Head 'em up! Move 'em out!

Even if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences fails to bestow as many Oscars as expected Sunday night on "Brokeback Mountain," the controversial cowboy flick with a homosexual theme has won the appreciation of another sector of the American leisure time industry. And that would be? Dude ranches. Yup. According to their trade group, the Cody, Wyo.-based Dude Ranchers' Association, bookings for the coming summer are already 30 percent higher over this time last year. That's because, says executive director Colleen Hodson, "Major news outlets ... are reporting that Brokeback fans are actively seeking out their own cowboy experience" and the ideal place to "ride, rope, and take in some breathtaking scenery" - and do so safely - is on a dude ranch. Although the DRA has 114 members in 12 Western states and two Canadian provinces and can put "up to 4,208 riders in the saddle on any given day," Hodson recommends that city-slickers who have yet to make their reservations should take their cue and do so soon. A week's vacation at a certified ranch can cost more than $2,000 per person, double occupancy.

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