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Long Straw Ranch

MIKE HIGGINS & MELINDA BRANCHINI, CO-OWNERS

Mike Higgins and Melinda Branchini

Mike Higgins and Melinda Branchini are co-owners and operators of Long Straw Ranch, LLC.

Since purchasing the ranch in 2006, Mike and Melinda have focused on restoring the 400 acre property to its natural state with a primary focus on wildlife habitat. Shortly after purchasing the ranch, Mike and Melinda commissioned an assessment of the property by a professional wildlife biologist and they jointly developed a multi-year plan for approaching habitat restoration.

To implement the plan, they have worked closely with the NRCS Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP) located in Bowie, Texas as well as participating in the Quail Masters class of 2009 hosted by the Texas Wildlife Association and Texas A&M. Involvement in Quail Masters led to their approach of using "Cow, Fire, Axe and Plow" to restore the property.

They have continued to stay on top of current research on quail habitat through their involvement with University of North Texas, the Texas Quail Coalition, and Mike's serving on the Park Cities Quail organizing committee for the annual Boone Pickens Lifetime Achievement Award fund raiser.

Long Straw Ranch is operated as a recreational hunting property with a focus on Quail hunting. While "pen-raised" birds are the core of the hunting operation, a number of resident quail coveys have been established and are carrying over from year to year and thriving. In addition, due to the improvements in habitat, increased populations of turkey, dove and deer have been in evidence.

Both Mike and Melinda are involved in other aspects of the sport shooting/hunting community. Melinda is a member of DIVA WOW, (Women Outdoors Worldwide). Mike is a past board member at the Dallas Gun Club and past president of the St. Louis Skeet and Trap Club. He is also a member of the Dallas Safari Club. Mike is President of the U. S. Helice (ZZ Bird) Shooting Association.

In 2011, Mike and Melinda founded the Higgins Branchini Shooting Foundation (a 501c3 organization) to provide financial support to individual collegiate shotgun competitors. The Foundation provides individual annual grants to assist with training, travel and competition for applicants who are selected through a review process that includes evaluation by an advisory panel of coaches and former Olympic shotgun competitors. To date, over 100 students have received financial support nationwide.