Mad Jack Hanks
Wellington, Colo.

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June 23, 2014
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Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 6-23-14

With the price of today’s cattle I have heard that rustlers are making the best of it in many areas of the country.

Let’s take 20 running age bred cows with solid mouths and good calving history and they could bring 60,000 dollars or more. Let’s face it gentle readers, some folks are just too lazy to work but calloused enough to take what belongs to someone else. It happens every day in every community on small and large scales.

If a set of cows, yearlings or whatever are being fed because of adverse conditions or just being backgrounded to turn out on pasture, they can be an easy target. Range cattle that are isolated, but gentle enough to gather into a corral or makeshift panels can be loaded rather quickly in the middle of the night and be across state lines by the next day before anyone even knows that they are missing. Unbranded livestock are an easy mark.

A good horse, a handmade working saddle, even a good cowdog are worth so much more than in the past. Of course we don’t brand our dogs and there may be some dogs and horses that the owner’s wish would get stolen but that never seems to happen.

Back in the late 70s, we had 20 some odd (I don’t remember the exact number) of replacement heifers stolen on a Saturday night right out from under our noses one mile from ranch headquarters just off a state highway. We didn’t check on them until the following Monday and it was a little too late. Our local range detective told me it was a local kid from the salebarn who did it but without the cattle being recovered he could not prove it. Nothing ever happened. The heifers were branded but apparently went into Oklahoma or Louisiana. Let’s face it, some folks are just theives with no afterthought, of course unless they get caught.

We had a father and son who were our local theives in the community in which we lived. The old man had been caught several times and released after 30 days or so in the county jail. He never stole anything worth enough to send him away for a long time, just enough to get by on. He taught his teenage boy everything he knew about being a theif. They felt comfortable in the cafe with the locals, many whom they had stolen from. It was their job. They never seemed to be embarrassed by their choice of employment. I would strongly suggest that there are folks like that where you live.

Keep records of personal property for recovery and insurance purposes and above all, brand your livestock if possible and keep locks on your gates. Cattle are like pure gold in today’s market so make it really hard for someone to take what belongs to you. Doesn’t it feel really good and powerful to come in from a long, hard and HONEST day’s work? You bet it does.

As an afterthought, I do hope all of you dads had a meaningful and happy Father’s Day. I know that I did. It can be difficult for us all to try and make sense of this unpredictable world in which we live and that makes family so very important!

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and remember freedom is not free. I’ll c y’all, all y’all. ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Jun 19, 2014 02:08PM Published Jul 8, 2014 12:19PM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.