ABOUT DOS VENADAS

 

DOS VENADAS HISTORY
Like most nature photographers, we have suffered the frustrations of trying to shoot on public lands. Although this can be rewarding at times, it is more often a constant interruption from competing non-photographers. The freedom to move and rearrange things is very limited and equipment cannot be left unattended or overnight. Early on we realized that, while some subjects must be photographed on public land, we preferred shooting on private property. We worked hard to develop relationships with private landowners which would allow us the access we desired.

However, even on these private lands there have also been frustrations. As great as these ranches have been, they are in the ranching business and photography must fit in however possible. Many of the things we have wanted to do were just not possible due to conflicts with the day-to-day schedules of the ranches. It has been a long-time dream to one day own a piece of native south Texas brush land where all management decisions and actions revolve around photography. After searching for several years, the opportunity to pursue that dream presented itself in 2002 with the discovery of Dos Venadas. This 370 acres of native brush fit all of the parameters. It was native brush, secluded, protected, reasonably close to population centers, and the price was right.

The land had been owned by an absentee landowner since 1910 and essentially forgotten. Considerable work was required to get it up to speed. The roads had to be reclaimed from the brush (an ongoing process), a well was drilled, three miles of water lines were laid, six water holes were constructed, a game-proof fence was erected, genetically superior whitetail deer were stocked on the ranch and a camp was established. Bird and deer feeders were established around the ranch and blinds were built. It has been an intensive development campaign, but well worth it.

Today Dos Venadas is devoted to wildlife photography. All management decisions are made around the needs of photography. There is no grazing by domestic livestock. Hunting is limited to that which is necessary to control game populations and occurs in a very short time frame during the photographic off-season. The wildlife is fed all year and is quite tame. Unlike most south Texas properties today, there is only a small amount of bufflegrass and other non-native plants. Efforts are being made to eradicate those that do exist.

The owners are professional nature photographers with many years of experience in south Texas. In addition, their many photographer friends have all contributed time and advice to help make Dos Venadas a nature photographer’s dream come true. This is an ongoing process, but the rewards are already clear in the photos that are being obtained by ourselves and our guests. We expect the shooting to improve continually and hope you will want to try it for yourself.

 

LOCATION
Dos Venadas is located in the heart of Starr County, 20 miles north of Rio Grande City on highway 755. The ranch gate is located at the junction of Hwy 755 and FM2294, approximately 20 miles northeast of Rio Grande City.

 

 

HABITAT
Starr County is one of the four southernmost counties in Texas, which collectively are referred to as the Rio Grande Valley, or simply “the Valley”. This is a transition zone where the semi-tropical Rio Grande River habitat meets the semi-arid chaparral brush of south Texas. In this transition zone are found plants and animals of both habitats, including occasional vagrants from northern Mexico (a mere 15 miles away). All four Valley counties will share many species of wildlife, however there will be some plants and animals which do not exist across the whole area, but are either eastern Valley or western Valley species. The altitude across the Valley ranges from sea level at the coast to slightly over 500 ft. at Dos Venadas.

 

WEATHER
This is a temperate area and the temperature most of the year ranges from warm to hot. Temperatures over 100 degrees are common in the summer. We also have a high humidity, which can accentuate the heat. However, we have a prevailing gulf breeze which helps make the heat more tolerable. It can be quite cold for brief periods in the winter. The humidity accentuates the cold, just as it does the heat. And, like the rest of Texas, the weather can change without notice. In the fall and spring, it is best to be prepared for unexpected weather changes. During the hot months, the risk of heat stroke must be taken seriously. However, the hottest months can be some of the most rewarding for waterhole photography and the coldest months are the very best for mammal and hawk photography.

 

 

WILDLIFE
Most species of wildlife found in the central Valley area will also be present here. However, many of the western species which are found here will not be found in the mid or eastern Valley. These include birds such as Scaled Quail, Common Poorwill, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Chihuahuan Raven and Audubon’s Oriole. Unique western species of reptiles include Banded Geckos, Reticulate Collared Lizards and Desert Kingsnakes. Desert Cottontail is the native rabbit here, as opposed to Eastern Cottontail in more eastern areas of the state. In October, the butterfly photography is outstanding.

 


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