Remembering Wacey Snook
Wacey George Snook of Hulett, Wyoming, aged 35, died on May 24, 2022.
Wacey was born to Melvin and Deborah Snook on January 29, 1987. He was the youngest of four kids, with three older sisters: Ivy Burks of Mississippi, Kate (Blake) Conner of Isabel, S.D., and Kara (Morgan) Uhrig of Gillette, Wyo. His nieces and nephews include Craig and Lexi Burks, Kade and Curtis Conner and Brooklyn Uhrig.
Wacey married the love of his life, Sammi Jo (McCoid) Snook along with her son Collin, of Harding, South Dakota on August 28, 2021.
Wacey, whose friends and family used the nickname “Wace” interchangeably, pursued many avenues, and one of his passions was bronc riding. He attended a John Forbes school in Kaycee as a middle schooler and had success in high school. He rodeoed for Casper College for a year, then pursued a professional rodeo career. He had a signature style that the judges loved and he soaked up every minute that he was on the road, crawling on bucking horses, and rubbing elbows with the best. He placed in rounds at Cheyenne Frontier Days, won many amateur and pro rodeos including Laramie Jubilee Days and Energy Town ProRodeo in Gillette. He also sat atop the PRCA standings at the start of a season.
In one interview for the Denver Post, Wacey said, “Some people say I’m nuts for doing this but, I think they’re pretty crazy themselves for sitting at one job at a desk working nine to five when I’m out here having a lot of fun, eight seconds at a time.”
Wace shoed horses for a variety of clients, and worked for various ranches including Kennedy’s north of Gillette and Kara Creek near Sundance before returning home to his folks’ place west of Hulett on the Little Missouri to help as his father’s health was failing.
When a back injury forced him to retire from the arena around 2012, he picked up other endeavors. His fencing business, Hambone Custom Fencing, was very successful at its height, and he took jobs all over South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. Wace was a gifted leatherworker and crafted beautiful and usable tack for working cowboys through his business, Hide Out Leather. A few examples of his work include an ingenious breast collar design, gorgeous armitas and chaps, and one year all of the bronc halters for Burch Rodeo Company to use at the National Finals Rodeo.
He loved the ranching lifestyle. Everything that could be done horseback was done that way. Dayworking was another of his favorite sources of income, and he made many friends in the three states doing this and saw lots of beautiful, new country.
Wacey also had a heart for teaching. He would introduce young bronc riders to a spur stroke by putting them on his broke horses in a bronc saddle. He taught others how to tie knots, how to braid, proper branding etiquette, and how to read a cow. He enjoyed discussing new ideas about which cattle to buy and raise. Most recently, he had a herd of Red Angus cows and Charolais-cross calves. It was a welcome sight when his guitar came out for some good cowboy songs–as Wacey said–so long as someone else did the singing.
No one could say that he was a duplicate. He reveled in unique clothing styles, music, and art. Many will remember him starting the “formal brandings” in the Hulett area, in which cowboys would dress in suit jackets and top hats. His roll-your-own cigarettes, carried in a silver case in his breast pocket, were popular during chilly fall days working cows. He usually wore a white Wrangler shirt, pants tucked in his Hondo boots, and a well-shaped hat. Wace loved Lonesome Dove, collecting silver spurs and bits, and all that was antique and old-fashioned.
He was a well-known prankster, and was always up to his antics. For a laugh, he did everything from tying someone’s tie ropes to the fence while they waited in the branding line, to tying a donkey to his neighbor’s mailbox, complete with a poncho and sombrero. On several occasions, he stripped headstalls off of others’ horses while riding, exclaiming, “It’s a bridleless branding!” Back cinches weren’t safe, either.
Wacey made an appearance in the 2017 Cowboys Calendar, which was available at Wal-Mart, and is most known for being depicted on the Deadwood Days of ‘76 poster by artist Bob Coronato. The scene was modeled after a photograph taken of Wacey hat fanning Lunatic Fringe on the horse’s first out.
He was “Uncle Wace” to not only his biological nieces and nephews, but assumed that role for many other children. He was kind and gentle with little cowkids, helping them to ride calves in the branding pen, teaching them to ride horses, and taking them out to cake cows.
Wacey died at the ranch May 24, 2022. A service was held at the Hulett Greater Community Center May 31, 2022, with hundreds of people coming to pay their respects.
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