The Evers Family
I grew up outdoors — fishing, hunting, fixing fences, working with livestock and generally looking for any excuse to be outside. My love of the outdoors is a big part of who I am and why I became a professional bass angler. It's also why my family is in the pecan business.
If I weren't a bass pro I'd probably be a rancher, but since the tournament trail keeps me on the road for weeks or months at a time, raising livestock isn't an option. When my father suggested that I look into a pecan orchard, it seemed like a great idea ... but the process was anything but easy.
I'm the kind of person who jumps into things with both feet, but before I jump I like to look around, learn all I can and figure out exactly what I'm jumping into.
For me and my wife, Tuesday, it started with a lot of research — online and at our local library. They call our part of Oklahoma "Green Country," and it's the best area in the United States for producing pecans. Growing up I knew I loved the pecans grown here, but it was fascinating to find out why they were better than other pecans.
We started reading and driving around rural areas, to get a better look at some pecan operations. We needed to find out if it was a fit for us, our daughter (Kylee) and our son (Kade). I saw it not only as a business opportunity for our family after my professional fishing career comes to an end (hopefully a long time from now), but also as a chance to instill some of the same values of hard work and appreciation of the land that my dad gave me when I was young. A lot of young people don't feel connected to nature like I do, and I wanted to make sure that Kylee and Kade had that connection.
After checking out some orchards, our next step was to enroll in Pecans 101 at Oklahoma State University. We learned a lot there, including how to graft trees. It's hard work, but you see the results of your efforts, you get to spend time outdoors and you feel connected to something much larger and more important than the things that too often consume our days.
After that, it was time to get serious about finding "our" pecan orchard.
One day I saw an auction flyer, checked out the property and fell in love with the place. The orchard covered 160 acres. I did my research on the number of trees it had, their expected production and what I could afford to pay for it. Then I went to the bank and arranged the financing. If I won the auction, I needed to be ready to pay on the spot.
The bidding started and it quickly came down to me and one other guy — back and forth, back and forth — but eventually I was outbid. We had to start over.
I decided to drive around, check out the orchards a lot more closely — even knock on some doors and get to know the landowners.
A lot of pecan farmers I met were older gentlemen who were considering selling their orchards. The work can be demanding, especially for someone in his later years.
It didn't take long before I found a great orchard not far from our home in Talala. It was owned by a gentleman in his 80s who was very interested in selling. He showed me his records, and I spent hours looking over every last detail to make sure it was the right opportunity. The property was productive, beautiful and absolutely crawling with deer! There was only one problem.
I wasn't the only interested buyer. The owner had been approached by a doctor who also wanted to get into the pecan business, and he promised the other potential buyer that he wouldn't sell without letting him know. That's when we started bidding against each other.
Things started slowly at first, but went up very quickly. Each bid increased the price by hundreds of dollars per acre. I knew that the property could be profitable even if I spent more than I wanted, but I didn't want to cut things that close.
We went back and forth, back and forth, and soon we were up over $3,000 per acre. That's when the owner stopped us.
He said things were getting too crazy. He would have happily settled for less, and he didn't want to continue the bidding. Instead — and I can still just barely believe this — he said, "Let's flip a quarter."
For something I never actually "had," losing that farm hit me hard. I had my heart set on it. My family liked it. Plus there were all those deer! For a week I was down in the dumps. No high school football game or bass tournament ever hit me so hard. I prayed and trusted that things worked out that way for a reason, that I'd learn from the experience and maybe even be better off for it. Eventually, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and got back to work looking for an orchard.
The next one I found was beautiful and had a home on the land. Since we weren't looking to move and change school districts, that made it too expensive. I was zero for three.
But then things turned around. I found an orchard just nine miles from home. The property covered 160 acres and 40 of it was in pecans. Better yet, it had electricity and over a mile of Caney River frontage. That's a big deal. Even though the Green Country area gets more rainfall than the rest of the state, droughts can be devastating to a pecan crop. With water and electricity, I could irrigate the orchard and make it more productive. I could even expand the operation into some or all of the other 120 acres.
And there were deer ... lots of deer!
Did I mention the deer?
We bought the property, and we're absolutely thrilled with it. In addition to the pecan trees, river (including a beautiful waterfall) and wildlife, it's giving us some unexpected opportunities to spend time with family and friends.
My Uncle Charlie retired from American Airlines at about the same time we bought the property. He was ready to retire, but not ready to stop working. The pecan operation was the perfect fit for him. He loved being outdoors where he could enjoy nature.
So far, we've grafted over 2,000 trees and transplanted more than 750. We've irrigated a big part of the orchard and are working to get the rest done as soon as we can.
The education, the search and the work culminate in a commitment to offering you the best pecans you can find anywhere at a great price. As I mentioned earlier, I don't believe in doing things halfway. When my family took the leap into the pecan business, we jumped head first and we're all in. I hope you'll give our pecans a try.
My touchstone has always been faith, family and friends. It still is ... but now I'm going to add pecans.
We all want to eat healthy these days, and pecans have a place in every health-conscious diet. Pecans are a great source of manganese, protein and unsaturated fats. They're also rich in Omega-6 fatty acids, which are good for you.
In 2010, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that frequent nut consumption decreased the risk of gallbladder problems in women. Pecans also help to reduce high cholesterol by reducing "bad" cholesterol levels.
Pecans can even help with aging problems. Studies at the University of Massachusetts found that daily pecan consumption may delay age-related muscle nerve degeneration.
Try some. They really are good for you.