Roberts, McKinley to host Cowboy Camp; offers 3-day ranching experience for all ages

April 2, 2024 | 12:13 am

Updated April 1, 2024 | 11:31 pm

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Courtesy of Roberts Cattle Co. and McKinley Quarter Horses, the local Cowboy Camp is returning to the county’s east side on April 19-21. It offers those with little or no riding experience an opportunity to hone their ranching skills. 

Mike McKinley is the ranch foreman and owner of McKinley QH, while John Roberts owns Roberts Cattle Co. The two will host the event on Roberts’ ranch, which boasts more than 300 heads of cattle on 440 acres at 10661 Floral Road in Knottsville. 

“We have stuff for campers of all ages, showing folks how it’s done out West,” said McKinley, who spent most of his professional career as a ranch foreman. “Several people can’t travel West to a dude ranch to see how one works for various reasons. This allows us to invite people to hang out with us for a weekend to see what life is like on a cattle ranch.”

The camp provides hands-on instruction on branding, castration, safety, and vaccinations. Campers also participate in a cattle drive, which the public can watch from a safe distance. As the sun sets and the day’s work is done, participants can enjoy cowboy grub around a campfire with the occasional guitar solo. 

“What I like about what we do is we don’t just tell people how to do something; we offer hands-on experience,” he said. “We have small camps throughout the year, just not to this level. We had over 250 people here last year from several states and as far as Oklahoma.”

McKinley said they do nearly everything by horseback, and camping is available on the property. They serve cowboy cuisine on Friday and Saturday nights and host a cowboy church service on Sunday mornings. 

He reiterated that the camp is for aspiring cowboys and cowgirls of all ages. He said last year, a 79-year-old woman who had always wanted to experience the cowgirl life attended the camp. 

Friday camping is $20 per person. The Saturday clinic with camping is $50, while the clinic alone is $30. Children under the age of 12 can participate for free. 

“Ranching is a true love,” Roberts said. “We want to teach a love for the animal and the community. Ranchers out West help each other, and we know that’s also the case here. Some attendees have never experienced a working ranch, but they jump in and do a great job.”

McKinley is an East Daviess County native who helped his father run the family quarter horse business as a child before embarking on a ranching career out West. After working in that area for several years, his father offered him the family business and an opportunity to return home. 

McKinley and his wife, who is originally from Texas, moved to Whitesville. In just 5 short years, they expanded the operation and infrastructure at McKinley QH. They now sell cattle working horses to farmers and ranchers across the country. 

Searching for people in the area with similar interests, he connected with Roberts. Since meeting, they’ve made it their mission to create “a better tomorrow through teamwork, hands-on education, and ranch work.”

Click here for more information about the camp. Call Carol Ann at 931-801-4277 to register.

April 2, 2024 | 12:13 am

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