By Katelyn Newman for USN&WR
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As the sun begins to rise and the mist breaks on a clear Florida morning, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer and pesky feral pigs rummage for breakfast near Sabal palms and hay bales. Less than a football field away, a cadre of black, brown and white cattle start to graze.
Pointing out the multiple species, rancher Jim Strickland slowly inches his white pickup truck through the nearly untouched underbrush on his 4,530-acre property, taking care not to disturb the morning meals.
"About all I ever wanted to do is this," the sixth-generation beef cattle rancher says as he drives around his Blackbeard's Ranch property in Manatee County
. "There's pictures of me with a cowboy hat, riding a stick horse, when I was little – so this is pretty much all I wanted to do."