Cow Country

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Cow Country

Roundup 59072,Central Montana

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Location: Roundup

In the 1880s, days of the open range, many a roundup outfit worked this country. The spring roundup gathered the cattle in order to brand and tally the calf crop. The fall roundup gathered beef critters for shipping.

An outfit consisted of the captain, the riders, the “reps” from neighboring ranges, the cavvy or horse herd in charge of the day herder and night hawk, the four-horse chuck wagon piloted by the cook and the bed wagon driven by his flunkey. Camp moved each day.

The cowboys rode circle in the morning, combing the breaks and coulees for cattle and heading them toward the central point to form a herd. In the afternoons of spring roundup the guards kept the herd together, the cutters split out the cows with calves, the ropers dabbed their loops on the calves, took a couple of dally welts around the saddle horn and dragged ‘em to the fire. There the calf wrestlers flanked and flopped them and the brander decorated them with ear notches, or dew laps, and a hot iron. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses.

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