Baxter Black: The Straggler
Ol’ Wayne was real particular about his steers. He figgered if he spent his hard earned pennies tryin’ to get a few extra pounds, he dang sure wasn’t gonna sweat it off ‘em durin’ the gather.
Nobody’s horse had broke a trot all day as they trailed the bunch to the corral. One brahmer-cross turned back. “Jes’ let ‘im go, boys… Don’t want to rile the others.”
Durin’ the next week Wayne scattered a little hay each day for the lone holdout. By Saturday he had him up to the little knoll above the corral.
Saturday, Wayne had Billy come out ahorseback with a plan to finally capture the wary brute. Wayne baited the steer with a little hay and coaxed him toward the pickup. Everyone was as still as a courthouse on Sunday afternoon. The steer edged within range of Billy’s rope. “Okay,” whispered Wayne.
At the sound of the command, Wayne’s good cow dog shot between his legs and made a dash for the steer! Billy’s loop caught the air! The steer wheeled and lit out across the pasture! Billy managed to turn the steer. The dog slid to a stop. He tried to stare the steer down… but he blinked! The steer bellowed at the dog! The dog turned tail and made for the pickup with the steer in hot pursuit!
Meanwhile back at the pickup, Wayne stood waving a flake of hay and cursing the dog. The dog sailed by Wayne, leaped and cleared the tailgate by 4 feet and a tail! The steer showed no sign of slowing. Wayne realized his predicament and ran toward the pickup! At 71 he couldn’t leap as high as the dog. He jerked on the tailgate futilely, then dropped and rolled under the pickup.
The steer hit the pickup in high gear with a bone jarring “WHANG!” The pickup, conveniently in neutral, rolled off the knoll toward the corral. The dog peered over the tailgate, obviously relieved as he left the scene of the impending accident.
Wayne lay flat on his back in a two-section pasture looking up the nostrils of the foaming steer. Havoc now hung in the balance.
Now, I can’t swear this last part is true, but it could have happened this way; As the pickup bounced down the hill toward the corral, the steer spied the dog, jumped over Wayne and raced after it. Dog, truck and steer went right into the corral and Billy slammed the gate on the tale.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the July 24, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News