You've likely heard of the Lockhart Cattle Company - it's been in the valley since the early 1900's. Chase Lockhart joined the TCSAR volunteer team in 2015. Here he talks about growing up in Jackson, working the family ranch, cooking and his favorite day of the year.
Can you tell us a little about your childhood?
I grew up in Jackson on the ranch. I live in the same house I grew up in. I worked on the ranch as a kid, but I probably made more of a mess than I helped. We snow machined and skied a lot. I don’t know how we found the time and I don’t know why my parents turned us loose with snow machines in the mountains but they did. In the summer we were usually in the hay field. I don’t really remember my summers as a kid being all that fun. I was mostly just working.
When did you decide you wanted to run your family’s ranch? Did you feel like you had a choice or were you expected to take over the operation?
I definitely had a choice. It really wasn’t meant to be long-term. My first summer back from college I was sick if being inside and I wanted an outside job and the ranch was kind of in a transition period. I started working on it, it progressed and now I’m married to to the thing. (laughs) But I love it. I mean, some days suck. Some months suck. But overall it’s a really good job. I get to do what I want and I’m pretty good at my job, which is nice. And I like what I’m doing - I like the idea of it. I like being a conservationist. I like being a part of the new food thing. I think people really need to know where their food comes from. The industrial food model is broken and people want quality. So I think that’s cool. I wasn’t really that on board with it when I started but now I get it.
Where did you go to school?
I went to school at the University of Oregon for a couple of years and I finished at Montana State.
Is that the only time you’ve lived outside the valley?
Yep. I had such a good childhood I was kind of fighting to get back here. My parents let me be pretty lawless as a kid… take horses to the mountains and go hunting by myself and other stuff there’s no way I would let my kids do.
How did you get involved with Search and Rescue?
My brother (Cody Lockhart) has been on it for awhile. I knew they were recruiting but didn’t think too much of it. Cody, kind of right at the end when they quit taking applications, said “You should put your name in”. I was like, “OK - tell me me what to do”. It was past the deadline but he called Jess (TCSO Coordinator for TCSAR) and asked her to accept my application. And that’s pretty par for the course so I’m glad I kind of started that way and set the pace so people know - I’m gonna be late. My brother was really involved and I look up to him and a lot of the stuff that he does with Search and Rescue. I always thought it was really cool but I didn’t really think I would get on the team.
What do you like best about being on the SAR team?
I’ve learned a ton and I’ve got a whole new peer group which is cool. There’s no type B people on Search and Rescue. Everybody is type A and really ambitious, eager to learn, eager to train and eager to wake up in the middle of the night and go on a callout. I’m a very type A guy, so is my brother, so it was a good fit. I really like all of the new friends I’ve made - that’s pretty awesome. Guys that I never would have linked up with if it wasn’t for SAR. And I’ve always wanted to be involved in the community and give back and this is an applicable thing for me. I probably would ruin the food at the Food Cupboard but I do have skills that are useful to SAR. I grew up spending a ton of time in the mountains skiing and hiking and on horses and I feel I can find about anybody.
Anything you have to do or train to do for SAR that scares you?
Umm. (pauses) No. Nope. I like it all. The caves are not awesome. I’m fine going in but can’t imagine being stuck in one. The thought of being stuck in a cave for hours and hours is terrifying. I’m not super great with the high angle stuff but I’m not scared of it. I’m just out of my element which is tough because I like knowing what I’m doing. And typically I’m fairly comfortable taking the lead in about anything but the high angle stuff is out of my depth. I just need some more time with it.
What do you like to do when you’re not working on the ranch?
I consider myself a little bit of a renaissance man. (laughs) That’s only me that says that though… it’s self-proclaimed. So I do a little bit of everything. I like all types of water stuff, although I never get out on it enough. I bike a lot, ski a lot, I’d like to travel more. But I’ll do just about anything... hike, mountaineering - all that stuff.
Since you raise your own beef do you like to cook much?
I did. I was a pretty good cook or maybe a kind of good cook? But I’m a single guy and I’ve been cooking for myself for 10 years and I’m about over that. It’s not that fun to cook for one person. Plus I suck at dishes.
You have a dog, right?
Yeah - Spud. He’s a blue heeler. He works with me all day every day and then we cuddle at night. He’s great. And he misbehaves and runs away and chases cows when he’s not supposed to.
What do you always have in your pack in the backcountry?
I never leave without my headlamp. It’s amazing how quick it can get dark. Headlamps and a lighter. Never go anywhere without them.
What kind of food? I like tacos. Yeah - tacos. That’s the answer.
What’s your perfect day?
Today is actually maybe my favorite day of the year. It’s the day I put my bulls in with the cows. I have several different groups of cows all over the valley and each group gets certain bulls so they don’t get mixed up with their mothers and their sisters. So it’s kind of fun for me to plan out what the next year is going to look like as far as calves go. I’ll have a cow there and I’ll put a bull in and I’ll be excited to see how that calf comes out in about 285 days or so. I get to go to every different pasture where I have cows and I’ve been working on my pen of bulls for 10 years now - buying them, raising some. It’s cool to get everybody together. That’s probably my favorite day of the year.