Corps Stories

Combat Marine Outdoors: Gist Kingman Ranch

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Special Assignment:

More Than A News Story – A Journalism Project

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Combat Marine Outdoors:    Gist-Kinsman Ranch, George West, TX

MARCH 2012

 

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When a trophy deer hunting ranch donates hunts to CMO, they are essentially making a high five-digit donation. The costs to run such operations – staff and guide a hunting party for several days – is expensive.

Yet GKR staff behaved as if these warriors were the highest paying hunters they’ve ever had.

In the end, these four (l to r: Bosworth, Kalish, Collard, Holiday) were like family to each other. Even years from now should one raise a need to another, that need would be met in a hurry.

Kinsman
In the Holy Bible this word refers to the term, “kinsman redeemer”; when a person’s relative pays a debt the person is unable to pay.

Surely GKR owners Dr. Greg and Beth Gist have this redemptive heart for our wounded troops.

Or perhaps the Gist’s see themselves as simply a deliverer of God’s blessings. Just a channel of His amazing grace and His abundant natural world.

In the relatively short time that GKR has been researching white-tail buck genetics, about five years, it has developed an international reputation to be envied. Antlers of their most average bucks are astounding in size, proportion and symmetry.

Antlers of their most prized bucks take the breath away of even the most seasoned hunter.

Racks surround the fireplace in the ranch house great room. These gorgeous creatures are not only stunning for their antlers, but the obvious overall excellent health and size of GKR deer – which stopped an observer in their tracks.

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Cody (right) and Caden Collard lead an unusual life.

One that boys their age haven’t led in the majority for probably 100 years.

They’re constantly underfoot, have better marksmanship than many an amateur gunman, know what’s expected of them in the work arena – and they love Marines.

When Cpl. Kalish arrived, both were without words. With smiles plastered on their faces, they squirmed, they tried so hard to sit still, but they wouldn’t let the corporal out of their sight.

They clearly understand he’s a hero.

Cpl. Kalish’s experience at GKR would not have been as positive without their presence.

Creature comforts at GKR abounded.

This fire circle was so inviting. Inside the ranch house rooms were tastefully decorated in Western style with high quality furnishings, gourmet kitchen, large baths and spaciousness abounded.

A wonderful home away from home for these warriors

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It seems counter-intuitive that from a small family; Lynn, his wife Carrie (3rd from left), their sons Cody and Caden and with the help of ranch hand and guide Collin Bosworth; world-sought bucks could be spawned.

Yet they are.

And it is done with tremendous reproductive conservation, only a portion of the does carry each season. When they deliver, the fawns are treated with such intense care that one might think each was the only delivery on the ranch.

Carrie’s nursing background lends an important medical and scientific perspective to this operation.

The passion of this family operation clearly sets GKR – and it’s deer – apart.

Being many miles from the culinary conveniences of city living, good cooking comes second nature to ranch residents. Collard cooked up a breakfast of champions after a morning hunt.

Going hungry in the blind at dawn was a small price to pay for the pleasure of hunting – knowing a bellyful awaited soon afterward.

After the evening hunt outdoor grills were filled with cuts of beef and venison. Plates stacked with barbecue and farm veggies as well as tasty beverages caused little suffering at GKR

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Clouds and rain, rutted dirt and sand roads were nothing less than a God-send to these Texans.

Having survived likely the driest year in Texas history in 2011, downpours caused a quiet jubilation in George West.

GKR is one of many ranches surrounding the town formed by successful rancher George Washington West in the early 1900’s. He persuaded a railroad company to bring trains there, then local government to move the Live Oak County seat there.

Rolling hills of every shade of greens and grays against pale and bright blue skies gave an ethereal appearance to the terrain. Roaming wildlife and low Mesquite trees reminded one of the amazing beauty of this semi-tropical portion of a grand state.

GKR’s trails, woods and pastures are nothing less than breathtaking.

Bosworth’s work was never done. Tasked to take pictures from atop the feed storage bin would provide views not seen from ground level.

Warm blue skies above him, wind howling around him – he earned his photographer’s badge that day.

Also a full-time student  at Texas A&M, Bosworth is a busy young man.

Collard took little pity on Bosworth through this visit. He was a gentle but expectant task-master. And Bosworth, with his own youthful pride, rolled his eyes once or twice. Yet he never failed to respond immediately and deliver with excellence. His skills and maturity are beyond his years.

Good helps hard to find.

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