Buck'N Chute Photography: Blog http://photos.bucknchute.com/blog en-us (C) Buck'N Chute Photography jamie@bucknchute.com (Buck'N Chute Photography) Fri, 19 Jul 2013 19:14:00 GMT Fri, 19 Jul 2013 19:14:00 GMT http://photos.bucknchute.com/img/s/v-5/u753874894-o440472503-50.jpg Buck'N Chute Photography: Blog http://photos.bucknchute.com/blog 120 80 Wild and Wooly Ride http://photos.bucknchute.com/blog/2013/7/wild-and-wooly-ride While growing up as a cowboy kid it's a given that you will experience certain things; there's that first time you fall off your horse, the first time you ever get to touch a real live cow, and that first loop that you actually throw and catch. They are inevitable. It's all just a rite of passage to becoming a real cowboy. Along with these things is also the first time you get entered up in the mutton bustin' at a rodeo. For Mason this milestone came this year at the annual TCRA rodeo in Seymour, TX. He's been talking about this for years, but he finally mustered up the courage to nod his head.


Mutton bustin' is not a sport for the timid or scared. You have to be fearless...or the screaming/crying child of parent who tells them to open the gate anyways. Sometimes that's just what it takes to get over being too scared to try. That wasn't Mason, though. He was ready to ride. They kicked off the rodeo in normal fashion with a grand entry, opening prayer, and by posting the colors. He patiently and attentively watched the bronc riding but by the steer wrestling, the second event, the patience was wearing thin. He was ready for his time to shine. The clown captivated his attention through the calf roping, but the ants started to crawl in his pants by the start of the breakaway. But then it came. The announcer called for all mutton busters to make their way behind the chutes. It was finally there, the time to take one step closer to claiming the title of cowboy.


He shot out of his chair and quickly drug his dad around the arena. He made his way behind the chutes with a confidence that you usually only find in the seasoned veterans. The only thing that really set him apart was the two times he tripped over his spurs. He quickly jumped on the chute platform, and his dad helped him yank his boots off and put his leggin's on. He was officially ready to go...kinda. He was ready to go for the mutton bustin', but then they announced that the calf scramble was first. This called for the leggin's and spurs to come off. You see, sometimes even as hard as you try, those dang spurs jump out there and grab your feet and drag you to the ground. Since he had experienced this twice already just walking to the chutes, he decided that spurs weren't conducive to calf scrambling.


So off came they came. He sprinted to the center of the arena. His odds looked promising when he was the first one to the clown, but they quickly faded as the herd of kids grew. They turned the calves out and the kids loose. If you've never seen a calf scramble, then you've never seen chaos at its highest degree. It's sheer craziness; kids running, kids screaming, kids falling, kids crying, kids standing and watching, kids throwing dirt. Mason was one of the kids running, but he just wasn't fast enough. The ribbon was ripped from the tail before Mason could make his move.


With the calf scramble out of the way only one event stood between Mason and his debut, the ranch saddle bronc. I guess not too many cowboys were feeling punchy, though, since they only had a couple of contestants. This didn't leave time for Mason to get chapped back up, so his dad just put his spurs back on and called it good. Mason stood there at the back of chute #1 watching the cowboys get their saddles on their horses, their bronc reins set just right, and their hats pulled down tight. He was ready.


They bucked the last horse and ran the sheep up in the chutes. Mason was set to be the first cowboy out. He and his dad crawled over the back and into the chute. Ryan set him up on his sheep and tried to convince him to scoot back and lay down so he could get a good bear hug on him, but Mason wasn't having it. He wanted to sit up and take him like a bull rider up on his rope. With no luck in convincing him otherwise, Ryan told them to turn him loose. Mason came out with his teeth bared ready for a ride. He had drawn a runner. By the third stride he was losing his center balance, and by the fourth he was face to face with the arena floor. And man did he hit hard. But in true cowboy fashion, he got to his feet, dusted himself off, and made his way back to the bucking chutes. He had done it. He had covered his first sheep, maybe not for the full 8 seconds, but long enough to claim the title of mutton buster.


His Dad and I could not have been more proud of the ride he made. So proud in fact, that we asked him when he wanted to ride his next one. He responded with, "I don't believe I want to ride another one". He then explained that he just didn't think he wanted to take the chance of getting hurt. While we don't know if I'll ever get the chance to take his picture again, at least I was able to get pictures of the time he did. If he never rides again he'll still have proof of the one wild and wooly ride he made that night in Seymour, TX.

jamie@bucknchute.com (Buck'N Chute Photography) http://photos.bucknchute.com/blog/2013/7/wild-and-wooly-ride Thu, 18 Jul 2013 14:23:13 GMT
Trust your neighbors, but always brand your calves. http://photos.bucknchute.com/blog/2013/7/trust-your-neighbors-but-always-brand-your-calves As most everyone knows I would much rather be outside than in an office. This is exactly why I took the chance to skip work and help my husband and his dad work a few of his calves not too long ago. I mean, really, what's better than my butt in the saddle, my camera in my hands, with a front row view watching cowboys do what they do. I'm talking the smell of horse sweat and branding iron smoke, the sound of cows and calves bawling, the site of men of a dying breed riding ranch raised ponies, and the sweet feeling of knowing life doesn't get much sweeter. The good Lord doesn't paint pictures much prettier than that. How lucky am I?!

If you've never been to a calf working, then it's hard to know EXACTLY what goes down. I'll try to give you a quick rundown so that maybe the pictures will make a little more sense.

There is an unspoken cowboy code between the men in a crew. The cowboy is a breed all their own with a language and understanding that goes unspoken. Each man knows his job, and the respect and responsibility of each man goes without saying. It truly is an art. One that is full of respect and tradition. It’s something that everyone should have the privilege of experiencing.

The first step is to pen the cattle. You start off with the "drop off". The men leave out horseback in a trot to the back of the pasture. As they're heading across the backside, one by one they get dropped off. The boss man will say a name and that person drops off in that hole and waits. Once every cowboy is dropped off, the boss man lets out a holler. That holler is passed back down the line from cowboy to cowboy until it makes it back to the first guy in line. This means to start making their way to the pens. Every man is responsible for any cattle in his hole. No cowboy ever leaves his hole. Once you're dropped off, you will continuously have the same man to your left and the same man to your right. The cowboys will zigzag back and forth in their hole bumping the man to their left and right. Keep in mind that the brush might be so thick that you may never see either of them. That's why you will hear the frequent squall between the men letting each other know where they are. This helps them know they didn't miss anything and helps them stay in line.

As they make their way to the front of the pasture they throw the cattle together into one big herd. Each cowboy rides their hole all the way to the gate. At that point, there's a strict rule that you never ride in front of another man's horse. You also never ride away from a gate while a man's closing it. It's not too often that someone breaks these rules, but you can bet it's corrected if someone does.

Often times when you're in a brushy pasture you will end up missing one or two.  Cows are protective of their babies, and they can brush up in a way that makes them almost invisible.  I'm quite certain that sometimes they even hold their breath in an effort to not be seen or heard.  But that's where one of cowboy's most valuable tools comes into play, the cow dog.  A mamma cow can elude some of even the best cowboys, but very seldom do they go undetected from the keen nose of a feisty cow dog.  And my husband just happens to have some of the very best.  When you leave out with the dogs, you make a pass through the pasture letting the dogs sniff out anything and everything they can.  A dog is meant to be silent on the trail, meaning they should never bark unless they're eye to eye with what they're looking for.  Then it's on.  Their bark lets the other dogs know that they have something.  The rest of the packs job is to go to the bark.  Cows that aren't dog broke will try to break free, but they soon find out that they are no match for dogs with much bite.  Cows that are dog broke will often head straight to the pens.  They know that captivity is their only chance at freedom from the dogs. 

Once everything is in the pens, then it's time to strip the cows off the calves. Cows are much easier to handle than baby calves, so you bring the cows off the calves. You have a gate man that does the sorting and the other cowboys bring small bunches to him and let him filter the cows through the gate while holding back the calves. This is where the term "stripping the cows" comes into play. You literally take the cows off the calves.

Now comes the hard work. With the calves sorted off, it's time to drag them to the fire. One cowboy is asked to stay on his horse. Being asked to drag someone else's calves is an honor and should be treated as such. As the dragger, you're responsible for bringing the calves to the fire, not only in a manner that will keep the other cowboys safe, but also in a way that won't injure or harm the calves. They're literally holding that rancher's paycheck in their hands. That's a big responsibility. You will always hear a thank you to the boss man for the privilege of being given the opportunity to drag his calves once he's done.

With one man on his horse, the rest of the crew is ground help. There are at least two flankers. Depending on the size of the pens and the crew, sometimes two people drag. Sometimes one person drags and you have two sets of flankers. The dragger pulls the calf by two hind feet between the two men flanking. One grabs ahold of the rope. His job is pull the hind feet up in the air while the other man grabs the tail and pulls the opposite direction. If done quickly and simultaneously the calf will land flat on his side. The tail man then goes to the front leg and puts a knee on their neck. The rope man goes under the rope and holds the back legs. He's also in charge of taking off the rope. Once the calf's down, the rest of the crew jumps in to give shots, ear notch, brand, and cut the bulls. Along the way people will switch out responsibilities so that no one person gets stuck flanking every single calf. Someone else will drag, two new people will flank, and so on.

Once the calves are worked, it's all downhill from there.  Next the cowboys will usually mount back up and get in the pen with the cows.  They're next job is to sort off the drys, or the cows that don't have a baby and aren't bred.  These cows are usually the old cows, or maybe one that's too thin or too fat to breed.  Sometimes a cow will just never raise a calf.  A man in a cow/calf operation has no use for a cow that doesn't reproduce. 

It's not always an easy job, but it has to be done.  As any good rancher knows there's one rule you never forget; trust your neighbors, but always brand your calves.     

An early morning sunrise.

Headed to be dropped off.

Will Burgess Saddles

jamie@bucknchute.com (Buck'N Chute Photography) http://photos.bucknchute.com/blog/2013/7/trust-your-neighbors-but-always-brand-your-calves Wed, 10 Jul 2013 16:00:50 GMT