Why would a Colorado rancher sell the home placeâ€”the ranch his family had worked for four generationsâ€”and move the entire operation to a remote 300,000-acre spread in British Columbia, Canada? For the adventure. And adventure is what Tom and Connie Hook and their sons found. Two miles above the mighty Fraser River, the Empire Valley Ranch headquarters lay 80 gravel miles beyond the pavement. The range extended another 75 miles further west and higher up into the Coastal Mountains. The Hookâ€™s exploits included punching cows in the high country with colorful cowboys who were mostly Indian neighbors or outlaws hiding from the RCMP. The hazards, besides mountain weather, included wolves, grizzly bears, cougars, and eagles. Mountain Ranch at the End of the Road is the tale of life on a remote ranch: vast distances, long rides, interesting neighbors, colorful cowboys, unlikely horse stories, and hair-raising wildlife encounters. Tom Hook served God, loved his family, and respected his employees and neighbors. He was a gentleman, a leader, adventurer, cattleman, and beloved father and husband. And, to people all over the West and as far north as Alaska, a loyal friend. In the last months of his life Tom was blogging at CattleToday.com. At over 100,000 hits, his is the top-viewed board. He filed his final post a few days before he died suddenly on February 8, 2011. Many of Tomâ€™s readers asked him to publish his stories in book form. What you hold in your hands is the result.
Tom grew up in Colorado on a ranch of which he became the fourth generation operator. He attended Washington and Lee University and Colorado State University before graduating from Colorado College with a degree in Business Administration/Real Estate Appraisal. Tom did post-graduate masterâ€™s level work for one year at Denver University, followed by a five-year stint in the Air Force National Guard. After his time in the service, Tomâ€™s entire adult life was spent owning and operating successful cattle ranches in Colorado, British Columbia, Oregon and Idaho. He was also the recipient of numerous awards. During the summer months of his high school and college years, Tom traveled extensively with an RCMP officer in Canada and Alaska. This is how Tom came to love Canada, and aspire to ranch there some day. His mentor spoke at Knife and Fork Dinner Clubs all over Canada, and often put Tom up front as well. Tom was on the Cattlemenâ€™s Association board everywhere he lived: Colorado, British Columbia, Oregon and Idaho. On some of these he served as president. Tom was also a founder of The Owyhee Initiative, which brought together the heads from all groups with interest in public lands: congressmen, environmentalists, county commissioners, Indian tribal leaders, etc. It turned out to be a very successful organization. He also started The Owyhee Borderlands Trust, a group of ranchers who raised funds to buy ranches, for cattlemen to run cattle on, if they lost their BLM permits. The Trust is still operating today.