Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Boone's Lair

I don't want to brag or anything, but yeah, Boone and I are pretty tight. OK, so maybe not, but I did have the chance recently to interview T. Boone Pickens at his unbelievably awesome Mesa Vista ranch, which is a mere hundred miles or so due west of where I live and hunt, but light-years away in terms of quail habitat.

It was a really interesting assignment, and if so inclined (as always, I urge you to be so inclined) you can read the whole story in the current issue of Covey Rise magazine, which thankfully went to press just in time for the Covey Rise guys to send some issues to Dallas for the Quail Coalition's Park Cities chapter banquet and auction last week, where the man himself was holding court and signing copies. I half-jokingly asked them to save me a signed copy, and I'll be damned if one didn't show up in the mail today. Thanks, guys.

As for the ranch itself, well, what can you say? Pickens is and always has been an obsessive quail hunter, and as physical manifestations of obsessions go, this one is a doozy: 68,000 acres of lovingly restored southern plains prairie where virtually every management decision is made with the goal of increasing native habitat for wild quail. It's basically a 100-square-mile time machine, a snapshot of what the southern plains may have looked like before agriculture inevitably and irrevocably changed the region into what it is today.

It is a starkly, staggeringly beautiful place, if you're into prairie. Which of course I am. I feel fortunate to have gotten a chance to see it, if for nothing else than the opportunity to scout out how I can sneak back onto the place this fall. I mean, come on, it's a hundred square miles. They can't keep an eye on all of it at once, right? 


  1. Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
    A sign was painted said: Private Property,
    But on the back side it didn't say nothing —
    This land was made for you and me.

    I think it's special that folks like T. Boone and Ted Turner can have their own little place in the country.

  2. Chas, yeah, it's, uh, something...

    Phil, I know, I know, but in this case the differences, in terms of the condition of the land, between Pickens' ranch and the surrounding area are so stark, that even the most hard-core populist-leaning greenie might be glad of what Pickens has done there. And no matter how you may feel about Pickens, no one can argue that he's given (and helped raise) a tremendous amount of money for quail research at a time when most wildlife research dollars are going elsewhere.

    Pickens has stated that the ranch will be sold upon his death, he's not leaving it to anyone. So what I think would be really cool would be for the state to somehow manage to buy the place for the people of Texas. It'll never happen, of course, because that's just not the way things are done down there. But it's a nice thought.

  3. Do the people of Texas, or anybody else, have free access to the place now? I'm guessing not.