The Deal: T. Boone Pickens Goes Into Ranching PE

NEW YORK (TheDeal) -- Oil man and corporate raider-turned-environmentalist T. Boone Pickens can't get enough of the wide open spaces. 

Last year, he seeded Sporting Ranch Capital LP, a private equity firm that buys tracts of Western land with a business plan of turning them into sporting ranches so that outdoor types - wealthy ones, that is - can have access to all the fishing, hunting and hiking that a 200-to-1,000-acreage ranch would afford. 

Sporting Ranch has raised its first $30 million fund and expects to close its last land acquisition from it by the end of the month. The last of the fund's purchases is a sizable plot of land in the Rocky Mountain West, the area that the firm targets for its projects. The last purchase will bring the fund's acquisition up to 2,500 acres. 

Dallas-based Sporting Ranch was launched in August 2012 by Jay Ellis, a former Morgan Stanley (MS) trader. 

An added selling point for LPs, Ellis said, those who are able to commit the minimum $1 million investment get the "trout dividend," the fact that any limited partner gets to use any facility under Sporting Ranch's control until it is sold. 

The firm is already out on the road, seeking to raise $50 million for Sporting Ranch Capital II, which it hopes to close in 2014. 

"His concept is good, and he is a hard-working guy who left his job at Morgan Stanley to pursue this," Pickens said. "That is confidence enough for me that he would leave Morgan Stanley where I hear he was doing pretty well to take on this task."

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