Generations at the Ranch | Staff Highlight: Will Rittel, a fifth-generation at The Blacktail Ranch

March 25th, 2021 by Caitlyn Allen

Continuing the theme from our last newsletter, a little more about the wonderful people that make The Blacktail Ranch such a special, family-owned historic Montana ranch.

Will Rittel represents the fifth generation working at the Blacktail. Before him were Eric (Will’s dad); Tag (father of Eric and grandfather of Will), Tag’s father, Frank; and Frank’s father, Gustav, who homesteaded the original land of the ranch.

From such a long history of one family come many stories, many of which Will shares with guests when they visit the ranch’s on-site museum. (No spoilers—You’ve got to come here to hear more!)

Will Rittel, a fifth-generation at The Blacktail Ranch:

Q: What is it you love about the ranch? 
I love the Blacktail because it captures Montana’s beauty. Resting just below the Continental Divide running down toward the high plains, it is one of the prettiest places I have ever seen.  And I get the privilege to call it my home. It is my family’s legacy and something I get to share with people from all over the world. 

Q: What’s your favorite spot on the ranch? 
It’s hard for me to choose just one spot. Every area has a memory. Most places remind me of my grandpa, Tag.
The best view for me is at the very top of the Continental Divide. Close to where we tie off the horses during a “Divide Ride”, there is a ledge you can sit on and look down the whole valley out to the prairie. I look forward that ride every summer to get that view.  

Q: What’s it like to work here? 
 This will be my fifth season working on the Blacktail. Every year I remind myself how lucky I am to be there and work with the people who make it all happen. The Blacktail is a machine with a lot of moving parts; it takes a crew to keep it going smoothly. I enjoy being a part of that crew. 

Q: There are lots of activities here for our guests. Which is your favorite? 
My favorite activity is the campfire we make at the end of the day. When everyone gathers around and gets to know each other better. It always seems new friends are made and by the end of the week, no one wants to say goodbye.

Q: What’s the best-kept secret on the ranch? 
That would be where all my favorite fishing spots are, which I’m not gonna say! Other than those, I tend to tell the guests most everything I know about the ranch. 

Q: Wranglers or Levi’s? Why? 
Wranglers any day. They are tough and good-looking. My other go-to would be Cinch because they are breathable and really comfy but you go fencing one time and they are done. 

Q: All cowboys have a favorite horse. Which one do you have a soft spot for and why? 
My favorite horse as of right now would be Champ. We got him a few years ago and he has turned into a really solid horse. He does everything I ask of him. He’s a very gentle, kind horse but has enough spunk in him to keep me excited.