Mad Jack Hanks: Tales From The O-NO Ranch 5-27-13

Mad Jack Hanks
Wellington, Colo.

Do you really want to be a cowboy and if so for what reason?

Most likely for the same reasons I did way back then. If I knew then what I know now, would I do it all the same way? Yep, I would. I enjoyed my life on the ranch and there were only a few times when I would question why I chose to live such a life. If you really want to be a cowboy, and I mean a sure “nuff” ranch cowboy capable of filling all of the requirements that one in that position is required to fill, answer me this: How old are you? How much experience do you have around a working cow ranch? Do you feel comfortable riding someone else’s horses that you are not familiar with? How much does it require for you to earn in order to support yourself and your family? Are you married to someone who has the same interest and goals that you do? Have you ever lived miles from town on roads that are subject to being difficult at times. Can you go without high speed internet and maybe even television? When is the last time you put in a 15 hour day when your shirt tail didn’t hit your back because you were constantly on the move?

I asked a brand inspector at Amarillo once if he knew of any good ranch jobs. I wanted to lose my business suit and start punchin’ cows for a living. He looked at me and without letting any pauses get in the way he stated, “There ain’t no such thing!” There are good ranch jobs for folks that are committed to living and honoring that life style. Obviously, that brand inspector wasn’t able to “ride for the brand” as they say, at least that’s my guess.

You guys that are smart enough to realize that a “cowboy job” is a job for a young man most of the time. If you team rope, go to cow sortings, and the such and maybe even make a ranch branding once or twice a year enough to satisfy that craving for ranch life without having to quit your good job in town and beg your wife to let you “cowboy” you are two jumps ahead of the dogs.

I know of, and have worked with guys who “cowboyed” into their 80s and in some cases beyond that. They were the purist of the pure. Guys like Spike Van Cleave of Montana, Old Johnny, of Ridgway, Colo. There was Tom Blassingame and Boots O’Neal of Texas and I can never forget Lester Bryd of the LX Ranch at Amarillo. I only worked with two of these old guys but I guarantee you there are hundreds more all across the U.S. on ranches big and small that I just don’t know about.

I see a good many guys “struttin’ around with spurs bouncin’ of the pavement or coming out of the Post Office and I can tell by the way they are dressed and the way they speak and handle themselves that most cow outfits owned by folks that savvy the cow wouldn’t take a second look at some of these “Dairy Queen Dudes” for employment. If you really want to be a cowboy just answer one of the many classified ads in the Fence Post here and give it a shot. You only live once pardner and I can tell you form experience there is no better life if you happen to lean in that direction.

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and stand tall for you beliefs!! I’ll c.y’all, all y’all. ❖