It was a wet and unusually cool day for southern Oklahoma as four ag scholars crawled into the suburban to make the trek to the Addison ranch. Consisting of 5,000 acres nestled along the Walnut Bayou, the Addison Ranch is home to more than 400 mama cows as well as trophy deer and turkey, which certainly provided a unique experience for this Kansas farm kid. Shortly after driving through the automatic gate at the farm entrance, we were treated to a quick sighting of a trophy buck, a pleasure that was to be repeated throughout the day.
The owner and manager, Brett Addison, proved to be an extremely friendly and gregarious man who obviously enjoyed working out of doors and was very knowledgeable and passionate about nature and being the best steward of our natural resources. An avid hunter, he was quick to point out the benefits and necessity of sound grazing management on range ecology and habitat for wildlife, which led him to incorporate mob grazing techniques into his overall management plan.
With the help of his summer intern, Nick, Brett moves his cowherd based upon the forage availability and the condition of the cows. By observing body condition and cow behavior, he has found that he has been able to improve the condition of his cowherd while stimulating plant growth, which is a magnet for feeding wildlife. This is incredibly important for his guided hunting business and his ability to grow and locate trophy bucks for his hunters.
As we left the farm that day I again realized there is no one-size-fits-all way to manage natural resources. Rather, it is in understanding the land and making the management decisions that will work with nature. With an understanding of nature and how it operates, we can work within its confines to develop a healthy environment while increasing production capability to meet the rising demands of a growing world population.