Larry Licking of rural Camp Crook, SD, 81, died Monday, May 3, 2021, at his Long Pines ranch, watching over the land and animals he loved.
Funeral services are being arranged for Saturday, May 8, 2021, in Camp Crook, SD.
Larry was born Oct. 9, 1939, in Mullen, NE, to Bertha Eldora (Culver) and Lawrence Licking. Larry has two younger brothers, Leonard and Gary. Eldora grew up near Newell, SD, and met Lawrence while he was a government trapper working in the area. They settled on a small ranch seven miles south of Seneca, NE. Before that, one of their first homes was a shack north of Belle Fourche, SD, near the current junction of South Dakota highways 85 and 168. Approximately nine months later, Larry was born. So perhaps it was his destiny to return to South Dakota.
When Larry was 17, a man named Hanna selling cattle feed stopped at the Licking home. He was from Nebraska but owned a ranch in Harding County, SD. The topic came up that he was going to sell his ranch. Soon, the deal was made, and in 1956, the Licking family moved to the “Jumpoff” place a few miles west of Buffalo, SD, bringing 150 cows and 50 heifers then buying more Hereford cows. His brother Gary owns the Jumpoff place today.
In 1974, the same year that his father died, Larry purchased his first ranch, the Albert Solman place, which he split with Dean Oja. In 1978, he sold it and acquired the Carter place. The years had their ups and downs, like they do for all ranchers. Larry had cattle, put sheep out on shares, and even ran wild horses from the BLM. At least one of the mares couldn’t be corralled and ended up in a local rancher’s broodmare band. At one point, Larry had to sell all his cows but that still wasn’t enough. He started trucking, mostly livestock and hay, driving for others and then having his own for about 15 years.
In 1977, Larry married Myra (Uhrig) Beldon and became a stepfather to Tammy, Lori and Garrett. Larry built a log house in Buffalo for his family, which was a landmark for many years. Myra died of cancer in 1992. In the fall of 1999, Larry purchased the old Walter White place from Doug Turbiville, about 10 miles north of Camp Crook along the Long Pines.
In 2000, Larry met Debra Brown and soon they discovered how much they had in common. They married April 28, 2006. While Deb was used to sheep, she quickly took to cattle ranching with Larry. Deb’s son Sterling became a very important part of Larry’s life, assuming more and more of the ranch duties.
Larry always dreamed of having a barrel horse at the National Finals Rodeo. Deb showed horses and then moved to reined cow horses. Their first stallion, French Cash Yawl, a son of Frenchmans Guy they purchased as a weanling, qualified for the Dodge Ram Circuit Finals in barrel racing and held the Badlands Circuit Finals arena record for several years. Today, Long Pines horses include Bettin Yer Smart, a national reined cow horse champion who is the ranch stallion, Mia Lil Pink, world versatility horse champion, and Ole, who Larry endowed with the title of “greatest horse that ever lived.” While Larry didn’t witness one of his horses at the NFR, they are making their mark in reined cow horse, roping, rodeo, ranching and even polo.
Long Pines cattle, built on Larry’s herd of commercial cows, has evolved into one of the top Irish Black® and Irish Red® herds in North America. Larry read about the breed in an issue of Tri-State Livestock News and within months the couple bought breeding stock from Maurice Boney, founder, who would only sell them half the number of bulls they normally used. Larry reasoned that “the guy said his bulls would breed twice as many cows and I figured it was worth trusting him or he’d sold us twice as many bulls.” The first calf crop convinced Larry and Deb that Irish Black genetics were what they needed to improve their commercial herd, then added purebreds, too.
Larry had a way with people and animals. His chickens always seemed to be laying. His hunting dogs could tree everything from porcupines to mountain lions. Festus was Larry’s all-time favorite “but most worthless” dog. Larry and Festus were buried together. He hoped that people would remember him as a man who did his best to be honest.
Larry is survived by his wife, Debra (Brown); stepchildren, Tamara (Duane) Lei, Lori (Brian) Raber, Garrett (Michele) Belden and Sterling Brown; six grandchildren; numerous great grandchildren; brothers, Leonard (Bonnie) and Gary (Dana); sister-in-law Sharlet (John) Teigen; and brother-in-law Tim (Tracy) Brown.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, parents and three sisters-in-law.