The other morning, I was sitting on my back porch with a cup of coffee as I always do to start the day. While enjoying time with my dogs, I was pondering what the day had in store, knowing that it would come too soon. We are fortunate to live on 30 acres surrounded by timberland, so we see an abundance of wildlife. Over the past 15 years, we have worked hard to manage the property for quail, from thinning the pines and removing some hardwoods to planting cover crops. As the years pass, you start to take for granted all of the living things that inhabit the property. On that cool morning as I sipped my coffee, I began to really pay attention to every sound that I was hearing.
I decided to take a walk around my little slice of land that morning. As I started down the road headed west, a beautiful bald eagle soared just above the treetops. Our property is less than a mile from the shores of Lake Martin in Alabama where these birds have nested for years. We are fortunate to see them checking out our two ponds occasionally. As I neared the corner of the property to turn south, there were fresh turkey feathers from an early morning dusting. I continued to a freshwater spring that has created a holding pond over the years. I looked down through the crystal-clear water to see several crawdads milling around under the surface.
At that point something caught my eye back to the east. When I looked closer, a six-point white-tailed deer in full velvet raised his head from browsing around the surface water of the artesian spring. He had no idea I was only 30 yards from him while he enjoyed his early morning breakfast. I stood there for a good 10 minutes just watching this animal in his natural environment. Then I was completely startled by the loud snort of a larger 10 point that had been watching me for the last few minutes. As I regained my composure, they both bounded away in their graceful style, not quite knowing what they had seen.
Continuing my trek, I went toward another pond on the south side of the property. A couple of cottontail rabbits ran across the road along with a few gray squirrels. As I topped the hill headed to my pier out over the pond, a blue heron squawked and flew from the shoreline. I took a short rest on the bench overlooking the pond to whistle back and forth with a bobwhite quail. Between whistles, I thought to myself, Wow, I just witnessed more wildlife in a slow, 45-minute stroll than some people do in a lifetime.
I set out 15 years ago to prepare my property for quail. Now it’s a sanctuary for all types of animals and many species of birds. If this can be done on a 30-acre piece of property in such a short time, how much more could be done for conservation if we all just did our part?
As I stood up to get ready for the workday, a bass erupted from beneath the water to grab some breakfast as well. And that is just what each and every one of us needs to do: not sit around and wait for someone to feed our passion for the outdoors. We all need to attack the crucial conservation issues, and sometimes that means taking care of the little slice of property that we have in our backyard. You just might be surprised what you find a few years down the road—something important that will have a lasting effect on sustaining wildlife for the future.
In this issue our personality spotlight is on Carl Allen—a man who certainly lives up to this obligation of doing his part for conservation. Check it out on page 36. Carl: Your generosity and passion for helping others didn’t have to overflow to conservation, but we are all so grateful that it has. Thank you from all of us for taking care of your own slice of life, and then some.