How Smokey Ridge got it’s name.
The man holding this set of antlers is Bill Ench (otherwise known as Unk Bill). These antlers are how our ranch got its name.
First, a little background. Unk was born on the ranch in August, 1929. (He always said it took the world a couple of months to figure out he was here before everyone panicked and caused the Great Depression.) He was the third of four children born on the ranch. The ranch neighbors were a Native American family with 12 children. Some of these kids served as babysitters while the family was growing up. These babysitters taught my Unk how to hunt and fish producing great results for the family during the Depression. (The first deer my Unk harvested was shot with a .22 rifle from his homemade kayak on the banks of the South Fork of the American River.)
The antlers from the picture were harvested from a deer my Unk shot in the Sierra Nevada’s on the west side of Lake Tahoe. He was 1 mile from his base camp and 7 miles from his truck when he started to process this animal. He knew the animal was big, but didn’t realize how big until he tried to get it back to base camp. He finally had to quarter the animal and move it one quarter at a time. The next day he started transporting the animal to his truck. He carried one quarter at a time and hauled two quarters a day for two days. This was a total distance of 24 miles a day. When he got back to the ranch he weighed a front and rear quarter and found they weighed 80 pounds. He carried 160 pounds of meat out of the mountains on his back. (With the skin and entrails the animal was well over 200 pounds.) He quickly decided he would never work that hard for a carcass again. (When you come into the sales area look above the sales display area. Hanging on the wall are the set of antlers from the picture. You can then really appreciate how hard my Unk worked.)
After he recovered from his adventure, Unk went looking for a solution to his problem. He located a man selling a jack-ass (mule). The mule had a little temper, plus he hated dogs and women in dresses. After some haggling Unk purchased the animal and brought him home after completing a fenced pasture near the house. Bill named the animal Smokey.
Smokey was an interesting animal to say the least. He didn’t always like his pasture, so he would break-out and wander the ridge on the ranch. Once he was gone for a week before he came back for some feed. After a while we just started calling the ridge Smokey’s Ridge since he assumed ownership. After time it was shortened to Smokey Ridge.
In conclusion, I guess we may be the only ranch named after an Ass.