Turkey Track Ranch is featured in the Summer 2022 issue of LAND magazine. Click here to find out more.
With its abundant natural capital, the historic Turkey Track Ranch is poised to sustain its legacy through the 21st Century—and beyond.
“Natural capital is the stock of the globe’s natural resources, the assets the earth holds,” said Jennifer Warren, Principal of Concept Elemental, a Dallas-based communications and trends analysis consultancy specializing in finance, the energy transition, sustainability and natural resources. “Natural capital sustains life, both economic and biological, at its most basic level.”
Globally, according to Warren, natural capital includes a host of resources including rangelands, wetlands, peatlands, rainforests, forests, minerals, potential energy sources, and water resources of all types.
Over time, a growing population and development have increased demand for all the earth’s resources, prompting a growing awareness of the need for sustainability. Today, the public, governments, non-governmental organizations, universities, and businesses worldwide, are recognizing the true value of natural resources and the land that houses them. Investors are paying attention too, putting value of land and its attendant resources on a new trajectory.
“The Turkey Track Ranch is one of the last expansive, legacy ranches, infused with Texas legend—and the legend lives on.”BERNARD UECHTRITZ Icon Global
Natural Capital Then
In the late 1800s, natural capital—productive rangelands, diverse vegetation, and water—lured visionary cattleman with names like Waggoner, Burnett and Goodnight to the wide-open spaces of the Texas Panhandle. Their empires, the Waggoner Ranch, the Four Sixes, and the JA Ranch became household names, while other equally rich, extensive holdings such as the Turkey Track Ranch, founded during the same era, quietly stewarded the same rich abundance.
“The Canadian River country has a special aura to it,” said Wyman Meinzer, a land broker and the State Photographer of Texas whose photos have memorialized many of the state’s “big” ranches, including the King, the Four Sixes, the Swenson, the Pitchfork and the Turkey Track. “A lot of the ranches don’t have the great surface water and springs that this one [Turkey Track] does, which is what really intrigued me. Everywhere I went there, there is water, which is really rare.”
In 1916, the term natural capital might have been unfamiliar to W.T. Coble, an astute businessman and rancher, but its worth was not. As the rugged beauty of the Canadian River Breaks stretched as far as the eye could see, he no doubt recognized the inherent value of the open rangelands, abundant grass and unfettered access to a vast stretch of the Canadian River, a stunning feature of Turkey Track located in Hutchison County, 27 miles northeast of present-day Stinnett, Texas.
With vision, persistence and grit, Coble built an empire of hooves and horns that rested on a foundation of ecological productivity.
“One of his goals was to give his descendants something to work with other than their hands,” said Jack Turner, Coble’s great grandson.
He succeeded, eventually amassing 80,000 acres under a single fence. For more than 100 years, generations of the Coble/Whittenburg families cared for the land, keeping the finely tuned environmental engine running smoothly.
Since 2009, the day-to-day management has fallen to Jay O’Brien and Dale Smith, co-owners of the Adobe Walls Cattle Company, who lease the Turkey Track. O’Brien, a lifelong resident of the Panhandle who has ranched for 50 years, first saw the ranch in the 1970s and was “bowled over by its beauty.” When he and his partner had the opportunity to work with the family to manage the ranch, they seized it because the Turkey Track is, according to him, a “premier ranch anywhere.”
Smith said, “We run our ranches with the goal of producing a sustainable profit over a long-term basis, while improving the asset base…the asset base being the rangelands, the cattle, the wildlife and of course, the people.”
The duo’s mission statement are not empty words as evidenced by the Turkey Track Ranch being named one of six regional awardees of the 2016 Environmental Stewardship Awards Program sponsored by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. At the time of the award, noted cattleman Pete Bonds, then-president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers, said, “Turkey Track has an outstanding record for their stewardship practices, water management programs and excellent grass diversity.”
Despite periodic droughts and unpredictable weather, the ranch’s natural assets have continued to accrue and get stronger thanks to a rotational grazing system that is tailor-made to each range type: sub-irrigated bottomlands, Caprock country, hardened flats and rolling sand hills. Abundant forage on the ranch supports 2,200 animal units. The ranch’s carrying capacity is further enhanced with 1,200 acres of cropland, 830 of which is irrigated through five Ogallala aquifer wells and pivots, allowing for a 2,000- head stocker operation.
Well-planned cross-fencing enhances the effectiveness of the grazing system that continues to improve ground cover, vegetative diversity, root system hardiness and soil health. Better cover, deeper roots and richer, more porous soil in turn improves carbon sequestration as well as water percolation; erosion is minimized, thus allowing cleaner, higher quality water to recharge the Ogallala and enter the river.
Water is the lifeblood of the ranch, which is in a 20-inch annual rainfall belt. The Canadian River cuts through the ranch for 26 miles. Seven creeks, along with numerous springs, provide year-round water to several lakes, the largest of which is 35 acres.
To further protect the purity of the water, the ranch has an extensive network of erosion control dams—50 large ones and 250 smaller ones—along the upper portion of the creek. Like robust vegetation, these dams increase water quality and quantity.
In addition, the ranch has approximately 64 wind- and solar-powered wells that supply water troughs throughout the ranch. The water troughs supplement the surface water and increase the “grazability” of the entire ranch, so the ecological improvements due to hoof action, fertilization and removal of “stale” vegetation can be applied throughout. Plus, the water is available to the wildlife.
“Cattle and wildlife are complementary,” Smith said. “We graze cattle to improve wildlife habitat.”
As a result, hunting opportunities abound. Resident species include white-tailed deer managed under a Texas Parks & Wildlife MLDP Level III program, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, feral hogs, quail, wild turkeys, and waterfowl.
Anglers are not left out. The lakes are stocked with trophy bass as well as forage fish such as bluegill and red ear sun perch.
While the ranch’s natural capital is evident in the host of tangible natural assets, it is also home to a rich intangible asset, history. Its fence lines contain the site of both battles of the Adobe Walls waged in 1864 and 1874, battles that shaped national policy and western expansion.
Meinzer said, “It [Turkey Track] has a historical legacy and history that is phenomenal. It is a rare opportunity to own a ranch and say, ‘Hey, I’m standing where Kit Carson stood.’”
Just as it was in the days of Kit Carson and the cattle pioneers, the Turkey Track Ranch is a place where the land’s potential is almost limitless.
“The Turkey Track is a virtual mecca of resource opportunities,” Warren said. “It offers lessons today and, in the future, for working out how to improve resource-rich asset bases derived from a large tract of land, a mega-ranch.”
Through its best-in-class grazing practices and superior water resources, the ranch offers the opportunity to give back to the community through educational opportunities that showcase optimal and sustainable resource practices, she notes. It is a chance to develop human capital that benefits the very earth itself.
The Turkey Track Ranch is one of the last expansive, legacy ranches, infused with Texas legend—and the legend lives on.
“The Turkey Track is not famous for being famous, but for being private,” said Bernard Uechtritz, listing broker at Icon Global, who has sold other Texas legend-makers including the Waggoner Ranch. “It is simply revered for being good, diverse, stout and solid.
“It’s natural resources and position in history are unparalleled by anything recently sold or on the market. It’s truly ‘One of One.’ Not only is it the ‘Prize of the Panhandle,’ but one of the last, great dynastic legacy ranches of its kind.”
Hutchinson County, Texas
Property ID: 12056553 • $200,000,000
214-855-4000 • Info@Icon.Global
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