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Summer Issue 2010

Two Elk Lodge

 

by Charlene Scott

The Two Elk Lodge – named for two giant elk heads that peer down at diners from the breakfast room wall – is gaining a national reputation among hunters and will be featured in an upcoming nationally televised sportsmen’s show.

Owned and operated by Ron and Carlene Engler, the Bed & Breakfast at 208 James Avenue in Kinsley is open not only to hunters, but also to individuals and families attending weddings, funerals, and other events.  The lodge offers the choice of 43 single or queen-sized beds in its 18 bedrooms. 

“Some rooms – like the NFL sports bedroom – are dormitory style with as many as five single beds lined up against the wall,” Carlene pointed out. 

One family has rented the entire lodge for a 3-day weekend family reunion in 2012.

“We opened on Oct. 31 of 2008, and 18 people stayed with us the first night,” recalled Ron, a native of Topeka who has lived in Kinsley for more than 20 years. 

“We also welcome travelers passing through Kinsley.  We’ve had guests from Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona, Alabama, North Carolina, and Florida.”

The lodge offers a continental buffet breakfast to guests, and Carlene packs a sack lunch for hunters, “a sandwich, fruit, chips, and cookies,” she explained. 

“During the bow hunting season, I’m up at 3:45 a.m. to start breakfast and pack lunches for the guys who eat at 5, leave at 5:30, and sit in the stands all day.  Then I head to work at the bank.”

Carlene, a Kinsley native, has been a full-time employee of Farmers Bank & Trust for the past 23 years, missing only four weeks while she underwent cancer treatment last year.

“Our busiest time at the lodge is November through December,” she said.  “The rifle and muzzleloaders eat later in the morning, so I don’t have to get up so early.  Sometimes I fix pancakes, sausage gravy and biscuits, bacon, and scrambled eggs, and make breakfast casseroles the night before.  This has been a new challenge for me!”

The Englers are licensed to cook meals for their guests, and sometimes offer dinner to hunters as a package deal.  The menu may include roast beef, baked chicken, minute steaks, catfish, vegetables, dessert, coffee, and tea.

“Hunting stories told and retold here,” a sign on one wall in the breakfast room reads.  Guests also gather at night in the Great Room to watch the big screen TV, relax in front of the wood-burning stove and fireplace, and swap hunting stories.  They are surrounded by deer, bobcat, pheasant, and prairie chicken mounts, most of them shot by Ron, an expert on the best hunting grounds in the area. 

Carlene led a tour of the lodge, which is a testimony to the hard work of both her and her husband.  She has sewn all the curtains and some of the bedspreads, decorated the rooms with different themes, and purchased new mattresses, pillows, bed covers, and quilts.  Ron and his helper, Robert Lindley, laid ceramic tile throughout the long hallways and installed new carpeting and flooring in the bedrooms.

“I’ve found a lot of items at our store,” Carlene said, referring to the Hwy 56 Antiques and Market that she and Ron opened in 2005 in downtown Kinsley on East Sixth Street.  (Ron also sells their homegrown veggies from the shop during summertime.)

The Englers have painted the two wings of the 10,000 square foot lodge, installed four new furnaces and central air conditioning, and added a new roof and plumbing to the large building, which was a rest home for the elderly during the fifties.  (Each room has its original drawers and shelves built into the walls.)  An emergency tornado center is in the basement.

Outside the lodge, Ron has built two cleaning stations for deer and birds, kennels for dogs (pets and smoking are not allowed inside the lodge), and a patio covering for outdoor barbecuing on grills.  His wife has two kitchen stoves, two standing freezers, and so many bathrooms that she can’t recall how many there are.  She does the many loads of laundry in shifts, and still is able to muster up a winning smile at all hours of the day and night.

Recent guests included a TV film crew of five persons who filmed a commercial in the Englers’ kitchen and a hunt from the lodge.  The Louisiana-based crew flew into Dodge City on their Lear jet, and stayed at the lodge.  Their film will be featured on a program for the Outdoor Channel, which airs in the area on Sundays at 7:30 p.m.

“We enjoy visiting with our guests and getting to know them,” Carlene said.  “Many of them come back again.  Ron had the vision for all of this; he always dreamed of owning a hunting lodge.  I was more overwhelmed.  It was such a daunting task.  When we bought the place, we could see the stars through a large hole in the roof!”

Guests are grateful for the Englers’ hospitality.  As one hunter wrote after his stay, “I just want to thank both of you for being such great folks.  Your lodge is perfect, and I do appreciate the great service and ‘home cooking.’  I look forward to my next visit.”

For more information or to make reservations for the lodge, call: 659-2334 during the day, and (620) 659-3153, evenings.  The lodge is located 35 miles northeast of Dodge City and 47 miles southwest of Great Bend.

 


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