“I don’t need publicity. I’m just happy that wildlife know they have a home.”
-Col. Gibson "Sloan" Peterson
An acclaimed taxidermist, Col. Gibson “Sloan” Peterson, has preserved nature of another kind—his 2,000-acre ranch along Casper Mountain east of Casper, Wyoming.
The 97-year-old naturalist, wildlife filmmaker and leader in the field of modern taxidermy died peacefully at his home on July 24. He is leaving the ranch he and his late wife acquired in 1949 to The Nature Conservancy as part of his estate plan.
“Col. Peterson dedicated his life to preserving nature. We are honored to continue his legacy by conserving the family ranch for future generations,” says Andrea Erickson Quiroz, the Conservancy’s Wyoming state director.
World War II to Wyoming
Born June 16, 1915 in Johnson County, North Carolina, Col. Peterson first came to Wyoming in 1933 as an 18-year-old to be with his uncle in Sheridan. He fell in love with Wyoming immediately.
Col. Peterson entered active duty in the US Army in 1939 as a Second Lieutenant in the Seventh Cavalry Regiment of First Cavalry Division, participating in five major campaigns in Europe, including the D-Day invasion in France.
After World War II, Col. Peterson served as Military Governor in Germany before relocating to Casper to pursue a distinguished career in taxidermy.
A Match Made on Horseback
Col. Peterson met his wife, Ida Jarrad, when he was a Calvary officer and she was a member of the Boots and Spurs Club.
The couple bought an expansive ranch on the Elkhorn River east of Casper from the original homesteaders in 1949. Together, they raised horses and longhorn cattle on the ranch.
Ida was a wildlife photographer and Col. Peterson opened Peterson Sculpture Taxidermists and the wildlife film company Peregrine Films, Inc. Ida donated her wildflower photos to the Audubon in Casper where they are available for viewing.
A Distinguished Career
In 1927, at twelve years old, Col. Peterson began his life-long interest in taxidermy while working toward earning the rank of Eagle Scout. Peterson spent his learning years pursuing knowledge in the formal arts of painting, drawing and sculpture, with the intent of applying those skills toward a commercial taxidermy practice.
Col. Peterson’s long and distinguished career would take him across the world, and bring the world of serious big game hunters to his renowned studios in Wyoming.
The Gift of Conservation
Throughout his life, Col. Peterson remained in awe of the importance of preserving the natural world around him. Years ago, he and Ida donated a conservation easement on their ranch to protect it against any future residential development.
The Petersons also preserved the ranch’s historic homesteader cabin, except adding a closed porch all around so, as Col. Peterson said, “they could see wildlife and mountains at the same time.”
The Colonel said he ultimately chose to donate his family’s ranch to The Nature Conservancy in his estate plan because he was impressed with the Conservancy’s “global and powerful reach.”
In June, Nature Conservancy staff, along with supporter Bart Rea, visited the Colonel in his home to honor and thank him for his commitment.
At that time when asked if they could recognize him publicly during his lifetime, he stated, “I don’t need publicity. I’m just happy that wildlife know they have a home.”
Want to help? Learn how you can leave your legacy to nature.