Once upon a time; which seem like ages ago, I was simply a hunter who enjoyed the opportunity to hunt on public and private land never knowing what it would be like to care for my own land. Scouting new public lands and the land others had so generously offered was always exciting. Seeing new property for the first time, determining what it had to offer, and preparing the hunting game plan extenuates the hunt but was pretty much the extent of my personal involvement. Well, things have changed.
Like many other hunters who just wanted to get more out of the hunting experience, I bought a little piece of heaven that I call the Ranch.
I once thought I had a pretty firm involvement in the outdoors but it soon became apparent that I had been more of a user than a contributor to the outdoor experience. What I hadn't realized and admittedly took for granted was the level of commitment that is required to achieve wildlife populations that mirrored my hunting expectation. All of those deer, turkey, pheasants, etc. that roamed the land I had hunted did not reach their abundance without some pretty hard work and forethought. So, my first few years owning the Ranch were a real eye opener to say the least.
A Love for the Land
I absolutely hate rocks, thistles, and gophers. Thus it was my creator's intent to man me up by putting what seemed like an endless amount of my nemesis on my own land. When the love for the land is foremost, even those obstacles simply become part of the challenge. Spraying weeds, picking rocks, and trapping gopher's is just part of what makes me caretaker of the land and is just part of the many keys required to achieve a rewarding hunt for my family and I.
Work begins early in the year by planning what type of wildlife food that I want. Corn is planted on bean stubble and beans. This helps the crop rotation. They are usually planted on the previous year's corn ground. New fields such as clover and alfalfa, are incorporated when needed. Later in the season I plan turnips.
Even with all this food, I like to place a number of mineral sites around the Ranch. If I'm doing all this work I might as well provide something extra to keep the animals healthy. Planting, spraying, and mowing are all part of the wildlife food processing business. But even more important than the food is the cover. Providing a home for all the critters is critical.
Owning my own land is a dream for me and I am so thankful.
I love that I can teach myself and my family the importance of caring for our own land and crops. It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of my career.