Thursday, May 05, 2016

On Mavericking

...Wayne Goodman, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) ranger Matt accompanies, is a wonderful character and a keen guide to the strange economy of the Texas cow. In the Old West, Wolfe writes, “virtually everyone stole cattle,” and the ambitious cowboy often doubled as rustler out of necessity. But the modern-day cow thief Wolfe and Goodman talk to at the end of the article doesn’t seem to fit on the classic cowboy-rustler continuum of the American frontier. Most rustlers nowadays are small time criminals looking to fund a drug score, or simply trying to pay the bills. Ranchers harbor unparalleled hatred toward these thieves—which seems a prerequisite of the profession—and as Wolfe notes, this stigma has some deep origins; we’re talking Biblical. Thus, on the surface it’s a battle of good vs. evil, with Goodman, a pinch of Long Cut Skoal bulbous in his lower lip, righting wrongs in a hardboiled Texas ranger fashion. But Wolfe’s account of the frontier politics at work in the struggle between ranchers and rustlers indicated there was much more to the historical narrative than he was able to include. I wondered if Wolfe, too, thought of ranchers and rustlers as sharing a common ancestor: the archetypical American cowboy of the Old West. Last month, I caught up with the author over email to go deeper into cattle rustling...more

No comments: