Ryan Engelking’s business took a big hit recently.
Engelking owns Dodge City Exotic Hunt and Safari in south Ford County. Now he’s taken about a $25,000 hit due to someone sneaking onto his land and killing several of his animals.
"They killed a bunch of rams," the owner said. "To me, they were targeting the rams. One ram I thought was just missing we found dead.
"It’s just wrong."
Part of Engelking’s angst is of the animals killed, several were pets, not for hunting.
"We have ostriches and emus and they are pets," he said. "We don’t hunt all the animals we own and some of them are dead too."
The owners believes the hunters were young and hunted using bows and arrows.
"These were young hunters, the bows didn’t go through," he said. "They had to climb over the fence, so there were at least two of them, and they took some of the meat, but not all of it.
"I want justice. I will give a reward of $1,000 to any tip that leads to a conviction."
Engelking is also planning to do more with his business in the near future.
"We want to educate people about different animals," he said. "I’m planning on doing more with safari tours and education than just hunting.
"However, the hunting is a big part of my business for different reasons. I recently had a veteran here who is confined to a wheelchair and he came down for a hunt. He had a great time and we offered him something he normally couldn’t do."
Engelking knows his hunts draw criticism and skeptics, but he believes the safaris will enlighten some and he also wants people to know conservation isn’t just about saving animals, but managing animal populations and eating what’s hunted, not wasting an animal from a hunt.
"If you hunt a buffalo, it’s a three-for," he said. "It’s a great hide for a blanket, it’s a ton of meat for the freezer and it’s a trophy for a wall.
"We can provide the hunt, but also the information and understanding."
Right now, Engelking is looking for justice.
"Whoever did this, they’ll eventually brag to someone," he said. "They’ll invite people to a barbecue and announce they are having ram meat.
"If that’s the case, they are the ones who did this because there aren’t a lot of local people who have hunted with me."
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Ford County Sheriff’s Office at 620-227-4590.