The Wolf’s Den, owned by Kim and Wayne Falcone, is a central Texas Blackland Prairie ranch consisting of high and low fenced tracts. The high fenced portion-approx. 500 acres – has been managed for trophy deer since the fence was put up in 2001. The deer are pure central Texas native whitetails that were on the property the day the fence was closed – no genetic manipulation was undertaken. Numbers of deer were drastically reduced over the first few years, food plots were established (we now have +/- 30 acres in cultivation) and free choice protein feeding, via 5 free standing protein feeders, was instituted. Habitat improvement has been an ongoing project and recently has focused on cedar (ash juniper) reduction and prickly pear control. In 2006, we had a “controlled” burn of about 50% of the ranch and plan to try and burn a portion of the habitat each year.
Commercial hunting began in 2006 and has grown since. We are focusing on harvesting 51/2 year and older trophy deer. We also have a few hunts per year for 31/2-41/2 year old 8 points so we can remove them from the breeding pool. We have made an effort to remove bucks with undesirable horn characteristics and we have left deer with traits such as split brow tines and forked G-2’s and removed deer without brow tines, short G-2’s and longer G-3’s as well as odd number of points, less than 9.
In the years prior to the high fence, the heaviest buck we recorded (we have management records back to the first season on the ranch) weighed 130 pounds (live weight) and was a 130 class B&C buck. In conjunction with TP&W’s MLD program (managed lands for deer), we have controlled our herd at approximately 190 animals max with a buck: doe ratio of 1.2:1. After season-once the bucks and does are harvested, our core numbers are about 150 animals before fawning occurs. Our first three bucks taken in 2007 weighed 185, 200 and a whopping 220 pounds-age and nutrition have made the difference. B&C scores were 148, 155 and 163. We can sustain approximately 6 trophy hunts per year and 4-6 mature 8 point hunts per year and keep our quality of mature bucks at a peak.
We have no plans to high fence our adjoining property as 500 acres is a full time job to keep the habitat up, work the food plots and manage the deer herd. We do our surveys the first week of September and TP&W will then set our harvest recommendations. We sponsor a TP&W youth hunt each year and that helps with doe management and cull buck control.