Hunting has a variety of emotions relating to its mixture of being both a science and an art. Many relate their hunting passion to their career choices. But is passion the true metric for career decision? This week on the Pennsylvania Woodsman we chat with Eric Lance from the HuntScience Podcast. Eric is a biologist that consults with landowners privately and also is an associate biology professor. Eric talks about how his passion for wildlife first drove his interest towards becoming a hunter - not the other way around. Eric's career experience is a great testimony to learning the influence of our strengths and weaknesses before applying them in our own careers.
This allows us to transition into discussing the current projects Eric is working on. Eric is well rounded in land, big game, small game, and waterfowl management. He discusses the nesting success project he is doing with migratory birds and cites numerous examples of sound wildlife management through his own experiences. Understanding carrying capacity, population dynamics, and the habitat requirements of a species is necessary to interpret data and make decisions. It also is essential to understand what the most limiting factors are for a species - such as habitat loss. Tune in to better understand how certain management practices Eric uses have a positive impact on the game species you love!
Mitchell Shirk: [00:00:00] Welcome back again, guys for another episode of the Pennsylvania Woodsman podcast. Thanks again for tuning into this week's episode. I'm your host, Mitchell Shirk. And guys, we are right around the corner for spring gobbler. I'm starting to get itchy. I'm starting to see some pictures of turkeys and seeing birds in my travels.
And like I said, I usually go through this short spell where turkeys consume my mind a little bit. I don't, I remember when I was younger, when I was a kid, I'd go from like the day Flintlock muzzle loader season closed. That was automatically the flip of the switch when I was thinking about turkeys and it that was nonstop up until the start of Turkey season until.
I either a killed one [00:01:00] or b was getting ticked off by turkeys. Cuz there's just something about that bird that just drives me nuts. A bird that I believe is not that smart in the first place, just has really good keen senses and just makes a jerk at me most of the time when I hunt it. But as life has gone on for me and, you get the hustle and bustle of the world.
I don't think about turkeys quite like that anymore, but I am gonna say that I'm starting to get the itch. Next weekend is youth season. Hopefully you guys are able to get your kids out or somebody some youth hunter out there continue the path and tradition of hunting with our youth cuz that's the only way this is gonna maintain and and continue to keep that hunting heritage that we have here in Pennsylvania, which I do believe is important.
So be part in that. And thinking along the lines of youth and keeping them involved in the outdoors. I think that's a great way to transition and talk about this week's episode. This week we are speaking with Eric [00:02:00] Lance. Now Eric is a biologist from Ohio and is also the host of the Hunting Science Podcast.
Now, Eric is a guy who is a wealth of knowledge, and he, I, he talks about his journey of enjoying wildlife, having a desire to pursue wildlife in his career choices through school. And then talks about how he didn't come up in a hunting family and how he related hunting later in life and now has found passion in deer hunting, but really all things wildlife.
And he talks about how, how that mindset has changed over time, how he relates the two. And then of course, we talk about a number of things in the aspects of wildlife management. We talk about his career where he's doing some private consulting as well as teaching at the university. And [00:03:00] he's a professor there and talks about a, a.
Bunch of cool work that he's doing. We talk about waterfowl and some of the projects that he's doing through school, through private clubs and the funding and the, the nesting projects he's doing. Like he, this guy's just a wealth of knowledge. He's very. Balanced. There's, I don't see any sway in one species now.
He's just very well-rounded, very knowledgeable, well-spoken. If you guys haven't checked out the Hunting Science Podcast, I really encourage you guys to do that because it's full of episodes. Some people you've probably seen throughout the hunting industry, and then some people that maybe you never heard of.
But they're all really well versed in specific topics that relate to hunting in the outdoors. And it's very applicable to whatever things you're doing. But we have that science-based conversation and we also related a lot to, as I brought mentioned earlier, youth and what it was like[00:04:00] making those decisions in career, with your career and your interest.
In wildlife. I went down that road. I was a biology major, minored in environmental science. Went through, the thought that I just wanted to be, something in, in wildlife and whitetail management and, time and the peers and. Mentors that I had throughout my life molded me and gave me direction in, into where I am now, which, which is a positive thing.
I'm happy where I'm at, but I realized that what I thought I wanted and what I needed were two different things in my life. And I think we talk about that. So anybody listening to this, if you're young, if you are in high school, if you're in college, or if you're. Or if you're still just curious about career and you're at a position in your life where you want to transition or something along those lines.
I just think this is a great conversation and thought process and how we handle that. And then of course, we are gonna relate some hunting [00:05:00] conversation and back and forth there. So really enjoyed having Eric on the podcast. Be sure to check him out. I did an episode with him the other week and I must say that Eric is a much better guest on my podcast than I was on his, I went off on a couple of tangent rants and we didn't really cover the topics that he wanted to, so I appreciated him having me on the show and apologies to therefore may not going quite the way that he thought it would, but he's a great guy and hopefully we're gonna continue to connect.
And Neil, like I said, make sure you're checking out the things he's doing. Real quick, let's do some housekeeping. Before we get into this episode, the first thing I wanna bring up, guys, if you haven't checked the Pennsylvania Woodsman Podcast out on any social media I really would appreciate if you would check us out and follow us.
Subscribe all the stuff like, comment on the Instagram and Facebook feeds that we have. That's at Pennsylvania Woodsman podcast. And then, wherever you listen into your podcast Spotify, [00:06:00] iTunes, Google Play, leave us a review, give us some stars, give us comments, reviews. It goes a long way, a lot farther than you think.
And I also want to give a shout out to the people and the sponsors that make this show happen. And yes, I did say sponsors. I am excited to announce that we are bringing on a new partner to the show, and that is Hunt Worth Guys. This is a Pennsylvania based hunting apparel and clothing company, and I'm really excited about their patterns.
I'm gonna run back and forth. I'm in interested in the disruption and the Tarin patterns. The disruption is their digital pattern. Their Tarin is their newest. Both of them fit really well in the landscape here in Pennsylvania to keeping you hidden, but both look really cool. The thing I like about Hunt Worth clothing is it's targeted for specific elements.
You can get a couple articles of clothing that have the liners you need to target elements that will cut down on the [00:07:00] bulk and still keep you comfort. For whatever conditions that we have here throughout the state and throughout your hunting adventures. So check out, hunt worth. And last I wanna mention Radix guys, their trail cameras, in my opinion, are competitive.
No matter how you look at it. They're cell cameras, the MCO cell camera, or the gen series conventional cameras. Both of them have top end image quality and it's hard to beat their prices. The other thing I like too is the stick and pick camera mounts and accessories. The I find this all the time, like you can't f always find, like I'm always looking for a little block of wood or a stick or something to, to.
Angle my camera, and that's fine. Honestly, that works and it's cheaper. But sometimes you run into a situation where maybe you've got like one tree that works in this specific fence line or something, and it's just a little bit easier if you've got a mount to screw it in and you can adjust it a lot quicker and more efficiently.
It's a lot more solid. You don't have to worry about [00:08:00] something knocking out at block. So guys, check out Radis Trail cameras and the accessories and all the other things that Radix has to offer. Let's get to this episode tonight with us on the show. Have a guest, Eric Lance biologist from Ohio.
Eric, thanks for thanks for taking the time to come on the
Eric Lance: show. Hey Mitch, thanks for having me and it's
Mitchell Shirk: a pleasure. Absolutely. So you reached out, we were connecting back and forth through Instagram and you we were talking about our podcasting that we got going on. You started the Hunting Science Podcast.
Tell us a little bit about
Eric Lance: that. Yeah the Hunt Science podcast was something that I wanted to do over the past couple years. And, just like a lot of people that drive for a living, as a biologist, as a consultant, I'm driving all over to state of Ohio, Indiana, Penn not Pennsylvania as much, West Virginia, Michigan.
I do a lot of work all over. Listen to all these podcasts. I'm like, man and also being an educator at the university for another thing that I do I'm like, man this is interesting. I like the [00:09:00] educator. I like to talk, and doing a podcast just seems fun, it's one of those things that, to me, like all ideas that we have is just that just seems fun. So I wanted to do it, and I took a little bit longer to really think about it, how I wanted to do it, what my goals were, and, finally did it. I wanted to, focus and not focus, I guess is a better way to say on one particular species, because as a biologist, I don't focus on one species.
Going through as an educator, bringing guests on that I know, industry spec experts that I know in different fields, for different species and just come on and be that middle ground between what's going on, realistically on the ground that we're seeing in research and kind of conveying that to the hunters and the non-scientific community just in a, educative and, entertaining, format.
That, that's really as, as easy as I can break it. Rather than focus on one thing, I wanna be a diversity show to show a lot of different species, talk a lot about different topics that, will reach a lot of hunters like
Mitchell Shirk: us. Yeah, and I can appreciate that too, because one of the biggest things that we need in any given way, shape, or form, [00:10:00] when it comes to making decisions on wildlife and quality habitat, like we, we need public support because, folks like yourself that are doing the work in the trenches and out there and have that knowledge, if there's a lack of understanding from our general population that's, In favor or against certain things.
Education is the only thing that's gonna sway the right decisions when it comes to putting things into law, when it comes to, regulations and hunting or whatever it is. So it's really important and I think we need more of that quality information, so I can appreciate, you were we were talking earlier, you dabble in a bunch of different things.
L I didn't do a very good job of introducing you other than the biologist with the Hunt Science podcast. I'd really our listeners to just get a better idea of who you are and what you do. Give us a little bit of your background and lead into what you're doing today.
Eric Lance: Okay. Yeah, no problem. Like you said, I'm an Ohio resident. I was born and raised in northeast Ohio. Lifelong small town guy. I wanna say the population of my hometown probably, float [00:11:00] between four or 5,000 people, my whole life. So not very big. Any stretch of the imagination.
I grew up I was always fascinated with wildlife, outdoors animals. I, I don't know how old you are, Mitch. I'm almost 40 39 actually. But I remember, the old Marty Stauffer, wild America Days, my dad and my dad was into it as well, and we would watch those things before church and I just loved those documentaries.
They would excuse me. Sorry about that. They would, I had subscription to zoo books. I would go to the library and I just, I was fascinated with those kind of things in school. Like most kids I was an athlete, my dad was a really good athlete. I was a three sport athlete, played college baseball.
I was an athlete, that was my thing. I did not grow up in a hunting fan, I had an uncle that hunted, The relationship wasn't anything there to where I would even remotely, ask hey, taking hunting, that type of thing. And honestly, it wasn't even really a thought in my head, back then, now I did do a lot of fishing.
My, my grandparents lived in the campground for our church, and they were one of the only houses [00:12:00] actually out there. So me and my cousins who were like my brothers, I didn't have a brothers I had of a sister who's nine years older than me. So growing up I was pretty much, when I was nine years old, she's outta the house.
I was pretty much an only child if you wanna look at it that way. But my cousins were like my brothers, and we would go out there and catch, go fishing, catch turtles, catch snakes, all those different types of things. So always drawn to the outdoors. Go to college, biology, was one of the things I wanted to do.
And I really, again, still wasn't really into hunting. I had a roommate of mine that also was a baseball player, a friend of mine. Big hunter, and his, he was a conservation major and I was a biology major. And it's funny, I'm laughing a little bit because the thing was I wanted to go into veterinary medicine.
I wanted to, go work as a vet. And then he was like, man, I'm gonna go work for Whitetails. I'm gonna work with Whitetails Unlimited, I'm gonna be a biologist, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So we go pursue our, paths and all of a sudden, I ended up transferring out of that school, went to a different school, finished to finish my undergrad closer to home cuz I got hurt in baseball and just was done with it.
But it was funny because he [00:13:00] did the, he got his degree in conservation. I lost track with him a little bit, but followed him on social media like we all do with people, that we were friends with. And he ended up working for the Smithsonian thing a little bit, but then I somehow now he's a financial advisor, but anyway, and here I am the wildlife biologist, but I go there because he was a big hunter. Still is, I see a lot of his post. But he used to take me out to look at, trail cameras, to look at tree stands and we would just talk about it some more. It wasn't until I came back closer to home.
To finish out my undergrad, that I got a kind of a new group of friends, from the university and outdoorsmen talking about hunting. I said, Hey, I wanna try this man. So I, I got into hunting, that way. And as a biologist, taking those classes not a biologist, but taking those classes and learning about conservation and how hunting's role, affects that.
I just got hooked, on it. And the first time I got into a stand and the first time I, harvested a deer like that, I was absolutely hooked, from then on that paved my path, really to the day. That's in a nutshell, I didn't have the traditional growing up, in a [00:14:00] hunting family like that, but the path got me here
Mitchell Shirk: anyway yeah.
But that path that's an important path because like, when I think back on my path and anybody who's listening to this that's younger and doing career stuff, like I, when I was, 16, 17, 18 years old, going to make those decisions that were life-altering at that point of, what do you want to do when you wanna go to college for the only thing that I knew was I played sports at that time, and my favorite thing in the whole world was whitetail deer and deer hunting.
And I wanted to do everything I possibly could. So to me it's I just ma it just makes sense to, to. Go in the biology route. I was following a lot of really cool people like Dr. Grant Woods and growing deer was big at that time, and that's the same time that Midwest Whitetail was going on.
So you had a hunting base show that was really popular. You had a very science and hunting. Show oriented that was just, had all of my attention at that time and I loved it. And just thought, yeah, being a biologist, that's exactly what I want to do. And, I still hold near and dear to the [00:15:00] sciences.
But I, I think God steered me in the way that I was supposed to go and use my tools because I, I think having the passion as a deer hunter and then branching into, the biology side of the things it wasn't gonna work for me. My mind doesn't work to that degree where somebody like yourself where you were just infatuated with wildlife and you understand the greater good of what we're trying to do with population dynamics and caring capacity and things like that.
And then you took into the hunting, like you, you just put the icing on top of the cake. And I think that's really important. Like for anybody that's making those decisions in life, make sure you under you have your priorities in line with that. And it's so hard for anybody that's young, it really is.
I still can't believe that, like I had to make those decisions when I was 17 years old,
Eric Lance: oh, absolutely. Like I said, teaching the university I see the next generation that's coming out, and it's the same thing. They come to me with, aspirations.
They're graduating with conservation degrees. Cause I get them into later on, courses. I teach junior, senior level courses, so conservation degrees, biology [00:16:00] degrees, environmental science degrees, tho those are the kids I'm getting. And because I spent so long as a consultant, not only with my own business, but prior to that, working for engineering companies, working for environmental consulting companies.
I've done so many different things that, you know when the students come to me like, here's sounds like what, this is what you want to do. That type of. Here's some things that can steer you in the right direction. Hey, maybe you know, you, you like the environmental health and safety route.
Okay, awesome. And then people, they'll come to me and say, oh, I wanna be, I wanna go work, I'm gonna get a conservation degree and go work in conservation. You don't really know what that means yet, so let's talk about it. So a lot of my courses, we break that down because just like you said, making those decisions when we're that young, it's like you, you can make a wrong decision, type of thing.
So for me, before they graduate, hey, let's, we look at job descriptions in the field, okay, what does it actually mean when you know this posting says you're gonna be a wildlife biologist. And then you read it. Then the description talks about nothing but, army Corps permitting and wetland studies and stream studies.
And it's no, [00:17:00] they're putting this on here because you might be doing like a due diligence for threatened endangered species, looking up, bats and things like that, that are endangered in the habitat. And coordinating those things. I'm like, so they're just, they're trying to bring people, to the job posting and try to get as many candidates as they can.
They're not necessarily telling you, anything false, but they're misleading you a little bit. So we go down and we talk about those different types of job descriptions and look at those because I've, been there, I've been on the hiring side, type of thing. I don't do that kind of thing, but, I've seen those and can read a job description, excuse me.
And pretty much tell a student like, this is more than likely what you're gonna do, type of thing. So this is what you wanna look for. This is what you want to not look for. If in turn that's what you wanna do.
Mitchell Shirk: Tell me a little bit more about teaching at the university. How'd you get into that?
Eric Lance: Honestly, it wasn't something I was really looking to do. So a mentor of mine who was a very influential professor that I had when I was an undergrad. Retired, basically he was a li he had been at the university for I think like 30 years. And he [00:18:00] was a phenomenal guy.
So the university that I went to Kent State University. Ken is, does not have a wildlife program. They have, biology degree, they're very strong, and the hardcore biology that I talked, I equated to, you carry cellular biology, microbiology, cellular physiology, like reproductive biology, like all those different, hardcore biology that give people headaches, right?
They're very strong in that. And they don't have a wildlife degree like Ohio State does, for instance, in Ohio. So for me, when I did it, I tailored my degree as best I could with electives going through there. So the reason why I bring it up is because it got me into Mr. Ross's classes and Mr.
Ross was a retired NRCS guy, the National Resource Conservation Service. And he was a forester, had a lot of in experience with wildlife. And he taught wildlife resources, he taught forestry, he taught soils, he taught, those classes. And I'm like, oh my God, these classes are, this is what I, this is what I like.
And at that time, I had made that decision. [00:19:00] So fast forward a few years as he retires, they were looking for someone to fill a spot. He brings my. Because I had mentioned a little bit that I was interested in maybe teaching a class or two, just to see what it was like. So long story short, got a phone call and next thing I know, I've been teaching there for about eight six years, or so somewhere, give or take somewhere around.
I have to look that up. But yeah, I pretty much took over his courses and like I said, wildlife resources, conservation of natural resources, forestry, I teach a soils class. Every once in a while I teach a, beginner's, biology class, for non-majors or basically where they need me.
I'm not a full-time professor. I'm not an associate faculty or any or tenured or anything like that. I'm a, I'm an adjunct, professor, but I teach j i, I teach enough classes. At the highest point before they would make me full-time. So they use me as much as they can, type of thing because of my professional experience in the field.
And also, with my experience as a biologist and, all the certifications and all the crap you get, with it. So I'm [00:20:00] not very traditional as far as the path that most professors come into that having, which they like, because, not everyone with a biology degree is gonna go to medical school.
They're gonna go work as a consultant or something like that. And they need to understand what that actually is. That's where I commit.
Mitchell Shirk: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So would you consider yourself more of a generalist when it comes to a lot of sciences? Do you have anything that you'd like to specialize in more so than another?
Like how would you describe that? Because that's like when we talk about, wildlife management, especially if you just narrow it into game species, that's still
Eric Lance: very broad. Yeah, so I've had this conversation with other our people. I, the last time I remember having it was with Matt Ross over at the National Deer Association.
So the way I looked at this, so to, to answer the first part of your question, I would say that when I was in school, I really enjoyed anatomy and physiology. That was my thing. Now, at the time I wanted to be, really, pursue veterinary medicine. I did that for a while. But I really [00:21:00] enjoyed anatomy and physiology and I think a lot of it had to do just, it was just fascinating to me and it's something that you could easily relate to what we do.
And so that was always interesting to me. The chemistry, not so much, but anatomy, physiology was really where I spec, I had major in. But when you start, microbiology and things like that we're also important. But, fast forward to being a wildlife biologist. What does that actually mean, like being a wildlife ecologist.
And I broke this down with Matt because to me, as a wildlife biologist or ecologist it's, to me, it's one of the harder ones to do. And sometimes people raise their eye and I said let me break it down this way. Let's say we're talking about whitetail deer. Okay. So if we're talking about whitetail deer, just like you said, you brought up population dynamics.
Okay. I have to understand how the population itself works. How does population, how does a population grow? How does a population decline? What are the reasons? We've got, natural death. We've got, other types of mortality that can cause, [00:22:00] fluctuations in the rise, in the lowering of the population, right?
We. How do I model that population? What kind of, curves and things like that do I see? So you have large scale as a wildlife biologist. You have to understand the dynamics of the species that you're managing from the large scale dynamics. But now you take that whitetail and now what do I do with the individual?
The individual. I have to understand how that organism is actually going to grow, right? Because everything, every species of wildlife needs three things. How do I find food? How do I not become food, and how do I make a copy of myself? So I have to understand that deer is looking for food, and if it's looking for food, I have to know what it eats, right?
I have to know the plants that it's eating. I have to know what the crude protein levels are and how that influences the growth in the whitetail. I have to understand what all the other things do. I have to understand what the plant is, where does it grow? How do I grow that plant? How do I get rid of plants that I don't want?
So there's [00:23:00] botany, there's all these different types of things. For me, wildlife science encompasses a very large scale of your traditional biological subsets that all come together into one, because not only now that now you're talking about breeding right. How does, you know the metatarsal gland get utilized right in, in scraping activity, right?
Type of thing. What is it, how is the bacteria, working in a relationship to, to help with that? How does, antlers grow, right? All these different types of things. When you start looking at the internal structures of the species, how is it metabolizing food?
How is it getting food? How is it reproducing all these things at the individual level as well as the large scale, macro scale that we would call it. So there's a lot of information, not only at the large scale, the macro scale of the population, but also down to the individual as well, that type of thing.
So for me, That was one of the things that I focused and honed in on when I was going through school, because I under, I understood that. I'm like, listen, [00:24:00] I've spent a lot of time training for vet school, the hard score, the hardcore biology, microbiology, biochemistry, those types of things.
So now when I look at how a deer metabolizes something I think about it a little bit differently rather than I don't wanna say you put numbers out there or anything like that, but most, don't think that way. They just look at it from the large scale. Looking at it now down to the individual, for sure.
But the connection is usually not made at such an early stage in the development of your professional career on the academic side, if that makes any sense. So that's kinda what I would say my specialization was the anatomy and physiology, and then moving into profess. I would say, habitat, design restoration.
I really enjoy. I've done a lot of restoration work with wetlands and streams through my environmental permitting professional career. And then you start doing timber stain improvements and working with other species of wildlife. I just really enjoy being outside and actually doing that stuff at the ground level.
So for me, that's what I've gravitated towards more so as far as a specialty. [00:25:00]
Mitchell Shirk: Yeah, and that's a really important topic and I think that transitions really well. Some of the thought, some of the things I wanted to pick your brain on. So I've talked about this with other, professional wildlife consultants, biologists of, other professionals in the industry.
And there's a lot of different schools of thought as far as repairing habitat. Man has had such a great impact on the entire landscape and there's different levels of restoration needed. Just a general sense, and I bring me into some of the next question, but just in a gen general sense, in the wetland restoration, a lot of the waterfowl work that you do have, has a lot of that habitat been degraded to the point that we are talking about major series of events and a long term plan to rejuvenate things back to a stable state or and I guess I say that not just in water but a lot of the properties that you work on, yet varying levels of [00:26:00] degradation across the landscape.
What are your thoughts on some of the places that you've got to work on? And I'd say that just cuz I was curious from a wetland, just because my travels have taken me to so many different situations that it's overwhelming. So somebody with your mind, I'd be interested in your thoughts.
Eric Lance: Yeah. So the whole wetland thing. The wetland degradation thing, yes, absolutely. Wetlands are degrading at an astonishing rate across the country. There is a lot of programs out there that are, ducks Unlimited is doing a great job with that. And a lot of the Army Corps permitting and things like that, that I do they There's a lot of programs out there, there's a lot of permit, permitting requirements and things like that because of wetland protection.
So if you're looking at, my clients and things like that for utilities, commercial developers, real estate developers, wetlands are a protected resource. Okay? So to do any work, within them or around them has to be basically permitted, right? You need to notify of what's going on.
So that's the, on the kind of the regulatory side. There's a lot [00:27:00] of protective measures out there for that. If you damage wetlands, there's mitigation protocols and things like that you have to do for restoration. We could spend an absorbent amount of time on that. So I'll just leave that there.
So yes, from there, there is you. Private land ownership, agriculture, things like that have significantly reduced, reduction habitat areas. And in a whole, like I said they're degrading they're being drastically reduced, because of urban sprawl, because of, the needs of people, clearing forest and Timberlands, putting agricul agricultural row crops in building cities.
You name it, and especially if you go back and I don't know how far, the seventies and the eighties and those times where people just built into wetland without a new regard, now talking a little bit about, what actually is a wetland. A lot of people don't realize that a wetland does not have to have visible water.
Okay. It does not have to have that. So when you're talking, you brought up waterfowl. So you know, we want to have [00:28:00] water, right? Because if you're talking about, the. Two different types, categories of ducks. The dabbling ducks are the puddle ducks and the diving ducks. Diving ducks are req, they want deeper water, right?
So you're really talking about, lakes, deeper ponds, things like that. So we'll shift, oh not to say you won't see 'em on those other areas, but shifting in the focus more towards, puddle ducks, dabbling ducks. They're called puddle ducks because, they like shallow areas of water.
Like literally, a semi flooded, ag field. I'm sure in your line of work you've seen a flooded, field after a big rain. Absolutely. Some ducks in there, type of thing. Primarily eating vegetation, small macroinvertebrates, insects, things like nothing.
Things that you would find, in those areas. So those shallow water areas like that are really beneficial for dabbling ducks. That's what they want. Anything wadeable, right? Obviously in the, in a corn field or something like that's shin high. That's obviously wadeable, right?
Our henhouse programs that we're doing, were chest, high water, it's wadeable, right? And [00:29:00] that's where we see the highest, kind of prevalence, of those ducks. So that's what we're trying to, encourage, right? And we're trying to encourage, landowners to manage those areas.
So I'll use, I know you do a lot with agriculture, so when I talk with farmers, I say, Hey, Let's look at, and you could probably speak more to this than I can cuz you consult with those more than I do. But I look at a decreased production area and if I go out here, this is a wetland right.
That you're planting in. And there's a reason why it's not growing there. Because when you look at a wetland, like I said, does not have to have standing water all the time. Now. Now generally speaking, a wetland is an area that is saturated, that has, a saturated table for 70% of the growing year.
And what happens in there is you're gonna have a fluctuation of water levels in the soil that's gonna cause a change in the aerobic condition. So you're gonna have anaerobic and aerobic conditions exposing the iron and other things like that in the soil that's gonna cause a chemical change just like the rusting on your car.
[00:30:00] Okay? That's called a red, a redoximorphic reaction that we're starting to see. But what we're getting at is the soil chemistry is changing. Okay. And when the soil chemistry changes the plant life around that's inhabiting and utilizing that soil is also going to change, and it's going to shift into species that are more favorable in wet saturated conditions.
So when we go out and look at a wetland, it doesn't always, it may not have water right there. The water's, more of a clay type of soil to where it's holding the water at the the sub soil level. But it's not visible on the surface. But when I look at it, I see changes in vegetation.
Okay. And we're talking about waterfowl. So we're looking at, things like canary reed, canary grass, around a wetland area that's, good nesting habitat on the ground for, mallards, for instance. So we're looking at a hydrolytic change in the vegetation that we're seeing in the landscape, as well as a change in the soil.
And we're seeing presence of hydrology or water. These are wetland systems. Now you can have different categories of that [00:31:00] category one, category two, category three being a higher quality wetland. So you start having these and now you start getting degradation. Most of the wetlands that I come across at work and things like that, and probably most of the ones that you see are lower quality category one wetland systems.
So they're not very conducive for habitat. You're not gonna find a whole lot of species U species utilization in those areas. And because of that, they are a lower score. Now, when you start looking at higher grade wetlands, like category two, high score twos and definitely threes, those are the areas that we're really targeting for species of waterfowl, especially ones that are in heavy migrations that we're seeing now.
Here we are mid-March, we're starting to see peak migration coming from the south, moving north, right? They utilize wetland areas along their flyways, okay. In order to take rest stops and feed and things like that. So if you're having a massive reduction and those sensitive areas and sensitive both from a resource side, but [00:32:00] also from a habitat side that's why we're seeing a reduction in, in, in waterfowl populations because we're losing these sense these highly, needed areas of habitat that's also not only limiting food resources, but also nesting resources.
And the loss of nesting resources is a very big problem, with waterfowl population. It's a long way to answer your question but, wetlands are in trouble. And that's why there's so many much effort on restoring them. Like I said, conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited are doing a great job.
There's been a lot of updates and things that anybody on LinkedIn you can follow. Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl and all these conservation. They're doing great things as far as that goes. I know states as well, like Ohio has oh two Ohio program that does a lot of education and focus around wetland restoration and things like that.
And they're actually in the process of revamping that program to really hit wetlands a lot harder, and things like that. So there are a lot of things going [00:33:00] on both at the state and nonprofit levels, that are trying to help offset that.
Mitchell Shirk: Talk a little bit more about the specifics of rejuvenating that and the work and the data that you would collect in any sense.
I think about probably one of the things that gets the biggest press right now when we're talking about l decrease in populations. Turkey's always coming to my mind and, there's a host of things out there that people like talk about of why that is, we have a reduction in brood habitat.
The habitat has become more segmented across the landscape, which has allowed, easier maneuverability for predators. We have a higher percentage of predators. So you've got all those things, agriculture. Definitely has an impact on Turkey species and such like that, the seasonal aspects are gonna happen too.
We've got things like wet springs having an impact on that. And not to mention I'm dealing right now in the agricultural world with avian influenza having an impact on production [00:34:00] agricultural birds, but it's not immune to affecting wild, populations, including turkeys. So there's a lot of things out there that, people point fingers to.
And I just want the work that you do and your experience, like what are some of your opinions, along those topics, but into the waterfowl side of things and like the data and work that you're doing to try. Steer, steer us back on track, so to speak.
Eric Lance: So it's a double-edged sword with that, if you looking at an upland species like turkeys, okay, you can take areas of habitat and a lot more easily influence that habitat to better provide support for upland game burbs, like wild Turkey, pheasant, coil, things like that. The problem that you run into with waterfowl is that if you have a wetland area, for instance, it's very hard to create another wetland.
You can do it. We do it with restoration, but it takes a lot of finances because [00:35:00] of excavations and permits and things like that. Okay, so let's limit this because we could go all day on that. Could you build a wetland on your property? Absolutely. They build, wetlands all the time, but it also comes with a big price tag.
On the equipment side, the manpower side, that type of thing. Can it be done? Yes. Now I'm just thinking about the properties that we're doing our research study on, and I look at all the waters that we're using. Now, we're limited that we don't have an abundant water source. If I've got a two acre pond, I've got a two acre pond to deal with.
Okay. If I'm looking at a 300, acre timber stand, I've got 300 acres to deal with, and I can build Turkey habitat a lot easier, and I can even build Turkey habitat outside that 300 timber, that 300 acres of timber utilizing ag fields and grasslands, early successional areas, whatever. So I can grow my space, my real estate booker, as far as that goes.
Waterfowl, it's a hard thing to do [00:36:00] because again, I can't just magically put more water there. Okay, so that's the first thing to realize. So if you have water on your property the question is, how do I make it better for ducks? So how do I influence this to be more conducive for water fo the first thing you need to do, just like anything, is establish your goal.
What is it you're actually managing for, are you actually managing for turkeys in your timber stand? Or you want to do whitetail and turkeys? There's a difference, right? A lot of the management that you do is similar, but there's a varying differences as well. With waterfowl, it's the same thing.
Are you looking at, an upland nesting species like, like a mallard, or are you looking at a cavity nesting species like a wood duck, right? So understanding, hey what are my actual goals as far as the species that I'm managing for? Now, those two species I bring up, because most people are readily familiar with seeing some of the efforts, right?
So I have water, [00:37:00] and it all depends on how in depth you want to go into this. Because I can go into the water and say, okay, I'm gonna pay someone to come in here and shock this, right? I wanna know what I have in this water as far as fish species at different, species identification, growth stages.
The list goes on, okay? The biological data that we could get at the life that's in that water resource. Okay? So that's the first thing you could do if you wanna do that, most people aren't, because again, it's expensive, right? It's expensive to hire someone to come out in electroshock and things like that.
So the next question is, what can I do to get the most bang for my buck to help waterfowl populations on my property, and even in the area. It, we talked earlier about a reduction in nesting success, right? That is a huge problem in waterfowl populations because of a lot of reasons. Manmade, the list goes on.
Okay. Predators are in there, but that's mainly due to loss of habitat type of thing. [00:38:00] So I probably just stirred a lot of ruffled, a lot of, no pun intent, feathers. And we can talk about the predator thing for sure, but the number one thing I tell people from waterfowl is if you can increase nesting habitat, that is the most bang for your buck that you can do on your property with the least amount of financial
Mitchell Shirk: input.
And I think that kind of ties in really well to the work you're doing right now. Talk a little bit about that nesting project that you were talking about with me offline. Yeah. So
Eric Lance: we ha So when I say. Fairly recently, I've gotten more involved with the Delta Waterfowl, my local chapter, and Delta is a major wa waterfowl conservation nonprofit organization.
They are the Duck Hunters organization. They are staffed by, the top, some of the top waterfowl researchers and biologists in, in the world. They're phenomenal. They have been looking at this issue for a long time, right? And utilizing [00:39:00] things like mallard, headhouse nesting structures and things like that.
The programs have been going on, for quite some time. So this isn't a new thing that we're doing. Joining the branch our chairman is very, he's an older guy, old Water Fowler, and he loves, doing this henhouse, nesting, project. So when I joined, I said, okay. I said, You know what, tell me more about this.
I knew what they are, tell me what all you got going on, type of thing. And we were talking for a while and I said, that's awesome. He's putting 30 of these things out in just this little given area. So a lot, he's doing a lot of work, he's got some help, but he's doing a lot of it, with little, consistent help.
But like I said others have, definitely helped. So I said, what kind of data are you getting off of this? And he's not a whole lot. He's taking notes. He's got very good notes on, the clutch size and this hes, or this nest and this, and this. So he's got some data, but I was like, from the biological standpoint, not you're leaving a lot on the table.
So I got a hold [00:40:00] of, a colleague of mine at the university and we teamed up and we're doing a research project, utiliz. These mallard henhouse nesting structures, which I'm just gonna call nesting structures. Something on that. And the purpose of that is to provide increased nesting opportunities for, resident mallard populations in areas that generally have very poor nesting habitat available.
And some of this is even on, some of the wildlife management areas, because the manpower's not there, the resources are limited. Things don't get managed as often as they should. So we are out there putting these structures out in hopes to increase the duck population of mallards, in these areas.
And people like Eric, there's mallards everywhere. Yeah, you're right. The species is not a threatened species, is not endangered by any stretch of the imagination. But if you look since I believe 2019, I want to say 2019 or 16, I can't remember that. Like [00:41:00] Ducks Unlimited, calculated a 23% reduction in the population.
Wow. Since then, and so that is almost entire, a very large part of that is tied to nesting, decrease success. Because you're not having the habitat that's available. So we are taking artificial nesting structures, okay. We're, utilizing these things and we're putting, canary grass and hay and things like that in there.
And we're providing elevated nesting structures out on the water, above the water to give them more ample and more successful areas to drastically reduce predatory impacts. And give them areas out of the elements and, really hope that they're going to flourish in these areas with their clutches and their brews.
And we're seeing that. Ever since the Headhouse structures have been implemented, I wanna say it's a pretty consistent increase in nesting success, anywhere from 60 to 80%. So if I can tell you that I can give you a practice that will consistently give you an increase in your [00:42:00] populations on your property from 60 to 80%, that's, that's the name of the game, right?
I mean it absolutely, it's something I can, we can build a, we can build a nesting structure for about 75 bucks Now, depending on how you build it, and I mean it could be 70 to a hundred bucks is the number that we come out with. It's not expensive, it's not chmp change either.
And you got 30 of these things, out there and stuff like that. But we look at the 30 that we've got out, we've got mul I, I don't have the data with me, but we've got multiple nests with clutches of 10 plus. We've got incubating heads currently as we. We have we're in the process of getting the thermal drones out to start looking for, upland nesting areas that we can get tagged into the survey and get trail cameras on as well, like we have on the other nesting structures.
But the idea is that we're taking a practice that is seemingly, very cost efficient. It's very easy to incorporate and it's gonna provide a massive amount of success in increasing those nesting opportunities Now, doesn't [00:43:00] guarantee, full brood success, but it's increasing the nesting percent success from 60 to 80%.
Now, hatchability rates. Bred success. That's a little bit different of a conversation that we're also looking at on future aspects of this project. Right now we're getting it set up and getting the parameters, dialed in. Yeah. You gotta
Mitchell Shirk: start somewhere. That's really cool.
With that hard stuff. I wanna go back in our conversation a little bit. So you were talking about earlier, we were talking about programs that you can enroll, like depending on what your goals are as a landowner and a property owner, there are tons of programs out there that you can do.
The example I'm gonna give, talk about, you brought up production agriculture and taking less productive areas out and putting them into something. One thing that I think gets really underutilized and people don't know about this is everybody thinks of the CRP program for whole fields, but there's border programs for those less productive field borders.
Put them into warm season or cool season things. And there's a, [00:44:00] there's, that's just one example of so many opportunities to enhance the quality of your property. Cater to your goals. I think the biggest thing that people get hung up on it's twofold. Number one is a lack of knowledge of what is out there and available to you as a landowner through things like NRCS or stuff like that.
And then also there's always a hiccup with certain people of allowing any kind of government program to have any oversight on your property. And also like the paperwork and. The hula hoops you gotta go to get funding and stuff like that. They're great opportunities, but I think because of those two things it, it holds people up.
Like in your line of work that you get to, to do with, as as a consultant, what's your take on that and what things are people missing out or might not know
Eric Lance: about? You mentioned crp. C CRP is an absolute huge one because, we're talking about a little bit about waterfowl, but you look at upland [00:45:00] gamers, a as in general, especially here in Ohio, pheasants and things like that.
And, turkeys, the benefit, of upland gamer, habitat management with c R P is staggering, right? So the fact that people don't enroll or even attempt to enroll in that is just it's absolutely mind boggling to me. And I'm trying to. There is, I can't remember the name of the program, but there's even like wetland programs.
Wetland easement programs and things like that you can enroll into. And I don't do a whole lot with that stuff. When people want to get enrolled with that, I turn them I send them over to the nrcs, the local office, because that's what those guys do. They help you and there's rule there.
There's, requirements and things like that I'm like, okay, you're gonna do this. That's fine. The thing that gets most of my clients, we, we just manage it, and you, you deal with agriculture and stuff, but for me, like I'll talk to these farmers, I'm like, why are, why are you just, you say you want to manage and have better habitat.
Why don't you come off the drip line of your timber, like 50 feet, like nothing crazy 50 [00:46:00] feet. You got this 90 degree hard edge between your timber stand and your monocrop ag. Like it's not a good edge. It's 70 or 80% creatures utilize the edge. And a hard edge is not good.
So if you come off a drip line, 50 feet, it's let's be real. What, how much of a reduction in your harvest are you actually having? Look at the growth. I'm looking over at a corn stock. It's, two and a half feet tall. Like you're not getting much of that. Okay. Now there a lot a l, a lot of little bit adds up.
Okay? So I don't want to discard that, but that's why there's C r P program because I can take those areas that are very low in production on the crop side, and we can incorporate successful management strategies. In the form of grass plantings, transitional buffer strips, things like the edge feathering, all different types of things that we can incorporate to increase that benefit of that particular area across your landscape.
That you are, and guess what? You get paid for it. They pay [00:47:00] you for the loss of the crop. So it's it's a win-win. You're getting paid to do a management practice that's gonna benefit the species that you said you are interested in hunting and building, more successful strategies for your property on it, it's a win-win.
And like you said, some people are like, I don't want the government helping me. It's okay now you're just being silly.
Mitchell Shirk: Yeah, agreed. The. One, one area that we run into in the eastern part of the country is we're heavy in animal ag. And I think the disconnect between that versus the Midwest, and you look at our farming practices we are in such a dire need of producing enough feed.
On a farm, if it's a dairy farm, a beef farm, a pig farm, whatever, that will literally farm absolutely any nook and cranny that we can in order to get enough food. Now, you and I know if we run the numbers, and I've seen this on so many of the yield data that I've been able to run in precision [00:48:00] ag platforms and do yield analysis, which is really cool.
And it's really informative when you can put hard numbers to show that it's not profitable. But when you don't have that data and you and I are just going off of our, our educated assumptions, looking at a field, no understanding productivity of soils and stuff like that, even though they're gaining feed or crap off of an area that's not as productive, it's probably not paying them that you're better off doing that.
And it's one of the things that, it's really important for folks like you and I to try to communicate in a very non-intrusive way because it's gonna benefit everybody in the long run. It's just very hard to. Break the norm, I guess is what I'd call it. Yeah.
Eric Lance: It's definitely a cultural thing.
You talk about, animal production. How many of your clients and things like that actually utilize like range land, type of strategies and really go into, rotational practices, grassland management practices, producing better forage opportunities for their livestock.
Things like that. Most, the ones around me, I can't really think of any now, I'm not [00:49:00] unplugged, with a lot of these growers. But, from what I see in these fields going across massive, agricultural areas with utility companies that I work with, it's all, and just all this, stuff.
They're not managing it, is what I'm getting at. So they're not going in there and planting higher quality areas of native warm season grasses for, hay production. Or anything like that. And again, that's one of those things that depending on the size it can get expensive, there's limitations for everybody, but there's also programs out there, again, the c r P programs and stuff like that, that can help offset some of those things, providing the benefit. And that's the double-edged sword that we play as consultants. And that's why in the beginning I say, okay, what are your goals?
And they need to be realistic, right? You have to tell me that your primary goal is feeding your your cattle, right? Okay, that's fine, because I need to take that into consideration. What I'm making a management plan for your property. It's you know what, maybe, okay, what's your next step I should kinda say is what [00:50:00] is the limitations that you have?
What's your budget? What are you looking to do? And it's something to where say, Hey, you know what? We might be better off just doing some timber standard. You got, 20 acres right here of timber, 30 acres of timber. Let's go small, right? Let's get some chainsaws out with some herbicides, and let's go out here and do some timber stain work and start there.
Let's start there. Let's get that going. Okay. And then let's start looking into maybe some C R P programs to look at transitional edge edges and buffer strips. Maybe now, you know what, we've got all this agricultural, livestock land. Let's bring someone also on that specializes in that.
Let's talk about rotational grazing. And they, and my clients have educated me on that, more so I don't deal a whole lot with that. But we start talking about, okay, rotational grazings, we start looking at native warms and grasses and grass land management and that kind of thing that's gonna influence the resident populations of turkeys other up and game birds, other species deer are gonna utilize, it's gonna be cascading, [00:51:00] event, through the trophic system.
So it's gonna be a good positive thing, but people have to be very realistic with their goals. Hey, I'm having a hard time feeding my, my, my cattle. I gotta grow everything I can in corn. Okay, that's fine. Or whatever, a grain, whatever grain that they're particularly focused on. Just understand what your goals actually are.
If you are talking to a consultant or someone like that, because then you know, a good consultant, take that into consideration. Okay, I hear you. Maybe, we re reevaluate this area and another couple years, but right now here's what we can do within your limitations. Let's focus on that. Great
Mitchell Shirk: point.
Like I said, we've been talking a lot of different topics, a lot of different things. And the fact of the matter is quality habitat results in quality opportunity for all the wildlife we love to hunt and fishing and chase after. And I think it's important that no matter what you look like I think that we're in a world now where everybody can become a professional just by listening to [00:52:00] the podcast and you watching YouTube and stuff like that.
Yeah. And I had some conversations with some people on my show here recently where, there's nothing wrong with having a school of thought and utilizing certain practices that you've learned and acquired over the years, but there's a host of people across this entire industry that.
Different experiences and a lot of knowledge that you can pull together and use a little bit of everything. There's no such person out there that's a one, one stop shop when it comes to whitetails or waterfowl or turkeys. There's a lot of people to work together with, and I think that's really important.
And there's, so this has been a fantastic conversation. I'm curious, in the coming year, 2023, what are you most excited about about running with here in in your line of work and your podcast, whatever, what's got 2023, just
Eric Lance: burning up for you, yeah definitely the podcast, that that's a big, focus for me right now is, getting good guests on just like anybody. We want good shows, right? We want to [00:53:00] educate the people listening. I would say that I am anybody who it follows me or checks out my social media lately.
I am running just because I'm pretty heavy with the waterfowl, research that we've got going on right now. That's gonna be something that I'm juggling between all my other work. But I would say that as far as what gets me excited is the waterfowl research project that we've got going on right now.
That's, it's the new girlfriend type of thing. I love working with waterfowl. I'm a big waterfowl hunter. I was on a property the other day a friend of our local chapter has a thousand acres and a bunch of water on his property. And Wednesday, we saw, I wanna say north of a thousand Ducks.
Wow. And I wanna say about, 10 different species now it's peak migration. We're seeing species that aren't gonna be here, for much longer. But, it's, I'm sitting there on the at, on the side by side and I'm like, listen, I love deer hunting, right? I love everything about it.
I love big bucks and everything. I was like, dang [00:54:00] man, watching 1200 plus ducks flush off of water and just seeing all, I'm like, oh my Lord. Like that. It just, or maybe you don't get it, but it's just holy crap. That is, it's amazing, to look at. So for me, like I said, the new thing the research is very interesting to me.
I get excited about it because I know the benefit that it's gonna have on the populations. I know what my deliverable is going to be to the people that manage the state wildlife management areas that we're on. Here's what we're finding, here's what you know, we're doing to help, and here's, how this program is going to put more ducks in the area, which is gonna bring and open up possibly more hunting areas, which is gonna attract more waterfowl, people buying more stamps and everything like that.
It's a positive thing that hopefully maybe can fund another technician or two, in, in the next 10 years or something like that, so for me it's, waterfowl is one of [00:55:00] those that does not, there's a lot of research, going on with waterfowl.
Absolutely. But in the hunting space, how many episodes have you done with waterfowl?
Mitchell Shirk: Oh, very. How you can count 'em on one hand.
Eric Lance: Yeah. How many episodes on the Sportsmans Empire have waterfowl? How many episodes? There's a lot of waterfowl podcasts out there, but when you put the bandwidth in the hunting space, Waterfowl versus deer versus Turkey.
It's not even close. Sure. So you're people that, l listen, I'm a hunter. You're a hunter, right? We love hunting deer. I also love hunting turkeys. I have German shorthaired pointers. I love hunting up with game birds. I also love hunting ducks, right? So it's, for me, most hunters enjoy hunting, other species.
Why are you not managing for those species? Why? If you have 400 acres, or you have a hundred acres or 50 acres, why are you not doing everything feasible to increase your properties, resources for whitetails and turkeys, right? [00:56:00] We talked about earlier, my parents' property.
Now I can do some management on theirs, but I'm surrounded like it's, I'm surrounded by 300 acres. Their part of the woods is like seven or eight acres fall. Turkey gets me excited. I see fall turkeys because they're not breeding, right? They're everywhere. They're roosting, they're utilizing the timber stands.
They're going after acorns and other food sources come springtime. I don't get too excited. I know it ruffles a lot of people. I love Turkey hunting. I don't have a whole lot of good spring Turkey hunting areas, because most of my areas are monocrop agriculture up to the drip line, hard, 90 degree edge closed canopy, immature growth timber stands, high stem densities, and I can see 300 yards through it.
No Turkey hand in their right mind is gonna build a nest in that area, right? Type of thing. So they're just not there. I know people can't see me, but I'm waving my hands like, I don't, I just I don't know what to tell you. People are like, I don't see turkeys. The state's not doing their job.
No, the state isn't not doing their job. Look at [00:57:00] this. Look at what you have. You don't. Where I'm going is you have nothing here. You got some roo trees. Yeah, you're gonna see turkeys once in a while. I see 'em all in the fall because if you don't understand the ecology of the species, you're going to, you're gonna have a skewed mindset.
And that's you talking about people that have the culture, right? The mindset states are doing their job for deer. Okay, I can make the same argument for deer, close canopy, timber stand poor under understory development, high stem density, immature growth. Huge amounts of agriculture.
There's food. Yeah, there's food, but you have no cover. So what are you gonna go sleep out in your backyard?
Mitchell Shirk: I, exactly. It's amazing how that tunnel vision can just encapsulate,
Eric Lance: what did I say? All three species. Any species of wildlife in including humans.
Yeah. Were just way more adapted, right? How do I find food? How do I not become food? And how do I make a copy of myself? How do I find food? If I find food, I need vegetation. If we're talking about the [00:58:00] spring green up and we're talking about the time in which, doughs are dropping fawns and lactating for those fawns, the lactation is exponentially more demanding on a dough than the last trimester of pregnancy.
So if I don't have high quality vegetation with adequate amounts of nutrition that they need to, to not only lactate, but grow themselves and bring their fawns up to hit the milestones that they need for the upcoming harshness of the winter months here in the Midwest. There's a problem.
Okay. So you need to have, you're not gonna have that type of vegetation in a closed canopy, timber state, period. End of story. People are like, oh, they're, they eat, they're eating the bloods off maples. Yeah. Okay. During the fall, in the winter and during the winter when there's nothing else to eat.
That's not carrying them 12 months out of the year. You can't say you have habitat because you've got a little bit of food, right? It doesn't work like that. So [00:59:00] for me, when I'm managing, for species, I want my cover to equal food. Deer live six feet down. I want my field to be ragweed and astro and golden rods and all these other types of things that are quote unquote weeds.
Those weeds like got news for you people. They're well over 20% crude, over 20% crude protein and other successful high levels of micronutrients, crude protein. Do you need 16% a day for optimum function? You don't need the manicured, chicky food plot or, the six blend, Clover food plot.
Are they great? Yes. Do they provide benefit? Yes. Are you gonna waste your time doing them? No. Okay. But that's not the only thing that you need, just because it looks awesome on social media to put that out there. It. Okay. Yeah, it looks good. It's awesome. Be proud of it, right? You put the hard work in. You did it successfully.
Be proud of it, for sure. But don't look down on people and don't think that's the only way to do it, because [01:00:00] I can show you areas that aren't photogenic, that I've got betting areas all throughout. I've got, I could show you dozens of species of vegetation that are being, forged upon and we can talk about the micronutrient analysis and things like that.
So same thing for waterfowl. I'm put, I want my cover to equal food. I'm putting my nesting structure out on water where I know ducks are feeding, right? So now I've got cover out there. They can get away from predation, they can fly away. I'm looking at the outer edges of my pond and what does that look like?
So I can keep them in this pond because I'm providing them the things that they need. How do I find food? I gave them food. How do I keep myself from becoming food? They're lucky they can fly. But I also can give them into, high grass land management areas, other types of vegetation on the peripheral edges that they can, duck down, no pun intended.
They can get down in and nest in and things like that because mallards, upland nesting species. But also, [01:01:00] how do I make a copy of myself? I also provided the nesting habitat, which means they're gonna breed there, right? So my cover for waterfowl equals food. It equals nesting.
It equals all the things that they need for success that drives the ecology of that population. That's my soapbox. I could go forever on that because, that's why I don't get too involved with showing all the food plotting and stuff that I do, because honestly, I don't care. I don't want to have a discussion.
I do it, everyone else does it. Me showing you a clover plot just for me to talk about it. Now that I have the podcast though, I do need to start doing those things, but for the most part, I, I don't need the, I don't need the praise. I don't need, oh, that looks good. Because that's 2% of the comments you're gonna spend most of your time, dealing with the comments of how'd you plan it?
Why'd you plant it like this? You do, this looks a little bit yellow. You have this disease going You could go into the weeds. I don't wanna deal with that stuff.
Mitchell Shirk: Yeah. And I think the biggest thing that I take away from all that, and I think a lot of people don't understand, we get so tunnel vision.
You'd, Brent, [01:02:00] why wouldn't you manage for everything? Why, why wouldn't you wanna maximize turkeys, deer waterfowl up on game species, yada yada. Why wouldn't you wanna maximize all that? I think we get tunnel vision because we like a certain species and it, I think we get the blinders on in a lot of cases, but in all reality, when you manage things for an ecosystem it, it's exactly, it's a system that.
W works together in a sense. It's the only way I can describe it. And one thing I, as you're going on about basically food cover, water breeding, things like that. There, there's so many population dynamics in our deer herd that have changed in Pennsylvania over the course of gosh the last few decades.
And it's so hard for me to understand why it's different than now, cuz I, I didn't live through that. But hearing the stories of high population dynamics and how it's different than compared to now people complaining and making those accusations you said the state's not doing their job.
It's is [01:03:00] I just know that the basics, I just know that exactly what you just said, food cover. Need to breed, they need to have all that structure in order to have successful life and reproduce the next. It's Eric, I really appreciate you just having this conversation with us. Talking about some real specific things.
We, we, we need to get you back on here to be update some stuff and maybe talk about a little bit more. But I really like the specifics that you bring to the table and helping us understand a little bit more of this general sense we love. But man, I appreciate you coming on. Yeah man.
Appreciate you all your knowledge. Nah man,
Eric Lance: I appreciate you having me on. I appreciate it. Yeah and just one last thing too, and it's, there's nothing wrong with it. There's nothing wrong if you just, Hey man, I'm a whitetail guy. I love hunting this other stuff, but man, I'm just gonna manage for Whitetails.
That's absolutely fine. People get too wrapped up with, I'm doing it wrong. Or maybe, I don't want, I don't know how people are gonna judge me on this. This is my, who cares. It's your property, it's if you wanna just manage for turkeys, that's fine. [01:04:00] If you got a timber stand that you kill a lot of big bucks and a lot of deer out of, and it's not managed okay, you can always make something better, but just have a realistic conversation with yourself and just be like, Hey, this is my goal.
This is what I enjoy doing. Absolutely fine. Don't really let anybody else influence the decisions that you wanna make for your property. Now seek the knowledge, always strive to make things better for the wildlife that you're trying to manage for. And, as stewards of the land and people, hoping to continue the hunting heritage that we can pass on for generations.
That's what it's gonna take. But at the end of the day, it's your property, man. You gotta be happy and with the goals that you set, and you can always add goals, later on.
Mitchell Shirk: Love it. Hey, that's a great thing to end on. Hey, keep up the good work and make sure everybody check out the Hunting Hunt Science podcast.
Eric Lance: Yep. You can find us we do audio and video recordings each week we put out an episode, you can find the Hun Signs podcast on all the podcasting platforms. Apple, Google, Amazon, Spotify, of course. And then the [01:05:00] video portion of the podcast is up on, on YouTube. You, social media-wise, you can find us at the Hun Signs podcast on am excuse me Facebook, Instagram.
We've had TikTok page, Twitter page, pretty much we're on everything. You type in Hunt Signs podcast and you're gonna find us, it's not many names like that running around there. So you'll find us one way. Good
Mitchell Shirk: deal. Good deal. Hey, thanks again buddy.
Eric Lance: No problem, man. Thanks, Mitch.