White-Tailed Deer & Exotic Ranch: A Continuing Family Tradition
Updated: Jun 21, 2020
My love for agriculture all began within my grandfather's career at the Wynne Ranch, also known as his white-tailed deer and exotic ranch. I thought that cattle ranching was cool, but DEER? You never hear that often! This business holds a special place in my heart; however, despite my bias love for fawns and hunting, the market itself is quite fascinating. You may see a lot of success for these breeders as they have wonderful genetics or breath-taking pastures, but let me tell you that it is something that you have to certainly work for to get those results!
This summer, I decided to take a deeper dive into understanding what my grandfather does within his business, outside from nature-watching and hunting. Surprisingly, there is A LOT that goes into business production, including paperwork, testing, observing, and hands-on activity. It is a job you can't just pick up and do whenever you want...I mean you CAN, but you won't come out with the best results in the end.
Some of the things I was able to learn throughout shadowing him is the process of I.D.-ing the fawns through tattooing ears, ear tagging, and removing tail hair to legally register them within your company to sell them...you would've never thought! The identification process for these animals is SO important cause just as you would livestock, you have to keep track of these deer within the market in case of any problems, like diseases. This I.D. process helps keep up with SO many things, which includes keeping up with who breeds with who, which ones were previously sick, how many babies the female conceived, etc. In addition, I've learned that for every number of deer that die, you have to send in deceased deer heads into the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratories (TVMDL) to inspect the DNA and find any problems that could be within the deer that are being sold across the county and state lines...it is pretty serious. These tests are for situations very similar to what happened years ago. During that time, a disease broke out within Texas, called Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), that caused the market to halt for many breeders. Each ranch had to have so many of their deer tested (numbers varying depending on if the breeders that crossed roads with the infected deer), which determined if they had to stop selling for some time or they could continue transactions and deliveries. They checked this through the I.D. and registration system to determine the outcome of the business shortly after. Fortunately, since my grandfather sends every deceased deer heads into the TAMU system, he had proof of being clear of any contagious diseases and exhibiting clean records; leading to him continuing his production. Crazy how the small things matter!
Speaking of small things, ranchers have to keep an eye out on EVERYTHING, no matter the size of the situation. At the ranch (which is 400 acres), I have been taught how to identify specific plants and shrubs that need to be killed in order to prevent potential injury of animals or people, like the thorn bushes. Along with that, I had to learn how to recognize which mounds in the ground have tunnels underneath them built from gophers that can likely lead to larger animals falling into the ground and breaking a leg. It is crazy how things we can simply overlook can impact the physical health of our livestock (especially when you have so much land to overlook, that is really what amazes me)! When it comes to observing, you ALWAYS have to know when an animal in your herd/flock is sick or healthy...which can be challenging the bigger the numbers of head and acres. Just yesterday we had a blackbuck doe ill and limping, keeping herself isolated from the herd. My grandfather knew exactly what to do, the kind of medicine to apply, and how to give it. Of course, hours later she was already looking much peppier than she previously did, but it just blows my mind that he knew what to do, exactly how to do it, and was able to catch it from a glimpse in the field! It definitely takes time and practice of course, but he just does his job well! Ranchers are so talented in that way, where they can understand and follow patterns of different herds, different species, within different environments and situations. Always appreciate the ranchers that are raising locally near you because they are always working hard to produce great livestock for consumers, like YOU!
I most definitely cannot wait to indulge into this family tradition in the future, and being able to go out and learn about it hands-on with my personal role model just makes me even more excited. I still have a lot more to learn about this business, but I cannot wait to expand my knowledge as I go on this journey! Remember to always thank a farmer AND rancher for their hard work and continuous support in our communities.
Ranch is located in Quinlan, TX. Thank you J.R. Wynne for the continuous support in my agriculture passions and for being my biggest role model. Every animal is cared for at this ranch:)