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Meet the Member: Long Ranch
By Lily Weinacht
It’s roughly a 1,000 mile journey to the WSBBA finals in Las Vegas from Yakima, Wash., home of three-time WSBBA Stock Contractor of the Year, Gary Long. But for the 73-year old Evergreen State native and his ranch manager, Dennis Hiebert, it’s taken more than the miles on their odometers to obtain the title.
Long Ranch, which hooks its horns into the base of the Naches Mountains, started raising bucking bulls in 2006. Gary, owner of G.S. Long Company, an agricultural and fertilizer retail company, was turning the operation of the business over to his son, but he was by no means ready to retire. “When a very good friend of mine, Rod Chumley, told me about a bull he was real proud of and wanted to put together a partnership on, I went to look at it,” Gary recalls. “K24 was his name, and a beginner rider at the time, Shane Proctor, was there to practice. K24 came out of the chute and out went Shane Proctor.” One of the hands in the arena called out that Proctor needed a Doctor, and several things ensued. One of the PBR’s top bulls earned his name, Doctor Proctor, and Shane Proctor – now leading the PBR standings – was in for the long haul, while Gary was ready with a handshake to seal the partnership.
One of the first things Gary did following the partnership was clone Doctor Proctor. “We did six clones one year and two the next to prove to the industry that we could keep his bloodlines forever,” says Gary, who has a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Washington State University. “One of his clones ended up in the PBR World Finals, so that was proof positive that cloning works – and it has definitely helped the beef industry. Then I started learning about bucking bull and exclusive genetics competitions, and we were on a whole new trip!”
Joining Gary behind the chutes was Dennis Hiebert, who, prior to becoming Long Ranch’s manager, ran several orchards in Washington. “Gary was my field man from 1976 – 2006, and then I went to work for him,” says Dennis. “I didn’t have too much experience with bulls – I’d worked on a dairy for about six years, but this was a new adventure with the A.I. and embryos and getting the bulls ready for events.”
Long Ranch is home to nearly 160 bulls and 60 cows, with another 40 calves expected in the course of the year. “Doctor Proctor was the first bull we were associated with – we started with him for breeding, and then we bred with others,” says Dennis. “Gary is a pretty smart individual, and in 2006, he bought 25 white face Angus cows, along with embryos from sires he felt were good. When you start, it can take three or four years to find out if your cows are any good, but using someone else’s best bulls gave us good stock right off the bat.”
Among these bulls are Vegas Too and his son, Vegas Outlaw, who went to the PBR. Other bulls have included Fire Kat and Thunder Kat, Doctor Proctor’s offspring, as well as Sergeant Airborne, and Long Shot, who advanced from futurities to the Back Seat Buckers classic. “When we got into futurities, the only association was ABBI, and then the WSBBA blossomed in the Northwest and it was awesome for us,” Dennis explains. “We’ve won stock contractor of the year three times, but it’s not just us. It’s also the genes, and we’ve been fortunate with good riders who get on and show them.”
Dennis and one of the two ranch hands, Fabian Mendoza, do most of the driving to the bucking bull competitions, ranging from local events in Washington, to Wyoming, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, and even as far as Oklahoma and Texas. Long Ranch hand Cody Brock and Gary’s son-in-law, Shane Wells, also drive. Any time they’re not on the road, Dennis, Fabian, and Cody are training the bulls, which, depending on their age, includes teaching them to leave the arena, move through the chutes, and load in the trailer. “Our first WSBBA event is in Mesquite (Nev.) mid-April, so our season is getting started,” says Dennis. “We’re going to keep entering our two and three-year-olds and see how competitive we can be!”
“The people we have met in the rodeo and bull business have been fantastic,” Gary finishes. “We love the bull business and the people associated with it. It’s been a grand trip.”