The Mad Hatter Ranch purchased its first elk in December of 1996. Barry and Patsy Dyar, owners of the ranch, went to the auction in Minot North Dakota and purchased the first three double bred 40# animals available. The next year was spent traveling around the US and Canada, selecting 30 foundation cows and two herd bulls. These animals came from Orr Lake, Clearstone, Wild Rose, Jerry Haige, Ted Parkinson, Lynn Stevens and Orlyn Ballantyne, just to name a few. All animals were chosen based on top antler genetics, as well as size, conformation and calving ability. Right from the start, they began an A.I. program striving to breed the highest quality elk possible. Every year since that time over 95% of all cows and heifers have been artificially inseminated with results of between 70 and 100% conception. This spring they are looking forward to calving 34 elk whose sires include Jesse, Chief Dakota, Dakota Pride, Samurai, King, Manitoba Weapon, Platinum, Starbuck, Revolution, Korean Gold and their champion herd bull Victor. Victor, a Geronimo son, was in the breeders 3, three year old group that won the international in 99. Victor also won the SW four-year-old division in 2000.
Barry and Patsy's love for animals and involvement with breeding quality stock began long before they began raising elk. Barry graduated from Fort Lewis College, in Durango CO, in 1976 with a degree in biology. An avid hunter and outdoorsman, he stayed in Durango spending months at a time on horseback in the mountains. There he pursued his passion for studying wildlife, and understanding the environment they live in. Over the years he has gained the reputation of being one of the best hunters and guides in the Southwest. He has taken many record book animals with his rifle and bow.
Barry has been a horseman since he was a child. In addition to packing his horses in the mountains, he took up the sport of Polo-Crosse (La Crosse on horseback). Never one to do things half way, he made it to the National Championships in 1994, and won!
Barry became interested in ranching elk in the early 1980's. For the next 10 years, he watched the industry grow, studying the market. During much of that time Barry worked as a contractor in the Durango area. In 1988, he moved to Australia and started a chain of "state of the art" car and truck washes...the first in the country! Upon his return he once again turned his interest to elk.
Patsy and Barry met as teenagers while working at a summer dude ranch as counselors. Barry was the cowboy and Patsy was the artist! Unfortunately for their romance, Barry returned to Colorado, and Patsy moved to the east coast. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1976, and pursued a career in sculpture. One of the top industrial designers in the country, she developed many popular lines of toys and giftware. In 1982 her pewter dog key chains (I love my Dog) and figurines were the top selling gifts in the pet industry, putting the gift ware company in the" INC. 500" business magazine's top 500 privately held companies in the country. For Hasbro Toys she developed the "My Little Pony" toy line, among many others. In her free time she was busy breeding and showing dogs, and riding her horses.
Barry and Patsy reunited in 1992, after not seeing one another for 19 years! Finally in 1996 Patsy moved to Durango, CO just in time to jump into the elk industry with the Mad Hatter Ranch. Together, along with 10 horses, and four dogs they are breeding the very best elk they can.