A local family with a tradition of ranching that spans more than 100 years, was formally recognized by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) recently for exemplary accomplishments in habitat management and wildlife conservation.

The Lone Star Land Steward Award for the Edwards Plateau Region, was presented to the father and son team of John and Brian Treadwell at a state banquet held May 25 in Austin. The award was presented to recognize their efforts at the Treadwell Brady Ranch, an 8,000 acre tract of land that is located in McCulloch and Menard Counties.

The Treadwells, now in their sixth generation of ranching families, have deep family roots to the area. The family still has a ranch in Fort McKavett on which both John and Brian spent much of their time during the younger years of their lives.

John left the family ranch to attend the University of Texas in the 1960s and came full circle, returning to the ranching business with the 1999 purchase of the Brady Ranch.

“We had an opportunity to form a real family business," said John in regards to the decision for returning to ranching. "Brian had great success building Rocket T Outfitters, a large family hunting business, and we knew what we could do for ranching income. The only unknown seemed to be how to manage the brush.”

The Treadwell Brady Ranch is a true working ranch. Historically, this property had been abused for generations as a sheep ranch. When the Treadwells purchased the property in the fall/winter of 1998-99, the property was characterized by bare ground overrun with brush and prickly pear and was devoid of an operational water system.

"When we began the management program on the ranch, our overall goal was to reverse decades of abuse and neglect," said Brian, the operator of the ranch. "Our main goal is to operate the ranch at a sustainable level while improving the available natural resources."

Having grown up on the Fort McKavett ranch, the younger Treadwell attended Southern Methodist University and successfully attained a marketing degree. He created and developed Rocket T Outfitters and subsequently hosted, produced, filmed and edited "Runnin' Wild Texas Adventures," a hunting show that ran for five quarters on the Outdoor Channel.

As a working cattle ranch, cattle are run in one herd and rotated through 27 grazing units with a complete rotation of about six months.

The underlying theme in their management goal has been to focus on improving the habitat. Approximately 600 acres are deferred each year for prescribed burning. Along with the deferred pasture being burned, they practice a follow-behind burn program for spot burning large areas.

Over the past five years, an estimated 800+ acres of cedar have been cut. As a result, spring flow in one large canyon, historically dominated by juniper trees, has been stimulated.

“I feel my job as a land steward is to identify the habitat and monitor how my decisions and their timing impact the diversity of our usable vegetation," said Brian. "My dad says you can’t expect to run a business if you can’t take inventory. Instead of battling Mother Nature with money, we manage our carrying capacity.

"Our holistic goal for the ranch ultimately focuses on the evolving vision we practice for our habitat. In determining what kind of operation we were going to run, we made the choice to work on quality instead of supporting quantity.

"By placing habitat management as our priority, the other issues became the facts of the quotient by which we reach our solution. Like focusing a big camera lens in the waning light, keeping our priority in focus requires frequent manipulations of our tools.”

The Treadwells have participated in a LIP conservations partnership with TPWD to improve habitat for black-capped vireos and horned lizards. Currently, they are in an EQIP partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to control mesquite and cedar.

Browse utilization surveys are conducted annually to evaluate vegetation responses to applied management techniques and to determine the impact of browsing animals.

The ranch’s wildlife-resource-management goals for game species have been to improve the quality of mature animals each year while maximizing profit potential. By keeping habitat front and center, the Treadwells expect all native populations to benefit. The increased frequency of prescribed burns, rotational grazing and removal of noxious brush has enabled the Treadwells to eliminate supplemental feeding of both livestock and deer.

"We have put a strong emphasis on habitat management and selective harvest for producing the best quality deer their range conditions can afford," said Brian.

To restore water on the ranch, over the past six years they have implemented an extensive watering system consisting of fast lines, water troughs, wells and reservoirs.

The ranch also assisted with the formation of the Menard County Wildlife Management Association, and was instrumental in the formation of the Calf Creek Prescribed Burning Co-op, which later became the McCulloch County chapter of the Edwards Plateau Prescribed Burn Association.

John and wife, Jann, live in Dallas from where he commutes on a weekly basis. Brian and wife, Ginger, have two children, Jamie, 4, and Allie, 2, and live on the ranch in McCulloch County.

To learn more about the Treadwell ranching operation, visit their website at