When it comes to hunting in the Cody area Ned Frost is the biggest legend of all.
In 1952, a Sports Afield magazine description of Frost’s life in the sport, accompanying a first-person story, called him “one of our country’s great hunters. Ned Frost has bagged more game than any hunter who is alive in America at this time.”
Frost was probably born in 1881 in Albert Lea, Minn., before his family and 25 head of cattle headed west to Bismarck, N.D. by covered wagon by 1883.
Two years later, the Frosts found a niche in the Cody area – even before Cody became a community – and Ned Frost stayed in the region until his death in 1957.
“In the early ‘80s,” Frost said, “this country was almost unexplored in that there were no roads leading into the Big Horn Basin from the north, or Northern Pacific railroad.”
Such limited access to the region made it a natural fit for Frost to begin leading horseback pack trips for hunters. He was regarded as a pioneer in that endeavor and ultimately became the leading figure in the local guiding world.
Frost estimated he was in on 200 grizzly bear kills during his career.
“The wild game in those days was almost unbelievable,” Frost said in 1930. “Where the town of Cody now stands, it was not unusual to see mountain sheep along the bluff of the river and antelope were found during the winter months in hundreds and thousands in a band.”
Frost said when Wyoming first approved game limits, he and others “felt that we were really being imposed upon.”
Besides guiding hunts, Frost and partner Fred Richard, who became related through marriage, spent years guiding tourists into Yellowstone National Park. Future generations of the merged families also became highly regarded photographers, documenting the evolution and development of the Cody area.
Early on, Frost became interested in wildlife movies and was a key to filming bow hunter Howard Hill’s Wyoming movie.
Born in 1899, Hill adopted the description “world’s greatest archer” for winning 196 straight competitions.
He performed trick shots and appeared in the 1938 movie “The Adventures of Robin Hood” starring Errol Flynn in an uncredited part as an archer. He was the stand-in archer for Robin Hood splitting an arrow already imbedded in a target.
Hill, who wrote two books, “Hunting The Hard Way” and “Wild Adventure,” was an accomplished big-game bow-and-arrow hunter and he spent nearly a year in Wyoming hanging out with Frost.
Hill called Frost “perhaps the greatest self-trained naturalist and hunter in North America.”
The visitor flattered Frost’s abilities to the extreme, saying, “I learned more from Ned about woodlore, big game, tracking and general information valuable from a hunter than from any two other fellows I have ever hunted with.”
As part of the filming, Frost took Hill to Jones Creek on the North Fork, about 50 miles from Cody, to kill a bear with bow and arrow while the guide shot film.
This was Hill’s first bear. Despite being armed with a monstrous-sized 110-pound split-bamboo bow with 700-grain broadhead arrows, Hill said he was scared of the 500-pound black bear he called “a brute.”
It took more than one arrow, but Hill got his prey.
Frost and Hill traveled the area filming, then Hill hunted on his own as Frost guided clients. Their combined effort produced the 1935 full length 35-millimeter black and white movie called “The Last Wilderness.”
In the Sports Afield article, Frost spoke of shooting his first big game, a buck antelope, at age seven, under the tutelage of his father Mahlon.
Also when young, Frost shot a rabbit through the head at 250 yards when he was only attempting to flush it.
Another time he shot a sage chicken through the neck – and wondered how.
“Many odd things happen to the man who has carried a rifle for over 60 years and used it practically everyday in his ordinary daily life,” Frost said. “I often think of some of the unaccountable shots that have come my way.”