Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ferdinand and Eeyore: New additions to the Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch family!

Ferdinand and Eeyore are the newest additions to the Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch livestock family. They are yearling Brahman bulls and currently are weighing in at 1200 lbs. and 1150 lbs., respectively. They are going to be BIG boys! These big boys are full brothers and come to the us from the England Brahman Ranch in Mercedes, TX. (Thank goodness they are used to the hot weather because since they have arrived, we have been in a heatwave!)

Even though Ferdinand and Eeyore are full brothers, each bull has his own distinct personality. Ferdinand was named by my grandsons because one of their favorite books is Ferdinand the Bull. Ferdinand will let you stand and scratch his poll, rub his ears and wiggle the many folds of skin under his chin. He was hauled around the US going to Brahman Shows and is halter broke, so he is very tame and easy to handle. He has the 'England Brahman Bulls' brand on his right hip, and #307 on his left hip. He is so gentle, I wouldn't even hesitate letting our grandchildren pet him!


Eeyore also has his own unique personality. He is much like the Winnie the Pooh character he is named after; a bit shy with long, drooping ears. When he first arrived at the ranch, he would stand away from me when I fed Ferdinand from my bucket. But, slowly, he has begun to trust me. Today, I can scratch his poll and pet him on the head. He is still a bit shy around new people, however. He is much more comfortable with only 1 person in the corral at a time. He, too, has the England brand on his right hip, with his #306 on his left hip. I think he is going to be a darker gray color than Ferdinand.  He has already become darker around his hump and neck, since he has been here.


You might be wondering why these Brahman bulls were purchased. 

Well, it is simple. They are going to be the 'husbands' to our Hereford cows. The cross between a Brahman bull and a Hereford cow produces what is called an F-1 Tiger Stripe. These Tiger Stripes (we have 6 cows on the ranch- see pictures below) are easy 'calvers', easy keepers, and don't mind the heat. There is a good market for the Tiger Striped calves, especially the heifers.

The Tiger Striped phenotype is recessive. Therefore, the 'tiger-striped' look will not be produced from F-1 Tiger Stripes. In other words, the Tiger Striped cows you see below will NEVER produce a Tiger Striped calf. That is why we have chosen to cross the Registered Hereford cows (our choice for the cows) x Registered Brahman bull. The cow in the first picture below has the phenotype we are striving to produce in our calves from the Hereford and Brahman bull cross. 

F-1 Tiger Striped cows on the ranch, currently.

The latest pictures of Ferdinand and Eeyore enjoying their breakfast.  

I can't wait to see the first calves that these big boys produce. They will be turned out with a few open Hereford cows very soon. So, the first babies F-1 Tiger Striped babies should arrive sometime in June, 2015.  The female calves will be Golden Certified with the American Brahman Breeders Association.   I will be anxious to share pictures of these new babies when they arrive!!! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Deluxe Hunting Blinds and 10 Point Bucks are ready for Deer Season

September is almost here - I’m not certain what that means to you, but here it means deer season is on the horizon. September 15th opens up Missouri Archery whitetail season which lasts till January 15th with only a 10 day break for rifle season (which runs from November 15-25). With just under a month to go until the first big deer season of the year, we have been doing everything we can to make your odds of getting big buck that much better here on our ranch! We are a fair chase hunting retreat when it comes to deer and turkey, so there are no guarantees but that’s what makes it fun!

A soybean food plot just outside one of our hunting blinds.
Here on the ranch we have planted acre after acre of soybean and clover food plots to grow our deer as big as we can and some of these guys on our trail cams are showing it! We have over 50 acres of dedicated wildlife food plots that we manage and plant to up your odds of bringing down your very own Ozarks trophy with either a bow, rifle, or crossbow. We also set out mineral blocks to guarantee that those guys are getting all that they need to grow those big ole racks you’ll be looking for on your hunt here.

We have 7 cameras out facing our mineral blocks in the food plots so that we can place you right where the big guys are at this season. No matter which stand you sit in, every one of the cameras promises the potential for an awesome harvest. Even with several deer in velvet and still growing, we are getting pictures of 8s and 10s out there. Our stand options include two deluxe hunting blinds about 10 feet in the air with sliding windows and swivel barber chairs, or one of several two seater ladder stands. Whichever you hunt out of is completely up to your preference.

One of our deluxe hunting blinds
To book a deer, turkey or even a bison hunt with us, visit our website, shoot us an email or simply give us a call at 1-417-683-6888.  We would love to hear from you- or even better, set you up with a great trophy this season!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review: Portraits of the Bison

During the National Bison Association Conference earlier this summer, Caleb and I purchased a book that was written by Canada's leading bison expert, Wes Olson, called Portraits of the Bison. As the summer went on, we found ourselves frequently referring to this book, since it contained lots of pictures and information on the animals we care for on a daily basis. It's a great book for bison and nature enthusiasts alike! Check out my review below.

Portraits of the Bison: An Illustrated Guide to Bison Society, 2nd Edition
Written by Wes Olson, Photographs by Johane Janelle

This beautiful book about the North American Bison features one of the biggest bison photo collections in print. The full color photos by Johane Janelle of these amazing animals, accompanied by Wes Olson's eloquent writing style, really draw you into the world of bison societies.

Chapter 1 tells the story of the bison saga: from plentiful roaming herds to near extinction to the conservation of bison in today's world.

Chapter 2 goes into detail about safety and awareness when being around bison – whether you own a herd, or just happen to stumble upon a lone bull while hiking through Yellowstone. Olson offers sound wisdom on being aware of a bison's 'bubble,' and how to look for signs like pawing and head tossing to tell when an agitated animal might charge.

Chapter 3 discusses the seasonal structure of bison herds and provides the reader with a glimpse of what it's like to be a bison in the spring when bison cows abandon their yearlings to attend to new calves, or during the summer, when breeding season can draw hundreds of bison together.

Chapter 4 features photos and drawings of male and female bison at different stages in their lives so that the reader can learn to identify the age and gender of bison at a glance.

Bison lovers and naturalists of all kinds are sure to enjoy this informative book! It is written in such a way that people who may not be very familiar with bison can understand the material, through drawings, diagrams, descriptive language, and of course, plenty of photographs, while still being entertaining and enjoyable for the more seasoned bison folks out there.

The part of the book that engaged me the most were the drawings by Wes Olson. The details of them, along with the descriptive captions and diagrams indicating each part of the animal, were fascinating to someone who can't draw! Wes has a way of bringing the animals on the pages to life with each stroke of the pen.

Being fairly new to the bison industry, I found Portraits of the Bison to be a wealth of information, especially when it came to telling the gender of our summer calf crop. The book taught me to look for a smooth underbelly on heifer calves, and to look closely for little round buttons that indicate a calf is a bull. With the drawings from the book as a guide, I'm now fairly confident in my observation skills!

 Portraits of the Bison can be purchased through the National Bison Association for $39.95.

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