Hell’s a Roarin’ Outfitters Auction raises funds for track chairs
Hell’s A Roarin’ Outfitters is Jardine, Montana. Located near the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park and the town of Gardiner, Montana, the business has been outfitting riders and hunters for decades, besides raising it’s own using horses and bucking stock.
Since 1982, the Hell’s A Roarin’ Horse Drive has been held at Gardiner, Montana. The Johnson family, Warren and his wife Susan, and their grown kids Aimee and Jeremiah, have held the event each year as a celebration of the opening of the summer season and as a means of moving their horses and mules from winter pasture at Gardiner to their summer and fall home at Jardine, Montana, where the Johnsons live. It draws a huge crowd from all over the world – both spectators and participants.
The Hell’s A Roarin’ Horse Drive involves a barbeque, concerts, dance, bronc riding, fundraiser auction, and for 2020, a horse sale, besides the horse drive. It was scheduled for Memorial Day weekend this year, but, with the across the board state shutdown due to Covid-19 regulations, it couldn’t be held.
The fundraiser element of the Horse Drive is an auction of donated items, from paintings to elk hunts, that raises money to purchase track hairs for veterans and first responders. The auction items were already on hand, so it was decided to have an on-line auction, utilizing Warren Johnson’s Facebook page, to raise the money.
“We’ve been doing the track chairs for three years. In the past we had funded local charities, but we really wanted to focus on our veterans and first responders,” explains Johnson. “Each chair has a base price of $15,000. Any needed add ons cost more, so we cover that as well. The auction has allowed us to buy eight chairs so far.”
“This year the first chair went to a first responder. The second one is going to a camp near Kalispell and will be used by multiple people to allow them to take part in the activities at that camp. The first responders and veterans who are disabled have given so much, we just want to give back to them,” says Johnson.
The track chairs are a type of electric wheel chair with tracks instead of wheels. They are wide based and can negotiate difficult terrain and get a disabled person off the beaten path. The track chairs have enabled people to resume outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing, despite having lost the ability to walk in rough terrain.
Johnson says “We’ve had two recipients come to visit. It’s a privilege to meet them. There are so many options on those chairs it’s just amazing. One of the guys turned his chair into a business by putting a snow plow on it. Now he plows driveways. Another lady was an avid fisherman, so the chair was modified for her to be able to carry her poles on it.”
“If we have the recipient before we buy the chair, we make sure their needs are met with the chair, no matter what it costs for the accessories,” explains Johnson. “If more money is needed to modify a chair, we auction something else and raise that money. We just couldn’t do this without our great donors and buyers.”
“The auction money goes entirely to the track chairs. We turn the money over to the American Legion and they find the most needy recipients,” says Johnson.
Hells A Roarin’ business picked up throughout the summer. It’s always a busy place with around 375 head of horses and mules on hand. “We had 121 guest riders out the other day. People are really wanting to get out into the country now,” said Johnson. Earlier this summer, they took 25 mule loads into the Yellowstone Park to set up summer camps. says Johnson. “We’re sure glad to be getting busy again.”
“The other day we cut 14 studs, branded 35 head, did some vet work, and drew blood for health certificates on 110 head of horses and mules. It’s always busy here,” says Johnson.
The horse sale that was to be held in early June has been postponed to a later date. The lineup for it is all home raised young horses that have been ridden, driven and packed, plus are picket broke and gentle. “I’m awfully proud of this bunch of young horses and am hoping to be able to hold the sale later this season,” says Johnson. “They’ll be even better by then after working another season.”
No grass grows under the feet of anyone involved in Hell’s A Roaring Outfitters. They plan to resume the Horse Drive and related events in 2021. “I was supposed to ride a buffalo out of the chute this year. I’d better get that done while I still can!” laughs Johnson.
Things stay busy at Jardine, Montana and they wouldn’t want it any other way. Because they appreciate and honor the sacrifice of veterans and first responders, the track chair auction will be part of it all for the foreseeable future.