A Useful Book

Many of us are interested in identifying all the plants and animals at Indian Creek, but up until now, it’s been quite an undertaking.  You needed one identification guide for trees, one for grasses, two or three for birds, etc. etc., and then you had to wade through pages and pages to find the ones that could possibly be on the Edwards Plateau.

Well, now a lot of the information you need (and none of the extraneous stuff) is in one handy little book recently published by Texas A & M Press.  A Naturalist’s Guide to the Texas Hill Country by Mark Gustafson has photos and information on everything from lichen to javelinas to cicadas.

The brief descriptions include things like range and helpful identification tips (Examples: a Texas persimmon’s leaves roll under; elbow bush gets its name from branches that come off at right angles), and are given in ordinary language.  Need to know if that oak is a Lacey oak or a blackjack?  Or if painted buntings are here in winter?  You will find that info in this book.

Due to space constraints, not every possible species is shown.  The emphasis in on species that are most likely to be encountered, whether they are common or unique. But still I found lots of species in this book I have not seen in any of my other field guides.  And it is small enough to actually carry around outside with you while you are looking at the plants and animals.

Another nice feature is the last section of the book, which lists public places where Hill Country nature can be seen, places like Inks Lake and Kickapoo Cavern.

I did find one small mistake, where a Lesser Goldfinch is labeled as a House Finch, but the species description matched the photo, so I think most people could figure that one out.

I think it is an extremely useful book, and I look forward to using it to identify all those similar-looking shrubs and cacti we have!


Book: The Whitetail Deer Hunters Almanac by John Weiss

At Half Price books, found an interesting book this week called “The Whitetail Deer Hunters Almanac” by John Weiss.

The book is packed with over 800 no nonsense tips and tricks that will help hunters of all experience levels.

From the book description:
Here are more than 800 tips and tactics that can help any hunter be more successful.
THE WHITETAIL DEER HUNTER’S ALMANAC, is an easy-to-read reference and guide, loaded with helpful illustrations and photographs, that can help any deer hunter¾from beginner to expert¾take a buck this coming season. Written in a simple manner, the ALMANAC is just the type of book that hunters need¾packed with tips and tidbits that the author has picked up over a lifetime of hunting whitetails. Opening-day tactics, tips for hunting in cold weather, how to still hunt effectively, where to place tree-stands, suggestions for black-powder hunting, how to take whitetails in croplands, how to call and rattle¾it’s all here, along with much more.

From the Back Cover

By all accounts, the whitetail deer is the wiliest big game animal in North America, if not the world. To achieve trophy status, a buck has to make it through an adolescence fraught with dangers. He learns to survive any way he can: by becoming a nocturnal creature during hunting seasons, by bedding in areas where he can detect approaching predators and avoid them, by feeding on browse or fruits that give him the most nutrition for maximum growth, and by using all of his senses – in particular, his keen senses of smell and eyesight. Today, there are more than 25 million whitetails in the United States alone. They have proven to be an incredibly adaptable creature, learning how to live quite well in proximity to mankind. Just because there are so many deer doesn’t mean it is easy to hunt them, however. In fact, statistics generally show that only one in ten hunters is successful each year – despite light-gathering optics, rifles with more power and more punch, camouflage clothing that lets a hunter truly blend in with his surroundings – everything that technology has to offer. To take a whitetail deer, and especially a good-sized whitetail buck, a hunter must be woods smart. He has to know his quarry, know its habits, know the terrain it lives in, plus know how to use his weapon of choice efficiently and effectively. This book is aimed at the hunter who wants to succeed consistently. Loaded with an incredible array of tips, tactics, woods craft, and lore, the Almanac will make you a better woodsman, and a better hunter. It will enable you to hunt areas where you have a good chance of seeing deer, where you won’t, as legendary deer hunter Larry Koller observes, be a watcher of barren ground. (71/4 X 91/2, 284 pages, color photos, b&w photos, diagrams)

The book is out of print but you can get used copies on Amazon.com for around $2.