January 2017
Howle's Hints

A New Thing

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”     ~Isaiah 43:19


January is a time for starting new things, having new beginnings, and watching the Lord do new things. This past summer and fall, I watched the creeks on our family farm run completely dry. I watched many hardwood trees die from lack of ground moisture. I saw a few spots on the sides of the roads where someone would inadvertently toss a cigarette out the window leaving behind a large black swath of burned ground because the grass was dry and dead in the heart of the growing season leading up to late fall.

But now, it’s time for new rains, new plantings, fresh harvests from the woods, and using any excuse possible to get outside to relieve cabin fever. Even though springtime is a few months away, prepare now for the upcoming growing season in your pastures.


Clover Cover

Using nothing more than a handheld seed sower, you can disperse clover (red or white) this time of year and get pretty good germination through frost seeding. The heaving of the soil through thawing and freezing and cattle hoof traffic works the seeds into the ground this time of year. An ideal ratio of clover growth to grasses is 30 percent clover and 70 percent grass.

The clover, through the nitrogen-fixing nodules on the root system, makes nitrogen available to the surrounding plants in a natural, organic form, which is more readily available to companion plant root systems, and this form of nitrogen doesn’t leach or wash away with rains and doesn’t evaporate into the air.


Using a sharp hatchet, chop an angled indention into the tree trunk well into the cambium layer below the bark. Pull the blade back creating a pocket where you can spray a couple of squirts of Remedy brush killer. About four cuts and sprays around the diameter of the tree should be sufficient for a kill.


Hack and Squirt

Hack and squirt may sound like a terrible intestinal infirmity, but it’s actually a great way to kill unwanted trees in the pasture, on the creek banks or areas where unwanted tree growth is crowding available pastureland. Using a sharp hatchet, make a solid downward chop cutting through the bark and through the cambium layer of the tree. Pull the hatchet head back slightly, making a cup-like indention, and spray an herbicide mixture of Remedy brush killer into the indention. Make about four or five of these hack and squirts around the diameter of the trunk to make sure you have a good kill.

Tie flagging around the trees you have treated to keep up with their progress and let people be aware of deadfalls as the tree deteriorates. The only time you don’t want to use the hack and squirt method is during the spring when the sap is flowing strong enough to work the herbicide out of the cuts in the tree. Also, don’t cut and spray when much rain is in the near forecast. The herbicide can be sprayed from a simple pint bottle, and many trees can be treated with one spray bottle of mixture.

A turkey decoy placed in an open field will help bring wary coyotes in for a shot.



Coyote Control

A pack of coyotes can take its toll on deer herds, turkey flocks and spring calves. January is an ideal month to control some of the predators through strategic hunting. First, set up near a location where you have spotted coyotes.

Using a turkey decoy can enhance your chances of getting a shot at these sly stalkers. A remote game caller using hen calls works well. You can also simply call softly from your secluded blind with a mouth call just to attract attention to the decoy. Without some sort of decoy, if the coyote is coming near and sees no target prey, they will often bolt. The decoy gives them a target to approach.


If you have a regular spot in the fence where you have to cross repeatedly, it may well be worth constructing a fence crossing instead of putting in a gate. In areas where I leave the fenced pasture headed for the hunting lands, a fence crossing is an ideal convenience.


Fence Crossing

If you have a spot where the pasture fence meets your hunting lands, you might not want to cross the fence each time snagging on barbed wire; it may not be cost effective to put in a gate that can rattle and clank. Instead, you can install a wooden fence climb-over spot with treated lumber. The one is this photo was constructed by my hunting buddy and neighbor, Clayton Vaughn. He’s a Vietnam vet, a great American and an avid deer hunter.


Late Season Deer

There’s still time to harvest deer meat before the season closes this month. If you can harvest a doe, the meat is often preferred over the buck. The buck has had plenty of extra hormones running through his system during breeding, and he has had the stress of fighting off other bucks and staying on the move. The meat of the doe is often more tender, and it lacks the stronger flavor of the buck. Plus, taking a few does out of the deer population helps keep the buck-to-doe ratio at healthier levels.


Use this January to set positive goals for this New Year, but certainly be expecting God to do new things in your life.


John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.