Landowner of the Year 2011 - Bluestem Ranch
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recently awarded its Landowner of the Year Award to Bluestem Ranch in Osage County.
Bluestem Ranch comprises about 43,000 acres of cross timbers and tall grass prairie and is owned by media mogul and widely known conservationist Ted Turner. Ranch manager John Hurd and his staff oversee management and day-to-day operations.
According to Mike Sams, private lands senior biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, it is always a pleasure for officials of the Wildlife Department to recognize the work private landowners do to improve their land for wildlife. life.
“Ninety-seven percent of Oklahoma is privately owned,” Sams said. “Without private landowners, wildlife management is not going to happen.”
Bluestem Ranch is a working ranch that concentrates primarily on bison production, but it has adopted certain non-traditional ranching practices that benefit wildlife such as patch burn graze efforts, eliminating fencing and increasing pasture size. The ranch uses limited amounts of herbicides and in doing so has restored brushy native prairie beneficial to quail and has maintained a high diversity of wildlife food sources.
The ranch also has established waterfowl habitat by building a wetland area and seeding shorelines for waterfowl food production. Four ponds on the ranch have been constructed and stocked with fish and two previously existing ponds have been reclaimed and stocked with fish as well. Additionally, the ranch has established food plots, participated in the Wildlife Department’s Deer Management Assistance Program and has held youth deer hunts and supported youth trapping activity on the property.
More than 100 youth participate in the two-and-a-half-day deer hunts held on the area, where a bison burger lunch is provided to participants. The ranch also donates bison meat to the Wildlife Department’s Taste of the Wild booth at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, where thousands of Oklahomans can sample wild game while enjoying a range of hands-on outdoor learning opportunities. The Expo is held the last weekend of September at the Lazy E Arena just north of Oklahoma City. Admission is free.
Hurd said one of Turner’s missions is to “restore and bring as much natural habitat back to his properties” as possible. “He allows us to manage these properties like this, and it’s an honor to receive this,” Hurd said.
For more information about the Wildlife Department or how landowners can get involved with Wildlife Conservation, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
Caption: The 43,000-acre Bluestem Ranch in Osage County recently received the Wildlife Department’s Oklahoma Landowner of the Year Award for its conservation efforts. Bluestem Ranch is a working ranch that concentrates primarily on bison production, but it has adopted certain non-traditional ranching practices that benefit wildlife.