By Liv Stecker
Pete Ansaldo came to the United States from Italy in 1900, where he carved out a hard living in the mines in Butte Montana for a couple of years until he had the money to bring his wife and two daughters to America. They joined him, and shortly after in 1903, Pete left the dark mines to build a homestead in the rolling hills outside of the bustling mining town of Northport. With one Hereford bull named Curly, the formerly nameless hill overlooking the Columbia River was dubbed Bull Hill, and Pete, Curly, and his family worked to build a profitable ranch. They were joined in 1921 by a family friend from the old Country, Minot Guglielmino, who married Pete’s daughter Kate after working in the Lead Point Mine outside of Northport for awhile. Minot and Pete raised cattle on the sweeping land along the river while Minot and Kate’s only son, Don grew up in the barn that still stands on Bull Hill today. Don later married Kassie and they raised six children at Bull Hill, Jeanne, Susan, Don, Pete, Tom and Joe.
In 1981, Pete Guglielmino graduated from Eastern Washington University and returned to the family homestead at Bull Hill. He started offering guided hunts to friends while he took up the family trade of cattle ranching. In 1995, along with his brother Don, Pete launched Bull Hill Guest Ranch, to accommodate the growing demand for guided hunts and dude-ranch vacations that he was encountering. With ten horses, two wranglers and one cook, the ranch was soon busy from spring through fall, as visitors from up and down the northwest corridor caught wind of what was happening up at Bull Hill.
The guest ranch grew and expanded from the old barn and a few tents to a fully equipped cookhouse, guest cabins, and new barns. Rambling over a total of 50 thousand acres, both owned and leased, the endless hills and woods drew guests back to the ranch again and again. Pete, his wife Patsy, their children and several other family members came along over the years to help develop Bull Hill into the gathering place that it has become. “It’s always a battle to get people here for the first time,” says Tucker Guglielmino, Pete’s oldest son and the marketing director for Bull Hill, “because most people haven’t heard of Kettle Falls or Northport. But if we get them here once, we have no trouble getting them to come back.” Bull Hill specializes in making guests feel like part of the big extended family that operates the ranch. “We want people to feel like this is their spot.” Tucker adds, where they are known by name and can bring their friends for the same attention to detail. The wranglers get to know each guest and fit them to the right horse, making each visit personalized and memorable.
Near the turn of the millennium, one of Pete’s friends from college mentioned that the Navy SEAL teams were doing site surveys for a new rural sniper training range. Pete threw Bull Hill into the list of options and the Navy sent a helicopter and survey team out to check it out. The SEALs liked what they saw, and when Bull Hill underbid the competition nationwide, they were on board. Since then, SEAL teams have trained in the woods at Bull Hill twice a year, in the spring and fall, developing training curriculum that utilizes the best and most rugged landscape that northern Stevens County has to offer.
This year, Navy SEALs who participated in the very first training at Bull Hill came back as instructors. Tucker says that the contract gets renewed because Bull Hill offers something that you can’t find elsewhere. The SEALs often perform their training at Bull Hill immediately before deployment in the fall, and coming into the cookhouse at the end of the day they mingle with the Guglielminos and feel like a part of the American Dream. “They see the family and remember a little bit what they’re fighting for.” Tucker says. The sprawling ranch and the small town vibe where everybody knows your name is what it’s all about.
In 2015, Bull Hill was visited by a former Army Ranger who was looking for a place to host civilian long range shooting competitions. The guest ranch fit the bill perfectly and Dan Litzenberger, together with Pete and Patsy’s son Tucker Guglielmino created Bull Hill Training Ranch, and hosted a competition shootout in August of 2016 that was in support of the Darby Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to the successful transition of Army Rangers to civilian life after service in the military. The shootout was a success, registration sold out and both professional and amateur shooters from all over the region and country, as well as corporate sponsors, came together for a weekend of fun and camaraderie to benefit an amazing cause.
Dan and Tucker are looking forward to hosting another competitive shoot at the ranch this spring, to benefit the foundation Freedom Has a Face, a non-profit committed to keeping the memory of fallen heroes alive in the support of their families and filling the gaps they left behind at home. These competitions as well as other events promise to be an ongoing benefit to both veterans and civilians alike as it provides a relaxing escape from the day to day for visitors and participants.
Pete and Patsy, along with their sons Tucker and Hunter continue to run Bull Hill with the help of Pete’s brother Joe, nephew Brent and a small army of local friends and family. Now armed with five full time wranglers, up to five cooks in the peak season, a full cleaning staff and office manager, the ranch books reservations years in advance for hunting season and families from the west side of the state looking for a rural get away that offers the complete experience. For more information about Bull Hill, check out their website BullHill.com.