Baxter Black: Getting the job done with a good dog
Hoot had a way of keepin’ the bubble level. Which ain’t as easy as it sounds in the cricks and hollers around Ada.
Ol’ man Johnson was tight with a dollar bill but flexible when it came to runnin’ cattle. Meanin’, he turned ‘em out on his ranch and gathered ‘em up but the numbers didn’t always jibe. He now owned several steers that had evaded sale day for at least three Octobers.
He made several attempts to bring ‘em in himself. Goin’ so far as to enlist the aid of a cowboy or two, five Boy Scouts on three-wheelers, a company of coon hunters, six archeologists from the University of Tulsa looking for the Oregon Trail and a water witcher from Fittstown. But, alas, the wild cattle still remained free!
As a last resort he asked Hoot what he’d charge to gather the critters.
“Ten bucks,” said Hoot.
Hoot showed up with two horses and a truckload of Catahoula Leopard dogs. Best cowdogs in the country accordin’ to Hoot.
Hoot and Bill saddled up, loosed the dogs and lit out from the corral. Ol’ Mr. Johnson saw ‘em off then went back to the house.
It took the dogs less than 10 minutes to find the strays. The riders could hear the dogs bayin’ and cryin’ just past the first holler. Hoot and Bill rode up on the noise. Eight head of three-year-old steers were bunched up together like baby elephants square dancin’! The dogs were runnin’ circles around the frightened beasts.
Hoot called off the dogs and he and Billy started the herd down the fence line. They drove’m straight to the corral. They marched through the gate like teenagers in line at a Garth Brooks concert.
Ol’ man Johnson ran out of the house lookin’ at his watch. “I need to git some dogs like that,” he muttered.
Hoot rode up and dismounted. “Eight head,” he said.
“How much will that be,” asked Mr. Johnson sliding his billfold out of his overall bib and slipping off the rubber band.
“Eight head,” said Hoot. “That’ll be eighty dollars.”
“Oh,” said Mr. Johnson. “I can’t pay that much. It only took you fifteen minutes.” He looked over his glasses at Hoot.
Hoot studied him a second, spun on his heels and stepped to the corral gate. He swung it open and with a wave of his hand shooshed the steers outside!
It took ten days for Ol’ man Johnson to call Hoot again.
“Glad to,” said Hoot. “‘Course, the price has gone up!” ❖
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