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Wild Game from Five Continents at Backbone Mountain Hunting Ranch
Scimitar Oryx - formerly inhabited all of North Africa but now extinct in the wild.

Wild Game from Five Continents at Backbone Mountain Hunting Ranch

Twenty miles from home, but, a world away!

Hunting enthusiast Jerry Thompson of Cameron, Oklahoma bought some land for his own deer hunting pleasure. He had hunted on hunting ranches before and so when the ranch next door came up for sale, Jerry had an idea for eastern Oklahoma. The ranch next door turned out to be over a thousand acres. Jerry bought it and tall fences were installed to hold exotic game in and predators out.  When he had successfully driven the native wildlife out (which is regulated by state agencies) he introduced exotic game into the area which knows no season on about 400 acres that are enclosed in the high fence for exotic game. The rest of the ranch is left to native species, especially deer and feral hogs.

Harold Smith, big game hunter Mickey McAnally and your editor toured the ranch on a recent Sunday afternoon. It was nearly seventy degrees in late January, so the day called for something interesting to do outdoors. Jerry Thompson guided us through dense brush over rocky terrain at his ranch in a safari outfitted ATV. The place boasts the grazing of animals from Africa, Asia and Europe as well as some unbelievable mountaintop views, first class accommodations, even a limo to deliver visitors to and from the airport.

(L-R) Backbone Mountain Hunting Ranch owner Jerry Thompson with Ken Edwards and Mickey McAnally in front of the safari outfitted ATV for safari-style hunting.

(L-R) Backbone Mountain Hunting Ranch owner Jerry Thompson with Ken Edwards and Mickey McAnally in front of the safari outfitted ATV for safari-style hunting.

The whole experience is an eye opener. This setup is not just a tall fence around a guy’s farm where hunters can take exotic game without traveling to exotic places. There is a science to wildlife conservation on this level and there is an art to stocking a hunting ranch that draws hunters from all over the country. Jerry Thompson is accomplished at both the science and the art. He explained that the exotic species are bought at auction-he likes the one in Macon, Missouri. He doesn’t just buy an animal and turn it loose then send someone in there to shoot it. He carefully manages the breeding processes to allow for more stock. The effort and the money involved in generating just the right deer, for instance, are staggering. The numbers get larger in relationship to the size of the antlers and an operation like this is no hobby.

Backbone Hunting Ranch

Llama – Inhabit South America originally used for beast of burden, flesh, hides & wool but here at Backbone Hunting Ranch used to protect other animals from predators.

By way of illustration, we should point out that the antlers on White Tail deer are measured by length and girth of the tines on the rack of antlers. The number of “points” on the antlers refers to just that. The woods around our area are teeming with deer whose antlers measure 120 to 160 inches-with 170 being considered a trophy” buck. The breeding stock Thompson uses at Backbone Mountain Hunting Ranch is all from bloodlines that have produced up to 500 inches in total antler measurement. Those are not only rare, (especially in deer up to four years of age) such animals are the result of careful and expensive genetic engineering. The artificial insemination breeding process is administered by a program at Oklahoma State University. The processes are scientifically graphic and complex involving transporting animals that are exceedingly well cared for-they’re an investment in the future of the ranch. It’s this commitment to science that produces animals hunters are willing to spend thousands to take and to travel from all over the country to do so-last Sunday while touring the ranch, we visited with several hunters from near St. Louis.

In addition to the work that is being done to assure world class trophy Whitetail deer, Backbone Mountain Hunting Ranch offers a wide variety of exotic species for the hunter. The Addax, Black Buck, the Aoudad and the Scimitar Oryx are plentiful. The Addax and the Scimitar do not shed their horns in winter. The female scimitar usually has longer horns than the male scimitar, with less girth. The horns are long and curved like a sword, hence the name given the species.

Addax - Inhabit throughout the Sahara Desert Area of South Africa, now less than 300 in the wild.

Addax – Inhabit throughout the Sahara Desert Area of South Africa, now less than 300 in the wild.

Jerry took us through the property “African Safari style” in an open vehicle with seats at the driver’s level and above for a clean shot at illusive animals like the near invisible red stag. We found Scimitar Oryx and Addax grazing. They, along with the Dama Gazelle form the “three amigos” so highly sought after on Texas big game hunting ranches referred to in our January 8th issue about Texas hunting ranches. The Addax is native to the Sahara Desert regions of South Africa. There are thought to be only about three hundred of them left in the wild of their native homeland. Fortunately, there are being propagated on hunting ranches to avoid extinction. Some of these species are extinct in their native continents, but thrive here due to careful management. Many are then transported back to their native lands to help repopulate the species there. We also came across a field of cross-bred sheep that included the Asian Mouflon. The Mouflon has rams horns like the Aoudad. It is a native of Iraq, Iran and Turkey.

Mouflon Sheep

Mouflon Sheep – Inhabit the Iraq, Iran, Turkey /Asian Continent thought to be one of the two ancestors of all modern domestic sheep. The pure Mouflon sheep is bedded to the left, the sheep to the right are hybrids of the Mouflon (Corsican and Texas Dall not pictured is the Black Hawaiian which would make up the Texas Slam)

When in season, the ranch offers hunting of native whitetail deer and wild hogs on 1,000 acres or so that are not fenced for exotic game.

Backbone Mountain Hunting Ranch is exactly 20 miles from the Greenwood Town Square near Cameron, Oklahoma. It is on Sumler Road on a high ridge overlooking the Poteau River. Take binoculars to enjoy the views and to help locate game in the dense underbrush.  The ranch has hunts available starting at about $500.00. Hunts are fully guided and available to rifle, archers and black powder hunters. Hunters have the option of spot hunting, stalking, safari style, blind or still hunting. The ranch can be reached at 479-462-2805. For more details the web address is: www.backbonemountainhuntingranch.com

 

Editor’s Note:

This popular segment has been telling readers for months “wildlife conservation follows the money.”  If an animal has value to hunters, it will be managed so as to prevent extinction. Careful study and genetic selection to ensure propagation of the species and culling of the weaker are the result of demand for the animal as a trophy. Thus, the hunter plays a vital role in the conservation movement. If the animal has no value to hunters, then it stands to reason that no one is going to spend a fortune to protect it. In effect, people who carry guns do more for wildlife conservation than people with picket signs! This article offers a close-to-home illustration of the message threaded through the last several adventures…the money that makes possible the wildlife conservation follows the value the animal has to the hunter.

This unique segment is owing to Greenwood’s own Patti and Harold Smith. They have traveled the world in search of big game in exotic and often dangerous locales. Their experiences with foreign governments, tribal customs and deadly animals on travels and hunts are shared in this space with The Greenwood Tradition readers for which we are very grateful.

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