Big Bend Real Estate Guide January 2022 - Page 6

Kickin ’ Rocks on the Kokernot

Much has been published about Kokernot o6 Ranch , established between Alpine and Fort Davis in 1912 , and spanning two West Texas counties . It ’ s been featured in articles , photographs and even film . It ’ s famed for its cattle roundups , which recall historic ranching days when horseback cowboys traversed open country in search of herds scattered across hundreds of thousands of acres of unfenced land , chuckwagon and cowboy cook in tow .

Camp-relaxing : Take-A-Hike ’ s overnight excursions take place at one of the Kokernot o6 historic cattle drive camps .
The ranch represents to the public , as much as to members of the diverse group of heirs that own it , life in mythic cowboy proportions — nearly gone and all but forgotten . No matter what the future holds , the o6 has staked its claim in ranching heritage as a place with real western pride .
That romance is not lost on James Winn VI , a Kokernot heir and o6 comanager .
James grew up in Baltimore hearing his mother Elizabeth Lacy Winn , herself a Kokernot heir , reminisce about childhood on the family ranch . Eventually , she left Texas to attend college , fell in love , got married and started a family in Maryland . The family visited far West Texas during holidays for up to a few weeks each year .
But James didn ’ t give ranch life much thought until after graduating from college . That ’ s when his father and namesake set him down to have a “ what ’ s next ” conversation . “ What can you see yourself doing for the long term ?” his father wanted to know . The answer bubbled up with a familial nostalgia . James answered that he could see himself working on o6 ranching enterprises .
In 2011 , not entirely sure where it would lead , James embarked on a journey to live in Alpine and immerse himself in all things ranch related . “ We decided I would try it out and see if I liked it . And I liked it ,” he said with a sly grin .
He attended spring and fall cattle works out on the range and got a taste of the old cowboy ways (“ It ’ s hard ,” he conceded ). He trained with professional horsemen , learned to brew beer with Alpine craft beer royalty , and enrolled in range management courses at Sul Ross State University , eventually earning a master ’ s degree from that program . Highlights included a trip to Brazil to tour modernized ranches . Some of the techniques he saw stuck with him , and he still wonders if any could be utilized here .
As a northeasterner , James had a lot to prove to his West Texas kin , some of whom are also co-managers of various o6 enterprises . Culture clashes have not always made it easy . But James has stuck it out , as much for himself as for his mother , whose ranch shares he was elected to represent . For the past ten years , he ’ s looked for ways to bring value to the ranch and its stakeholders . “ There ’ s a whole bunch of stuff out there that ’ s never been tried . We haven ’ t allowed ourselves to open up to new ideas ,” he suggested .
An avid hiker , James spends a lot of time getting to know the ranch ’ s nooks and crannies . His Sul Ross botany connections have spurred him to look for plants with scant records . He ’ s
6 Big Bend Real Estate Guide • January 2022