The year will go down as a great growing year for the ranch. We had excellent rains in the spring and early summer and the ponds stayed full. The native grasses grew extremely well, and the bison heard grazed it over. The oaks continued to grow and fill in some areas where the fires cut them back a few years ago. Toward the end of the summer, some of the areas started to look like they did before the fire. We were able to grow some amazing food plots in the summer, and the deer and elk grew like weeds.
Because of this, we had great growth. We had many successful hunts and made some fond memories with new friends. Here are some of the highlights from the last hunting season.
To start off the year, in January, Chuck Vessels came to hunt this magnificent bull bison.
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Then, in the fall, Chuck came back with his son, Hugh, and they each got a trophy elk. It is so nice to be able to take a father and son out on a hunt. Sharing the outdoors with the next generation will always be our passion.
Tarbone Ranch 2014 Review
Recovery is a good word to describe the year. Spring rains were in short supply leaving the ponds in need of more water. Summer rain was better, but still no runoff to fill ponds. Thank goodness for our year around spring that has maintained a steady level and supplies an excellent water source for our animals at all times. It even maintains open water during times when other sources are frozen due to its flow of relatively warm water.
Summer rains were enough to allow the native grasses and food plots to survive, if not thrive. Oak and other species saplings are continuing their reach for the sky. This has produced a plethora of cover for the various species allowing them to bring their offspring into the new world in safety and shelter.
Our bison produced two female and one male calves. It’s unbelievable how fast they grow. The elk herd also grew by three with two male and one female calves being born. All these young animals seem to be doing great on the grass and food plots. Of course, they all seem to have a liking for the high protein deer food as well. This program is expensive, but it assures the health of all the animals on the Ranch.
In October, Paul from Smith & Wesson came down to the Ranch on an elk hunt. He wanted to use the S&W .500 revolver to try to take down a big bull. He managed to find and harvest a monster bull with one shot from the big handgun. This bull green scored 377” even after having broken both his G2’s while fighting other bulls to maintain his dominance and breeding status. Before the breakage, he would have score around 417” since both broken tines were over 20” in length.
In November, Maria traveled from south Texas to take a meat bison for her family to enjoy. She and Billy arrived to beautiful weather. After shooting her new AR 10 in to verify her zero we started the hunt early the next morning. After a rather long hunt, we managed to get the shot she needed to take down this big female bison. The animal fell in a difficult spot for retrieval, but we managed to get it done. We all pitched in to make sure the meat was well taken care of. They put all the meat into big ice chests on their trailer and took it straight back to Texas where they will enjoy their winter meat supply.
Next came Shon and Bruce on a quest to take two elk for their winter meat supply and trophies. Bruce was first to find a suitable management bull. He took it down with an excellent shot from his .45-90 Sharps with a period scope. This bull fell in a rocky rough spot, but with the help of my tractor, we managed to extract it to the skinning rack. After skinning and boning the meat, we placed it all in a big ice chest and continued the hunt for Shon’s cow elk.
The herd had become rather skittish, but finally we managed to locate a suitable mature cow in a small opening. One shot from Shon’s left handed .45-90 Sharps was all it took to put this big cow on the meat pole.
The most special thing about these hunts was that both guns used in the hunts were hand made by Shon in his workshop, Eychaner Rifle Works.
Thanks to all these hunters, we had a good year on Tarbone Ranch. All of our hunters managed to take their quarry with a single shot. This says a lot about the quality of their equipment and their ability to use it.
We are looking forward to the coming year. It’s always easy to look forward to finding out what the new year will bring. There will be shed antlers to find and new calves and fawns to discover.
If you would like to come hunt with us, please give us a call and we can make some memories together.
This month marks the 2nd anniversary of the fire that devastated Tarbone Ranch animals and forest. Just as we had the animals up to the quality standards we have been striving so hard for, a fire started by a Contractor on The Wichita Mountains Refuge came storming over Tarbone Mountain on September 1, 2011. The next day the fire charged out of the Medicine Creek valley, over our south boundary and virtually surrounded the Ranch HQ.
Thanks to efforts by family and friends along with several Volunteer Fire Departments, we managed to save our home and outbuildings from the fire. Many of our animals and most of our old growth oak forest were lost to the extremely hot fire.
As of this date, still no restitution has been realized from the "Wrongdoer" of this event, but we are hopeful that some action will happen soon to help us to recover financially from our losses.
In the meantime, we are trying to recover from the droughts of 2011 and 2012. This year has seen above average rainfall that will help to re-establish food plots lost to the fire and droughts. Our surviving animals are doing well despite the drought because of our efforts to supply them high quality nutrition. We have several trophy buck deer and elk bulls that are available for hunts this season and others to come.
We have re-established our bison herd to some extent and have some really nice trophy bulls available for hunters to pursue. The elk herd has produced several calves each of the last two seasons. These new babies will carry the herd into the future with new opportunities for growth.
Please continue to follow us on this website or Ken Cook Outdoors on Facebook. I will continue to post updates as Tarbone Ranch returns to its former game rich and beautiful site.
Hot, hot and more hot is the description for the summer in SW Oklahoma. Something like 40 days over 100 already and a lot more to come. All this heat is made worse by the ongoing drought. We had no summer food plot success and hardly any native browse growing either. This is a continuing lesson in providing adequate nutrition for my animals. They are dependent on the high protein deer feed now for a majority of their nutrients. With deer fawns, elk calves and all those antlers growing, they must have groceries to reach their potential.
I see animals outside suffering from the conditions with little native food and nutrients. Their fawn crops and antler development will definitely suffer. Without rain soon, it will get a lot worse I’m afraid. Nature is a cruel mistress in times like these.
This was the first year of my “Retirement.” Seems to me I was more busy than normal. The new year started out with Bison hunts. Tom Kelly of Smith & Wesson and Aaron Carter of American Rifleman magazine came down to chase our buffalo through the woods. The animals had taken up residence in the heavy timber of the Ranch. The recent heavy ice storm and cold temperatures had made the woods nearly impenetrable. I guess that is why they liked it so much. We managed to finally find them out in a small opening. Aaron took his bull with a T/C Contender carbine in the massive .500 S&W caliber. He put the bull down with one well placed shot.
A short while later, Tom hammered his bull with the S&W .500 handgun. Two shots put the bull down in the edge of the brush on a rocky hillside. Both these hunts were aired on Steve Scott’s Outdoor Guide TV show. The shows aired on Versus Channel this fall. Steve Scott followed up these hunts with one of his own a few days later. He took a great bull in the dense oak woods after a long chase. While the bull was on the move for another escape, Steve took the bull directly through the heart with a T/C Icon chambered in .300 Win Mag. The bull was dead on his feet in a few seconds. This hunt also aired on The Outdoor Guide TV show.