Hunting at Xu’Be Ranch

I took Gina hunting on Saturday; I was excited to go, since Gina’s been feeling so great lately. Plus, this fixture (Xu’Be Ranch) is much closer to the barn than Flint Creek. Since I hadn’t been there before, I asked my friend Rachael for directions. Her directions made me seriously reconsider going:

“You will come to a stop sign in Barnsdall. Go left through town and then right at the end of town (it kinda looks like you could continue straight up the hill but don’t go that way). You should still be on Hwy 11. Continue on until you get to Pershing. Not much there except a big rock building that I think used to be the school. After the rock building is a road. Go left. Go a block to a stop sign and go left again. Road will curve right then back left. The ranch entrance is in the left curve…take a right into the ranch over the cattle guard. Continue on ranch road. Stay on main road- don’t take the first right, continue on until you see the house and a little barn. Here go right and there will be a gate. You will see trailers at this point. Go through the gate and shut it behind you. Cattle in that pasture.”

My reply to this set of directions was “WTF I am definitely going to get lost.”

"Only one of us is excited about this trip and it isn't me."
“Only one of us is excited about this trip and it isn’t me.”

Happily, Google Maps got me to the small town of Pershing and I was able to follow Rachael’s directions from there. (Although I did nearly miss the left turn past the big rock building…I don’t know if Gina has forgiven me for the sharp turn!) I arrived with plenty of time to tack up and finish getting dressed.

Xu’Be Ranch is really interesting place. Located in Osage County, the ranch is approximately 1,000 acres of prairie land that once housed several oil wells and a gasoline plant. In 2000, the owners of the ranch donated an 800 acre easement to the Trust For Public Land. That easement has ensured it will be protected from being subdivided or developed for homes, businesses, or roads. Harvard Fox Hounds is permitted to hunt there thanks to the generosity of the late Dr. Lydia Wyckoff, co-owner of the ranch and a member of the hunt, and her brother, the ranch’s current owner who still lives there.

View of the land, complete with Molly's head.
View of the land, complete with Molly’s head.

The land is very Oklahoma- it’s got a few gently rolling hills covered with native grasses. There are groves of small trees interspersed through the landscape. It’s also extremely rocky, with big rock outcrops and jagged stones protruding from the ground. It’s a far cry from a well-kept cross country course! It’s also very different from the Flint Creek fixture- Xu’Be is much more open and much flatter. It also doesn’t really have much in the way of jumps- a few coops in fencelines that were easily gone around.

Flask break.
Flask break.

It was hot and sunny on Saturday, which are not ideal scenting conditions. The hounds didn’t seem to ever really find anything, but there were a few minutes of haring off after the pack that were pretty fun. The most exciting moment for Gina and me came fairly early in the day. We’d been out about an hour, and the staff was trying to gather the hounds up and move them toward a pond so they could get a drink and cool off. Most of the hounds were totally on board with this idea, except for one. Twister (who I think is the infamous Titan’s brother) was dead-set on racing off into the wide open spaces for reasons unknown; maybe he was heading back to the hound truck! He and another hound took off down a ranch road; my friend Bess galloped off after them with her mare Molly, and Gina and I followed suit. The two of us were on either side of the hounds, hoping to turn them around back to the pack. The other hound faltered after a few minutes and Bess and Molly were able to get in front of it and herd it back toward the rest of the field. Twister kept right on going, so I gave Gina a squeeze and a cluck. She picked up her pace and caught up with Twister, then laid her ears flat back and snaked out her head toward him. He slowed down and Gina spun like a reiner to get in front of him. He started running back to his fellow hounds and we followed him at a slow canter.

The rest of the hunt was pretty uneventful; no sightings, no great chases, no more rogue hounds. We headed back in after about two and a half hours and found some of the ranch’s longhorn cattle milling around the trailers! They scattered at the sight of us. I untacked Gina, rubbed her down with Sore No More, and schlepped a bucket of water half a mile from the barn to the trailer. (And of course, she ignored it.) After hunt breakfast, I headed back to the trailer to load up Queen G and found a couple of loose horses. The longhorn cattle had returned to make themselves at home! They were munching away on haynets, sipping from water buckets, and a couple of them had even climbed into someone’s trailer. I’m guessing the loose horses had spooked at the cattle- no one was injured and the cattle were chased away without much fuss.

Oklahoma, where longhorn cattle join in for hunt breakfast.
Oklahoma, where longhorn cattle join in for hunt breakfast.

I’m really looking forward to closing hunt in a couple of weeks- it felt great to get back out in the field!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

16 thoughts on “Hunting at Xu’Be Ranch”

  1. I’m so impressed that Gina knew EXACTLY what her job was with that hound. And those cattle! I can’t even… Sounds like a nice day even if the excitement level was low. Glad you were able to get out there!

    1. The directions were terrifying, but she was totally spot-on. There was indeed a rock building, a road, and a ranch! Maybe next time we see some cows I’ll have to see if Gina wants to herd them lolz

  2. Those cattle are hilarious. I’m always surprised at how bold/curious they are! Glad you had a fun outing 🙂

  3. This was amazing! What a good mare! I’d be concerned about the cows tearing up stuff, but I guess they know where their horns end. Sounds like a fun adventure!

  4. Sounds fun! Love the longhorns.

    Driving with sketchy directions is always stressful while hauling. In my car I know I can easily make a U-turn if I miss a turn, but in the truck and trailer I always double and triple check that I know where I’m going as much as possible. Glad you found the place okay.

  5. Those directions sound like the kind of directions that I give! Especially things like “turn left at the big brick house” or “turn right at the giant tree, you can’t miss it!”

    Sounds like a fun day. Those cattle have some pointy looking horns. I wouldn’t want to meet one when its mad!

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