Twenty years ago this was a worn-out, overworked, eroded piece of monoculture agriculture ground, full of beef cattle and corn, but largely bereft of quail, songbirds, or anything else resembling native prairie. The land was epilogue, the final chapter in a story stretching back for generations of changing land-use practices, changing conservation values, and disappearing wildness.
Jimmy Bryan read that book—in fact, he lived it—during a farming and ranching career that spanned half a century. But when Bryan looked out upon the land, he realized he didn’t like the ending. It bothered him. He couldn’t reconcile the epilogue the land had become with the chapters he recalled from his youth. So Jimmy Bryan decided to rewrite the book, not on paper, but upon the land itself—the rich, loamy pages of the once-famed but now largely gone Mississippi black-belt prairie region.
Thus was born Prairie Wildlife, a gorgeous, sprawling, 6,000-acre open book—one still being written—chronicling one man’s efforts to bring back the land and bring back wild quail, all while striking a delicate yet achievable balance between conservation, restoration, agriculture, and recreation.
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