Written by: Lily Weinacht< Back to Articles
Beutler & Son Rodeo Company put its roots down in the rodeo world in 1929, starting out as Beutler Brothers Rodeo Company. Rhett Beutler, the fourth generation to work in the family business, and the son of Beutler & Son, brought a new angle to the company’s ranch outside of Elk City, Oklahoma, when he started guiding hunting trips in the late 1990s.
As a college student with a lean wallet but a robust passion for whitetail deer hunting, Rhett decided he would guide hunting clients on weekend hunting trips on The Beutler Ranch. “In the early ‘90s, we started getting deer on our ranch in western Oklahoma, so all through high school, they were progressing and multiplying,” says Rhett. “I graduated high school in 1995 and went to college, but we had deer on the ranch and I had stands and food plots and feeders I was taking care of. I was a broke college kid running back forth between school and the ranch trying to hunt. I knew there were places I wasn’t even hunting yet.”
Rhett mentioned his idea of guiding hunters to a friend, and within a few weeks, he had his first job. What should have been a three day hunt took only 30 minutes. The hunter filled his tag, paid for all three days, and was gone the same morning. “The next year wasn’t that easy,” Rhett says with a laugh, “but as I realized all the places I had to hunt and how much game there was, I knew there was no way I could hunt it all. Instead of poachers getting the deer, I decided to take a few days each year to take hunters out and make some money on the side.”
Many hunting trips are scheduled in October and November between the lull in rodeo season and the WNFR, but they run through the end of bow season in January. Though the ranch is known for its whitetail hunting, it also offers quail, duck, and wild turkey. Among the rolling Oklahoma hills are prairies, timber, brush, and lakes, and the Beutlers have set up blinds, stands, and cameras to track where the mature bucks are. “We probably have forty different places to hunt, and we try to make the habitats the best we can for the game,” says Rhett. He teamed up with Record Rack feed last summer after extensive research on their feed and feeding programs, and recently started putting it out on his food plots.
Numerous hunters fly into The Beutler Ranch, located 100 miles west of Oklahoma City. If they don’t want to fly the venison home, Oklahoma is one of several states employing Hunters Against Hunger, a program that donates meat to families in need around the state. “A lot of my guys will take their meat to a supporting meat locker, and then it will get distributed,” Rhett explains. “Some of the other guys will bring their ice chests and take their meat home. I’m more of a horn hunter myself, and I like to make jerky. We’re not like Kansas with the potential to kill a 180 – 200 inch deer,” he adds, “around here getting 150 – 160 is pretty good.”
With the state department recently capping the number of bucks to two per hunter per season, along with running an education campaign on allowing bucks to mature before hunting them, Rhett has noticed a positive difference in the numbers and quality of deer. That, along with the food and hospitality The Beutler Ranch offers, has brought many hunters back for the last 10 – 12 years. “We have a big barn we turn into a hunting and lodging camp. I bring in some people I know from Texas to cook for them, and we have drinks and satellite TV, so we’ll be watching football or NASCAR. Everyone has a good time!”
Many of the Beutlers are involved with the hunting on the ranch, including Rhett’s two children, Taylor, 12, and Jake, 9; his cousin, Justin Shireman; and his children. “My dad, Bennie Beutler, is a diehard quail and bird hunter, but he’s right in the middle of the deer hunters helping with whatever needs to be done,” says Rhett. “I enjoy doing it and making a little money to supplement everything we put into it. It’s good for the ranch and our family, and it’s about having a good time. I think most people keep coming back because they enjoy the food and hospitality that goes with the hunting.”