting in the South: Hunting Tennessee and Georgia

By: Elliot Davenport

Thank you to the members and guests of Poteet, Black Fox, White Oak, and Fite Bend Dove Clubs for hunting with us this year!  It was a great 2015 and we hope to see you again next year.  Enjoy this video showcasing some of the great experiences we had this past dove season in Tennessee and Georgia.