Published on January 5, 2021
Memories are made of this
By Roy Edwards
In the mid 1970s, my ex-wife’s Uncle Ben called and asked if we had any plans for Sunday week. We said no and were then invited to a family reunion/barbecue at his son-in-law’s cattle ranch outside of Bellville.
He explained that this was not a gentleman’s weekend ranch, but one that covered parts of four counties, and it was an old-timer cowboy working ranch. He also said that when the University of Houston was expanding, they purchased Port City Stockyards – the second largest stockyard in Texas. Bubba and his father bought all the cattle-feed processing equipment and moved it to the ranch so they could make their own feed.
When we got to the ranch, we drove down to a 40-acre lake and parked near the pavilion. There were three open pits full of mesquite coals. The biggest pit had a full cow slowly turning on the spit, the second pit had two full hogs and the third had a sizable white tail deer turning on it. The covered barbecue assortments held chickens, sausage, catfish, and some critters I could not identify. Iced-down kegs and soft drinks were scattered around. There were about 200 people in the area, and more cars were coming in all the time.
I was introduced to Bubba. He was a small man, about 40 years old. He was thin – but all muscle and sinew. Bubba wore a sweat-stained Stetson, a long-sleeved western shirt and well-worn boots. His jeans were held up by a wide belt and a five-pound silver and gold belt buckle. A gold bucking bull was at the center of the buckle surrounded by “Champion Bull Rider”.
He shook my hand. After I counted my fingers to make sure I still had all of them, we sat down and started talking. During the conversation, he said: “Let me tell you what happened to me last fall, the second week of deer season.”
“To start with, we rotate our cattle from pasture to pasture every three months, so that no pasture gets overgrazed. One of our hands told me that he had spotted some cattle in a pasture that we had laid fallow, and I told him that I would investigate the situation. The next morning – before breakfast – I decided to check the fence between the pastures. That fence was only about a mile long, so I decided to walk the fence line to check for broken wire, a fallen tree, or whatever allowed the cattle to move into the adjacent pasture. The sun had not come up yet.
“About halfway down the fence line, I came upon two guys sitting at a campfire. I said ‘Howdy’ and started down the fence line. These two guys jumped up and drew down on me with their deer rifles. They started cussing at me, calling me every name in the book plus a few they made up on the spot. Both guys were big – over six-foot-two. Then they grabbed me and put me into the back seat of their crew cab jacked-up 4 x 4 pick-up truck. The bearded guy got in the driver’s seat. The other guy got into the back seat and stuck the barrel of his rifle in my ribs. Now, I may be a country boy, but my Mom didn’t raise no fool. I kept my mouth shut. We took off towards Bellville. These guys had left all the gaps down, so we didn’t stop until we got to the Bellville Courthouse. They drug me out of the truck, grabbed me under my armpits and started up the courthouse stairs.”
“Picture this scene – two great big guys, a deer rifle slung over each right shoulder, a semi-automatic 1911 .45 caliber Colt strapped to each right hip, a Bowie knife on each left hip, and me in between. with my toes about six inches above the floor. They slammed open the doors to the first court room that had lights on and approached the judge’s bench.’
“The judge looked down at me and said, ‘Bubba, what the heck is going on?’”
“I looked up at him and said, ‘well, Judge, I came in here to file trespass charges on these two guys.’ “They lowered me to the ground – gently.”
“The judge instructed the Bailiff, his cousin, to confiscate the rifles, the pistols, and the knives. Then, the judge called the local Game Warden (his nephew) and told him to take me back to the camp site and thoroughly check the area to see if there was any more evidence of law violations he could find.”
“It turned out that these two guys had bought a deer lease out of an ad in a Houston newspaper. The person who sold the lease did not own the land.”
“You know, if those two had “Howdyed” back and maybe offered me a cup of coffee, I would have gone on down the fence line, and they would have had a good day.”
(Write Roy in care of The Bulletin. Email: email@example.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)