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T. Boone Pickens' Bird Dogs at Mesa Vista

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March 04, 2013

T. Boone Pickens' Bird Dogs at Mesa Vista

By Chad Love

The building behind this bronze pointer is not a palatial home. It is, in fact, a palatial dog kennel—home to some 40 English pointers, labs, and even a few Boykin spaniels that belong to T. Boone Pickens, a legendary businessman and utterly obsessed quail hunter.

Last week I got the rare opportunity to spend some time with Pickens at his incredible 68,000-acre (Yes, that's over 100 square miles...) Texas panhandle ranch, Mesa Vista. If you're a quail hunter, you've probably heard of Mesa Vista. Starting with an initial purchase of 2,900 acres of overgrazed, worn-out Roberts County, Texas rangeland, Pickens has since tirelessly built Mesa Vista into perhaps the finest wild bobwhite quail hunting spot on earth. It is a truly remarkable place, and as a lover of all things quail, it was a high honor just to visit the place, much less talk quail hunting and dogs with the man himself.

Mesa Vista is a very busy place during quail season, and at over a hundred sections of land, it stands to reason that you need a lot of dog power to cover it. And man, does this place holds some dog power. Texas is pointer country, and a rotating cast of big-running English pointers get the primary pointing duties, while a mix of labs and Boykins are used as non-slip retrievers on quail hunts, and as flushers when Pickens' guests would rather hunt pheasants.

The kennel building itself is huge, with a double row of runs on either side. It was easily the nicest and most impressive kennel building I've ever seen. In fact, seeing as how the digs were much, much nicer than anything I had in college, I asked Pickens' people if I could just move in, seeing as how there were a few empty runs and plenty of space. They refused, of course. My pedigree wasn't impressive enough, nor was I well-trained or talented enough to deserve a spot on Pickens' dog string. You win some, you lose some...

I'll leave you with one of my favorite dog-related "Booneisms" (Pickens is famous for his pithy comments) from the weekend. Keep in mind that the kennel isn't a breeding operation. The ranch gets most of its dogs already trained, either purchased from trainers across the nation or as gifts, and this is what Pickens relayed to me in regard to the gifting of bird dogs:

“If someone ever offers you a bird dog, don’t take it. You wouldn’t just give someone a bird dog that was actually worth a damn, would you? Hell no, you’d keep it yourself, so why would someone give one to you?” Pickens then added, with a wry smile, "of course, people give me some pretty nice bird dogs these days."

That makes perfect sense to me: if you're going to give a billionaire a bird dog, you better make pretty damn sure it's a good one...

Comments (20)

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from dbenear1985 wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Pickens is a bafoon. I live within about 2-3 hours of this place and while i must admit i am jealous of it, if it wasnt for a political agenda i doubt Mr Pickens finances would be in such good shape. He owns patents on parts that go to these electricity generating wind farms, which stick out like giant redwood trees on an open prarie. If not for Obummer pushing these things Mr Pickens might be just an average citezen.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

"Bin an Oil man all ma life" says Boone, and then he goes into wind generation because of the tax breaks Obama gave him, and it still didn't work out, he gave up on the big project he was involved in. I still like Boone, and this operation sounds like a bird hunter's dream. He's done a wealth of good for his University, Oklahoma St. But as far as those wide ranging pointers that can cover that vast acreage? I like the breeder's Advertisement for his pointers saying, "Our pointers hunt WITH you, and not just FOR you.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Debenear, You are a buffoon! His riches come from the oil industry which I find quite ironic that Chad would rub elbows with him a oil tycoon! As for his wind energy promoting(which lasted months)he is a business man and all business man worth their weight in salt, invest. That he did, and soon realized it was a losing investment and once again any business man worth their weight in salt he dropped it like its hot!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mopickens wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

www michaelpickens.blogspot.com

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

The simple life is for me. I have my dogs living in the home with me and I wouldn't have it any other way. It would break my heart to see them stuffed away out of sight in a concrete bunker. Locking me up in prison would do me in. I sure couldn't put my dogs through that.

Also I detest locking up public game resources. Would NEVER do that. But it's the Texas way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Ontario...I sure get your point as my dogs are my family members, and get the good life they deserve. But, I would bet inside your described concrete bunker is a better facility than a lot of people live in today in this country. Clean, the best of food and water and sleeping quarters, and I would bet they have a good run area. That sure beats some of the raunchy quarters hunters provide for their hunting dogs that they don't give a darn about all year long until hunting season.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

i agree ontario. texas is pay to play. you start talking public land down there you are immediately deemed a socialist.

if you've never read jim fergus' book: A Hunter's Road, I recommend it. the book gives you a good idea of what bird hunting in the state of texas is like

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Yeah, clinchknot, "clean, the best of food and water and sleeping quarters, and ... a good [exercise] area." Sounds an awful lot like the prisons up here.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Yep, Wisc14, and every Sunday you'll see the same greedy, rabid anti-socialist Texan game hogs in church pounding away at their Bibles. Of course they skip the parts with parable of Good Samaritan and the Sermon on the Mount. Their Lord and Savior wrote the book on socialism ... but you'll never get them to admit it.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Ontario and Wisc. You sound like our President..."those little peole that cling to their bibles, and guns." All at once a got a bad smell come across my monitor screen.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Wow....I'd love a facility like that. Isn't that what most bird dog men would do if they hit the lottery for a billion?
Why all the jealous negativity for a self made man? The guy has paid more in taxes than probably all the readers put together.He is also a very generous man when it comes to charity and he even gave a nice fat check to Quail restoration ?????? What's wrong with that?
Seriously,I can't believe how over the last 4 or 5 years Americans have come to dislike people simply because they worked hard and were successful?????

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

P.S. In just the last 6 years alone T. Boone's Foundation has raised 2.6 million $$$$$ to save and restore our nation's Quail population!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

haverod...It's a liberal/socialist ignorant thing. Obama and the left attack the wealthy as if it is their fault the country is deep in debt..class warefare and you get the ignorant vote.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

I am by all accounts also a wealthy person. I could certainly easily afford to build a fancy kennel for a stable of high bred dogs. I could also drive a different colored BMW convertible for every day of the week. But, for the reasons I stated, that's JUST NOT FOR ME. And that's the point I was making. I applaud Mr. Pickens for putting that much money into restoring the quail population ... so he and his select friends can hunt them privately in Texas. If he is investing his charitable dollars in setting aside land for the public to hunt the game they own, then I will applaud him even more. But somehow I don't think that's the case. As I said, it's not the Texas way.

Very immature for you clowns to take what I said out of context. But no surprise. That's the "right's" way of doing things. I am also amused that you think the whole world is simply right or left, black or white, evil or good, etc. Clearly a symptom of people who can't think for themselves, or are afraid to try.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Ah, and whose fault is the national debt, clinchknot? All those sandlot wars in the Middle East, whose fault is that? Shall we blame the "libs" for that too? Do you have ANY idea what that crap is costing Americans every day? It totally dwarfs domestic expenditure. But somehow the conservatives escape blame for it? Which presidents got America into those wars? But no, it's all Obama's fault the national debt is in the trillions. Yeah, like he managed that all on his own in four short years. Pffffffffffft!!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Tired of listening to you Ontario. Your background as a card carrying teacher's union member says it all. I doubt you can even factor in how many people are beholding to Boone Pickens for creating them a job, and a high paying job in the oil industry. People who then pay taxes to support your socialist policies you so desperately want. And there are many, many more jobs that Boone Pickens has created outside the oil industry.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Card carrying teachers union member? Huh? Where did that come from? When was the last time you met a wealthy teacher in Idaho? Pfffft! Oh yeah, I taught there once. Those wages weren't even poverty level. And the quality of the teaching in that state really exemplified the expenditure or lack thereof. I'm guessing you're a card carrying Mormon?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

You said you did coach wrestling did you not, but you were not a teacher?..sure could be, but your failed ideology religion of liberalism smacks of being a union member. Why the knock on successful folks, and all they contribute to the good of society then? And you are now promoting yourself as rich? lol! One that tells a new dog owner no need to spend money on an e-collar when a high percentage of dog trainers do?....Grizzly Bears in the Brooks, extinct Greater Prairie chickens, If you are rich it had to be you're one of those liberal, Trust Fund babies. And no, I was not a union member teacher...I contracted out, and retired years ago prior to that. And I am not rich. I couldn't afford to build a beautiful dog facility like Boone did.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

"Contracted out" = substitute teacher who doesn't have the credentials, i.e. education, to be certified. Retired from part time work? Well, okay. Or did they just decide, as so many teaching districts have, that they only want qualified (i.e. certified) substitute teachers?

As to e-collars and "high percentage of dog trainers": those dog trainers are selling their trained dogs as often as not to some lazy stuffed shirt who wants to shove his dogs in a kennel all year and take them out a few weeks in the fall and expect picture perfect performance. An e-collar makes their job a lot easier for sure. But, as I said, it's not necessary if an owner has the time and wants to devote himself to living and working with his dog. The key there is time and regular contact/interaction. Many folks don't have it (or usually just won't give it up). My dogs have been trained to respond to my voice commands and physical gestures, not a zap or buzz. Unless I become a quadriplegic my equipment is not going to break down or come off and get lost, etc. Again, it's about you taking what I said out of context which, again, is very immature (and your immaturity on this forum is already legendary). What I said is I would not recommend that someone start out with their first dog using an e-collar. I think the temptation is too great for an unknowledgeable person to try getting faster results than a pup is capable of with an e-collar and the dog gets ruined. And, yes, any good trainer will advise the same caution. And they do so because THEY are the ones starting the dog, not the person with questionable training skills they sell it to. I have obtained fine results using other methods. Thousands of champion dogs and trainers accomplished even better results than me over the hundreds of years dogs have been hunting prior to the invention of e-collar (and yes my dog training experience extends to well before the development of those things). I think any dog owner who can obtain the control and devotion and respect I have developed with my dogs without resorting to e-collars will be much more satisfied with his accomplishments. As an example: on my final day in Montana last fall I was walking out after dark along the main access road in the federal bird refuge I was hunting when two guys from Alabama came driving up with their pointers shoved in the crates in the back of the truck (temps were about 15 degrees!!). My three dogs were walking alongside me and they sat on the edge of the narrow road on command as the truck drove by. The passenger rolled down his window to chat. "Nice dogs. Very nice. No e-collars? Not even for the Brittany! How does that work?" Very well most of the time but she's still a bit of work in progress. He said they were down to one dog most of the day because a collar went on the fritz. As spooky as the birds were he wouldn't even attempt to hunt the dog without it. Couldn't keep it close enough. I am one of very few guys in the field out there who doesn't use e-collar especially on a pointing dog. And I can tell you NO ONE looks down their nose at me because of it (except one fool on this blog). I get lots of comments but they're all very complimentary. And from some professional trainers too (including one fella who is a well-known trainer retained by a dude ranch north of Billings and who was also as it turns out formerly married to a gal I grew up with). Personally, I think if someone is into showboating (and if you look at what I drive and what I shoot it's pretty clear I'm obviously not) I would definitely advise them to learn to handle their dogs without the assistance of e-collar. It's been my experience that it will definitely impress their friends and others in the field. It will, of course, not impress the folks who sell the things (or the magazines that sell them ad space) to see that trend revived. Right now showboating, as they define it, is all about how much camo-clad technocrap one can shove in his rig, hunting coat, and on his dog.

By the way, no response to the "card carrying Mormon" comment? I was born in southern Idaho. I can read people like you from that country like a book.

By the way, I am good friends with some very successful ranchers in Montana. VERY successful! They may not be as rich as Boone but they are extremely wealthy by any standard. I have nothing but the greatest respect for those fellas (and two women) because they allow public hunting on their huge ranches. For them, the smile of a hunter (or especially his kid) is worth more than the green in his back pocket. Those folks deserve respect. I don't have any respect for game hogs. Period. And, by the way, the founding fathers didn't have any respect for that crap either. They hated it!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

What's your problem Bud? You knockin subs now? I told you I was retired, and worked in the schools for somethin to do. You need to see a shrink.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Wow....I'd love a facility like that. Isn't that what most bird dog men would do if they hit the lottery for a billion?
Why all the jealous negativity for a self made man? The guy has paid more in taxes than probably all the readers put together.He is also a very generous man when it comes to charity and he even gave a nice fat check to Quail restoration ?????? What's wrong with that?
Seriously,I can't believe how over the last 4 or 5 years Americans have come to dislike people simply because they worked hard and were successful?????

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

P.S. In just the last 6 years alone T. Boone's Foundation has raised 2.6 million $$$$$ to save and restore our nation's Quail population!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Ontario...I sure get your point as my dogs are my family members, and get the good life they deserve. But, I would bet inside your described concrete bunker is a better facility than a lot of people live in today in this country. Clean, the best of food and water and sleeping quarters, and I would bet they have a good run area. That sure beats some of the raunchy quarters hunters provide for their hunting dogs that they don't give a darn about all year long until hunting season.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Yeah, clinchknot, "clean, the best of food and water and sleeping quarters, and ... a good [exercise] area." Sounds an awful lot like the prisons up here.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

"Contracted out" = substitute teacher who doesn't have the credentials, i.e. education, to be certified. Retired from part time work? Well, okay. Or did they just decide, as so many teaching districts have, that they only want qualified (i.e. certified) substitute teachers?

As to e-collars and "high percentage of dog trainers": those dog trainers are selling their trained dogs as often as not to some lazy stuffed shirt who wants to shove his dogs in a kennel all year and take them out a few weeks in the fall and expect picture perfect performance. An e-collar makes their job a lot easier for sure. But, as I said, it's not necessary if an owner has the time and wants to devote himself to living and working with his dog. The key there is time and regular contact/interaction. Many folks don't have it (or usually just won't give it up). My dogs have been trained to respond to my voice commands and physical gestures, not a zap or buzz. Unless I become a quadriplegic my equipment is not going to break down or come off and get lost, etc. Again, it's about you taking what I said out of context which, again, is very immature (and your immaturity on this forum is already legendary). What I said is I would not recommend that someone start out with their first dog using an e-collar. I think the temptation is too great for an unknowledgeable person to try getting faster results than a pup is capable of with an e-collar and the dog gets ruined. And, yes, any good trainer will advise the same caution. And they do so because THEY are the ones starting the dog, not the person with questionable training skills they sell it to. I have obtained fine results using other methods. Thousands of champion dogs and trainers accomplished even better results than me over the hundreds of years dogs have been hunting prior to the invention of e-collar (and yes my dog training experience extends to well before the development of those things). I think any dog owner who can obtain the control and devotion and respect I have developed with my dogs without resorting to e-collars will be much more satisfied with his accomplishments. As an example: on my final day in Montana last fall I was walking out after dark along the main access road in the federal bird refuge I was hunting when two guys from Alabama came driving up with their pointers shoved in the crates in the back of the truck (temps were about 15 degrees!!). My three dogs were walking alongside me and they sat on the edge of the narrow road on command as the truck drove by. The passenger rolled down his window to chat. "Nice dogs. Very nice. No e-collars? Not even for the Brittany! How does that work?" Very well most of the time but she's still a bit of work in progress. He said they were down to one dog most of the day because a collar went on the fritz. As spooky as the birds were he wouldn't even attempt to hunt the dog without it. Couldn't keep it close enough. I am one of very few guys in the field out there who doesn't use e-collar especially on a pointing dog. And I can tell you NO ONE looks down their nose at me because of it (except one fool on this blog). I get lots of comments but they're all very complimentary. And from some professional trainers too (including one fella who is a well-known trainer retained by a dude ranch north of Billings and who was also as it turns out formerly married to a gal I grew up with). Personally, I think if someone is into showboating (and if you look at what I drive and what I shoot it's pretty clear I'm obviously not) I would definitely advise them to learn to handle their dogs without the assistance of e-collar. It's been my experience that it will definitely impress their friends and others in the field. It will, of course, not impress the folks who sell the things (or the magazines that sell them ad space) to see that trend revived. Right now showboating, as they define it, is all about how much camo-clad technocrap one can shove in his rig, hunting coat, and on his dog.

By the way, no response to the "card carrying Mormon" comment? I was born in southern Idaho. I can read people like you from that country like a book.

By the way, I am good friends with some very successful ranchers in Montana. VERY successful! They may not be as rich as Boone but they are extremely wealthy by any standard. I have nothing but the greatest respect for those fellas (and two women) because they allow public hunting on their huge ranches. For them, the smile of a hunter (or especially his kid) is worth more than the green in his back pocket. Those folks deserve respect. I don't have any respect for game hogs. Period. And, by the way, the founding fathers didn't have any respect for that crap either. They hated it!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Debenear, You are a buffoon! His riches come from the oil industry which I find quite ironic that Chad would rub elbows with him a oil tycoon! As for his wind energy promoting(which lasted months)he is a business man and all business man worth their weight in salt, invest. That he did, and soon realized it was a losing investment and once again any business man worth their weight in salt he dropped it like its hot!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

The simple life is for me. I have my dogs living in the home with me and I wouldn't have it any other way. It would break my heart to see them stuffed away out of sight in a concrete bunker. Locking me up in prison would do me in. I sure couldn't put my dogs through that.

Also I detest locking up public game resources. Would NEVER do that. But it's the Texas way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

i agree ontario. texas is pay to play. you start talking public land down there you are immediately deemed a socialist.

if you've never read jim fergus' book: A Hunter's Road, I recommend it. the book gives you a good idea of what bird hunting in the state of texas is like

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Ontario and Wisc. You sound like our President..."those little peole that cling to their bibles, and guns." All at once a got a bad smell come across my monitor screen.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

haverod...It's a liberal/socialist ignorant thing. Obama and the left attack the wealthy as if it is their fault the country is deep in debt..class warefare and you get the ignorant vote.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

I am by all accounts also a wealthy person. I could certainly easily afford to build a fancy kennel for a stable of high bred dogs. I could also drive a different colored BMW convertible for every day of the week. But, for the reasons I stated, that's JUST NOT FOR ME. And that's the point I was making. I applaud Mr. Pickens for putting that much money into restoring the quail population ... so he and his select friends can hunt them privately in Texas. If he is investing his charitable dollars in setting aside land for the public to hunt the game they own, then I will applaud him even more. But somehow I don't think that's the case. As I said, it's not the Texas way.

Very immature for you clowns to take what I said out of context. But no surprise. That's the "right's" way of doing things. I am also amused that you think the whole world is simply right or left, black or white, evil or good, etc. Clearly a symptom of people who can't think for themselves, or are afraid to try.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Ah, and whose fault is the national debt, clinchknot? All those sandlot wars in the Middle East, whose fault is that? Shall we blame the "libs" for that too? Do you have ANY idea what that crap is costing Americans every day? It totally dwarfs domestic expenditure. But somehow the conservatives escape blame for it? Which presidents got America into those wars? But no, it's all Obama's fault the national debt is in the trillions. Yeah, like he managed that all on his own in four short years. Pffffffffffft!!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Tired of listening to you Ontario. Your background as a card carrying teacher's union member says it all. I doubt you can even factor in how many people are beholding to Boone Pickens for creating them a job, and a high paying job in the oil industry. People who then pay taxes to support your socialist policies you so desperately want. And there are many, many more jobs that Boone Pickens has created outside the oil industry.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Card carrying teachers union member? Huh? Where did that come from? When was the last time you met a wealthy teacher in Idaho? Pfffft! Oh yeah, I taught there once. Those wages weren't even poverty level. And the quality of the teaching in that state really exemplified the expenditure or lack thereof. I'm guessing you're a card carrying Mormon?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Yep, Wisc14, and every Sunday you'll see the same greedy, rabid anti-socialist Texan game hogs in church pounding away at their Bibles. Of course they skip the parts with parable of Good Samaritan and the Sermon on the Mount. Their Lord and Savior wrote the book on socialism ... but you'll never get them to admit it.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

You said you did coach wrestling did you not, but you were not a teacher?..sure could be, but your failed ideology religion of liberalism smacks of being a union member. Why the knock on successful folks, and all they contribute to the good of society then? And you are now promoting yourself as rich? lol! One that tells a new dog owner no need to spend money on an e-collar when a high percentage of dog trainers do?....Grizzly Bears in the Brooks, extinct Greater Prairie chickens, If you are rich it had to be you're one of those liberal, Trust Fund babies. And no, I was not a union member teacher...I contracted out, and retired years ago prior to that. And I am not rich. I couldn't afford to build a beautiful dog facility like Boone did.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

What's your problem Bud? You knockin subs now? I told you I was retired, and worked in the schools for somethin to do. You need to see a shrink.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

"Bin an Oil man all ma life" says Boone, and then he goes into wind generation because of the tax breaks Obama gave him, and it still didn't work out, he gave up on the big project he was involved in. I still like Boone, and this operation sounds like a bird hunter's dream. He's done a wealth of good for his University, Oklahoma St. But as far as those wide ranging pointers that can cover that vast acreage? I like the breeder's Advertisement for his pointers saying, "Our pointers hunt WITH you, and not just FOR you.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dbenear1985 wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Pickens is a bafoon. I live within about 2-3 hours of this place and while i must admit i am jealous of it, if it wasnt for a political agenda i doubt Mr Pickens finances would be in such good shape. He owns patents on parts that go to these electricity generating wind farms, which stick out like giant redwood trees on an open prarie. If not for Obummer pushing these things Mr Pickens might be just an average citezen.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from mopickens wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

www michaelpickens.blogspot.com

-3 Good Comment? | | Report

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