MERCERVILLE — What do you do when you have a love for the old west, a creative mind, and the desire to bring a bit of history to where you are? If you are Alan Stapleton, you start building an old southwest town right in your yard.
Broken Antler Ranch started out as a single cabin that Stapleton had arranged and built so some friends could stay in it while they hunted deer. It fit into the old west style and from that multiple buildings and structures have been added since.
“I have always liked the west, I’ve always been a horse guy, I built the taxidermy shop, and me and my buddies like to hang out. I also like to hunt so I met some guys from West Virginia bear hunting, they wanted to come hunt deer here so they let me stay at their place so I built that little log cabin for them to stay in and from that log cabin we started growing out from it,” said Stapleton.
Once the log cabin was built, a saloon was made, which led to the jail, and so on. The ranch currently features the Elkhorn Saloon, post office, water towers, a sheriff’s office and jail, general store, bath house, a church, and a taxidermist’s shop among others.
Stapleton himself is a local taxidermist, and his work fits in well at Broken Antler. Squirrels are posed with bows and arrows, a fox is posed with a turtle shell and a spear, and some are dressed up like Native Americans. Aside from the numerous comically stuffed animals, there are several deer, foxes, a bear, and birds from a peacock to a turkey.
The name ranch is not simply for the stuffed creatures found in the taxidermy shop, but for the live animals still living on the farm. Being a working farm, Stapleton has several horses and cattle that are common to the area, but he also has creatures very uncommon to Gallia County. Living on the ranch are guineas, a peacock, white tail deer, buffalo, elk, highland Scottish cattle, and a porcupine.
The Ranch has hosted several groups so far, but will host an official grand opening next year as Stapleton hopes to continue to expand and refine the ranch. The ranch is located on a hillside and visitors ought to wear sturdy shoes. He has hosted the Redneck games several times, which he hopes to expand and turn into an annual event with the ranch.
“I usually have a redneck games where we have throwing knives and a recurve bow shoot, the Stihl (chainsaw) guy comes and sets his tent up, we’ll have a competition to give away some stuff, we usually have about 50 people there,” said Stapleton. “I eventually want to turn that into a spectacle once a year with the town.”
Part of Stapleton’s goal includes a museum looking back to famous characters of the old west, who he has distant relationships to. A new pond was recently dug in and stocked with fish and he hopes to have cabins to rent for vacationers soon. While the ranch may never be complete, it certainly has continued to evolve. To learn more about it, visit their Facebook page at Stapletons Taxidermy.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.