Unplugged: Former USU, NFL great Rulon Jones enjoys life in the great outdoors

Published: Saturday, July 5 2014 7:35 p.m. MDT

Former Utah State great and NFL star Rulon Jones poses on the deck of his Idaho home with his wife Kathy.

Randy Hollis, Deseret News

Editor's note: This is the third of an occasional series spotlighting former athletes with ties to the state of Utah.

FIRTH, Idaho — Rulon Jones is, both literally and figuratively, about as far away from the National Football League as a guy could get.

These days, the former Utah State star who went on to become an All-Pro defensive end for the Denver Broncos almost 30 years ago can be found living a comfortable but far-from-luxurious existence in the shadows of the Blackfoot Mountains.

His large, lodge-like home is nestled in the foothills where his 10,000-acre Broadmouth Canyon Ranch — one of three such hunting ranches the Utah native owns — is located, several dirt-road miles east of this tiny Idaho outpost.

Indeed, Firth is a quiet, sleeply little place whose population — 477, according to the 2010 census — would've surely made it a candidate to earn a special salute from the TV show "Hee-Haw" back in the day. Technically, it's about an hour southeast of Idaho Falls and a few miles northeast of Blackfoot.

As for Broadmouth Canyon Ranch, well, you might never find it using MapQuest, so maybe the best directions on how to get there would be to simply go to the middle of nowhere and turn right.

But for the last seven years, this has been home for Jones, his wife Kathy and their 16-year-old special needs son Parker, the youngest of six children they've raised together during a marriage that will celebrate its 37th anniversary in September.

"We like our privacy," said the 56-year-old Jones, whose nearest neighbor — if you could call 'em that — might be more than 10 miles away. "We're pretty much off the grid up here.

"We had our ranch down there in Utah in the Ogden Valley, but after the Olympics that area started to populate a little bit more and people kinda found out about that Ogden Valley. We could see that it was getting too many people so we started looking. And gosh, we looked a lot and it's hard to find ranches with this view like we have down the bottom here with the pines and everything.

"A friend of mine just happened to tell me about it," Jones said. "He had a helicopter and flew me up here and we looked at it and it was like, 'Hey, that's the spot' for what we wanted to do. But it was a long process and we looked for a long time."

Since then, Jones has also opened a taxidermy business that employs three full-time employees who can do everything from head mounts to full-body mounts of big-game animals that are killed during the hunts, as well as a butcher shop in Firth to help process and package the meat that is harvested.

"We can take care of everything in-house now," Jones said. "It's been easier to just handle all of it ourselves."

Perhaps it should be no surprise that running a hunting ranch — or three of them — is something Jones would wind up doing. After all, as a boy, he grew up an avid outdoorsman with plenty of places to hike, hunt and fish, and plenty of wild game animals to pursue in the picturesque countryside of Liberty, Utah.

"That was always in my blood — the hunting," Jones said.

Yes, it definitely was. After all, his father, Larry, who will turn 88 years old in October, was a legendary bow hunter and well-known wildlife cinematographer whose films were shown at schools throughout northern Utah for many years.

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