Men of the Open Range

Men of the Open Range 


  Mike Capron


A good story will lead me to several good paintings and likewise a good painting will lead to several good stories. 

A book by Truman McGiffin Cheney and Roberta Carkeek Cheney was inspired by this painting and his Grandfather “Kid Amby”. Who told them many stories of the Open Range and the men who work there. The book “So Long Men of the Open Range” was inspired by Truman from listening to the stories his grandfather “Kid Amby” told of the  days he worked for the Judith Basin Pool and the Bear Paw Pool 14 years and then went to work jerk line freighting and then settled on a ranch of his own and raised a family of seven sons and one daughter.  Kid Amby worked with Charlie Russell and he was the one Charlie painted in the “Bronc to Breakfast”, standing on the wagon wheel behind Doc Nelson who was riding the Bronc in the middle of the cook’s fire. You can see a camp in the background by the river in the painting “Men of the Open Range” and I wouldn’t be surprised if that camp and these men leaving this camp aren’t the same as the ones of “Bronc To Breakfast”. 

I don’t have to look at this painting long before I feel the excitement of leaving camp early with my first bull durham and enjoying the dance that my pony is jigging to. We were shipping yearling steers late one fall and the temperature was a little cool for this “past his prime” cowboy. I wasn’t looking for any excitement, but I could tell it wasn’t going to take much to get my pony’s  lid blowed off.  I was plenty wide awake and watching for any boogers, the horse next to me found one and broke into headed for a cut bank gully, that had a cut bank 10 or so feet deep, ……not good……… I jobbed my pony,“Ole Champ” to get ahead and try to get between them and the draw, so I could divert them from getting to close to the edge or jumping or falling into the draw. Good plan, but Champ got confused and thought I wanted to get into the bucking horse contest also.  Now we are both riding loose bucking horses headed for this cut bank draw. I was now watching the draw and trying to make sure this little piece of excitement ended as best as possible for me. Between the draw and us was an algrita bush as big as we were. Champ was headed right for it. I was watching that bush instead of Champ and sure enough that is where my head landed …….right in the middle of that algrita bush. I was sure glad my hat stayed on. I was wrapped for the cold ……Storm Rider Lee jacket, wild rag, gloves and heavy leggin’s.  It took me a while to back out of that algrita bush with all it’s sharp thorny little leaves. I stood up to see where my buddy went on his little black bucking horse. Chianti we called him,… had just about quit bucking’ and Armando (my friend) had him lined out going down the draw. He had lost his hat, but other than that he looked fully equipped and in full control.  Armando got Chianti settled down and went back to look for his hat. It took a while to find it, as Chianti had made a sharp corner at the edge of the draw and Armando did a fine job of making the corner and riding Chianti, but his hat didn’t make the corner, it went straight to the bottom of the draw, and Armando was so busy riding he didn’t see where his hat went. It took a couple trips up and down the draw before we saw it buried in the depths of the draw. I wasn’t easy to get to and we were sure glad it was just a hat and not Armando.   

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