Gary Zakotnik was born in Kemmerer in 1945. He liked to tell people that he was born with coal dust in his veins and slack in his pants. From the summer of 1957 when as a 6th grader he lived in a sheep camp herding sheep for his uncle until the present, he has been involved in a ranching lifestyle that includes cowboy culture. Gary spent weekends and vacations helping his friend Truman Julian on the Julian family sheep ranch until he was a sophomore. He then began working for Dearth Jamieson Sheep Company. In 1960 Gary married the rancher’s daughter and the ranch changed from sheep to cattle, but he and his wife, JoAnn Jamieson, have kept that ranch in the family. He attended Northwest Community College and graduated from the University of Wyoming with a degree in animal science. As college students, in 1966, Gary and JoAnn obtained an FHA loan to purchase 125 cows and shares in the Little Sandy Grazing Association. He has been a Wyoming brand inspector for 47 years.