Starting Strong

Managing habitat is a never-ending cycle. The seasons are a familiar pattern, each with its own needs for us to meet. Though expected, every iteration is a new challenge, each bringing a renewed sense of accomplishment. Much of this work is a singular play in a long game, with compounding effects that we’ll never see. But oddly, that truth makes it all the more worth it.

The first quarter of the year is always one of our busiest times, and this year was no exception.  The projects we complete during this season set the foundation for further management throughout the year, and are often some of the first steps in a long-term development plan.  The specific timing required for most of these projects makes it crucial to hit the ground running in January.  The window of opportunity for prescribed burning and tree planting is short, and capitalizing on it can make a huge difference in the advancement of a property’s development.  Timing is also critical for establishing new wood duck boxes, or performing maintenance on existing ones, to make sure they are ready for nesting season.

Many other tasks fill our days during this season, and help us prepare for the tasks of the coming months.  This is the routine of property development and management; work that is constantly compounding and building on itself, along with the continual rotation of maintenance.  Stepping into this rhythm makes you feel like an active participant in the natural cycles that we often take for granted.

 

Nature’s Eye

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Often at the beginning of a new year, we take a moment to reflect on where we’ve been and look ahead to where we’re going. Our journey as a company has been a unique one. We set out with a vision to positively impact conservation on the broadest scale possible. Our operations began simply by helping landowners make their land better for wildlife and for their families. Along our path, we have planted seeds in many other sectors of the industry, and grown branches that have allowed our operations to evolve. We are now investing even further in the wild places that are so dear to us. We begin this new year with a new mission to serve communities by fostering a deeper connection to the land. Through facilitating rural land sales, and implementing property development that enhances wildlife habitat and recreational value, we encourage an appreciation for a Nature Based Life.

As a property investment and development firm, we aim to keep as much land as possible open for wildlife and outdoor recreation. The following film portrays our evolution through the years, and our vision moving forward. We’re excited to continue sharing this journey with you, and hope you’ll come along for the ride.  Join us online at our new website natureseye.com

Opt Outside

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In 2015, one of the largest outdoor retailers in the country decided to take a stand against the consumer mania of Black Friday. For the past four years, REI has closed its doors on the Friday following Thanksgiving, encouraging its customers to spend the day enjoying the outdoors, rather than shopping. They dubbed this campaign #optoutside, and it has had an incredible ripple effect through the industry, gaining a following from other retailers, outdoors enthusiasts, and even outdoor novices. This initiative reflects the company’s values of consuming less and nurturing a love of the outdoors.

For many of us who enjoy the outdoors through game pursuits, our default is already to be out in the field on that extra day off after Turkey Day. Hunting seasons are in full swing, and there’s nowhere we’d rather be. (Particularly not standing in line outside walmart). However, we are losing members of our tribe at an alarming rate, recruitment is dismal, and our reputation has certainly seen better days. There are fewer and fewer of us living the hunting lifestyle. Supporting a campaign like this could provide a much-needed boost to hunting participation. It may not seem like a one day event could make much difference, but hunters know that one great day outdoors can be life-changing. One squirrel, one fish, one quail, or even just a moment spent together, may be all it takes to launch someone’s nature based life.

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The lack of notice or interest in this movement by the rod & gun crowd is likely a casualty of the divide between us and the camp & hike sector. Much has been lost due to this divisiveness, and working towards further cooperation can only benefit the land we all love. One thing we can all agree on is that someone who loves recreating in the outdoors is more likely to put effort into caring for those resources. For 2019, REI has taken their commitment a step further by introducing the hashtag #opttoact, encouraging folks to use their day outdoors to participate in a clean-up or other conservation-minded act. Again, this is something many of us already do on a regular basis. We pick up other hunters’ spent shells, we fish trash out of the river on the way to our duck hole, we clean up honey bun wrappers in the boat dock parking lot. Some of us even make our living creating wildlife habitat. Most of us do this quietly, avoiding notice or praise. However, the more noise we make about our efforts to care for the earth and its creatures, the higher the chance of others jumping on board. Social media has connected us in unprecedented ways, and allowed us to create movements with a hashtag. Documenting your time spent outdoors, when most of the country is at the mall, and using the #optoutside hashtag, has the potential for huge impact. Introducing anyone to any form of outdoor activity or lifestyle is always a step in the right direction, for all of us.

So this Black Friday, we encourage everyone to #optoutside. If you’re already planning a hunt, make plans to take someone with you. Take a selfie of you and your kid in the deer stand, or you and your buddies in the duck blind. Show off the bag of spent shells you collect, and help show that the ones who leave them behind are the minority. We have an opportunity to write a better story about who we are, not just by opting out on Black Friday, but by loudly and proudly living our best Nature Based Life every day.

 

As an extra incentive, we are doing a GIVEAWAY! Tag @natureseye in your #optoutside and #opttoact posts and stories on Friday, and you’ll be entered to win one of our exclusive Leather Patch Logo Hats in Vintage Camo! You must also be following our @natureseye instagram account. We’ll be sharing your entries in our stories all day!

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We’re giving away Tucker’s hat!  *Axe-wielding stud not included.

 

How to enter the GIVEAWAY:

1. Follow @natureseye on instagram

2. #optoutside on Black Friday

3. Tag @natureseye in your posts or stories documenting your #optoutside or #opttoact moment.

 

The winner will be announced Saturday morning!  Good luck!

The Bowhunting Ritual

Every hunter, regardless of the game or season that draws them to the field, engages in some type of preparation for their pursuit. Whether its habitat work, scouting, gathering gear, or practicing the shot, if you’re committed to the hunt, you do it. As the season nears, anticipation intensifies, and the planning becomes meticulous. This is particularly true of bowhunters, as attention to detail can make all the difference in such an unforgiving contest. We check and re-check each component of our bow. Every arrow must be flying perfectly. We study trail camera photos as if it were the most important test of our life. We throw a tantrum if a candle is lit anywhere near our camo. For veteran hunters, this process becomes an annual ritual.

 

 

242 days pass between the last day of bow season and the next opening day.
8 months of preparation, planning, and target practice.
Burning, mowing, spraying, planting.
Analyzing endless trail cam photos.
Scouting for that perfect stand setup.
Shot after shot aiming for that perfect group.
Finally, the predawn light of opening morning creeps over the trees, and the sound of a twig snap means it’s all coming together…

Nature’s Eye Showcase Farm

If you’ve followed anything Nature’s Eye for any length of time, you most likely have heard mention of the Showcase Farm.  It has been our home for many years, in more ways than one.  The site of our first office, a gathering place for company events, a place to stay for team members in transition and visiting friends and family.  It has also been the place where we have put into practice our most ideal habitat management vision.

The same family has owned the Showcase Farm property since 1926, and their stewardship instilled a legacy of conservation. We were so fortunate to have the opportunity to come alongside them and help them carry on that tradition, cultivating and nurturing the habitat and wildlife to maximize the property’s true potential.  It is proof of what we preach for how habitat can be managed on an ecosystem level, and a showcase for what it truly means to have “nature’s eye.”

A years long process, we have poured our heart and soul into making this place a wilderness paradise, and are so excited to begin sharing it with you.  In addition to professionally guided big game hunting experiences, we are offering the Showcase Farm lodge and surrounding nature-scape as an event venue for your special occasion.  

We are proud to bring you the Showcase Farm, and offer you the chance to experience it for yourself.

See our Facebook page for more information and to contact us for booking.  Also follow along with our journey on Instagram. 

Summer Life

I know some hunters who feel like they would rather just skip through summer, and as soon as turkey season is over, they’d arrive right back in a dove field or bow stand. Many sportsmen and women enjoy a well-rounded year outdoors with fishing and other water sports, but others suffer through the warmer months as if it were a punishment. While summer has never been my favorite season, I have come to appreciate it with a unique perspective.

Perhaps the first, most obvious, or practical need that comes to mind for the summer months is the time to put in much of the work required to reap the rewards we seek during hunting seasons. This is the human perspective, and as is typical, what most of us would think of first. However, the broader picture, from an ecological perspective, is that the summer months are when the majority of growth happens in our ecosystems. Spring is universally associated with new life, but summer is just as much a season of life. It is the season that is essential in the growth and development of so many plants and animals that fill the fields and forests we hunt.

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For many of us the thought of “summer growth” evokes images of antlers in velvet, slowly gaining inches as the sweltering days pass, but it also means turkey poults maturing, ducks nesting and brood rearing, and quail breeding and nesting. So much of our year-round management efforts are aimed at enhancing habitat that supports breeding, nesting, and the raising of young. For many wildlife populations, habitat is the most critical factor in ensuring reproductive success from season to season, as well as individual survival and long-term sustainability.

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Summer is one of the most important times in the life cycle of these wildlife young. Watch out for deer fawns, turkey poults, and other little ones while summer mowing and planting. Keep your target species’ year-round habitat requirements in mind when planning your management strategy. As we ease into summer, if you begin to feel impatient, just remember all of the incredible growth happening right now that will make your dreams come true this fall.

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Data from the Depths

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As summer approaches, outdoorsmen and women begin feeling a magnetic pull towards any body of water in their general vicinity. As they begin dusting off their fishing gear, fisheries managers check in with the underwater ecosystems and fish populations. One of our favorite methods to do this is electrofishing surveys. This is a scientific method involving specialized boats emitting an electric current in the body of water where the fish population is to be sampled. The fish are attracted to the current, allowing them to be caught in a net for measurement. They are held in a live well, measured quickly, and released back into the water unharmed. There are no lasting effects from the exposure to the electricity. Electrofishing allows us to bring data up from the depths that we would otherwise never access.

Last month, we performed an electrofishing survey at Hawkeye Hunting Club outside of Center, Texas. Our Nature’s Eye Media crew went along to document the day.

Each season brings new and different management projects, so make sure you’re following us on all of our social medias and keeping up.  There’s so much more to come!