The History of Remount Ranch and the Texas Longhorn Herd

(courtesy, Searle Pub, c.2001)

•  The Remount Ranch of Wyoming is located between Laramie and Cheyenne, listed as a national landmark. covering a vast 3,800-acres, the ranch was named in the 1930s for its historic role in providing remount horses to the U.S. Cavalry. Founded in 1886 by Thomas Gunston, who immigrated from Wellshire, England to Wyoming, where he raised cattle and horses. Gunston was known to be a friend of Tom Horn, and sheriffs’ posses often targeted the ranch during searches for the notorious outlaw. Today, a portion of a horsehair bridle made for Gunston by Tom Horn hangs in the bar of the ranch house. Two of Tom & Eleanor Gunston’s four children died in infancy, and are buried on a hill behind the ranch house.

 
The 6,000-square foot ranch house is bigger than it was in Mary O'Hara's Day. "The previous owners all kept the integrity of the house intact while adding to it, which is something we really appreciate," says Steve Bangert.

•  In 1896 a gold mine claim called the Alexia Lode was filed on the ranch. The 80’-deep mine shaft is still visible, although it is not known whether any marketable gold was discovered there.

•  The ranch was sold by the Gunstons in 1923 to Mrs. Frances Griffin, who sold the ranch in 1930 to Helge and Mary Sture-Vasa, who christened the spread “Remount Ranch”. Mrs. Sture-Vasa, who wrote under the nom de plume Mary O’Hara, is the author of My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, The Green Grass of Wyoming and Wyoming Summer, all of which were written on the ranch. The Sture-Vasas raised horses for purchase by the Cavalry Division at Fort Francis E. Warren in Cheyenne.

•  In 1946, the ranch was purchased by John and Carol Knox, who turned it into a guest ranch and hosted numerous social functions there. Pat Boone, Arthur Godfrey and the McGuire Sisters were among the guests at the ranch, who also entertained people from Cheyenne and Laramie at wedding receptions, anniversary celebrations, birthday parties and other occasions.

•  Cheyenne banker A.H. Trautwein owned and lived at the ranch from 1962 until 1970, when it was sold to John Ostlund, a former Gillette (Wyo.) businessman and state senator.

•  In 1995 the Ostlunds sold the ranch to the Bangert's, who have returned the Remount Ranch to its roots as a working cattle ranch. At last count the Bangerts raise approximately 200 head of Texas Longhorns.

The most recent chapter of the Remount Ranch began in 1995:

“I knew about the history of the ranch, and that definitely influenced our decision to settle here,” says Steve Bangert. “The opportunity to live and ranch on the place I’d read about when I was a boy (he had digested My Friend Flicka by the time he was 10) made this a dream come true. The sheer beauty of the place still takes my breath away, and it just embodies the West. I didn’t know it at the time, but the only thing the ranch was missing was a herd of Texas Longhorns.” Bangert, a Denver-based banker by profession, proceeded to remedy the situation soon after his family moved onto the ranch. (courtesy, Searle Pub, c.2001)

“To tell you the truth, we happened into the Longhorn business more by mistake than anything,” Bangert admits with a smile. “We had a few hundred commercial cattle we were raising here, and I came across 11 head of Longhorns at the sale barn at Ogallala, Nebraska. I thought they might be fun to have on the place, so I bought all 11 head for about $400 apiece. We crossbred the cows to our Angus bull, but over the first winter of working with them, a strange thing happened- we fell in love with them!”

A Nebraska native raised in commercial cow country, Bangert had not expected to “get serious” about raising Longhorns, but that fateful seed had been planted in his soul. “The first sign that we were on the road to being hooked was our decision to buy a registered Longhorn bull to use on these cows,” he explains. “The next step, as with most everyone else, was to take a look at the cattle we were raising and compare them to the quality of Longhorn that the top programs around the country had. There was a difference, and I went looking for a better quality of cattle to develop a program with. We were not yet quite ‘whole hog’ on Longhorns, but we were getting closer by the day.” A 17-head purchase from Stan Searle in the spring of 1996 netted the Bangerts “a group of cattle that got us going in the right direction, and really outproduced themselves. Some of the calves from those cows are among the best heifers in our herd today.”

In early 1997, the Remount Ranch’s first purebred Longhorn calf crop arrived. “When those calves hit the ground, I knew that we wanted to get serious about raising Texas Longhorns… I was already hooked.” That spring Bangert visited Dickinson Cattle Company’s Colorado operation in search of an upper-echelon sire. “Martee showed me some young bulls including Gang Buster and Westward Ho, and we took Gang Buster home that day.” Subsequent visits to DCCI in ’97 yielded additional cows including Undroopable, an 1140-lb. daughter of Unlimited, and the young sire Gunna Zwink (1996 Not Gunna x Zwink), one of the longest-horned young bulls in the industry.

1999 saw another series of milestones for the Remount program, including the acquisition of another top-line herd sire. “Martee Searle called with a tip on a bull over at Teton Valley Ranch at Kelly, Wyoming near Jackson. I went over to check him out, and found a 65”-horned brindle Cowcatcher grandson called TVR Comanche that just knocked me out. We added him to the program, and with a young Gunman son named Trail Dust that we’ll try with a few heifers this summer, I think we’re where we want to be in terms of bulls. Our cow herd is about 80% there, and we’re working hard to bring that number up this year. My goal for our herd, long-term, is to be recognized as one of the top 25 herds in the industry, and we’re doing what it takes to get there—breeding great cows to great bulls, and only retaining the very best products of these matings.”

Royal Jewell (left), a 1988 model with near 60" horns, came to the Remount Ranch via the '99 Midwest Invitational Sale.

Sonic Item (right), a '93 daughter of Sonic Boom, was purchased at the 1998 Rocky Mountain Select Sale.

All those sires need cows to keep them home, which led to another major lick for Remount Ranch at the ’99 Midwest Invitational Sale in Kansas. Bangert’s purchase of 14 head made him the sale’s Volume Buyer, and added depth and overall quality to the Remount cow herd. “We picked up some cattle there that I was glad to add to the herd: Royal Jewell, Crossover Belle, JK Wide Harriett and 2B Bandit’s Song are a few of the females that I’m very excited to see calves from by our bulls.” Remount Ranch was also the Volume Buyer at the Second Annual Rocky Mountain Select Sale, held in June of ’99. Bangert’s purchases there included some excellent stock from the Assad Cattle Co. herd, including the big-horned young females Jennifer and Heidi. “A real benefit to getting out to some sales in person, in addition to improving our herd, is getting to meet a lot of our fellow breeders. Meeting and talking with these people, most of whom have been in this business for quite a few years, has been very beneficial to our continuing Longhorn education.”

Bangert’s future plans for the Longhorn program, which he intends to maintain at about 120 breeding females, includes developing a local market for his cattle. “Getting out to the sales over the past couple of years has helped me get a perspective on the business end of raising Longhorns,” he explains. “It takes a lot of effort, but I think we need to be able to promote and market our cattle to people in our region. We’ve got plenty of breeders in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Montana and Utah, and there’s a lot of potential for cultivating customers and friends from among them. A sale like the Rocky Mountain Select is a good basis for developing a market, and we plan on using it as a showcase for some of our top cattle beginning in 2001. By then, we’ll have enough products of our own breeding to replace a lot of the goodcows we’ve bought, which is the name of the game to me.”

Remount CattleIf you have Longhorn-related travels planned for this summer or fall, we hope you’ll include Wyoming and the Remount Ranch on your itinerary. One look and you’ll agree that we’ve got as good a combination of scenery, outstanding tourist destinations and world-class Texas Longhorns as anywhere in the country. Call and let us know you’re coming. Contact Us anytime.

 
"The sheer beauty of the place took my breath away-to me it just embodies the West. I didn't know it at the time, but the only thing the ranch was missing was a heard of Texas Longhorns."

By the spring of 1998, the transformation of the cattle program at Remount Ranch was complete. Having sold all of the commercial cattle over the winter, the Bangert Longhorn herd now numbered around 55 head. “Our quest for quality continued, and we acquired the Zhivago daughters Zhivette and Zhirika from DCCI, along with Range Fire (a Texas Ranger daughter) and a cow named Sizzle (dam of the late Gunman). At that point, I was not really aware of Gunman and what he was doing for the breed, but after a trip to Ron Jones’ place in Salida, Colorado, I could see that he was a special bull. We left Ron’s place with five Gunman daughters, two Rangago daughters and a bull named J.R. Hornswagle (1996 Gunman x J.R. PJ). With these purchases and the cattle from DCCI, I felt that we had pushed our program up a few notches, and I was pleased to note the obvious differences in quality between these and our original group of Longhorns.”

The next move, which gained Remount Ranch industry-wide recognition as a “player,” was made at the 1998 Rocky Mountain Select Sale at Colorado Springs. Steve Bangert was the sale’s Volume Buyer, and his purchases included the $7,400 acquisition of J.R. Jessie, a Gunman daughter that had 51.5” horns at 24 months (now with over 60”) . “In terms of public sales and visibility, that was our first real outing.” Another good acquisition at that sale was Sonic Item, an outstanding 1993 daughter of Sonic Boom from the Peggy Thompson herd of California.