Ranching? A lifestyle I know well and love deeply.
Opera? A musical production I respect and would love to attend one day. But in the same breath, I know very little about.
When assigned a feature story covering Guitar Ranches, I had no idea the two worlds would soon collide for me. Phil and Jane Guitar own and operate several ranches spanning across West Texas, with their headquarters sitting in Abilene. Additionally, Jane works extensively with the opera there.
While cattle are the primary focus of the ranch, they have worked to incorporate a business model including the wildlife — Guitar Outdoors. To them, it is important all components of their ranches coexist to ensure stewardship and profitability, and thus sustainability, of their land and business.
“Ranching is like putting together an opera,” Jane parallels. “You have to have an orchestra. You have to have a chorus. You have to have soloists. You have to have a venue. You have to have the theater. You have to have a conductor. You have to have a director. If you don’t have all these different areas controlled, it can all fall to pieces. It won’t be a good production.”
It is safe to say Guitar Ranches has excelled at being a “good production.” They have been able to sustain a profitable cow-calf enterprise, while also offering hunting trips unlike any other ranch nearby. A hunting excursion with them boasts a long-range shooting school, a culinary event, and even the ability to spend time with nature if hunting is not your focus.
Along with CEO Kirby Andrews, Wildlife Manager Lloyd LaCoste, Cattle Manager Jimbo Humphreys, and the other staff members who play essential parts in the operation, they are continuously making strides to integrate each piece of the ranch and ensure it is “top-shelf.”
“We have hundreds of employees and families who are all working together to make this dream a reality. Each of them brings his or her own unique talents,” Phil says. “It’s amazing to see so many people working for the good of the whole.”
Each piece of their business works in concert to illustrate an admirable picture of land stewardship. It is clear to me their passion is to share it with others as a form of advocacy, too. Each new component they introduce to their business model is intentional and serves their long-term goal of leaving the land better than they received it.
Read more about the Guitars in my upcoming feature story in The Cattleman.
Kayla Jennings is a regular contributor to and the proofreader for The Cattleman magazine.