Mike Moutoux's Ranch Notes
I was invited back to the Pecos Wilderness to help bring the cattle out and had a great trip. My host on the last trip, Ben, was back and this time we were joined by Randy Huston and Kleve Bain. These three have spent a great deal of time around each other, know a great deal about the country up there and a lot about horses and cattle. We got the cattle out in two days; the cows weren’t far from camp so we did not have to ride for miles just to get to them. I almost regret that.
Here is part of the gang lined up next to our camp. That’s Randy Huston on the left, Kleve Bain in the middle and me on the right. Ben Nelson took the photo and Joe was gone by then. You can see how nice the aspens looked; when we topped out to a place where you could see further, the aspens were in full glory all over the ridges as far as we could see. If you have not see the Pecos in the Fall, put it on your bucket list.
Random memories from the two days: Randy and I fighting with a red cow that did not want to go. She took her calf up into the aspens where fallen logs kept us from pushing her where we wanted to go. We ended up leaving her and hoping she would get lonely for the herd and come in by herself. Later, the guys got to thinking that it might have been the same cow they roped last year because she did the same thing.
We almost set the picnic table on fire when a leaking stove erupted into two-foot high flames. Ben pulled the fuel reservoir out and got the stove on the ground and eventually the fire went out. It was a bit exciting for a while with mini-fires licking at the top of the table and from the ground where the fuel fell. Sure lit up the camp while it was blazing. Ben, by the way, did all the cooking and we ate very well and most times without the excitement.
Sorting and loading cattle in the dark was a new thing for me—these were horned cattle so the potential for an accidental poke was pretty good. Using tiny flashlights, some teamwork and some yelling we got the job done. The cattle were pretty gentle actually and no one got hurt. I still wonder what the folks in the camp next to the corrals thought about the whole deal.
On the last small herd we gathered, Randy got out front and called to the cattle like ranchers do when they are feeding. We were hoping they would line up behind him, which they sort of did for awhile. Randy never stopped calling so we knew where he and the front of the herd were even if we couldn’t see them. His voice rang off that ridge and through the trees clear as a bell. I told him later that his cattle call was prettier than his singing. I believe he took it as a compliment so maybe I didn’t phrase it right.
There were more memories and perhaps I can capture them in a poem or a song. At the very least, ask Randy or me about the Pecos and we’ll tell you some stories. Better yet, get yourself to the Pecos next year in mid-October and stop by the camp. The scenery and camaraderie will be a combination you will remember for a long time.