Wilks Brothers Game Ranching
Click for background information on the Wilks BLM land exchange proposal that threatens not only our public lands, but one of the largest elk populations in Montana.

What can Montanans expect from the Wilks "wildlife management"?

August 28th Billings Gazette wrote an article, "Wilks brothers offer hunting access through ranch in north-central Montana". There have been a plethora of these articles of late.

But this one really pisses me off, because it is trying NOW, to make it seem the elk are a problem on the landscape, not mentioning all the Wilks attempts to privatize that elk population. Concerning the Block Management carrot it states, "Although the offer can't be considered by the BLM in its process, the move would help Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks cut the growth of an expanding elk herd that seeks refuge during the hunting season on the Wilkses' private N Bar Ranch."

Those elk have always been there, it is elk habitat, the Wilks knew that when they bought the place. The statewide elk plan for the Snowy EMU states, "A large proportion of the occupied elk habitat is comprised of privately owned land, which the majority of the elk use year-round."

Supreme Court of Montana. State V. C. R. Rathbone decision, "Montana is one of the few areas in the nation where wild game abounds. It is regarded as one of the greatest of the state's natural resources, as well as the chief attraction for visitors. Wild game existed here long before the coming of man. One who acquires property in Montana does so with notice and knowledge of the presence of wild game and presumably is cognizant of its natural habits. Wild game does not possess the power to distinguish between fructus naturales and fructus industriales, and cannot like domestic animals be controlled through an owner. Accordingly a property owner in this state must recognize the fact that there may be some injury to property or inconvenience from wild game for which there is no recourse." C.R. Rathbone was convicted for shooting an elk, out of season, for eating the grass at his ranch.)

That elk herd belongs to the public, and those elk are not seeking "refuge" on the NBar, they came with the NBar, even before the original NBar that was created in 1882, here in Montana - the Niobrara Cattle Company, "Although N Bar headquarters was established in 1885, the story of the N Bar actually dates back to 1878 with two brothers. E. S. 'Zeke' and Henry H. J. Newman were originally from Texas and were some of the first ranchers to settle in the Nebraska sandhills and to trail cattle from Mexico and Texas into Montana. "

The NBar website states,

This rich landscape abundant with wildlife, makes the N Bar is one of the finest and most diverse sporting ranches in Montana... Deer and elk herds populate the upper timbered reaches of the ranch...The elk herds that roam the N Bar Ranch are nearly without equal in North America. High-quality forage, mineral-laden food sources, limited hunting and outstanding native genetics combine to support a vast population that includes an impressive number of "trophy" animals with bulls that qualify for record-book status. Approximately 1,900 head of elk from three distinct herds have been counted on the property, thriving in the ranch's dark stands of north-facing Douglas Fir that give way to ridges of scattered Ponderosa Pine, stands of aspen and grassy meadows that descend from the high country into bottomlands succulent with forage.

The Wilks knew exactly what they were getting when they bought that place - lots of gorgeous elk. What they may not have known, was that they "werent in Kansas anymore" and those public elk belong to the people, not the landowner, like back in Texas.

In a conversation with PLWA's president, John Gibson, he recounted an article in the Billings Gazette a couple years ago - Billionaire Brothers buying Montana ranches, with his follow up Letter to the Editor, Landowners do not manage wildlife.

Hold on. This is Montana, not Texas. We have an agency called the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks that manages wildlife. Sportsmen fund this agency and we expect certain results. These include managing wildlife as a public trust resource while subscribing to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation...

Landowners determine who may access their private land as well as how that land will be managed. But their management does not include wildlife. The Montana Supreme Court states that the presence of public wildlife upon the land implies no claim of ownership and is a condition of acquisition or something the buyer should have recognized at the time the land was purchased.

I hope the land buyers know this.

This 2015 legislative session, HD 29 Rep. Bill Harris, an outfitting landowner representing the Wilks Brothers district where a fencing dispute on our BLM public lands involving the Wilks legal fence height, introduced a HB 557 to change Montana Legal Fencing description, REMOVING the height max of 48 inches. We also saw SB245, a bill towards privatizing our elk populations, thankfully vetoed. This bill saw Darryl James, the Wilks representative and lobbyist at the legislature advocating for this bill.

The Democratic Alternative to Privatization
The North American Model of
Wildlife Conservation

Click to enlarge

"... and the rich people, who are content to buy what they have not the skill to get by their own exertions - these are the men who are the real enemies of game." - Theodore Roosevelt

In a 2000 oped concerning the Montana public's fight against game ranching - Ballot Initiative 143, written by David Stalling, L. Jack Lyon, Stan Rauch and Larry Townsend

"These gentlemen want you to forget that ballot initiatives happen precisely because people believe their legislative representatives have failed to protect the public interest or to perform their duty due to political allegiances or from a true lack of understanding of an issue. If the state Legislature... had done a good job for the people, I-143 would not be necessary...

Renowned wildlife researcher Valerius Giest calls game ranching a 'deep but silent crisis' in wildlife conservation, and says 'the trend toward viewing wildlife as a commodity has grown, cancerlike, and its severity has not been sufficiently recognized or appreciated.'

Game farming attacks the tremendously successful system of North American wildlife management that was created in the wake of the market-driven demise of wildlife a 100 years ago. Today, all hunters depend on this system for their hunting opportunities.

Game farming is a long step toward a European system in which wildlife is privately owned, domesticated and commercialized, bred and manipulated to meet market demands, and in which hunting is only for the wealthy and powerful.

But that's not all. Game farming poses many other serious, well-documented threats to public wildlife, including disease, hybridization, genetic pollution, the creation and expansion of commercial markets for wildlife, loss of wildlife habitat and an unacceptable, bankrupt image of hunting portrayed by the paid shooting of captive animals."


The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

" The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation
is a set of principles that, collectively applied,
has led to the form, function, and successes of wildlife
conservation and management in the United States and


Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
Additionally, there is the issue of disease within captive wildlife programs and ranches. "Texas is home to 1,300 deer breeders, more than any other state, but after one confirmed case of chronic wasting disease last month, officials want to take action now."

The Wilks fly back and forth between the Durfees (runway just north of Durfee Hills) and Texas on their private jet. If you have ever read through academic papers on Chronic Wasting Disease in wildlife, you would be very concerned with these prions and how long they can remain on the landscape.






So I began looking into the Wilks Brothers idea of "wildlife management" documented below.



Wilks Whitetails is based in Cisco, Texas

The website states,

"We're setting the standard for quality genetics.

Wilks Whitetail
A World-Class Deer Breeding Operation

Wilks Whitetails has some of the best genetics and deer in Texas. The ranch operations is located in Cisco, Texas with beautiful terrain and with a great facility for raising and handling deer. We have deer for stockers, breeders and breeding. Our program has taken us to the leading edge with some of the biggest breeding deer. We believe that our program and relationship will work together with goals and dreams in your deer program. Please give us a call and check out our breeding operation and experience the latest in some of the biggest deer in the breeding industry. Wilks Whitetails goal is to be your partner for you hunting operation or breeding program...

Do you need to stock your hunting ranch with some of the best shooter bucks we can help provide those to you. These genetics can and will help hunting ranches for years to come."

Wilks Whitetails Video showing deer obviously having difficulty with unnatural racks.



D Magazine, January 2015

Shopping with a Rifle, interview with Madison Michener of Lodge Creek Whitetails Ranch concerning Dan and Farris Wilks trophy rack deer breeding and HR (High Fence) ranches.

"Clients not only call and text, but they show up at the gate, too. This sense of urgency, this unwillingness to miss the next biggest buck, creates intense competition among the rich hunters who drive in from Dallas. A man once saw a deer he wanted and paid Michener $44,000 in $20 bills on the spot upon delivery.

“I’m not saying this to brag, but just to put it in perspective, I probably have in my cellphone five billionaires—” His phone rings. He takes the call, then continues: “See, it’s calls like that. They want to come out and see the deer. It’s just nonstop. I probably have five billionaires—with a ‘b’—that are not accessible to anyone else, but if I call them, they’ll answer. Now, I’m just the ranch hand. But they want to talk about deer.”

Two of those billionaires are Farris and Dan Wilks, burly brothers from Cisco, two hours west of Dallas. Forbes lists their individual wealth at $1.5 billion, and they are quintessential self-made men. Originally bricklayers, the brothers built up a masonry outfit, then reinvented themselves as energy industry entrepreneurs. Owners of several high-fence ranches and regular customers at Lodge Creek, the Wilkses are ideal clients for the deer breeding industry: trophy-hungry hunters who are short on the time required to wait out deer in the wild but flush with enough cash to have prized bucks brought into their crosshairs."

















Texas Deer Association 2015 Deer Genetic Auction PDF, pg. 34

Notice the geneology names - "Red 28 is also half-sister to Frac-Daddy"

Also, page 84



































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