The number of cowboys who can catch wild cows is fairly small, and the number of guys who catch wild cows for a living is even smaller.
In the off chance you’re shopping for a member of this unique type of cowboy subset this holiday season, here are a few suggestions for what he really needs. Besides a second job, of course.
These portable propane heaters come in different makes, models and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: They stop working on the coldest night of winter. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except winter is the busy season for catching wild cattle. A teepee heater is a wild cow man’s only source of heat for weeks at a time. Wild cow populations are not conveniently located near a hardware store, so a feller can’t exactly hop in his pickup and drive five miles down a paved road to purchase a new one to ensure a warm night’s sleep. Nope – he’ll probably be stuck sleeping in a wet bedroll until his next trip to town. More about that later.
A wild cow man routinely carries a knife, a hand saw, an extra horseshoe, a roll of medical tape, a pair of pliers, nose tongs, a nylon web halter and the handheld control for his dogs’ tracking collars. The only thing he doesn’t carry with him is a bottle of water for himself – just one for his hounds. He doesn’t necessarily need a new pair of chaps or a saddle; he just needs more pockets. He can arrange these on his current outfit as he sees fit. It doesn’t matter what size the pockets are, although no wild cow man ever said, “Gee, this pocket is too big.”
More Tie Strings
Tie strings are like pockets: a wild cow catcher can never have too many of them. Their primary use is, of course, to tie down cattle when out working on the range, but they can also be used to tie a divider gate closed in an old stock trailer, hang a grain bucket from a fence panel or secure a hound dog when the situation doesn’t require a hound dog. Most of his situations require hound dogs, but it’s good to be prepared.
Silver Bridle Conchos
Actually, cross this one off the list. Silver conchos are liable to get ripped off a headstall when running through the brush in hot pursuit of an elusive bovine. So are hats, vests, eyeglasses – entire shirts, even – but the guys continue to wear those to work, so to each their own.
A Dry Place to Camp
We keep hearing about this years-long drought gripping the West, but the guys can never find it when they relocate to a new campsite. They set up their teepees on high ground, but downpours always seem to drain directly into their bedrolls. It’s almost like the water runs uphill just to soak a handmade denim quilt. Scientists should investigate.
No matter what you’re buying this year or who you’re buying it for, remember the real reason for the season is a gift too great to fit under even the biggest decorated tree. Merry Christmas, from my family to yours.