Landowner of the Year 1999- Veraman Davis

 

To recognize his dedication to wildlife conservation, Veraman Davis of Tahlequah was recently named Oklahoma's Landowner of the Year by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The Commission honored Davis during its regular July meeting on July 12 in Oklahoma City.

Established in 1988, the Landowner of the Year Award honors private landowners who make extraordinary efforts to create, enhance or improve wildlife habitat on their property. By recognizing such landowners, the award is also designed to encourage other landowners to make similar improvements.

Competition for the award is stiff, and every year the Department receives a number of impressive applications, said John Hendrix, private lands biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Desire for the award is a result of heightened awareness for the needs of wildlife by private landowners, which benefits both game and non-game wildlife resources.

"Nearly 95 percent of Oklahoma's land area is privately owned, and the efforts of private landowners like Mr. Davis make it possible for Oklahomans to enjoy the diversity and abundance of wildlife that we have today," Hendrix said. "Mr. Davis has a keen understanding of Oklahoma's natural heritage, and his commitment to wildlife makes him a worthy recipient of this year's Landowner of the Year Award."

Davis owns about 4,500 acres in the Ozark foothills near Tahlequah. He reserves about half of his property for wildlife management practices and uses the remainder for agricultural production. Davis incorporates a rotational grazing program which encourages nesting cover and food resources for wildlife. He's cleared some of his ridgetops and planted them with supplemental food plots, which was especially helpful to whitetailed deer during last summer's drought, Hendrix said.

In addition, Davis incorporates selective timber harvest to create additional food resources for wildlife. Rather than use so-called, "clean" farming practices, Davis allows fence lines to grow up with shrubs and brush to provide shelter for small game and other wildlife.

Davis also maintains 30 pounds on his property, all of which are dotted with standing timber. These features are especially attractive to wood ducks, and one pair even raised a brood near one of the ponds this spring.

Also, Davis has set aside about 1,000 acres to create three wildlife refuges in which he allows no human activity of any kind.

An avid sportsman, Davis frequently hosts youth campouts on his place, and he is also well-known for introducing young people to the sport of hunting.