From Deer to Democracy - OK Legislative Leader leader Kevin Wallace Establishes Deer PreserveWed, 09 Jan 2019 15:21:55 CST
Located between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, AFR member and legislative leader Kevin Wallace has created a hunter's paradise in Wellston, Okla. Nestled among the oak filled timber, trophy white-tailed deer freely roam a combined 650 acres.
Wallace is chairman of the Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Committee and represents District 32 in northeast Oklahoma. The businessman said he wasn't raised in the world of politics or deer farming, but the two go hand in hand.
With a background in construction, he decided to take a chance and purchase five white-tailed deer in 2003 from a farmer in Ohio.
"About this time, there was a big scare with CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease)," Wallace said. "I applied for the permits to get them into the state and they (Oklahoma Department of Agriculture) just started their own set of rules requiring 12 months of CWD surveillance but the farmer only had 11 months."
Taking matters into his own hands, Wallace joined Whitetails of Oklahoma, an association dedicated to the betterment and promotion of any business associated with raising deer. Not long after joining, he was placed on their board of directors and legislative committee.
"At this point in time, the entire industry was under the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation," Wallace said. "Together, we worked with the wildlife department and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture to put the breeding under agriculture and the hunting under wildlife."
Not long after, Wallace became a member of the North American Deer Farmers Association and began lobbying on a national level to have a cohesive set of rules implemented for CWD in all states. At the time, each state had their own set of rules that didn't necessarily align.
"It was all because of deer that I got involved in legislation and became politically active," said Wallace
Since becoming a State Representative in 2014, Wallace has served as the Appropriations and Budget Chair and was the House Co-chair for the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget. Wallace played a vital role in the passing of the largest teacher pay raise in state history while serving as the Appropriations and Budget Chair for the last two years.
When he's not walking the halls of the Oklahoma State Capitol, Wallace can be found at one of his several businesses including a commercial cattle operation, Wallahachie Whitetails LLC, The Wilderness Refuge or his construction company.
Wallahachie Whitetails LLC is a breeding operation of around 50 white-tailed deer located on 160 high fenced acres. With state-of-the-art equipment, Wallace has one of the top breeding facilities in the state. He prides himself on making the health and safety of each animal his highest priority.
"On the breeding side, we regularly perform DNA testing, embryo transfers, artificial insemination, and semen storage just like bull semen," Wallace said. "It's based on the style of a commercial cattle operation.
"If there wasn't a hunting market, there wouldn't be a breeding market," Wallace said.
The Wilderness Refuge, located on 500 high fenced acres, draws in hunters from across the country, and even as far away as Hawaii, for their chance to take home a trophy white-tailed deer. Wallace has even built a large custom lodge available for customers to stay in during their hunting trip.
Nearly 15 years since making his initial purchase of five white-tailed deer, life is drastically different than Wallace could have ever imagined for himself.
"Never get your focus so set that you're not able to adapt and change to situations," Wallace said. "Just like with politics, I never planned on being in politics but I'm very happy to be here now. I think it was meant to be and I'm here for a reason.
"I love white-tailed deer and that's part of my passion but I also enjoy serving my district and representing the state of Oklahoma."
Source - American Farmers & Ranchers
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