By MICHELLE FLOYD
Arizona Sonora News
Kelly Glenn Kimbro is early to bed and early to rise — nine or ten o’clock at night and often two or three o’clock in the morning. Ranchers’ hours, she explains.
You will probably never meet another woman like Kimbro, a fifth-generation rancher in southeastern Arizona. She spends her days with her family and works their two ranches, hunts mountain lions, and works in the community.
“When I was a little girl I just knew I was going to be a rancher, and a hunter,” she said. “I love this way of life, and I love everything about it. I love the hard work, sunrises, and sunsets.”
Her family homesteaded the ranch near what is now Douglas, Arizona, in 1896, and have stayed ever since. They even acquired another ranch 50 miles away on the Arizona-Mexico border.
One of the aspects that she loves is the time she gets to spend with her family. “I am blessed that I have spent my whole life working with my parents and we always got along,” she said.
Kimbro would be out riding with her grandparents and parents, and now, she spends time with her father Warner Glenn and her daughter Mackenzie Kimbro.
She is able to carry on the ranching tradition by bringing in extra money as a mountain lion hunter — among other things.
Working with her father and grandfather growing up, she helped to manage the problem of mountain lions preying on livestock, not for sport but for practical ranching management. The day after Thanksgiving, she said she was called by the state game department to New Mexico to help track and kill a mountain lion that was killing cattle. She then had to be back the next day for separating cattle for market.
“Hunting a lion is a huge challenge,” she said, “Every day is a new day. You’re covering hundreds of square miles of country within the year.”
Another job she has to support her ranching lifestyle is being “The Ruger Girl” for Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.. Western photographer Jay Dusard approached her in 1988 when the company wanted to experiment with having a hard-working woman who carries a gun in its ads. Kimbro said she “broke the ice” for being the first woman to represent a gun company in advertisements, as most other companies had held back, “unless it was a woman in a bikini with a machine gun,” she said.
The first year with the company, the public truly embraced her. She has an approachable personality that encouraged men to bring their wives, mothers and children to different events to meet her. She also relates to many of her fans by her life full of hard work. “A lot of people that are my fans are farmers and ranchers and hard labor type of people who do hunting or shooting as a sport and a hobby,” she said. “I was someone they could relate to.”
These fans continue following her career. She’s now in her 28th year representing Ruger, in their advertisements and at gun shows.
The ranching life certainly does not come without its challenges. The Glenn ranches are under the control of the land, whether there is a drought, floods, or bad weather.
The other challenge comes with their border ranch. “We have been on the front lines of all of the politics involving immigration and illegal entry,” said Kimbro.
Her family ranch uses barrier guards, which keep the cattle from going into Mexico, but they still bear the brunt of the initial entry of people crossing the border from Mexico into the United States on her ranch land. She said this also includes, “wear and tear on your land, a lot of garbage, trash, and then you find someone who passed away because of the elements.”
Due to her family’s history in the hospitality business from hosting guests at their ranches from leading hunts, she has had politicians at her ranch such as Gabrielle Giffords, Martha McSally and Ted Cruz. Kelly believes it is important to show them what is going on at the border. “Somebody has to show them. When you walk out of the city limits of a little town, there’s a border, and a country, a wide-open country. And people are struggling to pass though there,” she said, referring to the people who are trying to cross the border.
S he and her family have no intentions of leaving. “We stay here because we love it. We love the land, we love what it has provided us, we love what we can provide in return to the country, the wildlife, and the heritage of cattle ranching that we carry on,” she said.
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