Pauls Valley Democrat
It was a blast from the past, Old West style, when a Pauls Valley group got a first-hand account of a modern day cattle drive.
The story given to a group of PV Rotary Club members was given by Bud McCasland of Garland, Texas.
McCasland was the driving force behind an old fashioned cattle drive back in 1995 as a couple of dozen cowboys took 265 Longhorn steers from Ft. Worth, Texas all the way up to Montana.
What turned out to be a six-month adventure of historical proportions was McCasland’s idea, which was inspired by the acclaimed Lonesome Dove book and television series.
“We wanted to honor the American cowboy and get local people in touch with their heritage,” McCasland said to the Rotary group during a recent meeting.
“We did it the old fashioned way,” he said. “We did it the same way they did it back in the old days. I’m really proud of that.”
Looking to drive a cattle herd as close as possible to the old Chisholm Trail, McCasland said he first got the idea in 1990.
Three years later he got serious about making it happen for real, while giving plenty of credit to an official with the Yukon Chamber of Commerce who at that time got the right people together to get it all moving in the right direction.
One of the next obstacles was just getting enough of today’s cowboys together to make a cattle drive possible.
“Hiring on cowboys to push a modern day herd, people might laugh at that and not take it seriously,” he said.
Instead, it was the media coverage on the idea that attracted plenty of attention. More than 150 cowboy applicants came just from Oklahoma.
In the end a total of 25 cowboys were chosen and the planning got going for a drive that would take the herd from Texas up through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and then into Montana.
“We started to put things together to make this cattle drive happen,” McCasland said.
“There were hundreds of things we had to take care of before the drive could get started.”
He stresses it helped the cowboys selected spent about two months with the herd before the drive even started.
The drive then got underway on March 5, 1995 just outside of Ft. Worth. Despite all the planning things didn’t always go as anticipated.
“The first thing that happened is this guy’s dogs ran at the herd and spooked them. We had never thought of that.”
They soon figured carrying water pistols to squirt the dogs solved that particular problem.
The next hurdle came the very next day as a severe storm packing ice, sleet and high winds confronted the drive.
“At that point the party was over,” McCasland said. “It was getting serious right there.”
Another interesting spot came near Terral as the herd was coming into Oklahoma with maybe 1,000 spectators looking on.
“We broke out in the worst stampede,” he said. “For the total cattle drive that was the worst one.”
In Buffalo, Okla., town folks wanted to have a local high school band lead the herd through town.
At another place a couple of steers broke loose and wound up running over the hood of a car.
Then came Kansas and the traditional Old West town of Dodge City.
“Everything changed when we got there. Everyone knew who we were by that time. Before that we’d pass people who would have this funny look because we were driving a whole cattle herd.
“At that point we really were the great American cattle drive.”
As it turns out the best part of the drive was it truly connected people with their western heritage, McCasland said.
In fact, the drive kind of created its own legacy as today there are two cattle drives daily at the stockyards in Ft. Worth, along with monuments in some places and re-enactments in others.