Longhorn auction fun-filled success

More than 130 Texas Longhorns headed for their new homes Thursday after the 64th annual Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge Longhorn Auction.  These cattle are the pride of the refuge and the auction is the high point of the summer.

The annual event sells off surplus cattle to make room for the younger herd.  But the sale isn't just for buyers.  People showed up from Kansas, Alabama and even California, just to see the historic Texas Longhorn.  Only 30 head of cattle were relocated to the refuge in 1927, and it has now multiplied many times and that's the reason for the auction.

Anchor D Ranch owner, Dick Robbins, has been coming to the Longhorn auction for 32 years and traveled all the way from Belvidere, Kansas.  "Last year I left here with 20 head - I had 10 cows and 10 calves.  I can't tell you what I'm gonna do this year, I got one cow so far," said Robbins.

Robbins has a herd of his own bred specifically from the ones at the wildlife refuge and he says these cattle are the best he's seen.  "I like the longhorn cattle, I like this particular bunch of cattle," he says.

Hundreds of people came to see the auction and get close up look at these wild animals, and a piece of Oklahoma history.  "I just think that all adds to the charisma and historical and cultural heritage that comes from longhorns and cattle drives and all that that were important to Texas and to Oklahoma," says Wildlife Biologist Joe Kimball.

Kimball says the auction is a big event for the refuge and it helps keep the longhorn population under control.  But, that's not the only reason.  Cache math teacher Ron Smith has been bringing students here to help them with their math.  They have to figure out their average weights and how much a buyer would have to pay.

"They have two major grades that they obtain today - the data sheet which is all the math they'll have to figure, and then I have them write me a little short story.  So that's two major grades," says Kimball.  But, it's not all work and no play.  Kimberly Runells says her favorite part of the day is the auctioneer.  "The man...how he speaks so fast..."  And it's a chance to socialize, too.  "I've been coming here a day or two, and I know a lot of these guys. It's a chance to renew old friendships and meet new people," said Kimball.

Over ¾ of the proceeds from the auction go to a national sharing fund to help refuges which don't have any way to make money.  So, there's good news for them this year; the refuge sold 138 head of cattle and made just over $74,000 which made it another successful year for the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.