Tag Archives: Hunting

Wild Cat Springs…Where The Deer And Buffalo Roam And You Can Play

The interview with Jarrett Williamson, Manager of Wildcat Springs Ranch began like any other minus the Zebras.
Wildcat Springs Ranch is a hunting ranch located just south of Fittstown, Okla., a geographic area of the state known for it’s rocky terrain, crystal clear springs, and it’s quality and quantity of wild game to hunt.  It was late September, but the morning was still cool and there was game running everywhere, which as a hunter, made it hard to focus on the task at hand.  As ranch manager, Williamson is accustom to giving ranch tours, servicing clients, and ensuring the best possible trip to the ranch as possible.  Williamson was content to drive around the huge property all day discussing his passion for guiding and hunting, but I wasn’t there to sight see.  I wanted to find out what made this high-fence hunting paradise different from all the rest, and that’s exactly what I found out after touring the rustic terrain that made up the expansive landscape of the ranch.
The ranch sign which reads, “Billy D. Howell’s Wildcat Springs Ranch” resembles many iron constructed ranch gates, but as the gate opened, and I drove towards the ranch lodge I realized this gate was an entrance to an entirely different type of ranch.  It was late in the morning and yet there were whitetail deer on the move just within a few hundred yards of the gate.  Needless to say I couldn’t wait to see what
else this hidden gem had to offer.
Tucked away in the eastern part of the Arbuckle Mountains, Wildcat Springs offers almost 8,000 acres of prime hunting and fishing land that is fueled by an endless aquifer that supports the wildlife of the ranch.  It’s private and secluded, yet it’s just short drive from two major cities, Dallas and Oklahoma City.  Steep hills and expansive views can be expected as can quality game animals like elk, buffalo, deer, hog, turkey, Aoudad sheep, and other exotics.  The wide range of game animals are managed year round by a full-time staff of seven employees in order to provide hunters the highest quality of trophy animals available.  The ranch also features spring fed lakes stocked with bass, crappie, catfish, and even walleye.  One of the bigger watersheds is an impressive 40 feet deep in places.  At Wildcat Springs Ranch guests create custom hunts to fit their preferences and budgets, but regardless the hunt, it’s always an experience to remember.
Hunting
One of the things that makes this hunting ranch stand out from others is the surprising low amount of hunting pressure it has.  Wildcat Spring would exist as is, without serving  a single hunting client.  That being said there’s anywhere from 60 – 80 clients that hunt each year.  The fully guided hunting trips offer a variety of tactics and methods of hunting.  You can hunt from a heated blinds or spot and stalk more elusive game like the Aoudad sheep.  With over 35 miles of high fencing there is a hunt that can be tailored for everyone.  In addition to your hunt there is on site processing and taxidermist available for your trophy.
Fishing
Guests looking to get away and spend the day on the water while catching truly big fish have found the right place with this ranch.  The trophy fishing lakes are complete with fishing docks and boat ramps, and vary in size and types of fish offered.  The water and underground springs are one of the more interesting features about this ranch.  The Arbuckle Aquifer has been a topic of much debate in recent years, and one can easily see why when fishing on such quality waters as what is available on this ranch.
Lodging
Excellent lodging and accommodations are what you’ll have after a full day of being outdoors.  Speaking from experience, clean and comfortable accommodations can make or break a hunt.  When you spend long hours outside, a good place to regenerate is always a plus.  Guests at Wildcat springs can take full advantage of  the luxurious  4,000 square foot lodge, featuring a master bedroom, 3 private rooms and two bed/bunk rooms.
The lodge can  accommodate 12 guests at a time. There are a variety of leisurely comforts around the lodge including an on-site chef, coffee bar, poker and pool tables, sitting areas, outdoor hot tub, and much more. The entertainment pavilion is equipped with restrooms, showers, full kitchen, and built-in wood burning grill.
Other Options
Those who don’t enjoy the thrill of the hunt or the excitement of catching a largemouth bass can request nature watching tours or a relaxing weekend at the lodge.  The ranch is also a great place to host company picnics.
8,000 acres would be hard to manage without the use of serious equipment.  The ranch utilizes a variety of equipment.  From skid steers, to UTVs, and even machines for building and maintaining roads, Wildcat Springs takes full advantage of equipment in their operation.
Before heading out to explore the ranch further we passed an old Kubota, which, at first glance appeared to be sitting idle, but Williamson quickly referred to the late model Kubota as “ole reliable,” and Williamson should know as he is no stranger to benefits of good equipment.  He has years of experience operating and maintaining equipment, and when asked what he liked best about the Kubotas they use at Wildcat Springs Ranch Williamson said this:
“Everything is right there where you can get to it.  They are easy to operate, but most of all they are reliable tractors.  We use a lot of different machines out here but we can always count on the Kubotas.”
After touring several large bottoms and passing multiple lakes we began to make our accent towards an elevated part of the ranch where the buffalo roam.  We pulled up to a Kubota M9960 hard at work discing up a rocky field to prepare a food plot.  This year alone, Williamson and his team will plant over 650 acres of food plots.  They plant a variety of seed but the main seed planted is one developed by the National Wild Turkey Federation.
There are a lot of different things that make this ranch special, but when you break it all down, its really about the thrill of the hunt.  So when I asked Williamson what hunt provides clients with the best overall experience, Williamson could only talk about the buffalo.  Their size alone make them a difficult animal to hunt, and with options ranging from trophy bulls, to meat cows, hunters have different choices and methods to hunt them.  The meat alone would be a reason for me to hunt them.  There something about this animal that ties it with our nation’s wild past.  They are the very hide of the American West’s history.  From Native Americans, to the expansion of the railways, the American Bison has always been a symbolic animal of wild America.  Native Americans wasted no part of this huge animal, and if given the chance I would do the same.  The trophy, meat, even the hide could all still serve a purpose to the modern hunter.  Williamson enjoys guiding these hunts because he feels they provide clients with much more than just a thrilling hunt.
“Our buffalo hunts offer the most bang for your buck.  You couldn’t buy as much beef as what it costs to harvest our buffalo, plus you get a trophy of a lifetime.  Last year I guided a buffalo hunt where, after being shot, the bull charged several times.  It was thrilling and rewarding to both myself and the client.”
Wildcat Springs Ranch is a great destination for any outdoorsman. Whether it’s friends looking to experience the hunt of a lifetime, or groups needing a get-a-way that offers top-notch hospitality with plenty of adventure, this unique ranch has it all!  For more information about the amenities and services of Wildcat Springs call Jarrett Williamson at (580) 235-7599.

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Ethics On Outdoors

The only thing worse than not catching fish is finding an empty cup of worms or livers mindlessly discarded on the bank.  Summer is here, and the following months will bring an array of outdoor activities that will inevitably have a footprint on nature.  Camping, fishing, hunting, boating, hiking, picnicking; you name it, all provide the chance for improving or ruining the outdoor experience.  Having a mind set to pick up someone’s trash or obey state regulations makes time spent outside more enjoyable for everyone.  All that’s needed is just a little bit of respect.  Respect goes a long way in nature.  If it isn’t taught and learned, sooner or later mother nature will give you a lesson of her own.  It may be in the form of a legal citation, or something as serious as a brush with death.  No matter the severity, having respect from the moment your foot steps out on nature’s playing field is a must.
Why do we go outside in the first place?  Picnics can be a lot of work, and walks can be taken in a living room while watching television.  We go outside to be closer to nature.  We fish and hunt to make that primal connection, and turn what our ancestors did for survival into recreation.  It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting on your back porch or white water rafting, being outside provides a connective experience that brings us closer to who we truly are.  These experiences that we are subconsciously trying to connect with are enriched when we consciously leave a particular patch of nature better than we found it.
We live in a time of relative excess.  Combine that with ample opportunities offered by public lands and parks and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.  There are simple steps that can be taken to avoid the damages of human impact.  For starters, always plan ahead.  Carrying a plastic sack for trash is perfect for day trips, while trash bags or containers are more appropriate for camping.  I know it’s fun to take the road less traveled – but only off-road where designated.  Take only what’s needed and always obey the regulations!  By doing this we allow others the same opportunities we have.  If you’re going to make a campfire this summer, make sure there isn’t a burn ban.  Finally, be considerate of wildlife and others.
Outdoor ethics goes beyond the realms of the outdoor enthusiast.  Farmers and ranchers, like outdoorsmen, have a responsibility to make the land better.  Their connection to land and livestock goes far beyond that of recreation, and for most farmers and ranchers, explaining outdoor ethics would be like preaching to the choir.  Land owners inherently become stewards of their property.  Of course there are different means of maintenance, but their constant efforts and results are globally profound.
Having a code of ethics means it will be put to the test.  I find myself challenged every time I go hunting or fishing.  Do I pick that piece of trash up, or keep that fish that’s a quarter of an inch under the size limit?  It’s the small things that make up the big picture.  As a former Boy Scout I can’t help but share the BSA’s “Outdoor Code” to help illuminate this bigger picture.  It states:
As an American, I will do my best to—
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
Be careful with fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
Be conservation minded.

From mountain top to river bottom, wherever the cry of nature takes you this summer, leave only footprints.  But like the trash, leave no memory behind.

This article was published in the 2016 Summer issue of Great Plains living.  For more articles visit www.greatplainsliving.com.


Whitetail Deer

Building Relationships And A Better Deer Herd

partnering with land owners to improve deer herds is just the beginning

When neighbors Garrett Clark and Chuck Roberts decided to improve their deer herd near Fitzhugh, Okla. they couldn’t have foreseen the impact a common interest would have in building strong neighborly relationships and better hunting opportunities.

The Limestone Game and Range Management Association consists of 25 land owners working with the Noble Foundation and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife to improve deer herd balance and health over a combined 13,000 acres.  Associations such as this are rare in both existence, and how they operate.  This group has taken a step back from social media posts to use face to face communications, and hands on learning to achieve their goals, which, have now become a side note in comparison to the profound connections made among the neighbors involved.

Misunderstandings between neighbors have led to many a conflict, but when Garrett and Chuck figured out they were both shooting each others bucks they decided to benefit from this new found knowledge.  They called upon the Noble Foundation, and set up a meeting with Russell Stephens to form a plan which eventually guided them and their neighbors to where they are today.

Garrett has seen many benefits to this program since it’s inception.  Not only does he get great enjoyment managing a quality deer herd, he feels this association is improving the land and it’s value as well. Garrett noted these aspects about the program and the association he helped create.

“We’ve already noticed a difference in herd quality in some areas.  I can honestly say my hunting land wouldn’t be as productive without this program, or the cooperation of the land owners, and the knowledge of the aiding organizations.  Sharing trail camera pictures and other information is really just the starting point.  Without the shared idea of a healthy, balanced herd our individual acreages wouldn’t be as collectively productive.  The only other way to achieve something like this would be to fence the deer off with “high fence”, but that isn’t hunting in my book,” said Garrett.

Whitetail Deer
Great Plains Kubota Sales Manager, Garrett Clark harvested this mature buck with his bow in part of his cooperation with the DMAP program he and neighbors participate in.

Without the complete control of a “high fence” neighborly cooperation seemed to be the only option to manage a balanced deer heard that would produce a closer buck to doe ratio and larger, more mature bucks.  What everyone in this association found out that fewer does meant increased herd health.  By harvesting more does, and shooting fewer bucks, the given amount of nutrients would be distributed equally.  Chuck commented on this aspect.

“I have not always been a management hunter.  I’ve tried for several years to harvest mature bucks, but this didn’t always happened because of elements that were out of my control, and honestly harvesting does wasn’t a consideration of mine until recently,” Chuck said.

Chuck Roberts has seen the improvements of this program on his family farm, but admits the most beneficial part has had nothing to do with deer at all.

“I’m most happy with the increased communication among my neighbors.  Deer hunting was just a catalyst for this cooperation.  After we fined tuned our deer management ideas, and were all on the same page, everyone began to benefit both on the farm and socially,” explained Chuck.

Of course the main focus of this association was to increase health and buck to doe ratios, but this all hinged on the cooperation between neighbors.  The level of success relies not only on cooperation, but of the expertise of outside agencies such as the Noble Foundation and the wildlife department.  The DMAP program, or Deer Management Assistance Program allows these hunters to harvest anterless deer any day during the archery, muzzle loader, and gun seasons with special DMAP permits.  In cooperation, members of the Limestone Game and Range Management Association collect detailed biological information on their harvests.  Department biologists then analyze this data to provide further management recommendations.  Spotlight surveys are the groups primary means of counting deer, and through this hard work they’ve determined the percentage of bucks that they should harvest.  This is really the key factor to the whole program.  By setting a cap on the amount of bucks harvested, which has been less than 20% of their entire deer population, the association has improved there buck ratio.  Garrett committed on this process.

“It doesn’t really matter the age of the bucks harvested.  They can be spikes or extremely mature bucks.  What really matters is the number taken.  This is where the cooperation and complete involvement of all the neighbors pays off.  Within a few years we should see a real difference,” Clark said.

The neighbors of the Limestone Game and Range Management Association  have become closer friends and better neighbors.  With a common goal and lots of cooperation they’ve built equal hunting opportunities and a healthier herd.

– Visit www.greatplainsliving.com or www.greatplainskubota.com for more information about this story or the Kubota dealership that produces the quarterly magazine Great Plains living from which this article was reproduced.

Deer Management
Garrett Clark of Great Plains Kubota discusses management plans with neighbor Chuck Roberts and representatives from the Noble Foundation.

How To Package Your Next Kubota

Kubota packages are popular at Great Plains Kubota, because they provide additional savings while completely meeting the needs of the customer.  Kubota packages at GP are simple, here’s how:
How do I package a Kubota?
A Kubota package can be created by purchasing three or more implements with any piece of Kubota equipment.  Typically Kubota packages refer to tractor packages that utilize frequently used implements like the box blade or rotary cutter.  GP keeps several tractor packages assembled and in stock ranging from 30 – 50 HP.  These packages typically include a trailer, box blade and rotary cutter.  To clarify, a trailer is considered an implement in our packages; however, the Kubota front end loader is not.  With the variety of quality implements and attachments at Great Plains Kubota the package combinations are almost endless.
What is different about GP Kubota packages?
GP offers premium, performance matched Land Pride implements as well as a variety of specialty attachments designed for specific tasks.  Packages are designed to save customers money. By discounting a percentage off the three or more implements purchased in conjunction with a Kubota customers save a significant amount.
Is a Kubota package right for me?
A great benefit of purchasing a Kubota package is everything can be financed together.  Packages are truly ideal for customers that are needing a finance purchase, and new or replacement implements.  GP packages are perfect for first time tractor buyers, or those with small farms, hunting leases, or recreational properties.  For customers who choose not to finance, discounts are still applied when three or more implements are purchased with Kubota equipment.

 

Ku•bo•ta pack•age (kooboh-ta / pak-ij)
noun
1.  a powerful Kubota vehicle with large, heavy treads, designed to work for farm or construction applications ect., purchased in conjunction with three or more premium implements or attachments, to create additional customer savings.
See Great Plains Kubota for additional definitions.

 

For more information visit www.greatplainskubota.com

A Cowboy’s Heart

 

     The cowboy’s will to survive is legendary.  The diligent cowboy of the open range herded cattle and wrangled horses with a sense of determination. Their moral code of self preservation kept them alive in harsh elements that most would succumb to in our modern society.  Today, the legend of the cowboy lives in the hearts of those who keep these values as a way of living.  Being a cowboy is something that comes from inside us, perhaps even from birth.
     When Daric Roberts was born he came out the chute ready to “Cowboy Up.  Before his first birthday Daric would undergo four heart surgeries.  He wrangled the first two when he was only a month old.  Daric rode out the third surgery at six months when doctors discovered he had coarctation of the aorta, which at the time no child had lived out of utero with this condition!  During this surgery his vocal chords were damaged while his carotid artery was being repaired.  He went under the knife one more time before turning a year old, and again on May 27th, 2014.  Over the years Daric has been diagnosed with: tetralogy of flow, coarctation of the aorta, pulmonary stenosis, Noonan syndrome, West Nile, and viral meningitis, but like the cowboys he’s always admired he fought hard through each struggle and persevered.
     The anatomical abnormalities of the heart that Daric has herded over the past 19 years haven’t deterred him from his goals, and if anything they’ve inspired him to cowboy up even more.  Tetralogy of flow is a congenital heart defect, while coarctation of the aorta is the aortic narrowing.  Pulmonary stenosis is a dynamic or fixed obstruction of flow from the ventricle of the heart to the pulmonary artery.  This condition was known by his doctors early on and eventually led to his surgery this past May.  At 13 Daric began taking growth hormones to speed up the inevitable pulmonic surgery he had last month.  It was at this time that doctors discovered he had Noonan syndrome.  Noonan syndrome are physical features that are typically associated with the effects of congenital heart defects.   During the summer of 2012 Daric contracted West Nile and viral meningitis, and although it wasn’t related to his heart defects the viruses did take a toll on the cowboy’s heart.
     Like most kids growing up in southern Okla. Daric was no stranger to livestock, such as cattle and horses.  Around six years of age Daric fell in love with the movie 8 Seconds.  Most kids at this age were watching cartoons and playing G.I. Joes while Daric was roping relatives with any material that would tie a knot.  Cowboys and rodeo stars like Layne Frost would eventually become his inspiration to follow his goals of working with horses.  Daric recently graduated from Lindsey High School.  For three years he showed pigs with the Garvin County Junior Livestock 4H where charitable donations from companies like Great Plains helped support his extracurricular activity.  Furthering his dreams to work on a ranch with horses, Daric studied equine science at the Mid-America Technology Center in Wayne, Okla.  Daric’s most recent heart surgery was a huge success.  He’s still in recovery, but the rate at which he’s doing so has astonished everyone.  Before the surgery he wasn’t worried because he knew it had to be done.  In fact, he was more worried about loosing the 12 hairs that were shaved from his chest during preparations than the actual procedure. Now that he’s graduated and successfully completed his fifth heart surgery the open range awaits.
     Daric is a fun loving young man who has a deep family bond and will hardly be caught indoors.  As an outdoorsman he loves to hunt and fish.  This love eventually lead him to join a non-profit organization for people with disabilities called the Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach, or Triple O.  Daric has enjoyed many hunts with the Triple O, including one where he harvested a large mature buck in Michigan, but his favorite hunt is the youth turkey hunt the group hosts every spring.  This great group of volunteers has connect him and his family with others, while sharing the joy of the outdoors.   Daric’s mom Kalaugha Sorrels commented on their involvement.
     “The Triple O has touched our family.  It’s allowed Daric to meet and befriend others that have struggled with health issues.  This interaction has impacted both the lives of Daric and the people he’s met along the way.  The Triple O is a huge confidence builder.  The volunteers allow opportunities  for the members to experience that would never be possible,” said Sorrels.
     A week before his last surgery Daric met with a couple of his cowboy favorites, Cord and Jet McCoy at a commercial shoot for the new Great Plains Edmond.  Here the three enjoyed small talk, and discussed when Daric might hop on one of Cord’s bulls.  
     Being a cowboy can mean many different things.  It’s a profession,  a way of life, or for some a way to dress.  For Daric Roberts it starts in his heart, a heart that beats to a rhythm of the not so distant past where honest hard working men of the open range never gave up.  Perhaps a cowboy’s heart is the key to survival and the inspiration to do what’s right in life? 

 

From the Spring 2014 issue of Great Plains living.  For more information about this publication visit:

www.greatplainsliving.com

www.greatplainskubota.com

Young Bucks

Young Bucks

Another young hunter braves the cold Oklahoma weather to harvest a deer. Images such as this speak volumes about the hunter and the parent or guide that took this kid out to get a nice young buck. My favorite part is the blaze orange hat sporting the Great Plains Kubota logo!

A Close Connection

     How do you connect with Christ?  Perhaps the better question is, how do you share your faith with others?  Personally, I feel closest to God when I’m surrounded by His creation.  Likewise, Oklahoma native, Brad Clay, finds that sharing his devotion to Jesus Christ through his passion of hunting is an effective way to reach those who want to take their faith to the next level.  
     Final Descent Outdoors, Clay’s nationally televised hunting show, offers inspiration to help those striving to reach that next level of faith.  The show’s title is based on Mark 13 which states that “no one knows the day or hour of the Lords return, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  Clay feels that we must be on guard and alert because no one knows when Christ is going to make his final descent.
     Growing up in the small, western Oklahoma town of Reydon, where the closest Wal-Mart was 55 miles away, hunting and fishing was a way of life for Clay.  He lost his father to leukemia at the age of six which would later play a role in his personal ministry.  After his father’s death, his family moved to Allen, Okla. which is where his faith journey began and, where he surrendered to the ministry.  After graduating from Allen High School he served as a part time youth pastor at the Allen First Baptist Church.  He also attended ECU where he played football.  He suffered a football injury and transferred to Southeastern in Durant Okla.  While in Durant, he served as the youth pastor at Silo Baptist Church, which is where he met his wife April.  April and Brad moved to Sulphur where Brad served at the First Baptist Church until a year ago.  Little did Clay know that God’s plan for him would eventually provide a national platform for him to share both his passion for hunting and devotion to God.
     Clay never had any intentions of starting an outdoor TV show, but what started out as an outreach program for his young adult Sunday school class ended up as such.  Clay and other men from the class were looking for a way to continue their fellowship on Sunday afternoons while their wives were shopping or going out to eat.  A friend of Clay’s from the First Baptist Church in Durant suggested the group put together a 30 minute hunting show for their local cable channel.  For the next six years, Clay admittedly made some really bad television, but over time the show improved.  When asked why he decided to start a show in the first place, Clay had this to say.
     “We want to reach men that are needing the gospel.  We feel that it is our obligation to use the passion that God has given us to share the scripture with others.  We saw the chance to share our dedication with the hunting show that aired on the First Baptist Church channel.  By ending each show with a devotion, we were both entertaining and enriching our viewers.  When the show improved it was picked up by KWHB TV 47 in Tulsa.  It ran there for a year.  Through mutual friends and sponsors we decided to contact the Pursuit Channel to take it nationally, which is where the show is today.  I went full time with Final Descent a little over a year ago.  The decision to do so wasn’t easy.  I let God lead me through the whole process, and I truly feel this is what He wants me to do,” Clay stated.
     Final Descent is more than a TV show.  It’s a living ministry that Clay performs through lectures and other engaging mediums.  This month he is releasing a DVD titled “Predator”,  which is a six week bible study for outdoorsmen.  Predator is one way Clay is
reaching the male audience.  He noted there is a lack of devotional material in Christian book stores for men, and even more so for outdoorsmen.  He also hosts outdoor kids’ camps which is very important to him due to the loss of his own father at such a young age.  The kids camps continue to grow every year.  This September 78 kids met in Sulphur to do everything from shooting guns and bows, to learning about tree stand safety.  He finds these camps are a great way to reach kids who might not have the opportunities to do such things.
     “We take Final Descent day by day.  It is ever changing.  The main thing is we are obedient to God.  If that means the show continues, then so be it,” Clay said.
     When people are seen on television it’s often thought they must be wealthy, but not so with Final Descent.  The truth is of the eight pro staff and ten field staff members, Clay is the only full time member.  It is comprised of everyday guys such as school teachers and salesmen.  The other two owners Jason Charter and Mark Hudson, have additional jobs like laying floor and training horses.  Perhaps this is why they relate to their audience so well:  They are average guys doing what average guys love to do.  When we watch outdoor television it looks easy, but there is more to it than pushing the record button and shooting an animal.  Final Descent
creates a story that is both meaningful and entertaining to their good ol’ boy audience.  The long hours of field work and travel that yield only minutes of video ultimately help create the story and ending devotionals.  Just as Clay lets God lead his life he lets the footage lead the episodes’ devotional material at the end of every episode.
     Obviously Clay loves hunting.  When asked, he stated that if it’s in season, he would like to shoot it.  When asked what it means to be a Christian, Clay said this.
     For me I believe there is a difference in a believer and a disciple.  I want to be a disciple of Christ.  There are definitely times when I fail, but I learn and continue to give all my glory to God.  On the day of judgement I want to be able to stand in front of God and know I was a faithful servant.  I want to earn that title,” Clay proclaimed.
     Clay has dedicated the majority of his life to God and the outdoors.  The relationship between the two really have no beginning or end and are more than a close connection.  I’ve been in a tree stand while the moon was setting and the sun was rising, and thought to myself, only God could create such beauty.  It’s times like this, and Final Descent, which fuel a closer connection with God.
     Be sure to tune in to Final Descent on the Pursuit Channel.  See it July through December; Sundays at 5 p.m., Mondays at 8 a.m., or Thursdays at 3 p.m.

A close connection was published in the 2013 issue of Great Plains living the official magazine of Great Plains Kubota