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.

wood duck brood

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.

pouring corn into Firminator

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!

Earth Month

drone over showcase farm

For many, the month of April has become synonymous with increased environmental awareness and activism. This of course began with Earth Day and Arbor Day both being celebrated during the month, and eventually some overly enthusiastic folks decided to stretch the festivities out a bit. We often think of Earth Day and Arbor Day as occasions to plant a tree. While that is certainly appropriate, there are many other ways to get involved!

Clean up – Many community organizations coordinate clean up projects during the month or on Earth Day itself. Particular targets are often waterways, parks, or other green spaces. Find a clean up crew to join and help remove some of the waste from these areas!

Reduce Waste – Take the month to be mindful of your own use of disposable paper and plastics, and try to reduce the amount you use and throw away.

Reduce Water Use – Try to be mindful throughout the month of how much water you use, and think of ways to use less.

Think Sustainably – Think about how these Earth Month activities can become habits that persist long-term in your daily life.

 

For those of us who work in the conservation field, the Earth Day mindset is business as usual. We work every day to foster sustainability within ecosystems. Whether we are installing wood duck boxes for nesting habitat, planting wildflowers for pollinators, or educating a homeowner on a backyard garden, everything we do is about sustainable conservation. If you feel compelled to get involved on this level, here are a few ways to invest in celebrating Earth Day long-term.

Plant a butterfly garden – This Earth Day, commit to starting a butterfly garden. Texas is one of the best places to do this, as it’s on the Monarch butterfly migration route. A butterfly or pollinator garden is one of the best things you can do for nature! Pollinators are critical players in the web of life, and the importance of providing habitat for them cannot be understated. Plant your garden this Earth Day, and you will have the results to look forward to next year!

Install bluebird boxes – Providing nesting habitat for these beloved songbirds is a long-honored tradition of conservationists and animal lovers. The goal of course is helping to ensure the sustainability of their populations, but a great added bonus is increased viewing opportunities!

Plant a fruit tree orchard – This can be as few as 3-5 trees, or as many as your space and resources allow. Of course planting any tree is a wonderful investment in the earth, and many take the opportunity on Earth Day, but a fruit tree orchard will yield it’s own special return! Planting something that produces food for you and your family is its own kind of sustainability, and will leave a legacy for generations to come.

Earth Day 2019 – April 22

Arbor Day 2019 – April 26

Landscape Beholders

Author: Emily Courtney

South African landscape

Recently, I found an old copy of Emerson’s Essays. I began my writing about Nature’s Eye inspired by a quote from Emerson, but admittedly I’m not overly familiar with much of his writing, so I was excited to delve into it more deeply. He wrote on subjects ranging from history to art, love to spirituality, intellect to character, and of course, nature. I naturally skipped to the Nature essay first, and, inevitably, came across a quote that struck me:

“The difference between landscape and landscape is small, but there is great difference in the beholders.”

This sparked a long and winding string of thoughts and musings. Initially I balked, thinking, “there’s vast difference between landscapes! How could he come to that conclusion?!” I re-read the surrounding paragraph a few times to see if maybe I’d missed something in the context. As it sunk in, a particular moment from a college course came rushing back to me, when a professor had pointed out how subtly landscapes can change in space. He demonstrated how change in elevation as slight as a couple of feet could alter soil types and plant communities. I began to wonder if maybe Emerson knew this, too. It made me think about all the different landscapes I have seen: mountains, river valleys, prairies, deserts. They do seem different to me, but there is a commonality. There is a horizon. There is the earth itself, and the sky. All landscapes share common elements to their composition. It’s all nature, and the beauty of nature is consistent everywhere she resides. Perhaps that was his point.

However, that wasn’t the end of his thought, and I wonder if possibly his ultimate meaning was less about the landscapes themselves and more about how we, the beholders, relate to them. All of our life experiences boil down to perception. The way we perceive the world around us ultimately determines how we experience life. It is circular, however, as our perceptions are also shaped by our experiences. The crux of the line seems to be that we all have different perceptions and that translates to how we perceive nature as well. For some reason, Emerson felt it was important to convey that.

Perhaps it’s because he knew that there would come a time when people would have to agree upon a value to place on wild places. He knew we would have to decide what a landscape is worth, or how many dollars to assign to a mountain, and he knew that each person that beheld such places would value them differently. Maybe he knew that our perceptions of nature would shape how we cared for it. Knowing that some beholders of landscapes were also stewards of them, he may have hoped to inspire cooperation between conservationists.

The truth of Emerson’s sentiment can clearly be seen in current conservation and land management, with a wide range of perspectives bringing a variety of different approaches to the field. Each individual biologist, conservationist, land manager, farmer or rancher, has their own unique appreciation for nature. At some point in their life, they looked out across a landscape and decided it was worth caring for. Whatever they saw, whatever their perception was, it influenced their future work. Different managers can approach the same property and have completely different ideas about the best way to manage it. There are disputes over land use, where one beholder will see the perfect landscape for a farm, the other will see a forest. There is no one right way in conservation, and I think that’s the beauty of Emerson’s thought; that he allowed space for everyone’s different perceptions. Embracing the different perceptions of nature and ideas for conservation can be a great thing in our field. Nature thrives on variety. Having a variety of management practices used on properties and a variety of land use alternatives chosen across landscapes is a positive direction.

At the end of the day, I can’t know for sure what Emerson intended, or the purpose behind what he wrote. I can only read his words and let them ripple through my mind, creating a waterfall of my own thoughts. It seems to me that he wanted to bring to our attention that we all perceive nature differently, but that nature’s beauty is a constant, immune to the whims of our perceptions. I think he also wanted us to consider how we might work together, despite those different perceptions. Or, perhaps he simply meant that we can each take in a scenic view of a mountain and appreciate it in our own way. Intended or not, his words inspired a newfound appreciation for the varied perceptions each of us have as landscape beholders.

Companion

Author: Emily Courtney

black lab duck dog

Should I wake him up? His hand light block thingy usually makes that noise and wakes him up but sometimes he pokes it and it stops and he keeps sleeping. Maybe I should just nudge him a little. He snores so loud. I know we should be going today. He pulled out all of his stuff last night, those weird tall boot things, his collar with the noise makers on it, my vest, that magic stick that makes the loud boom and knocks the quacky birds out of the sky. Still haven’t figured out how that works… Today’s the day, for sure. He was talking to me so excited last night, he’d be so disappointed if he overslept… Just a little nudge… That did it, we’re up now, oh pets and ear scratches, I did good! Oh yeah, who’s a good girl? I’m a good girl. Okay out of bed. What now, Dad? Oh. He wants me to eat that stuff. Hmph. Any other day, fine, but today I know he’s having a bacon biscuit and if I give him the eyes he’ll give me some, so I think I’ll pass on the little fake food pebbles. Ugh he’s insisting. Okay, okay, just a nibble.

Now where’d he go? Door is open, must be out here putting stuff in the truck. Oh yeah, nice and brisk this morning! He’ll be happy about that. Oh there he is! Hey Dad! Did you get my vest? I’m ready to go, are you ready? Can I get in the truck? Oh, back inside, okay. Oh yeah, warm up your biscuit, right. I’ll wait. Is it nice and warm? Bacon nice and crispy? Looks tasty. I’ll just sit here and watch you eat that and lick my lips. Oh yeah, there’s my bite, mmm so fluffy. Ok? Ready? Load up! I know those words! Let’s go!

I wonder where we’re going today. Short ride or long ride. Well, either way, nothing to see back here. Might as well settle in and rest up. What was that? Did we stop? Oh hey Dad, are we here? Must have dozed off… Just a stretch… I’m ready, Dad, I’m ready! Let’s do this! Oh yeah, my vest! Paws through, don’t catch my fur in there, there! Okay, vest on, time to work. The next part is the worst part. Just don’t think about it, just do it and get it over with. It’s just what you have to do to get to the fun part. Just get in the boat and think about a quacky bird in your mouth. Okay, load up he says, I’m going, I’m going. My vest will protect my insides from the icy air. Just think about the quacky birds and how happy it makes him…

Made it! Boat ride over. Dad, are there icicles on my nose? Okay, you want me to get in the big box thingy now? Gladly. There’s a heater in there. Wait, where are you going now? Oh yeah, the plastic quacky bird things. Still don’t understand that either. Does he put those out there just to try to confuse me? Oh well. I’ll just wait here. I wish he had turned the heater on before he left… It’s ok, though. I’m tough. I gotta be ready for the water. Actually, it’s best not to think about that either. Just do it when the time comes and focus on the quacky bird. Oh, he’s coming back now. Good. Hey, Dad! Hey! I’m so happy to be here with you, Dad! This is our favorite spot, huh? Calm down, I know, I just can’t help it sometimes. Oh, ear rubs, I’ll sit still as long as you like if you keep that up. No don’t stop… Oh, I guess you have to do your noise maker things now. I think I have it figured out. He makes it sound like there’s sick quacky birds, then the other quacky birds come to see what’s wrong with them. I don’t know, but here come some. Nah, those are too high in the sky. I don’t know why, but when they’re that high he won’t point the magic stick at them. Oh, I think they’re gonna fly lower. Yeah, looks like he’s getting ready. Ok, watch them close. If one falls, you gotta watch it. He doesn’t always know where it is…

Gosh, I forget how loud that is. Alright, it’s my time. I saw it fall, I think he’s pointing me about right. Just jump in. QUACKY BIRD!!! Cold water, cold water, quacky bird, sniff it out, come on quacky bird, cold water, just keep paddling, quacky bird, quacky bird, sniff it out, cold water, quacky bird, keep going, almost there, cold, cold, bird, smell bird, bird, smell bird, QUACKY BIRD! I GOT IT! Okay, gotta get back. Paddle fast. Don’t drop quacky bird. Don’t squeeze it too tight. Paddle, paddle. Find the ramp. I made it! Look, Dad! I got the quacky bird for you! Oh, he’s so happy! Yes, this is worth the boat ride. This is our favorite thing. Let’s do it again, Dad.

 

Dedicated to our girl Milli, and all the companions that have served us well and moved on, may they forever have a bird to retrieve and a warm blind to return to.

milli with mallards

Nature’s Eye Corporate Office Grand Opening

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When we first began our journey as a company, we equated ourselves to one acorn, in kind with our logo. Indeed we were just a singular entity, doing the work that is our passion. Little did we know then that we were actually planting that one acorn as a seed that would sprout and grow into vastly branched tree of companies.  Nature’s Eye now operates as a parent company, encompassing subsidiaries ranging from property development and real estate, to media services and publication. Through our growth, we have held true north and remained focused on our vision of making the greatest impact on conservation possible, leading others to do the same by living and promoting a Nature Based Life.

As we reached this point of growth, we realized we needed a central location for our corporate office, from which each of our branches could operate. We needed to be connected to the community, and Lufkin’s business and social pulse, and we found a prime space in the historic downtown district. In addition to providing a hub for our corporate operations, and a home base for community events, it will allow us to utilize our Showcase Farm property and lodge for other purposes. Our Mossy Oak Properties of Texas – Lufkin agent offices will remain at the Showcase Farm location.

Recently, we hosted a Grand Opening event at the office, in conjunction with a launch party for our merge with The Journey Magazine. Keep a lookout for a feature on the event in the November issue of the magazine, and read our journal entry on the merger here. We’re excited to share this new phase of our journey with you, and hope you’ll follow along by subscribing here and across all of our social media platforms. And of course, by stopping by to see us at our new corporate office in downtown Lufkin!

Nature’s Eye Corporate

106 East Lufkin Avenue

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