There’s nary a sizable critter in North America that a buckaroo hasn’t tried to lasso at one time or another.
So, it should come as no surprise that when Arizona wildlife agents recently ran out of options trying to rescue two mule deer stranded in a canal, they had to call in some local cowboys to save the day, Kevin Meyer, a veteran Wyoming cowboy, told Cowboy State Daily.
“That (roping wildlife) is a thing that has happened many times in the history of cowboydom. Sometimes it’s for recreation, sometimes it’s for conservation,” he said. “I have some friends in Montana who roped some elk that had fallen through the ice and rescued them.
“I also have some friends who had court dates because they decided to rope wildlife for recreation.”
Meyer lives in Douglas, where he works as a horse trainer, but he’s been a working cowboy and dude rancher across Wyoming and the West.
Cowboys Called For Canal Rescue
Arizona wildlife officers thought they’d run out of options trying to rescue a two mule deer that had gotten themselves trapped in a canal near Casa Grande, about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson.
But lucky for them, two local cowboys stepped up and offered to lasso the deer. Their aim was true, and they and the game wardens slowly and carefully pulled the exhausted critters to safety. After taking some time to recover, the deer darted away into the desert, according to reports.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department expressed its gratitude in a social media post.
“Where have all the cowboys gone? They’re rescuing deer from a canal!” the agency stated in its post.
They Did The Right Thing, The Right Way
Meyer said the young Arizona buckaroos did the right thing, and performed admirably.
For starters, he said roping a deer isn’t just as simple as getting a loop over its head.
“With elk, not so much — they’re a little bigger — but with deer especially, their throats are very fragile. You’ve got to be careful not to crush their larynx,” Meyer said.
It also was vital that everyone involved knew to proceed gently, because too much stress can be deadly to wildlife, he added.
The deer had probably already “swam themselves to the point of exhaustion,” so the last thing they needed was more trauma, Meyer said.
“Wildlife is very prone to heat, to overheating and suffering heat exhaustion,” he said. “The fact that they were able to get those animals out in a quiet way, with those cowboys helping them, was probably what kept those deer alive.”
Deer Needed A Good Long Rest
Meyer said it heartened him to see so much respect for wildlife, because too often people are ignorant of or uncaring about how much damage prolonged stress can do to animals.
“Especially with the prey species, they spend a lot of energy just trying to get away from things,” he said. “They’re built to escape, but they’re built to escape in a short burst, then recover.”
That’s why it’s important for people to give wild animals plenty of space, particularly during the spring and early summer when they’re trying to bounce back from battling their way though winter, he said.
He said he wasn’t surprised that the deer were essentially comatose after being pulled from the canal or that they sprang away as soon as they could.
It’s good that they got a chance to get away and recover, he added.
“As soon as they were out of sight of the humans, I’ll bet that they found a rock outcropping and just rested there for a day or two,” he said.
It’s All About The Storytelling
It was also great to see game wardens and cowboys pulling together, Meyer said. The two groups have had a close, if at times tenuous,relationship as they worked together across Wyoming’s vast landscapes.
“There was always a love/hate relationship between game wardens and cowboys,” he said. But even so, “ranchers, cowboys and game wardens got along for the most part.”
Cowboys, especially when they’re young, might do edgy, brave or sometimes even foolish things just to have stories to tell. Good stories are a precious commodity in cowboy culture, Meyer said.
“It’s about bragging rights and having a good story,” he said. “And let’s face it, when you’re in the retirement home, you need good stories to tell.”
So, it’s nice to know that the young Arizona cowboys will have a fine tale of a good and heroic deed to add to their treasure troves, he said.
Mark Heinz can be reached at Mark@CowboyStateDaily.com