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Western innovator: Revitalized ranch hosts hunters

Love of hunting drives ranch's multiple-use philosophy


For the Capital Press

CANYONVILLE, Ore. -- Jack Joyce has often been recognized and honored for the multiple-use philosophy he has used in managing his cattle ranch near this small southern Douglas County town.

He not only runs a mother cow and hay operation, but has also partnered with the Oregon Hunters Association and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife over the last several years to enhance the land and provide hunting opportunities for young hunters and disabled veterans in wheelchairs.

The enhancement work earned Joyce a Hunters Access and Habitat Award from OHA in 2008.

"We've got an awful lot of habitat protected through a joint effort," Joyce said. "It's been relatively easy to accomplish. Without the combined efforts of field people in the Oregon Hunters Association and in Fish and Wildlife, a lot less animals would have less enhanced habitat."

The rancher was named OHA's Citizen Landowner of the Year in 2011. He's provided access to his land and ponds for youth duck and turkey hunts. His donated hunts to the OHA Umpqua chapter have been raffled off, earning money for OHA and giving young hunters a chance at bagging a turkey or duck.

"They're not doing drugs, they're not stealing from somebody, and they got a big smile on their face," said Joyce when asked why he donates the juvenile hunts. "My passion is hunting and I remember when I couldn't find land to hunt with my young sons. I hate 'no trespassing' signs, but I know they're necessary. This way I can give some young hunters an opportunity."

The youths must be accompanied by a parent or other adult. Joyce points them in the right direction and then lets them hunt on their own.

"They always come back after their hunt to brag about it," Joyce said with a smile. "They're always pleased with the experience."

Joyce is considering adding goose hunts to his future donations.

Joyce is a 10-year member of the OHA, whose mission statement is "to provide an abundant huntable wildlife resource in Oregon for present and future generations, enhancement of wildlife habitat and protection of hunter's rights."

"Jack's been a huge supporter of our chapter," said Cindy Rooney, president of the Umpqua chapter. "He's been very consistent in donating hunts for the last 10 years or so. He's helping to get youth more involved in our hunting heritage."

To enhance the habitat on his ranch, Joyce has worked with OHA and ODFW to remove blackberry vines from several meadows. A mixture of pasture grass seed was then spread over about 50 acres, enhancing the forage for deer and elk.

By the South Umpqua River that borders his ranch, Joyce had five rock structures built into the bank and willows planted to help stop bank erosion. He traded four or five days of work planting the willows with three young men who received duck hunting rights on the ranch.

Joyce estimated the river project cost $80,000 to $100,000 and the meadow enhancement cost close to $10,000.

"I like to conserve the land and maintain it for its usefulness," the rancher said.

Western innovator

Jack Joyce

Age: 74

Family: Single, two sons

Profession: Rancher since 1994, public works facilities shop director at Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif., 1972 to 1994

Location: Joyce Ranch, Canyonville, Ore.

Education: Two years at Bakersfield Junior College, Bakersfield, Calif., one year at Cal Poly-Pomona, Calif., numerous night classes; all general studies for engineering

More innovation

A collection of 2011's Western innovators is available on Amazon's Kindle. Take a look at "Western Innovators: Profiles of 42 agricultural leaders who shaped the West in 2011" at www.amazon.com/Western-Innovators-Profiles-agricultural-ebook/dp/B009NMO76O


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