Hunting season |

Hunting season

Hunting season is in full swing, the leaves are coloring up, and a definite nip sparks the morning air, so it’s time to remind you of the 2nd Annual Cowboy Reunion at First Gold Hotel & Gaming in Deadwood, SD. Johnny and Sharon Holloway started this tradition last year, and everyone had fun. This year the social begins at 5 p.m., the buffet at 6. Tell all your rodeoing friends about this great get-together; and be sure to call (800) 274-1876 for Buffet reservations and room reservations in the Cowboy Reunion Block by Oct. 18th.

A similar event – the Third Annual Summit Rodeo Reunion – took place down at Greeley, CO a couple weeks ago. We kind’a planned to attend, but other things intervened and we missed it. I hear they had a good turnout, with Keith Chartier at 87 being the oldest. Pete Burns, Jim R. White and Les Gore kicked off the Summit Rodeo Company in 1958, and their stock and events made a lot of memories for a lot of cowboys and cowgirls since then. Jim R. White passed away this year, but the other two founders of Summit Rodeo enjoyed the reunion.

An even bigger old cowboy conclave is scheduled for Las Vegas in honor of the Golden Anniversary of the National Finals Rodeo. The ProRodeo Hall of Fame just extended a beautiful invitation to the “Wrangler Gold Buckle Gala,” Celebrating 50 Years of the National Finals Rodeo. The event honors the “2008 Wrangler Legend,” Clem McSpadden and takes place at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1st in the Grand Ballroom at South Point Hotel & Casino. “Asleep At The Wheel” will provide entertainment and music for dancing and there’ll be a fundraising live and silent auction to benefit ProRodeo Hall of Fame. To learn more or order tickets, contact that institution at (719) 528-4728 or 528-4714.

Speaking of rodeo Finals with more than 50-years under their belt, the Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association’s 2008 Finals Rodeo is coming up Nov. 28th through 30th in the Camplex at Gillette, WY. That’ll be a sudden death showdown between the top 12 cowboys or cowgirls in each event, competing for trophy saddles and $3,500 added money per event. Awards will be presented on Nov. 30th. To learn more about this event go to or call Jacquie McInerney at (307) 283-3401.

It makes me feel pretty old to realize I cut my teeth on arena fences across this region as dad was competing in the first NRCA rodeos, and kind’a grew up rodeoing NRCA. Rodeo was a big love of mine, and I guess it’s always been the people who made rodeo so special. We wouldn’t take a million bucks for the friends we’ve made in the sport over the years and around the nation.

Speakin’ of old friends… we haft’a tip our ol’ Tri-State Stetson to Don and Kathleen Strain of White River, SD, this week. The Strain Ranch is among the “Top 100 all-time cutting breeders in the US” with earnings in excess of $1 million. The Strain’s have always been outstanding examples of cow cutting success in our region, producing some of the best horses in the field. Keep up the good work, Kathleen and Don!

First time I remember meeting Don was in a Las Vegas hotel room in 1963. Before you get nervous wondering where that line is going, let me hasten to add that I was the very nervous “youngest contestant” in the Miss Rodeo America pageant and Don was a horsemanship judge. Everything was intimidating, but as I faced that lion’s den for my interview someone queried, “Young lady, we want to know where you learned to ride.”

I think that voice belonged to the late Casey Darnell, New Mexico’s beloved horseman and horse authority, and the friendly tone of the question set my mind somewhat at ease. Casey became a good friend over the years, judging innumerable AQHA shows I competed in. He seemed to love the high-speed reining patterns of my wonderful General Leo – but he sure never cut us any slack. He disqualified us at a Class A show at Fort Meade because I’d decided to use an old, old pony bridle which had a big, loose cavesson – kid-like without realizing the AQHA restrictions against use of a “noseband.” Casey was cruel enough to tell me I had placed on top of the class on that scary, slick turf course… so I would’a carried off the money if not for my dumb rule infraction.

Casey was also first to kick me out of a Western Pleasure class for being in the wrong lead. That would’ve been at Wyoming State Fair about 1960 or ’61. I was riding a Kelly Howie-bred bay Kelly had donated as a yearling for the Wyoming High School Rodeo Association’s All Around Cowgirl award. I thought I had a fair handle on him, in spite of his penchant to buck – Casey sure ironed that nonsense out of me!

We’re sometimes blessed to see Casey’s widow at the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame’s annual Honoree Reunion and Induction of new Honoree’s but missed her this year. More than 900 attended the Induction Luncheon Oct. 9th, where it was my privilege to offer the invocation. Our friend Georgie Sicking from Kaycee accompanied us and we had a great trip. The best part was coming home to find it had been raining!

Seems this has been a column for reminiscing… and since we’re in that mode I’ll bring up another rodeo great from the past – Harley May. Prominent National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association alumni Charlie Rankin recently set up a CaringBridge account for Harley and sent the information to the Alumni, so I’ll pass it along to you.

Charlie writes, “CaringBridge is a free, nonprofit web service that connects family and friends to share information, love and support during a health care crisis, treatment and recovery. You can visit Harley’s CaringBridge site at If your e-mail program does not allow you to click on the above link, just copy and paste the address into your web browser’s address (or URL) location.

“Please visit our CaringBridge site anytime. You can use the site to check in on Harley, read the journal entries and send us messages by signing our guestbook. When you register with CaringBridge and sign our guestbook, you will automatically receive e-mail notifications each time our journal is updated. Or, you can subscribe to receive these notifications even before you sign the guestbook. (Of course, you can unsubscribe from these e-mail updates at any time.)”

Modern technology can be real helpful in communicating; but ol’ lariat ropes seem to come up short every time… and here comes the end of this one…

© 2008 Rhonda Stearns

Email Rhonda at

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