Elk ranchers don’t herd their animals with horses and they don’t rope them — it’s an antler thing, you know.
“We herd them on ATVs and they move just like cows,” says Jennifer Prock, owner/manager of the Ranch and their in-town business Kinikin Processing.
The elk ranch became a Prock property about 30 years ago when Jennifer’s father-in-law, Roger, moved the family to the 400-acre ranch located in the cedars and pines on Kinikin Road, east of Montrose. Jennifer and her husband Zack live at the ranch.
“It quiet and very pretty up there,” she says. The outfit is at about 7,000 feet.
The family runs 80 head of elk, about 60 of which are cows. They feed them on irrigated pasture with water pumped over the hill from Silver Jack Reservoir.
Originally the ranch did trophy hunts for clients from all over the world.
“We stopped doing that sometime ago,” says Jennifer. “We do wild hunts now as a guide and outfitter.”
The Procks harvest a certain number of their herd every year, just like cattle and sheep ranchers do. The difference is that they don’t ship them off to someone else for processing. They do it themselves at their Kinikin Processing operation in Montrose just off the San Juan bypass at 64.50 Road. They opened the plant in 2003 to process not only their own elk meat but that of hundreds of hunters who visit the Western Slope.
“We also process about a thousand head of wild game for hunters every year,” says the lady with an acre-wide smile. “We also process and package beef, pork and lamb for wholesale and for sale in our store. We supply a number of restaurants.”
So, a hunter bags a 700 pound bull elk. Once he (or she) field dresses the animal, it’s brought to the Kinikin plant. The butchers there take over and actually render the carcass, “in minutes,” says Jennifer. “It is amazing, they know exactly what they are doing. They cut steaks and roasts and grind some of it and package all of it for freezing.”
That rapid render doesn’t mean you walk in with a whole elk, deer, antelope or bear and minutes later you drive away with a year’s supply of meat. You will have to wait your turn during the hunting season. In the fall and winter months the parking lot is full and the butchers are working overtime. It is a hunter’s convention and that is why the processing plant also has a sandwich counter and a full service bar license.
“During the season our place is really hoppin’,” Jennifer says.
A lot of old friends who may only see each other during the hunting season gather at the Kinikin place for a beer or a Jack and Coke and maybe a bacon jalapeño popper sandwich on a hoagie bun.
Michael A. Cox is a Montrose-based content provider. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org