April 2012
Howle's Hints

Don’t be Fooled by Tom, Fence Fixing and It’s Time to Attack Weeds

“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”
— Mark Twain

April the first is known as April Fool’s Day. This event began during the late 1500s in France when the Gregorian Calendar was introduced moving New Year’s Day from April 1 to January 1. Word traveled slowly in those days and some people didn’t even know of the change until a few years later. Some of the more rebellious folks refused to acknowledge the change and continued celebrating New Year’s on April 1. These folks were labeled fools by the more informed populace. These "fools" had many pranks played on them and this practice continues today.

 


This thistle might be pretty to look at from the highway, but a farmer’s worst nightmare when seeds are dispersed from the head. Below, spot spraying is the most economical method of weed control if there are small numbers of isolated weeds.

 

Tom Foolery

It’s not uncommon for a mature gobbler to make a fool out of the pursuing hunter. However, it can be embarrassing considering the brain of an adult turkey is about the size of a purple hull pea. To avoid being fooled by a tom this April, have a few blinds ready on higher elevations that you can go to if the gobbler does show up on your property.

Keep a pair of anvil-style pruners in your pocket to clear away small limbs and sprigs. The pruners can allow you to construct a blind within five minutes. Find a shoulder-width tree and drag a couple of limbs around your set up. Next, use the pruning shears to clip off green limbs to place around your blind and pack open spots with dead leaves. Finally, be totally still and camouflaged when a gobbler does approach. A yawn or blink of the eyes has been known to scare off up-close gobblers.

Fast Fence Fixing

The Goldenrod Fence Wire Stretcher-Splicer is truly an example of ingenuity because of its simple design. The product can mend either a loose strand of fence or broken section of fence. When you find a spot of loose barbed wire, place each end of the loose wire in each end on the fence stretcher-splicer and pull the handle together and lock into place to hold tension. Next, use any short piece of wire to splice from one end of the loose wire to the other. Finally, insert fence plier handles in the wire loop between the existing wire and the splice wire and twist until tight. You can then release the handle and remove the stretcher-splicer.

The Goldenrod Fence Wire Stretcher-Splicer is available at your local Quality Co-op.

Weed Wars

Now that spring is here, it’s time to call for a pre-emptive strike against weeds in the pastures or food plots. Those thistle bolts with pinkish-purple seed heads may look like pretty flowers to those passing by on the highways, but farmers know this plant is anything but pretty when they take over a pasture. Spraying in early spring can allow your pasture forage to overpower weed growth.

   


Steve Scruggs, wildlife expert, shows a live rattler’s fangs.

 
   

If there are only isolated patches of weeds, spot spraying offers the most cost effective method of weed control. Spot spraying can also help when you are trying to save the clovers. If the weeds cover large areas of the pasture, however, spraying with a boom-style sprayer may be required.

Snake Savvy

 


Vertical, catlike pupils distinguish the venomous snake.

As the weather warms, encounters with snakes are more likely. Obviously, the rattler and water moccasin are the two most dangerous snakes to encounter.

The copperhead is by far the most common poisonous snake we can encounter during warm months. Fortunately, even though it is venomous, the bite is rarely fatal.

   
   
 


This young buck will gain many nutrients from warm-season plots.

For a sure way to tell if the snake is venomous, look at the pupils. Venomous snakes have vertical, catlike pupils and nonpoisonous snakes have round pupils. I know what you are thinking, "There’s no way I’m gonna get close enough to see the pupils." Don’t worry. A good way to educate yourself is to look at a king or chicken snake’s pupils, and you can see the noticeably round pupils. These nonpoisonous snakes are a farmer’s best friend when it comes to rat and mice control around the farm. Just keep your chicken eggs in nesters out of the snake’s reach.

Spring Food Plots

If you want to not only draw but keep wildlife on your property, it’s important to plant warm-season food plots in addition to your cool-season plots. Some biologists would argue that the spring plot is more important because this is the time of year when young bucks are doing a lot of growth not only with their body weight but with antler development as well. Great choices for warm-season plots are sunflowers, millet, corn, buckwheat, peas and sorghum.

This April, once you’ve played your April Fool’s joke on someone, share some outdoor ingenuity with them and maybe they will forgive you.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.