Timpas Colorado: The Real Wild West
By Matthew Christians
If you head south and east of Denver, Colorado you may just stumble upon the Broken Spear Ranch, or the Allen Ranch as we called it, home to Gail and Millie Allen. The Allen ranch has 10,000 acres of private land and another 20,000 acres of land they lease to graze their 450 cows, each with calf, and their bulls. That’s 30,000 acres total divided into pastures with barbed wire. A few old foundations of farm houses remain from old homesteaders the way they were left to fend for themselves in the dry expanse that is Southern Colorado. The land is flat and bare with a few hills and shrubs but not void of life. A few elk, deer, antelope and prairie dogs call this area home.
The drive to the Allen ranch is an awe-inspiring journey. Once you hit Nebraska, Kansas, and Southern Colorado, the landscape begins to appear as though it was trampled down and left without any thought of the people who might call this place home. Colorado changes drastically as you head south from Denver into Timpas near New Mexico. We went from the mighty Rockies to the flat prairies in just a few short hours.
Once we arrived at the Allen Ranch after taking a dirt road to another dirt road, we were greeted by the sight of a house (where the Allens live), a barn (where horses are kept for the night), a small guest cabin (where they hunters sleep), and two sheep-herders’ wagons (where the adventurous guest can spend the night).
Gail and Millie, the ranch’s owners, welcomed us with warm smiles and firm handshakes. Gail is definitely a cowboy, from his wide-brimmed white hat and his shiny belt buckle to his dusty cowboy boots. Millie is a kind hearted woman and one of the best hosts you could ever ask for. Both Millie and Gail make it a point to be genuinely interested in the people they meet and where others stand in their walk of faith with their Lord Jesus Christ. Gail and Millie lead conversations around the dinner table that ranged from elk hunting stories to personal testimonies of themselves and anyone else who would share.
After settling into our cabin the first day we rested up and played some cards in the air conditioning and waited for 7:00am the next morning when we would be fed a fantastic breakfast of eggs, bacon and pancakes before we headed out to get a look at a few of the many prairie dog towns that are scattered around the area. This became our routine for the three days we stayed on the ranch.
The prairie dog towns that we found ranged from 100 yards long to some that we couldn’t see the end of as we sat and waited for the little varmints to poke their little heads out of their holes. Our set up at each spot consisted of two guns for each man, plenty of ammo, a good pair of binoculars, snacks, sunscreen and a canopy to keep us sheltered a bit from the scorching sun and 95 degree heat. Guns ranged from 22 magnums .223’s and a couple 22-250’s, all of which did the trick on the little prairie dogs. Shot distances ranged from 30 yards to as far as you could see. The prairie dogs kept us guessing the whole time. One would be in front of us and then another would be behind us. You had to stay on your toes if you were going to get a good shot. A good scope, sandbags and a shooting bench were a must if you were going to make the shots over 300 yards count!
We hunted hard for three days and tallied up quite a kill count. When it came time for us to leave we realized that the adventure we just enjoyed was daily life for the people like the Allens who lived in Timpas and the surrounding towns in southern Colorado. It was more than just a hunting trip. We had gotten a glimpse of life in the Wild West!
In addition to hunting we watched a youth rodeo where Gail and Millie’s teenage daughter competed against other teens in barrel racing, horse racing and roping. We attended the Valley Cowboy Church where Gail preached and his daughter and son-in-law led the singing. The church was on the dirt floor of a cattle auction. Dressed in their best pair of Wranglers, shiniest belt buckles, boots and well fitted cowboy hats, they led worship for the Christians in La Junta. There were over 100 people in attendance the evening we were there!
The prairie dog hunting trip we all had so eagerly signed up for had turned into much more than we had expected. It was a trip where we got to take a firsthand look at the life of a rancher in the West. Our group of city slickers lived in their shoes for a few days. It was truly a trip none of us will ever forget, with some of the finest, most well-spoken Christian people you can hope to find anywhere.