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June 7th, 2015
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Beatty's Guest Ranch

It was only a matter of time…

Like most local birders, birding guides, and even the Southwest Wings Birding Festival, I have now been ‘banned’ from Beatty’s Guest Ranch. This means that I am no longer able, or indeed willing, to take my clients to this unfriendly site.

I’ll still be able to visit Miller Canyon itself, although I’ll try to avoid it, so that I don’t subject myself and my clients to an area with an intimidating, aggressive atmosphere. Beatty’s Guest Ranch is quite small, and the upper canyon can be accessed easily without passing through their property. However, the owners dominate the whole canyon with their roaming pack of off-leash hunting dogs, degrading the value of the canyon for everyone.

The reason I was banned was because of a petty misunderstanding over money, not surprisingly. Me and my client were falsely accused of not paying their entrance fee, an outrageous lie by the property’s owners. They now realize they made a mistake, and that we did pay, as always. But they have made their minds up, and despite my protestations they won’t budge, so I’m quite glad to get this inevitable outcome out of the way. That leaves me free to concentrate on the other excellent feeder sites in the area, and increase my donations to those wonderful, kind people who genuinely care about birds and wildlife.


I could give many reasons why Beatty’s Guest Ranch is not a business that birders should patronize from a birding perspective, but there are also moral reasons for avoiding the place, from racism to verbal abuse. And don’t get me started on their hunting of Mountain Lions and Black Bears. Disgusting.

I apologize if I come across as angry or bitter. I’m not, I just don’t bow down to bullies. I’m prepared to stand up for myself and my clients, and the birding community as a whole, who deserve far better treatment.

While I have, against my better judgement, publicly supported and recommended Beatty’s Guest Ranch in the past, I now urge everyone to boycott their hummingbird feeders. There are better feeder sites nearby, and around SE Arizona, which are genuinely birder-friendly. These sites allow visitors to enjoy not only hummingbirds, but other birds and wildlife, in a happy, relaxing atmosphere, the polar opposite of Beatty’s Guest Ranch.

Here are some examples, many of which also offer superior accommodation (marked with *):

Sierra Vista Area:

Patagonia Area:

Green Valley Area (Madera Canyon):

Portal Area:

Here is the content of the email I received from Beatty’s Guest Ranch, informing me of my ban. This came completely out of the blue, a full two weeks after the visit in question, and after a subsequent visit in which we were greeted as normal. It’s a typically volatile and paranoid rant.

Your recent visit, and you still owe me $10

Because of the Subject matter, please don’t ever come here again.

You must really think you are special.

I checked the box after you waved to me, and said “we put the $10 in the gate box”, on your recent big day. There was no $10.

Now that I think about it, both hands were waving and one looked like: a thumb to one nose and the other a bird.

You will be Trespassing from here on.

So Long.

Tom Beatty Sr.

Yeah, so long, Tom. It’s been… unpleasant.


14 comments to Beatty’s Guest Ranch

  • Silver

    In Patagonia you left out the Patagonia Sonoita Creek Nature Conservancy. They have hummingbird feeders and the trail fee isn’t required if you’re just hanging out at the pavilion watching the hummers.

  • Richard

    I knew I’d miss somewhere! Thanks, I’ve added it now.

  • Jeanne Howell

    Richard – I remember when we went there a few years ago and you had some reservations about these peeps then………..I felt like we were walking on egg shells just to be on their property. Too bad some people are so stubborn and mean, and this case, they could very well be missing quite a few colors from their crayon box. Beatty’s methods of hunting are disgusting, too……another example of meanness and bullying.

    Hope to be returning to AZ in a couple of years to bird with you again.

  • Richard

    Thanks Jeanne!

  • Lesley Hagen

    I would love to get on your email list of upcoming birding trips you have coming up. I am Jeanne’s sister in law and live in Waller, TX

    • Richard

      Hi Lesley. I’m afraid I’ve been VERY bad at getting newsletters out, and I’m not really sure about future tours at the moment. I’ll definitely do something about it… soon… maybe… 🙂

      • Charles

        Tom Sr is our ill health and the Jecle & Hyde behavior is from Dementia. I will add that using the land was what the Modern Founder of the Wilderness ethic Aldo Leopold saw and the life he lived. Actually Hunting Gathering and living off the Land has been the Norm in this area for Over 10,000’years from the Ice Ages to Very recently until a Environmental elite of which I admittedly was once a part of have decided everyone Must be a lemming , and it sounds like Only one Approved way of life is allowed.
        Shall we remove our canine teeth , and finish the emasculation of our society wimps

  • Last year, when I went to Miller Canyon, I was having trouble walking and Tom Sr told me to pull my car up closer to the entrance. He drew a map for me to find the Spotted Owl and gave me his phone number so that I could call if I had any problems on the hike. When I got down, he checked to make sure I saw the birds. He couldn’t have been nicer to me.

  • Jon Swanson

    I have also been to Beattys and received a nice welcome and one where I felt like I was not welcomed. Not sure whether he was having a bad day or not. But either time I felt as if I was being watched over or not trusted. I prefer to relax when birding and I am sure there are other places to see white eared hummers that are more fun. I bet they are overall nice but if I am flying half way across the country to bird I prefer to go elsewhere. Just my choice as a consumer.

  • Owen Strickland

    When I went with Tom up Miller Canyon in March 2017, he couldn’t have been nicer. We conversed normally the entire way up, saw the Spotteds, and had a good hour or two. Yes, he was hunting with his dogs, but being from a whole different world (I’m from Toronto), I just figured it was how things worked down there, and that it wasn’t my place to think badly about what he chooses to do in his area. What abusive and racist things does he do?

    • Richard

      Hi, Owen. It sounds like you met Tom Jnr (who owns the dogs), not Tom Snr. I’m not going to repeat any of the racist or abusive things I’ve heard Tom Snr say. Hunting for Mountain Lion and Black Bear with dogs is as unusual here as it is anywhere in North America, it’s not exactly a traditional way of life. And they don’t own the canyon, they only own their small parcel of private property, for which you have to pay an entrance fee. The owls are up-canyon, on Coronado National Forest, public land. Not that you’d know, with how they treat the entire canyon as their own.

  • Scott

    I have been to the Canyon a number of times. Tom Sr and Tom Jr. have always been extraordinary carrying, kind and helpful. They own the only private land in the Canyon and care for it. They have lived there for half a century, protected the wildlife and the people, risking their own lives to fight wildfires and rescue stranded hikers.

    Yes, they hunt the lions with their extraordinary dogs, that is how you hunt lions. By the way, a lion kills a deer about once a week. I am pleased you are banned, the Guest Ranch is a better place without you.


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