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Ryan Huitt—Owner, Wildlife Expressions
RANGELY | Ryan Huitt is truly a Rangely native, spending his entire childhood locally and graduating from Rangely High School in 2007. As a lover of the outdoors he found Rangely an ideal place to live and chose to build his family and business, Wildlife Expressions Taxidermy, in his hometown.
Q: What did you do after high school?
A: I planned to go to school to play baseball but injured my arm and was unable to play. Instead I went to CNCC for a year but I just wasn’t interested in my classes. Baseball was really a big motivation for going to school for me.
For a while I worked as a hunting guide and in construction and eventually decided to go to Taxidermy School in Montana. It was a small program with six students and three instructors so we really got a lot of hands on experience. Taxidermy was a good fit because I had always loved the outdoors; hunting, fishing and camping. I am also a bit artistic and taxidermy allowed me to combine those. I wanted a job around the things I love, and this was it.
Q: Did you know at the time you would want to return to Rangely?
A: My wife Danna and I always knew we wanted to live here. When I finished with the taxidermy program I moved back and set up shop. For a little while I worked construction until taxidermy was able to become my full-time job in the fall of 2009. Rangely is a hard place to beat if you like the outdoors and small-town lifestyle. I wanted my kids to have the same opportunities associated with that lifestyle that I had. If you are willing to get your hands dirty Rangely is great.
Q: Tell me about your business
A: Wildlife Expressions opened in 2009. I take in all sorts of animals; fish, big and small game, exotics and can do all types of mounts including life-sized. I have worked on animals from just about every continent in the world and have clientele both locally and from all over the country.
Q: What keeps you here now?
A: I really love that in a small town everybody knows everybody. Sometimes it can be a challenge to have everyone know so much about you, but this community is really supportive of each other. If someone needs help the community really pulls together. I’ve seen it time and time again. That’s something that is dying in many other places.
Q: What is the biggest challenge to starting a business here?
A: One of the biggest challenges here is the same as in any other small town; size. You have to find a niche big enough to keep you going. That can be a challenge when the potential clientele is so small and many of the sustainable business options are already taken.
Q: What’s your vision for economic development, what do you think the county/town can do to bring young people in?
A: The days of big factories with lots of workers are gone. We need to be heavily advertising the assets we already have including all of our outdoor recreation opportunities. We should promote what we already do and build on what we currently have instead of always looking for something new. Bringing in just a few families here or there could really make a big difference.