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Ramsey’s South Fork Ranch - for ranching, bed and breakfast, and guided hunting

The Ramseys ... Owners of the South Fork Ranch – a working ranch, bed and breakfast, and a hunting lodge – strive to first and foremost be good neighbors within the Philip community. Marcy and Bart are pictured in front of the recently completed fireplace in the hunting lodge.

by Del Bartels

The new lodge should be completed by next fall’s hunting season, but the guided hunting for clients-turned-friends has been evolving for years.

Bart and Marcy Ramsey have operated the South Fork Ranch as a ranch for years. As a matter of fact, Bart is the third generation owner/operator of the spread, and has been joined by his son, Chad, as the fourth generation. Also, his family has always enjoyed hunting. He says that the place’s one claim to fame is his dad’s non-typical mule deer that scored 266 with Boone-and-Crocket.

Brook Parent, their son-in-law, and his father often visited and had a great time hunting. They wondered why the Ramsey’s were “giving away what many people would gladly pay for.”

In 2003, they built two individual cabins that can each compactly sleep four.

“The guided hunting business seemed like it wanted to grow, so we decided to grow with it,” said the Ramseys. It has since mushroomed to the point that a lodge was begun last July. It was far enough along to have people stay in it last hunting season. The finishing touches will be done by next hunting season, with the help of moms, dads, brothers, sisters, in-laws and anyone else.

“It’s ironic now, I was never a believer of paid hunting before,” said Bart. “Recently, we’ve hosted father/son, father/daughter, and married couple groups of hunters. Kids of our guests hunt free here. It makes me feel really good when guiding young people on their first hunt. I am sorry, though, that everyone in the country doesn’t have an opportunity to hunt everywhere.”

Since the guided hunting was started, it has worked out that 100 percent of the deer and turkey hunters have filled their tags. All the pheasant hunters have had numerous opportunities to fill theirs. “There are no guarantees, but I feel confident that we give all our clients/friends a good chance for a quality hunt,” said Bart. Almost all of the hunters have applied for buck licenses, but there have been late season doe ‘management’ hunts. Though the majority of the hunters keep their game, some have paid for the meat processing, then donated the meat to area individuals and families who could use it.

“We don’t hunt all monster deer or trophy-only birds here. A trophy is in the eye of the hunter,” said Bart. “A boy’s first-year deer might forever be his biggest trophy in his mind. I had a 70-year-old turkey hunter who had as much fun as if he were a kid.”

“We call our clients ‘friends’ because they come back,” said Marcy. “Around 90 percent of our business is repeat business. We’ve met a lot of people from maybe 15-20 states and Canada.”

The Ramseys offer guided hunting for deer, turkey, some antelope, and pheasant. With permission from the Game, Fish and Parks, the Ramseys help hunters file hunting applications; correct county, deadlines, number in party, etc. For pheasant hunters, the Ramseys offer the use of their hunting dogs – flusher/retrievers or pointers depending on the terrain. Guiding hunters after turkeys is probably the hardest work, according to Bart.

Their local friends and neighbors are, and always will be, the Ramsey’s biggest asset – not only for the permission to hunt on their land, but also their friendliness with the Ramseys and the hunters. The Ramseys strive to always continue a very good relationship with everyone concerning hunting. “We never want to jeopardize a friendship in order to make a dollar.”

The South Fork Ranch is open to an increasing number of options. They are looking into guiding people who hunt with cameras, and the lodge is available for family reunions, Christmas parties and other group get-togethers.