Kansas ranch conserves waterfowl

By Dana Kobilinsky

The Hooray Ranch, which has been running for about three years, offers hunting opportunities and provides conservation efforts to support the waterfowl and other wildlife on the property. Image courtesy of James Christenson.

About five years ago, Wendy and Eric Dunn sold their facility management business in Wichita, Kan., to build a ranch for friends and family where they could hunt and enjoy outdoor recreational activities.

The Hooray Ranch, 45 miles west in Kingman, has now been up and running for about three years, offering deer, waterfowl, pheasant and turkey hunts.

In order to start the operation, workers first needed equipment to create the initial 4,140-acre ranch, so the Dunn’s purchased tractors, a skid steer and other machinery from Foley Equipment, the Cat® dealer in Kansas, which began a partnership with the company.

They removed all but three buildings on the property and gave the remaining buildings names reminiscent of waterfowl — the Honker House, Gut Hut and Quack Shack. These buildings include recreational activities such as a pool table and shuffleboard. The newer refuge building contains a massage room, dry sauna, workout room and conference room for people staying at the ranch. Hooray Ranch now owns or leases 24,000 acres for their hunting purposes.

The ranch offers hunting throughout different seasons. “It’s been great,” said James Christenson, the special events coordinator with the ranch. “Our deer hunts sold out for three years, the waterfowl hunts are sold out and we have 60 turkey hunters who start next week.”

And in order to have successful hunts, Christenson said the ranch focuses on wildlife conservation, by utilizing their Cat machines to drain and fill the birds’ impoundments based on the amount of rain water. “We take great pride in our conservation efforts,” he said. “The two things we can’t control are Mother Nature and migration. We try to best control everything in our power that we can to better wildlife and the home for the ducks.”

This year, the ranch dealt with a warmer winter that caused more geese and waterfowl to arrive in January, but then there was a slowdown due to less water later in the season. Christensen said this has been a challenge for the ranch. However, Christenson hopes the habitat and food they provide for the waterfowl causes them to continue to return to the ranch.

Now that the Hooray Ranch has created attractive habitat for waterfowl, Christenson said they hope to continue urging people to enjoy wildlife and the outdoors while teaching them about the importance of wildlife conservation.

Caterpillar Inc. is a premier partner of The Wildlife Society.