Rod Miller: Mavericks & Illicit Sex Around The Ol’ Campfire

Columnist Rod Miller writes, "Yeah, they got it written in their bylaws or some such. If a cow strays from the herd, it means that their heart’s not in it an’ they lose the right to be called a cow.”

Rod Miller

April 23, 20244 min read

Rod miller campfire 4 23 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Wet spring snow had soaked the wood and Cookie struggled to light the campfire.

It had been one o’ those days.

The crew spent the entire day chasing mavericks and strays back into the herd. The cattle were nervous and twitchy, it was all the weary cowboys could do to prevent a stampede.

Footsore horses were picketed and buttsore cowboys who hadn’t eaten all day gathered around the fire.

The smoke smelled like coal oil, olfactory evidence that Cookie had resorted to an old Indian trick to start the fire.

“I swear,” said Rimrock, “if I gotta spend one more day chasing renegades back into the bunch, I’ll take up herdin’ sheep.”

“We oughta do like them boys on the Lazy R do with their herd-sour strays.” This from Panhandle, who had worked cow outfits all over the country. “They just chase ‘em off an’ don’t let ‘em back in the bunch.”

“Hey”, exclaimed Latigo Lou from Lingle, “That’s the Republican outfit, right? I heard o’ that place. Hell, they ain’t got no bunkhouse fer the crew! The foreman makes ‘em all crowd into this li’l tent.”

“Yep”, answered Panhandle, “their head guy used to be a deputy, an’ he got busted in the back seat of his prowler with a gal that wasn’t his wife. She was payin’ lip service to his authority. That’s how he got his trail name.”

“I don’t remember hearin’ nothin’ about it bein’ a gal,” said a voice through the smoke.

Rimrock perked up and said, “Tell me more ‘bout how that outfit just chases off the strays. That don’t sound too profitable to me. I bet their banker ain’t none too pleased." 

Panhandle pontificated, “Yeah, if a critter strays from the herd, they don’t try to get it gathered, they just run it off. An’ get this...when that happens, they don’t even call the stray a cow no more.”

“What the hell….”, the campfire cowboys forgot all about backseat canoodling and focused their minds on what Panhandle said.

He continued, “Yeah, they got it written in their bylaws or some such. If a cow strays from the herd, it means that their heart’s not in it an’ they lose the right to be called a cow.”

Firelight illuminated confused faces. “What do they call it then?” queried the Kaycee Kid.

The Trail Boss sauntered into the circle and answered, “They call ‘em Democrats. But they have a helluva time trying to change the brand on the hip.”

“That ain’t scriptural,” preached the Deacon from Dayton, “It says in Genesis chapter two that Adam hisself named all the critters. Them Lazy R knuckleheads got no business changing any names. Who the hell do they think they are?”

“They’ve become a pretty iffy outfit here lately.” Trail Boss took a pinch of Copenhagen and watched sparks dance in the dark. “Folks in town are startin’ to make fun of ‘em. They tell jokes about the Lazy R an’ do it right to their faces, too.”

“Way I see it,” offered Sourdough, “they bring on their ownselves with that foolishness. They deserve the ridicule. An’ they deserve to go broke come shippin’ time when the count comes up short from chasin’ mavericks away.”

The circle of Stetsons around the ol’ campfire nodded at this wisdom. Cowboy hearts made solemn, silent vows never to sign on with an outfit as lame as the Lazy R.

Cookie broke the mood by banging on his skillet with his sixgun to call the crew to dinner. Cowboys stood and shook the dust from their feet.

Tomorrow will be another day of taking care of the strays, keeping the edges of the herd tucked in and staying out of the backseats of cop cars.

Rod Miller can be reached at

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Rod Miller

Political Columnist