The Buffalo Steak - Part 1
One fall, a good friend of mine, Richard Dewey, called me from his home in Provo, Utah. He was the author of “PORTER ROCKWELL a Biography”. The book had done well, very popular especially in Utah where Porter Rockwell had become a genuine legend, and to many, a man of heroic proportions. I had done the pen and ink illustrations for the book which was no small undertaking and was proud to have my work associated with the name of Porter Rockwell who I also considered to be a true hero, flawed though he may have been, but who isn’t?
Richard was involved in making a movie about Rockwell and the star of the film who portrayed the marshal was a mutual friend of ours, Randy Gleave. Carl Malone of the Utah Jazz played Randy’s side kick. Rick wanted Randy to come up to Wyoming and do some serious horse riding so that he could portray the law man more authentically. Knowing I owned horses and rode a lot, he asked me to coach Randy on different aspects of “life in the saddle”. I was happy to help on the project and looked forward to seeing Randy again, it had been too long anyway.
His arrival to Star Valley came at a good time because my son Scott and I had planned a horseback hunting trip up on Wolf Mountain and Randy could come along, get the experience Rick wanted him to have, and we could renew our friendship-it would be perfect.
We left home later than I had wanted, but circumstances made it that way, so by the time we arrived at Station Creek and got all outfitted and mounted, it was close to sundown. We had a long ride ahead of us, so most of it was in the dark which I do not enjoy. Fortunately, a bright moon aided us along with flashlights. Our final ascent up a series of very steep switch backs put us on top of the world. We could see the lights of Jackson Hole to the north, and other than that there were no other visible signs of civilization in that vast maze of seemingly endless mountains that stretched to the horizon. We picketed the horses so they could graze and we set up camp, pitched our tent and got ready for bed. It was very cold, but I didn’t want to build a fire as it would alert the bucks that were there, and I wanted the best chance at them come day break. I knew that area and we were very close to where the deer would be feeding on the slope just below our camp.
We got into our sleeping bags and tried to get warm at the same time we were trying to eat something to quell our hunger. It was near midnight. Our meal consisted of crackers, pop, and cold greasy sardines. As we sat there in the tent shivering and eating and not talking much on my orders cause I didn’t want the bucks to hear us either, it probably presented a rather dismal aspect to Randy. Scott and I were used to stuff like this, so I wasn’t thinking much about it. I just wanted to eat and get to sleep, I was tired. Time passed in silence, except for the sound of us chewing and drinking, we had a little light on in the tent so we could see, though dimly. I looked at Randy to see how he was doing, I hoped he wasn’t too discouraged with the trip so far. It had been a long ride, probably saddle sore I thought as I looked at him. It’s no fun riding in the dark, sorta spooky, he probably didn’t like that either I thought. And who wants cold sardines and crackers at midnight for supper, while he shivers and shakes from the intense cold and no fire, that’s gotta be depressing I thought. Probably wishes he was back home sleepin’ like a baby in his nice comfortable home next to his pretty wife I thought. Probably shouldn’t have brought him at all, hope he ain’t too mad at me I thought. I kept lookin’ at him to see if I could read him. Just then he looked up at me as if he knew I wanted to know what he was thinking. He had a little sardine oil dripping off his lip onto his long beard, sprinkled with some cracker crumbs, he was shivering, his cheek was bulging a little with the crackers and fish in his mouth. He burped, then said in a low gravelly voice, “It just don’t get much better than this, does it?”
Cracked me up, and Scott too. We broke out laughing, then him too. We laughed long and too loud on that one, but it felt good, we needed that.
We were up before light, and got already, ate some peanut butter and honey sandwiches Irene made for us, then left the tent and started our tip toe walk south along the ridge.
To Be Continued...
Click here for part 2 - will be posted Feb. 1, 2020
I really enjoy reading that book and the illustrations are on point. That’s how I first found out about Clark’s work.
Love your stories, Clark. Love it.
Been there, done that.