John Wildin says he almost never signs up for the sweepstake giveaways at various conventions and trade shows because he doesn't want to put up with the sales calls that always come from such signups.
But something about the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance giveaway promotion for the documentary "Farmland" at this year's National Cattlemen's Beef Association convention caught his eye.
So he stopped and filled out the card to enter a drawing for a brand new John Deere Gator.
For the phone number, he entered the number to an old landline that is seldom used to avoid sales calls.
He did, however, put down the right email address. Turns out that was a good thing, because that is how USFRA managed to track him down to deliver his new Gator.
On Wednesday, Aug. 26, John went to the Prairieland Partners John Deere dealership in Hutchinson with his brother, Jerry, to take delivery of the XUV 825i Gator.
"Jerry manages the farming and ranching operation, so I expect this machine is going to be parked in his shed," Wildin laughed. "I think I got it more for him than for me."
Wildin said he initially didn't believe the news that he'd won.
"I signed up back in February," he said. "I'd about forgotten about it when I got the call that I'd won. The guy said it was being built and I'd hear back. Well, a couple or three weeks went by and I hadn't heard anything more so I thought, 'yep, I was right. That was a hoax'."
Except it wasn't.
On Wednesday, he still wasn't quite sure the Gator was really his with no strings attached.
"Do I need to fill out some kind of papers? Sign something?" he asked.
John Deere territory manager Jamie Gudeman just smiled.
"Nope," he said. "It's all yours. You want to take it for a spin?"
Well, yes, he did.
After a quick briefing on where to locate controls, he buckled the seat belt and was off for a trip around the parking lot of the dealership.
"Wow, it sure turns nice," he said. "And the suspension is great. No bumps. This little buggy is really tricked out."
He said he'll use the Gator to spray pasture weeds. And his brother will find plenty of uses for it around the farm and ranch, he said, and grinned as he added, "It'll be great for grandkids too."
"I have a spray rig that will fit in there just right," he said. "I was out scouting the other day and spotted serecia lespedeza. I didn't think we had it here. I about cried when I realized that's what it was."
The Gator is great for that kind of work, he said. It has high enough speed to make getting around pastures quick and it handles the roughest terrain with four-wheeling ease.
"It's got really great tires, too," he said. "Big and thick enough to handle broken rocks."
Brant Scripsick, John Deere store manager at the Hutchison location says the Gator is a hot-selling item in the region.
"They are really popular for recreation and for farm and ranch work," he said.
Wildin is a partner in Hall and Hall, a multi-state real estate sales and marketing operation, based in Montana. He joined Hall and Hall in 2010 to set up and run the Kansas office.
He grew up in Kansas and after attending Kansas State University and becoming a licensed pilot, he decided to return to the Hutchinson area in 1978 and join his father, Doug's, business.
In addition to farming land homesteaded by his grandfather, his dad had started Doug Wildin & Associates Ranch Brokers in the 1960s.
During his career, John has marketed farms, ranches, equestrian centers, cattle feed yards and agricultural water rights throughout Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona.
He participates in the Kansas Livestock Association and supports other agricultural organizations, including NCBA.
The Wildins brought along a trailer and got some help from a dealership employee to get the Gator loaded and locked down.
John was grinning from ear to ear as he watched the salesman start walking back to the building."We really are driving away with this," he said. "This really happened."