9 April Home on the Plains

9 April

Wonderful day at Hoeme Ranch – best accessed from Dodge City Kansas (not far from my flatland birth-town of Russell), targeting, and having no trouble seeing plenty of Lesser Prairie Chickens and Greater Prairie Chickens. The birds were viewed from the crazy-close quarters of a strategically placed ‘hide’. The property is managed by Stacey Hoeme and his family, and is a spectacular example of successful conservation outcomes through thoughtful land management practices – something that is exceptionally rare in Australia.




Greater Prairie Chicken in full dance mode.


Lesser Prairie Chicken male with puffed neck scrotum, seemingly expecting that this will somehow appeal to the opposite sex.


This hybrid Greater/Lesser Prairie Chicken was far and away the hardest working of the 20-odd males, otherwise fairly evenly split between the species. He ‘danced’ and attacked just about everybody else – and easily accounted for half the physical scrapes, some of which were quite intense.



The once-dominant short-stem Bluegrass prairies of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ lore are all but gone, with the exception of little pockets, such as the Hoeme Ranch, where grazing activity is managed in an attempt to replicate the pre-cattle grazing impact of native bison and deer.


Stacey Hoeme – my hero, doing big things to restore and maintain the rich prairie habitat that once stretched far and wide. The response from native vegetation and fauna on his properties is spectacular.

If video works, a bit of sound and vision from the Hoeme Ranch Prairie Chicken lek:



The airport that makes “Get out of Dodge City” a real proposition.


Does mid-morning sunlight make my ass look fat?


Burrowing Owl living in Prairie Dog colony on the ranch.


Ferruginous Hawk on nest. The Hoeme Ranch is a microcosm of native wildlife in a functioning Bluegrass Prairie system.


Ferruginous Hawk