Imagine–Buffalo stream over hills and through gullies like water, whoops of the riders float through the air as they gather the herd.
Every year, Custer State Park in South Dakota hosts a buffalo roundup to ensure the health of the herd. For the past several years, Dad and Mom have ridden in the roundup. Each gather has presented its own set of adventures, including Dad’s pickup spontaneously bursting into flames as he hauled the horses to Custer. This year, the pickup made it without flames, Mom decided not to ride, so she could enjoy the whole, and Dad was asked to carry the South Dakota state flag.
Thank you to Sherry Bunting for these gorgeous photos!
A video of the roundup. (Turn up the volume.)
And into the corral.
A few years ago, I wrote a piece titled When Your Dad’s a Cowboy about my dad and what life is like when your dad is a cowboy. This came about after one of Dad’s horse wrecks that landed him in the hospital. I wrote then:
“When your dad’s a cowboy, you think he’s invincible.
Seeing Dad in such pain led me to the previously undiscovered wonders of straight tequila and cigarettes. At one point after a long day of painful tests for him, he was getting an MRI and for the umpteenth time that day I thought I was going to pass out. I lay down on the cool tile floor right there in the office, cheek to the tile, bum in the air.
“The doctor saw me and said, “Um, ma’am? Would you mind waiting somewhere else, please?” No problem. I crawled out of the office and into the arms of José Cuervo and the Marlboro Man. When your dad’s a cowboy, I recommend them for fainting spells in the hospital.”
… A separated pelvic bone, shattered wrist, internal bleeding—and, one week later, Dad was released from the hospital. His first day home, the yearling fillies got out of the corral. Dad was out there shuffling long with his rolling walker, trying to bring them back in, with Mom carrying his catheter bag.
Is it any wonder my heroes have always been cowboys?“
And they still are.