Mad Jack: To rope or not to rope
by “Mad” Jack Hanks
Gentle readers, as a cowboy cartoonist I have created just about every roping situation that I can think of and some that others thought of for me. I have had cowboys roping bobcats, elk, bears, antelope, deer, bad bulls and of course wild cows. At the Denver Stock Show or Cheyenne Frontier Days where I show my wares, there is always some ole waddie that starts the conversation with, ya know my brother roped a badger one time and it weren’t too pretty towards the end … I think instead of spending tax payer’s dollars to study global warming or why Spotted Owls nest on TV antennas instead of old growth forest, maybe, just maybe, we should invest a little money into why a man with a rope and a horse loses all sense of reason when he jerks that rope down from the saddle.
There is a time and a place for roping. Sick cattle need to be doctored, calves are drug to the branding fire and on some occasions a wild cow will not pen and she needs to be educated. There are places all over the country in every community where you can go and rope steers or calves and folks gather ’round to watch you perform. You can have a good run and get all puffed up about it or you can do terrible and come ridin’ back with yer hat pulled so low over yer eyebrows that nobody knows who you are.
I, myself, did weaken once when I spotted an old crippled coyote a limpin’ across the wheat field. He was so old and crippled that he couldn’t catch nothin’ but a cold and I decided to have me a mercy ropin’. I sailed right up on him and he stopped and headed back the other direction as I tossed my loop. I caught him goin’ the other way and snapped his neck in a heartbeat as we jerked him off the ground in a dead run. Done him a big favor. That’s the way I seen the deal. That ole mangy thing was lookin’ through death’s door the day he came across my path.
I have had folks tell me about ropin’ bears, badgers, turkeys, bobcats or whatever. Ya see, that’s the part I don’t understand. What do you do with a mountain lion after you’ve put a rope around his neck? You better be prepared to just up and give him yer horse, saddle and rope because he’s gonna wind up with it any way you go about it.
I had a feller tell me once about his dad roping a bobcat. The way he told it, that ole cat hit the end of his twine and then just started climbing right back up his string until he was in the saddle with his dad. Dad didn’t have no choice, he just bailed out and give that cat the horse, saddle, rope and all. The hoss showed back up at the ranch the next day draggin’ a dead bobcat but let me tell ya, he was one wore out, skinned up pony.
While we are confessing here, I did toss a loop at a runaway calf just as he busted through a six-strand barbed wire fence at a dead run. Caught the little bugger on the other side of the fence. I had to get down, crawl through the fence, tie him up and then drag him back under the fence. I don’t know to this day how I managed to throw a rope over that fence while my pony was slidin’ to a halt and catch that calf as he emerged from the fence. Reckon I must be one heck of a cowboy!
Or there was the time I caught a big ole calf just as he bailed off the bank of a washed out coulee. Caught him in mid-air and dang near jerked my pony out from under me and off the bank when he hit bottom. Don’t know why I decided to toss my string right then. Guess I was frustrated as I had thrown about 15 loops at ’em durin’ that wild chase and couldn’t catch him in open flat country where I had smooth sailing. Reckon I must have been some cowboy back in my day!! Huh?
Whadda ya think?
Yessir, a cowboy, or cowgirl with a rope, mounted on a hoss and constantly lookin’ for something to put their string on, needs to be observed and studied no matter the cost.
I’m gonna take a wild guess and say if we can figure out why a cowboy has to rope regardless of the situation, we can also figure out why congress has to spend so much of our money. These two diseases must be very, very similar! Stay tuned and check yer cinch on occasion! C. ya.
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