Have you seen these hogs?

My beautiful picture of pigs; Photo Courtesy of Larry Petter,11-08-2013.
My beautiful picture of pigs; Photo Courtesy of Larry Petter,11-08-2013.

We have all seen the black pigs. Let us know if you have seen this white and black pig. It almost looks like a Holstein calf!
Pictures taken at the Petter property, Miller Creek Loop.

Bobcats in Oakridge

Bobcat walking to water; Photo Courtesy of D.Burrows, February 2013.
Bobcat walking to water; Photo Courtesy of D.Burrows, February 2013.

Bobcats, Lynx rufus are normally elusive and nocturnal, but our game cameras are picking up more instances of their presence here.  Even in the day time.  This beautiful cat was walking toward a 40 gallon water tank we have in “the back 40”, where we have a turkey feeder near-by.  There is a water barrel continuously supplying water; therefore, it has become a regular to this spot.  We are glad to be in the  cat’s territory, representing a healthy, balanced environment; they are a vital part of our ecology.

Bobcats primarily eat rabbits, woodrats, mice, squirrels, voles, gophers, birds and reptiles.   Occasionally, they will take young deer, although most likely they take advantage of carrion.   Like most cats, they hunt by stealth and are not capable of extended chases.  Their leaping pounce from cover can be up to 10 feet.

Bobcats are territorial, with the female having a home base, excluding other females.  The male’s territorial range may include the ranges of several females.   In Texas, studies indicate some 48 cats per 62 miles.  There is a “carry capacity”, of a particular area usually determined by food and water availability.  And since kittens can sometimes be killed by adult males, a natural balance can be achieved.  The bobcats also will/can adjust their home ranges to compensate for varying factors.  Like coyotes, they are consummate adapters and survivors.

Bobcat at Deer Feeder off Trails End; Photographer Unknown, 11-07-2013.
Bobcat at Deer Feeder off Trails End; Photographer Unknown, 11-07-2013.

Did you know:  running at full speed, bobcats can have a bobbing motion similar to a rabbit; they can live up to 13 years;  their natural mortality fluctuates with the seasons;  kittens purr when pleased and play like your normal house cat; typical litters are 2-4 kittens; kitten dispersal can be from 9 months to 2 years, depending on how skilled at hunting they are; they can not expect to eat well, or mate until territory established; over time, they are loyal to their established territory, marked by scat and scrapes; they spend most of their lives alone; their natural predators are humans, domestic dogs, coyotes, foxes, owls, eagles, hawks.

There is so much more to know and appreciate about this remarkable predator.

Predator Control Ongoing at Oakridge

Dogs baying a hog as trained; Photo by D.Mason, 10-29-2013.
Dogs baying a hog as trained; Photo by D.Mason, 10-29-2013.

Douglas Mason is continually trying to keep us ahead of the game with predator control here at Oakridge Ranch.  Above is a great picture of his dogs doing what they are trained to do.   Douglas caught the hogs below off Deer Field Court this week.  He has now removed more than 500 hogs removed from Oakridge Ranch during 2013 and we still have two months left in this year!

Eleven hogs in one trap on Deer Field Court; Photo by D.Mason, 10-29-2013.
Eleven hogs in one trap on Deer Field Court; Photo by D.Mason, 10-29-2013.

Below is a picture of “The Hog Whisperer” himself, Douglas Mason, having a serious conversation with some caught feral hogs.

Feral hogs conversation time with "The Hog Whisperer"; Photo courtesy of Douglas Mason, 10-29-2013.
Conversation time with “The Hog Whisperer”; Photo courtesy of Douglas Mason, 10-29-2013.

Large Cats in Oakridge Ranch

Two young cougars were seen today at 5:40 PM on Oakridge Road between Wagon Wheel and the bend in the road just east of that (towards the stop sign at Trails End).   But the property owner couldn’t get close enough to take a photo with his mobile phone before they scattered.  These were definitely cougars with the longer tail & crook at the end.  Since these were young, we must definitely have some breeding cougars in our area.

Many property owners are feeding deer and attracting more wildlife to our properties.  Keep a watchful eye for the predators that follow those we are trying to attract, including Cougars, Bobcats and Coyote.   Do not run if you are confronted by one of these animals.  Try to look larger than you are; carry a big stick, wave your arms, yell, etc.   Consider walking or biking in groups.

And, as always, live life outdoors!

(Note:  If anyone has any pictures on their game cameras of one of these cats or other predators, please forward to ORWMA at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com.)

Feral Hogs at Oakridge Ranch

 

Trapped feral sow with piglets at Oakridge; Photo by D.Mason, Sept 1, 2013
Trapped feral sow with piglets at Oakridge; Photo by D.Mason, Sept 1, 2013

Feral hogs are definitely a problem for most of the state of Texas, including the area of the Oak Prairie Region of Texas.   We have an active group here in Oakridge Ranch headed up by Douglas Mason that works to keep the feral hogs in our area at a minimum.   Below is link to an informative article by Mr. Rick Taylor, Wildlife Biologist with Texas Parks & Wildlife.

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/nuisance/feral_hogs

Please be sure to contact Douglas Mason should you have need of hog removal on your property.    And send your hog pictures to oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com.   Live life outdoors!

Snakes in Our Environment

We have recently had some questions from new land owners here at Oakridge Ranch on snake control.   What can be done to protect small children and elderly family members from snakes and ensure your family is safe from snake bites?   What can you do in the case of a snake bite when here at Oakridge?   Attached is a link from Colorado County AgriLife Extension Service on snake control that may be useful to you as a property owner.   However, you may not want to get close enough to determine whether the snake’s eye pupils are vertical slits or round as mentioned in this article to determine whether you have a poisonous or non-poisonous snake on your hands.   http://colorado.agrilife.org/files/2011/08/snakeandtheircontrol_16.pdf

Snakes are a part of our environment whether it’s in town or out in the countryside like here at Oakridge Ranch.   Most of the information gathered from sites like Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, et. al, will tell you that keeping your place mowed and weeds down will help deter snakes.   Snakes like a place to hide such as in tall grasses & weeds around trees, rocks, logs cut for firewood, brush piles, etc.

And educating your children while making sure they wear tall boots outdoors is a must.   Even very young children can learn that snakes are quite dangerous, to not touch and to call an adult right away.   Many families use a “danger word” for such times as this.   When that word is yelled out, everyone around knows to go see and watch their step.   And children can also learn to freeze in place when a snake is sighted.   They should be taught that movement can frighten a snake into striking.

Most injuries from snake bites are on feet, legs from the knee down or on hands (when someone has reached to pick something off the ground and has not seen the snake beforehand).   So boots are best when walking outdoors here at the Ranch year round especially if the area is not mowed low.

In situations of a snake bite it’s best to call 911 immediately, immobilize the bitten person and begin moving toward the emergency room.   This will alert the Sheriff’s Department at Colorado County Dispatch to your emergency.   Colorado County Dispatch is trained for these types of events and they will direct you as needed.   County Dispatch may alert Oakridge Volunteer Fire Department (OVFD) and/or the Colorado County Sheriff’s Department whose First Responders can assist you, and help you get to the nearest emergency room for treatment or give you any needed escort to the ER.

Having said all that, the best thing is to stay alert……even in winter when snakes are supposed to be hibernating.   Because we usually have mild winters here, many snakes do not truly hibernate in our area.  Educate your children, even those who are very young.   And don’t forget your elderly family members or friends who may not be able to see quite as well as they once did.   Also, the use of a good dog who can alert you to snakes around your home is a great idea.   The local vets do have a rattlesnake vaccine for your animals that will keep them from having such a bad reaction and may actually save your dog’s life.

Live life outdoors!   Be aware!   Be safe!   Enjoy this beautiful countryside here in the Oak Prairie Region of Texas!

Why Control Feral Hogs?

Attached is one of the latest hogs removed from Oakridge Ranch by Douglas Mason and his group of hog hunters.   This one weighed in at 200 pounds.   Douglas and company have removed over 300 hogs from Oakridge Ranch so far in 2013.  

Feral hogs not only do damage to agricultural crops and our yards, but can carry diseases that can be harmful to other wildlife as well as humans.   We’ve added a link to some information regarding feral hogs from Texas A&M University that is relevant to controlling hogs in Oakridge Ranch.   Although some of these hogs are descendants from domestic hogs, the current feral hogs in Oakridge are not domestic and should be treated with the respect and distance as you would any wild animal.   These are not farm pets.   If you have a need to have hogs removed from your property, please contact Douglas Mason, ORWMA Predator Control Board Chairperson.

http://feralhogs.tamu.edu/2011/05/agrilife-today-busting-feral-hog-myths/

A 200 pound feral hog; Photo by D.Mason, 02-02-2013.
A 200 pound feral hog; Photo by D.Mason, 02-02-2013.

Ongoing Hog Removal in the Ranch

Here’s the first hog trapped on Oakridge this month.  Douglas Mason & crew have worked to remove 212 hogs from the Ranch so far this year, both by using traps and dogs to track & hunt these predators who can be dangerous to both humans and livestock.

First trapped hog of the month; Photo by D.Mason, June 2013.
First trapped hog of the month; Photo by D.Mason, June 2013.

Douglas & his crew of ladies & men with dogs, shown here with Cody Moore, work diligently to keep the growing number of wild & feral hogs to a minimum within Oakridge Ranch.  As noted on the main Predator page, Douglas donates much of the meat to the hungry.

290 Pound Feral Hog; Photo Courtesy of Douglas Mason, June 2013.
290 Pound Feral Hog; Photo Courtesy of Douglas Mason, June 2013.

 

Nuisance or Necessary?

The Common Raccoon is listed as a nuisance animal by Texas Parks & Wildlife.  This mainly nocturnal animal is considered to be a carnivore, but will eat anything you offer them.  Their average weight is from 4 to 20 pounds.  They have sharp claws and teeth, are good climbers and strong swimmers and can often be aggressive and dangerous.  Raccoons adapt easily to living around humans and will often find their way into your attic or pantry.  The raccoon can be a frequent carrier of the Distemper virus, as well as Rabies.

Let us know if you have any Raccoon stories here at the Ranch.  Send your comments and pictures to us at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com.

Common Raccoon at Deer Feeder; Photo by Gary LaVergne_2012
Common Raccoon at Deer Feeder; Photo by Gary LaVergne_2012