Notes from the Saddle Bench

Hi Folks!

Happy August. I hope August treats us all better than July did. Rains have been slim to non-existent in this part of the world. Record setting hot weather and the feed wagons roll on.

Several ranches have indicated they will start weaning calves pretty soon to help the cows out. We still have plenty of time to make a grass crop, but I think most folks are ready to get started. About 25 years ago they brought a cannon to Ft. Davis to “seed” the clouds to try and make it rain. I asked Jon Means if he had ever considered  using a cannon. He said he wasn’t sure of its merits or shortcomings but he allowed as to how he would continue to rely on the bent-knee technique. Maybe we should all be doing that.

The Tres McElroy Memorial Roping was a huge success. With approximately 450 teams in 3 ropings, plus the barrel racing and breakaway ropings the newly rebuilt facilities at the Sul Ross SALE arena really worked well. The ropers were able to leave one arena after their first go run and rope their second and third go steers in another arena adjacent to the first. CJ Aragon and Seth Warnock have really put a lot of work into the new facility this Summer. CJ has many cool events planned for the new facility this year. They will have 120 stalls by the start of the Fall Semester. Thanks to everyone who helped put the roping on. Lots of people donated a lot of time and money to make it a huge success.

Saw Will M Black at the roping where he told me he saw a mutton goat sell at the San Angelo sale for $700. With cattle prices the way they have been it makes me want to sell the cows and buy some nannies.

The Big Bend Ranch Rodeo will go on as scheduled this weekend at the Sul Ross SALE Arena in Alpine. You can read more about it in other parts of this newsletter. There will also be a pay-per-view option online. The cost will be $10 and it can be purchased here: http://www.bigbendranchrodeo.com/

Tickets will be limited because of the COVID-19 protocols put in place by the Governor, so it is first come first serve. Get there early! If you can’t make it in person this year, we hope you’ll watch it online.

One other mention: there will be no ranch cutting at the 06 this year. Chris said the replacement heifers he always uses for the cutting had to be turned out into bigger country because of the dry weather. Hopefully they will be back on schedule next year.

Don’t forget about Christmas! Now is a good time to get us working on those bulk orders of items for your employees and/or customers. The Holidays will be here before you know it!

Have a good month!

Gary Dunshee
08/04/2020


Hi Folks!

Hope this note finds you all in good health and good spirits. It has started trying to rain a little around our country. Mostly just showers but some places have had a good rain. We went to Lubbock last week and I was surprised at the green we saw between here and there. I thought everyone in West Texas was as dry as us. It was evident they had had some showers we missed. It didn’t look like Ireland, but it wasn’t brown either. Some of the country around Alpine is just burned up. The old timers say that the 4th of July starts our rainy season here in Far West Texas, sure hope that’s right this year.

We are still seeing quite a few visitors to the area coming into the Shop. Some people say they just come out and tour around the country side for a change of scenery. We seem to forget how mobile the world is until we have to stay put at home for an extended period of time.

We have added quite a few new saddle blankets and pads to our website. You might want to take a look if you are in the market for a new one. All of our blankets and pads are 100% wool. Some of the blankets have a polyester warp in them which makes them better. The warp is the few strings on the blanket that the wool is woven to. It never comes in contact with the horse’s back and does a better job of holding the blanket together. The only trouble is that you can’t label them as 100% wool although 99% of the blanket is wool. If you ever have trouble with any of our blankets or pads, please let us know. We think they are among the best there is. The blankets also make great small rugs as well!

Don’t forget the big Tres McElroy Memorial Team Roping-Barrel Race-Breakaway Roping the 25th-26th of July at the Sul Ross S.A.L.E. Arena. Tres was a local rancher, cowboy, team roper, Sul Ross Rodeo Ex, and all around good guy from Ft. Davis. Funds from this memorial will be endowed to the “Tres McElroy Scholarship Fund” with the interest each year going to rodeo scholarships at Sul Ross. Anyone wanting to donate can make their checks out to “Tres McElroy Memorial Scholarship Fund” and send it to Big Bend Saddlery. We will see that it gets to the right place.

Hope y’all have a good month!

Gary Dunshee
07/6/2020


Hello Everyone,

Hope you are all doing well. Things appear to be good in Far West Texas as far as I can tell. Still just the one case of Coronavirus found in the three counties we call home. Just about everyone is through branding. If it doesn’t rain pretty soon some of the ranchers may be weaning before they expected to. Still no measurable rain for the most part. Our place is getting big cracks in the ground. Hope you have fared better this last month.

We have had a lot of people ask who designed the new remodel at the saddle shop. So I thought I would devote most of this note to that subject.

About 18 months ago an old friend, Marvin Levine, called to see if we could sell a couple of used saddles for him. Marvin is a good horseman and trainer. Not doing it professionally, just for his own horses. He had quit riding and had no use for his saddles any more. 30 years ago Marvin owned the nicest western store in the world in Miami, Florida. He was raised in New York then moved to Florida, then sold his store and migrated to Texas about 25 years ago. He started a consulting business helping retailers become better at what they do. He is a marketing genius. He understands “western” retailing like no one I have ever seen. A few years into his consulting business he was hired by Johnny Morriss, who owns Bass Pro Shops, to come up with a new concept for Bass Pro. 90 some mega-stores later, Marvin retired (about 4 months prior to our conversation about the used saddles).  So after 23 years designing stores for Bass Pro Shops, Marvin was unemployed.

During the course of our phone conversation I mentioned we were going to expand and remodel. Immediately Marvin said “I want to be a part of that.” I told him I was fairly certain we couldn’t afford his services. He rebutted with “Yes you can, I want to do this.” We made a deal and went to work. Marvin called a lot of his old Bass Pro team who had worked with him for years. Rocky Creek Builders from Stephenville, painters from Kansas, and the “We can do anything” crew from Lipan, Texas. They all spoke the same language and knew exactly how what they were doing would tie in with what the others were doing. It was a treat to see them all working together like a fine tuned machine. I asked Else (one of the painters) if she could paint old white bleached out elk sheds to look fresh again. She said sure, she had just completed 3,000 elk sheds for the town of Cody, Wyoming for their arched Elk Antler Entryway into town. There wasn’t anything these people couldn’t do. They started early and stayed late. They put on the final touches on November 22nd, and we had our Grand Opening on November 23rd. My hat is off to Marvin, one of the most talented people I have ever met. Thanks again Amigo, you did us proud!

See you all next month,

Gary Dunshee
06/03/2020


Hi Folks,

Hope you are all doing well and able to dodge the corona virus. We are still Corona free in Brewster County. It will eventually get here, but the longer it waits the better I like it.

Our part of the world is still pretty dry.  Most everyone is still feeding, but that’s pretty normal for this time of year. We heard it rained good in the Gonzales, Texas area. Some ranches are just now getting to brand their calves. These bigger calves will test the air in the ground crews. Might be a good time to just lay the calves down. It takes a little longer, but sure is good for horses.

The loco has bloomed, gone to seed, and is resting until next year. We didn’t hear of too many problems with it this year. It sure wasn’t because their wasn’t enough of it. It was really thick this year.

I saw 9 bull elk when I left the house this morning. They sure look funny without their antlers. My neighbors have quit feeding the wildlife on their place. They said the wildlife congregated around the feeders and made it easier for the predators to do their job. Hope it helps out. We have had some really nice bulls harvested out here the last few years.

The Saddle Shop has remained open this last month with limited access for customers. May 1st we will pretty much be back to business as usual per the Governor’s orders. Talked to the WRCA in Amarillo today, they are still planning on having the World Championship Ranch Rodeo in November. Nice to know that at least one show was not cancelled. We will all miss being in Abilene for the Western Heritage Classic.

The Big Bend Ranch Rodeo is still on for the 2nd weekend in August. Make your reservations now!

Adios until next month,

Gary Dunshee
05/01/2020


Hi Folks!

Hope this note finds everyone safe and healthy. Well, these are strange times we are experiencing. Seems like there is an ample dose of uncertainty to go around. Not knowing exactly what will happen or when, with this new strain of virus is unsettling. I do know that the people who make their living from the land will keep on doing just that, bug or no bug. When the politicians make their list of “essential businesses”, farming and ranching should be at the top. I for one have grown really fond of eating 2 or 3 times a day and would hate to stop now.

While we are sitting around thinking about the negative possibilities, don’t forget that it is also a good time to do something kind for someone. The elderly, folks who’ve lost their jobs, or single parents with a houseful of kids to feed could sure use some help right now. America’s agricultural and rural communities have always pulled together no matter the adversity to feed America and a big chunk of the rest of the world. As my buddy Red Steagall said “The sun’s going to come up tomorrow, it’s going to rain in God’s time, and this too will pass.”

We have been fortunate in Alpine, no known cases yet. They are allowing us to keep the Saddle Shop open and functioning. We are shipping everyday and plan to keep right on doing so.  The County Judge issued a “shelter in place” order today. I guess if we are shut down to the public, I will take my bedroll to the Shop and shelter there. I can always answer the phone and pack boxes myself. For the moment we are still business as usual with the front door open and will continue on until told otherwise. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates.

The buzzards made it back a little early this year. The loco wee d is about bloomed out, but I’m not turning my horses out yet. Lots of folks need to brand their calves but can’t put a crew together. Some ranches are just branding with the full time employees and just kind of plugging away at it. They will  be ahead of the curve when life returns to normal.

If you have any saddles in need of repair or just cleaning/conditioning, now is a good time to send them in. Let us know when you will be needing it back, and we can try to make that work.

Well, here’s hoping for a quicker than expected end to this predicament and a rapid return to the good times. Adios until next month!

Gary Dunshee
03/31/2020


Hello Everyone,

Greetings from West Texas! Still not much winter weather to speak of. It seems cold, but only because it will be unseasonably warm then cool of to 35 degrees. Those 40 degree swings in temperature seem to make the cold side of it even colder than it is. The ranchers are feeding lots of cake this winter. No green pickens at all.

Lots of ranches for sale. Mr. Brad Kelly has listed a multitude of his ranching country for sale in the Trans Pecos area. I’m not sure how many of his ranches are for sale but there is one block of 420,000 acres for sale in one chunk. I saw where the Petan Ranch south of Marfa is listed as well. Maybe when these ranches sell they will keep them in production or get them back in if they haven’t had cattle on them in a while.

The aoudad hunting just keeps on going full blast. We have lots of hunters in the store pretty much every day. There are plenty of aoudad to hunt. I’ve talked to lots of people who have seen several hundred in one bunch. Some ranches are trapping and selling them.

The elk hunting out here may be the biggest story. The local taxidermists are reporting several mounts they are working on that scored over 400 points. That is a really big bull elk, I don’t care where you are! We have also heard good reports on the quail hunting this year.

We just sent one of our Rancher’s Duralite saddles to Craig Cameron. He will be using it this month at The Road to the Horse Colt Starting Competition in Lexington, Kentucky March 19th – 22nd. The Duralite is becoming one of the best selling rigs we have built. Lots of folks want and need something lighter but still strong.

We continue to be busy at the Shop. Lots of saddle repair going on right now as well as a bunch of custom orders. One of the more off the wall custom orders we have had in a while is a 76″ x 54″ x 6″ black leather covered mattress. We probably won’t be mass producing them any time soon.

Hope you get a rain and it greens up early this spring!

Gary Dunshee
03/03/2020


Hi folks!

Hope this note finds you all in good health. We have had a rash of colds and flu this last month, but we are on the mend now. We just got back from Brian Lebel’s old west show and sale in Mesa AZ. Lots of high quality antique western memorabilia, Indian jewelry, guns, bits spurs blankets and rugs just name something old and collectible and they probably had it. They auctioned off an entire gun collection that had a lot of old Colts and Winchesters in it. Sure made my mouth water. We also went over to the Corona ranch somewhere in the Phoenix sprawl to see the Art of the Cowgirl. It was a lot of fun to see the all girl competitions . Really talented competitors with some great horseflesh. They also had a trade show filled with cowgirl craftsmen and artists. Our own Brewster county cowgirl, Colee Charlesworth, finished 4th in the Worlds Greatest Horsewoman competition. She had a great run Saturday on Smart Sugar Star “AKA Bolt” a Sarco Creek horse raised by the Greeson family from Victoria. Colee will compete later this month at the junior worlds greatest horseman in Ft. Worth.

The days are getting longer but the trees seem to be a little confused. The cottonwoods in the creek south of Alpine have put out green buds already. We had snow on Friday and you could have sunbathed on Saturday. We have not had any real winter weather yet , could be yet to come, quien sabe.

The shop will have a booth at the NCBA pachanga in San Antonio Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday this week. If you happen to be going, drop by and say howdy.

Lots of calves hitting the ground here now. The feed wagons are running full steam ahead. Maybe we will have a wet spring and they can park them early this year.

Hope you have a good month!

Gary Dunshee
02/02/2020


Happy New Year!

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas filled with family, friends, and the true blessing of the Nativity of our Savior Jesus Christ.

December was plenty busy at the Shop. We had more custom orders to make this year than ever before. Our craftsmen and craftswomen stepped up to the plate and we shipped all of our promised custom orders on the 19th then a good batch later that required some air delivery. Thanks to everyone who used us for Santa Claus this year. Don’t forget next year that we offer discounts on orders of 20 items or more (must be the same item e.g. 20 notebooks). We do quite a lot of this type of work for people with lots of employees or customers or both!

We still have not settled in to the new remodel. Customers ask where something is and we have to go find out ourselves. I’m sure we will get used to it soon.

Most everyone is feeding their cows now. We had a little moisture in December. If it is warm the next couple of months, some spots may grow some good weeds. The loco is not quite as vibrant as it was a month ago, but there is plenty of it.

The hunters are still hunting white tail and management mule deer as well as aoudad. Billy Klapper got a nice aoudad down here a couple of months ago. They are taking some really big aoudad (over 30 inches) and some really nice bull elk are being harvested on a regular basis. I saw four bulls on us this morning.

We have several new items we plan on putting into production this coming year. Keep an eye out for them in the Newsletter.

Don’t forget Brian Lebel’s big shindig in Mesa Arizona. Whatever you like that is old and western they will have it there, and lots of it! See the ad for it in this month’s newsletter.

We hope you all have a prosperous, healthy, happy 2020 filled with God’s blessings. Adios ’til next month!

Gary Dunshee
01/05/2020


Greetings from West Texas!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving filled with all the good things we are privileged to enjoy in this great country. The weather here has been more spring-like than fall weather. The last few days the wind has blown like the dickens. Hope it blows up some moisture of some sort this winter. I think the loco weed is doing better (worse for ranchers) than I have ever seen here this time of year. Some of the bar-ditches look like you could cut and bale it. Our local vet, Ray Allen, said it is pretty scary looking from his perspective. Some years just seem to be “loco” years and it doesn’t particularly matter if the plant is thriving (like this year) or not. The cattle just go to it. Robo Cross said it had to do with the minerals in an animal’s nutrition. He would mix up some “Big Bend Mineral Mix” in an old concrete mixer and bag it with a shovel. He put a lot in it, but the extra potassium is what he said kept cattle off of the weed. Never heard of anyone who used it ever having cattle go to “loco”.

We have made a lot of stock items this fall that are complete except for being personalized. We should be able to personalize and ship most of our smaller handmade items all this month right up until Christmas. Freight companies like UPS with their overnight shipping have helped the last minute shoppers.

We have added a new color to our line of Spradley 50% beaver hats. We now carry the color “Natural”. Natural is a darker tan than bone with a touch of brown. It can vary from hat to hat because it is not dyed at all. It is the natural color of that particular beaver. It sure makes a nice dress hat. Then when it turns into your work hat it doesn’t look dirty because of the light brown color. We will add more colors in 2020.

The Grand Re-Opening on Saturday, November 23 was quite a pachanga! Lots of folks came from out of town as well as the local ranching community. We saw lots of old friends and customers. The Saddle Shop has been in Alpine for 115 years. There are not a lot of businesses that have been around that long. We hope that with the addition to our store we can better serve the ranchers and cowboys across the U.S. for another 115 years. We would like to thank each and every one of you for being loyal customers. We look forward to seeing you all!

Gary Dunshee
12/2/19


Hi Folks!

Well, the buzzards are gone and fall has tried to start a couple of times. It was 33 degrees one morning a couple of weeks ago, then warmed up again for 10 days or so. Then we had a 29 degree night and it warmed right back up. It has been in the 70’s and low 80’s since then. But they say colder weather is on the way. Guess it’s about that time.

The neighbors on the other side of the hill killed a mountain lion that had been killing their goats in a small rural subdivision 7 miles south of Alpine. Heard the lion got a few dogs as well. I don’t have anything against mountain lions, I just don’t like to see them get that friendly around people.

I think most of the ranches have shipped by now. From all reports it was a fairly average year. I know some of the yearlings shipped early when it dried up.

We have had lots of elk and auodad hunters in the shop. They have really been killing some excellent trophies. Heard of one elk over 400 points.

The new store addition is moving right along. The contractor said he would be done the first week in November, so we are planning a a Grand Reopening on Saturday November 23. That is the same weekend Alpine celebrates Artwalk or Gallery Night. We are still planning it out, so watch the Facebook page for updates on what is going on.

We hope you are planning to attend the WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo in Amarillo this month. It will be November 6th-10th. It is about the best ranch cowboy event you can go to. Plus they do a lot of good in the ranch cowboy community with the funds they make off of this rodeo. So you can go have a blast and know you are helping someone less fortunate along the way.

Since Thanksgiving is this month, we here at Big Bend Saddlery would just like to say “Thanks for being able to make a living doing what we enjoy and getting to work for and with the American Ranching/Cowboy community.”

Happy Thanksgiving!
Gary Dunshee
October 30th, 2019


Greetings from far West Texas!

It has been raining around this part of the world. Lots of places have received enough to green up and start growing some grass. It may be a little late in the higher mountains to grow much grass, but anything is better than the way it was. Our grass has greened up and is trying to grow, but the temperature at night gets down in the 50’s so it  probably won’t do much here. Sounds like Houston really got dumped on. I have talked to several people who got over 20 inches in the tropical storm and they said some folks had received over 40 inches. Living in the Chihuahuan Desert  that is hard to even imagine.

The construction is moving right along on the new addition at the Shop. We are still hoping for an early November finish and a Grand Opening by the end of November. We will keep y’all posted.

We have the  best selection of used BBS saddles that we have had in quite some time. We even have a couple of Carey Scwartz Wades. If you are looking for a bargain on a “new” used Carey Scwartz saddle, this may be your deal.

Clayton and I just returned from the Tejas Vaquero Ride. Sure had a good time and got to visit with guys from Florida to California. It’s on a ranch outside of Kerrville, Texas. They were still pretty dry in that part of the country.

The Sul Ross Rodeo Team got off to a good start in Portales. The Girl’s Team won the rodeo, and the boys won the bulldogging. This weekend at the Sul Ross Rodeo, several of the boys placed in the bulldogging. It’s a really good team of kids this year.Kind of reminds me of some of the teams from a long time ago.

We are making a lot of new items for the Shop. We will also be handling several more lines of of different kinds of tack, outerwear, cooking utensils, jewelry, purses, and many more new merchandise items. One our new items will be prints by several artists, including a number of artists who are members of the Cowboy Artists of America. Let us know if there are any items you’d like to see us carry, we really appreciate your input!

Come see us if you make it out this way!

Gary Dunshee
October 1, 2019


Hi Folks,

Hope August treated you better than it treated the Big Bend area. Showers have been sparse to non-existent. Our little place is pretty burned up. Some folks have already shipped before their calves start to slide. We still have time to grow a grass crop, but it needs to get started if it’s going to. Maybe a good 3 day tropical storm coming up the Rio Grande would be good. We were in Cotulla and Gonzales last week and its really dry in that part of the world as well.

Our remodel at the Shop is going full throttle now.  The foundation was poured this week and the red iron goes up next week. We are still planning on an early November finish date.

We continue to get lots of inquiries and orders for our new “Rancher’s Duralite” saddle. Seems to be a pretty popular rig. They are consistently weighing 35 lbs rigged out.Another thing we have noticed the past few years is the growing popularity of saddles with larger swells. We are making lots of swell forks such as Stockmen, Tucson, and Formfitter trees with 14″ – 15″ swell widths. Guess it’s about time the pendulum swung that direction for awhile.

We will be going to the Haley Library in a couple of weeks for a small show there. If you live in the Permian Basin come on by and we will show you what we have new for Christmas.

Hope you have a good September!

Gary Dunshee
08/31/19


Hello Everyone!

Things have been pretty hot and dry in West Texas this last month. The old timers would say our rainy season starts around the 4th of July. But that seems like that does not hold true if we have a wet spring or early summer. We had both of those this year. Maybe August and September will be better. The best grass crop we ever had at the Walker Place was on 4″ of rain that fell the first two weeks of September. One thing I do know is that worrying about it won’t help. We will take what we get and somehow manage to make it work from year to year. Some years you eat steak and some years it’s pinto beans.

They started construction on our remodel and expansion at the Shop this week. If you are coming to Alpine in the next few months, don’t worry about the construction. We will have signs up showing where to park and the temporary entrance is on the south end of the building facing the highway. Sure going to be different from the one room barracks building I started in in 1971 when I apprenticed under George Nix. That old building was consistent. It was always hot in the summer and always cold in the winter. You could throw a boot through some of the holes in the wall. A rather large doberman pinscher lay on his couch that you had to walk past to get into the shop part and he would growl at everyone. That sure was good for business… When the owner sold that building a few years ago, the local realtor called and asked if I was interested in buying it. I told them I had done my tour of duty in it and it was time for someone to enjoy all of its amenities. I wouldn’t take a pretty penny for all of the memories and stories that came from that old building.

The contractor said he will be done by the first part of November. We are planning our Grand Re-Opening shortly thereafter, maybe in conjunction with Alpine’s Artwalk. Speaking of Artwalk, the Artwalk Foundation recently commissioned a new mural in  Alpine commemorating the “Texas Rangers”. It is almost completed and I think it’s one of the best Stylle Read has ever done. If you come to town, it is just south of McDonald’s on the same block, facing east. If there is or was a West Texas Ranger you would like to commemorate, you can can have his name and years of service painted on the mural in the form of a Texas Ranger Badge. Just Google the Artwalk website for more information.

The Big Bend Ranch Rodeo is coming up the second weekend in August. If you plan on coming, you should get your room reservations ASAP as it usually fills the motels up. This year we have ranches participating from Texas, New Mexico,  Arizona, and Oklahoma. All of the participants are full time working cowboys off of some of the best ranches in the South West. There is also an RHAA horse show, a youth horse show, and a horseless goat roping at the Crystal Bar on Friday night. Hope you can make it!

The Sul Ross Rodeo Exes had their big pachanga last weekend. Sure a fun deal, and they raise around $20,000 each year for Rodeo and Agricultural scholarships. A lot of the Rodeo Exes showed up earlier in the month to help the rodeo kids weld on the new pens and arena that is going up at the SALE arena facility. The West Texas Exes set up tents and fed all the volunteers. Looks like we will have a really nice facility so they can start hosting some extra curricular events here in the ‘Pine. Rodeo coach CJ Aragon has some of the finest collegiate rodeo athletes, including the #1 draft pick in the U.S., coming to Sul Ross this Fall. We are sure proud to have CJ and his family here in Alpine. The Sul Ross Collegiate Rodeo dates are September 26th – 28th.

Big Bend Saddlery has been invited to do a pre-Christmas show at the Haley Library and Museum in Midland on September 13th and 14th. There will be other quality businesses there as well. We would like to invite all of our Permian Basin customers to come by and visit.

One last thing, it seems like it is harder and harder to find someone to work on boots. All the old repair shops are dwindling away.  There is no one in Alpine or any surrounding town who works on boots. I know this is the case in a lot of places today. I would like to suggest a place in San Antonio. One of our employees, Estevan Martinez, worked at this place several years ago. I have been sending boots to them, and they do excellent work in a timely manner at a reasonable cost. If you have someone to do your boots, that’s great! If not, you may want to box a pair up and give these guys a try:

San Antonio Shoe and Luggage Repair
903 E. Bitters
Suite 304
San Antonio, Texas 78216

Hope everyone has a good August. God Bless!

Gary Dunshee
08/01/2019


Hi folks!

Hope all is well in your world. Summer is rolling on and we have been pretty fortunate in West Texas to have had some pretty good showers. Spring and the first part of summer are notoriously dry here. Anything we get then is like a gift. Our wet season is supposed to start the 4th of July. Sure hope that is right this year.

We went to the Arizona Cowpuncher’s Reunion in Williams, Arizona last week. What a great bunch of people. They had an old fashioned team tying where the header gets off and ties the steer’s back legs when he is stretched out. You don’t see many of those now days. Not enough horses being used enough in the pasture so you can get off of them and go tie one down. Back when there were screw worms I think every cowboy in the Southwest had several horses you could get off of. They also have a dally calf roping. I had never seen one of those outside of the pasture. Tons of good cowboys, cowgirls, and cowkids out there. The most impressive thing I saw was all of the dozens and dozens of kids there, I never saw one with an electronic device in their hand. They all had ropes in their hands roping dummies, brothers, sisters, anything that moved. It was also the first time I have seen a dummy headed and heeled by kids on hover boards. I have no idea how they managed to even ride them, much less rope at the same time. Pretty doggone impressive for a bunch of kids.

Lots of big ranches in Northern Arizona. Some of the  ranch camps are so remote it’s hard to find people to work on them. If you are the type of person cut out for that kind of life and need a job, give me a call and I will forward your info.

The Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and Rodeo Exes from Sul Ross will have their annual reunion this month here in Alpine. It will be good to see everyone and tell a few re-ride stories. No need to spoil a good re-ride story just on account of a lack of facts. The Exes raise a good bit of money and always give it back to the Sul Ross Rodeo and Ag Department for scholarships. It really helps since the University doesn’t get much money for scholarships.

When we came back from Arizona, we stopped at a trading post on an Indian reservation. We were able to buy handmade Indian jewelry right off the reservation. The Indians were there buying turquoise and other stones to work with while others were bringing in finished pieces to sell. The jewelry is all marked with the artist’s name. We feel fortunate to  pick up this line of authentic Indian jewelry to offer to our customers.

We hope all have a good 4th of July celebration, remembering those who gave their lives that we might live free in the greatest nation ever.

Have a great month!
Gary Dunshee
July 1, 2019


Hi Folks!

Hope all is well in your part of the woods. It is still pretty dry in Far West Texas. I know some folks have had lots of rain, but by and large in our area most folks are still feeding. They give us good chances this weekend, hope they are right.

I guess the cholla cactus forgot to bloom in April, the month they normally bloom in. They are really getting after it now. Their beautiful pink blooms really stand out in this old brown country.

We saw lots of people in Abilene at the Western Heritage Classic. Some were complaining about getting too much rain. They must have just moved to Texas. One gentleman said he had 13″ in 14 days. He came to Abilene to get a break from putting up water gaps.

We are busy trying to get ready for the Arizona Cowpuncher’s Reunion in Williams, Arizona. Looking forward to seeing lots of old customers out there and hopefully some new ones as well. I have been told by some very good sources that this is one of the toughest rodeos in the country. We are looking forward to seeing how the Arizona boys “Get ‘er done”.

It has always amazed me how much the gear and cowboying styles change from one part of the world to another. You would think it would be generally the same all over the US, Canada, and Mexico, but not so. We get a feel for the different styles when we are shipping gear all over the US. It may be mostly 50′ – 60′ soft poly ropes in the Northwest, to 30’ Nylon tie on ropes in the Panhandle, to 40 footers in Nebraska, and back to 60 footers into Mexico. Like the old cowboy said “There’s more than one way to work a cow”.

We will be starting construction on our Big Bend Saddlery remodel in a couple of weeks, so if you come by we are open. It may not look like it, but there will be an entrance somewhere around the building. Pick-ups and trailers can still pull all the way around. The contractor says we will be finished by mid-September and back to normal.

Speaking of construction, CJ Aragon and his Sul Ross Rodeo Team are building much needed stalls and pens at the college this summer. Good to see some kids that know how to work, set goals and then try to accomplish them. I can’t say it enough, we are proud to have CJ and his family here in Alpine.

Went on a road trip with Mike Ingram from Phoenix and Larry Williams from Boise, Idaho. Both are ranchers and wanted to see some of our country and how ranching goes on in this part of the world. Sure had a good time and we saw some beautiful West Texas country.

Hope this note finds everyone in good spirits and looking forward to a good summer.

Gary Dunshee
05/31/2019


Hi Folks!

Hope the month of April was good to you. I know a lot of country in Texas received some sort of rain. We even got a little here in some areas of the Trans-Pecos.

Just want to be sure & mention the Western Heritage Classic Ranch Rodeo and all of the other related events going on this weekend in Abilene. Horse races, chuck wagon cooking, kid’s rodeo, horse drawn vehicles, RHAA yearly finals, Ranch Horse Sale, and last but not least- one of the best cowboy & cowgirl trade shows you can go to anywhere in the world. We will be there with bells on under the tent outside of the Round building. The forecast is showing rain, but unless it gets bad things will go as planned.

We have had a tremendous response to introducing our “Rancher’s Duralite” saddle last month. Thanks to those who called and asked questions and those who ordered them sight unseen. We hope to have one in Abilene for people to see.

The Trapping of Texas cowboy gear & art show & sale was well attended, selling many of the unique items in the show. Thanks again to the Jeff Williams family for hosting the Saturday night party at the old Stringfellow Ranch they recently purchased. We are proud they have decided to make Alpine their new home.

Tuff Hedeman was in town this month and stopped by to visit and sign autographs. Was sure good to see him and Ed Vickers came along as well. That used to be a pair to draw to. They visited the Sul Ross campus & talked with CJ Aragon, our rodeo coach, and his rodeo kids who brought them up to speed on what’s going on with the Rodeo Program at Sul Ross. CJ has a ton of really great kids coming this Fall. Among them is Jesse Keysaer, the number 1 college rodeo draft pick. If you know kids looking for a good university to rodeo at, it is certainly worth their time to visit with CJ. And don’t forget Sul Ross has the cutting edge Wildlife Research Program here in the Southwest and the Sustainable Ranching Program. Just call Louis Harveson & Bonnie Warnock respectively at Sul Ross State University, phone # (432)837-8011.

Several ranches have sold in the last couple of months. Most of the buyers are reinvesting off of the proceeds from the “Alpine High” petroleum play in Pecos, Reeves, & Hudspeth Counties. In addition to the petroleum part of it, some of the ranchers are selling sand for fracking. In some of that country that may be all the sand is good for.

May God Bless you and your family. Here’s hoping your cows backs get wet this month!

Gary Dunshee
05/06/2019


Hi Folks!

Well, Spring has sprung. The Spanish Daggers are in full bloom. The bluebonnets in Big Bend National Park are amazing. They are huge. We went to San Angelo last week and from just north of Alpine all the way there the mesquite is starting to put out leaves. Some people say it won’t freeze after the mesquite puts out. That may be true in some places, but I have seen it get fooled on several occasions.

The big storm that hit several states including Nebraska was just devastating. One customer from Colorado said it was the worst he had ever seen. They only had 10″ of snow, but the wind speed sustained at 70 mph and gusted up into the 90’s. He said the wind and snow really tore up the pine trees and they had 12 foot high drifts at headquarters. A lot of folks were calving then. He said  some of the calving sheds blew down, leaving the cows in the storm to have their calves. Lots of damage and death loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who had losses in the storm.

In about 2 months we are going to start a much needed remodel and expansion of the Saddle Shop. If you come to town, don’t think we are closed. We are going to have an entrance on the south end (the highway side) of the Shop. You may have to park in the back, but you can come in the back door as well. We will have signs up to guide you along.

Don’t forget we will be in Abilene for the Western Heritage Classic May 9th – 12th. Then we are going some place new. The Arizona Cowpuncher’s Reunion  in Williams, Arizona is a really great cowboy event. We have wanted to go for years. It starts June 21st and runs through June 23rd. Book your rooms now or bring your teepees.

Trappings of Texas gear and art show is April 11th – 13th. You will see some of the finest, prettiest gear you have ever seen in your life. Top craftsmen and artists from around the world display here and it is all for sale.

Lots of ranches have already branded their calves and some will be starting shortly. The loco weed is really healthy and has been blooming all this last month. I pay my grandkids a dime per plant that they hoe up. My deal is working pretty good as long as they can earn enough to put some in the piggy bank and have some left to buy a “Dilly Bar” at the Dairy Queen. They are turning into good little “entremanures”.

Have a good month!
Gary Dunshee
04/03/2019


Greetings from Far West Texas!

We are having a beautiful early spring this last month. A little cold, a little wind, but mostly mild for February. The loco weed has started blooming, the cotton woods and fruit trees are putting out. We have had enough moisture to start a little green coming up. Bob Hayter west of Fort Stockton said the weeds are sure coming on and looking like a good spring in the making.

We can tell at the Shop that the spring works are right around the corner, lots of saddles have come in to be repaired and conditioned. But the way we can really tell is by the bedroll sales. They have been flying out the door.

We have had a lot of cattle people from up north in the shop this month. They try to stay gone out of the cold weather until it warms up just a little. One rancher and his wife wanted to stay for the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering last weekend, but their heifers were supposed to start calving this past week and they had to get home to get after it.

The Poetry Gathering was last weekend, Trappings of Texas is April 11th-13th, the Western Heritage is in Abilene May 9th-12th. Hope you can make one or both of these great shows.

We are just about finished with our first strip down saddle, with more in the works. These are going to be very lightweight. We are hoping around 25 pounds. But they will still fit, ride, and be as stout as any other bench made saddle. Sure will be handy for us older guys, now if I can just find a 14 hand cowhorse.

The Sul Ross Rodeo Team continues to amaze me. The University can’t afford to build some much needed stalls, so under the leadership of their coach, CJ Aragon, they are getting oil field pipe donated and they are building the stalls themselves. My kind of kids! If you have any building materials laying around you don’t need, give me a call at the Shop and I will put you in touch with CJ.

Kevin Norell, an old Sul Ross Rodeo Ex, came by the shop this week to visit while he was passing through on his way to Fort Worth. His daughter Kathi has qualified for the Junior American Rodeo. Kevin and his cousin Kirk came to Sul Ross to rodeo in the late 70’s from Rifle, Colorado. They sure won their fair share back in the day! Good luck to Kathi. Hope to see you advance to the American this weekend!

Hope this note finds everyone happy and in good health. Take care and God bless!

Gary Dunshee

February 28, 2019


Hi Folks!

Hope all is well in your part of the world. We are enjoying a fairly mild winter here in far west Texas. Seems like the cold weather comes in spurts, then it will be 70 degrees for a day or two. I have seen Spanish Daggers blooming for almost a month now. Not all of them, but one or two here and there. Not sure what that means, but I bet it is an indicator of some weather phenomenon. Hope it doesn’t mean dry weather is coming. Haven’t seen or heard anything about the loco weed this year. We have had enough winter moisture that it could really be a problem if it decides to be. Seems like the years that loco is a problem it’s not reliant on how well the loco is doing , but how bad the cattle are doing. Doesn’t seem to matter how much grass is available or not available. For some reason the cows will just go to it some years but most years they don’t.

Lots of calves hitting the ground right now. I’m glad we don’t have the extreme weather they are experiencing up north. Pulling a Charolais calf coming backwards out of an angus heifer at 2:00 a.m. when it is -27 below doesn’t sound like much fun. We have been using 1/2 Angus 1/2 Corriente  bulls on our heifers for several years now, and have had good results. The calves don’t show much Corriente until they get up around 375 lbs. This year we are using muley 3/4 Angus 1/4 Corriente bulls on the heifers. I think the calving ease will still be there, but with a way better calf to boot.

The Shop decided this week to go to the Arizona Cowpunchers Reunion in Williams Arizona this summer. We will set up a booth in a tent at the fairgrounds, similar to what we do in Abilene. We have lots of customers in Arizona and this will be a great opportunity to show them our wares in person and meet some new folks as well. The rodeo is Friday, Saturday, and Sunday June 21st, 22nd, and 23rd with a team roping that Thursday.

We scouted the Dallas Safari Club convention a couple of weeks ago to see if it would work for a show for us to go to. I’ve never been to a show that big. You could book a hunt to just about anywhere in the world. Buy a fur coat or your own operational military tank. If the feral hogs keep rooting up our place, I may buy a tank next year to do battle with them. Can’t seem to stay ahead of them by trapping.

Hope this note finds you warm and happy.

Regards,

Gary Dunshee

February 1, 2019


Hi Folks!

Hope all is well with you and yours. We just finished up with our busiest Christmas run ever. Sure glad there are people out there who appreciate the quality we try to put into our products. Thanks to all of you for trading with us over the years.

We are in the process of  updating the website. We are trying to get the vast majority of items we sell in the store on the website. If you are looking for a specific item and can’t find it on the website, just call and we will let you know if we have it or not. If we don’t have it, maybe we can make it up as a custom order.

I am sure seeing lots of Ranch trucks with their cake feeders mounted on them around town. Guess it’s that time of year. I talked with Rob, our local taxidermist, the other day. He was saying that he is getting lots of bull elk to mount, but not many deer. He had a nine by ten bull elk from Sanderson there to mount that was mighty impressive.

I talked to Dr. Charlie Graham today. What a fine character he is. He told me quite a story about Harley May winning the All-Around at Texas A&M when Charlie was the president of the Rodeo Club. They gave a colt to the All-Around Champion back then. What an interesting individual to to visit with, as well as being one of the most knowledgeable Equine/Bovine veterinarians in the country. Thank you Dr. Graham for all you have done for the world of Agriculture over the years.

We are going to Gonzales, Texas tomorrow to bring a load of weaned heifers back to Alpine to grow out and breed. The old timers say you can move cattle west, but you can’t take them east. I am sure that is generally true, but I remember taking some corriente cross cows from Brewster County to Gonzales several years ago when it was dry in West Texas and grass was knee deep east of I-35. Those cows never did complain at all about their move east.

Hope this note finds you looking forward to a 2019 where we can live in peace and enjoy each day as it comes to us.

Take Care & God Bless!
Gary Dunshee
January 2, 2019


Hi Folks!

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. We sure did. We all have so much to be thankful for.

The weather has been mostly beautiful here in the mountains this month, just a few days of cold. The hunters are here now enjoying the hunt and everything that goes along with it: good friends, beautiful scenery, relaxing in the mountain air, no traffic. Whatever seems to bother a feller in the city doesn’t happen out here. A lot of guys have tried to explain it to me but without much luck. One guy from Dallas said “When I turn south off of I-10 headed to the mountains something just changes my soul.” Whatever it is that brings you to this part of the world, we hope you enjoy it and feel better when you head home.

Everyone is about done shipping. Time to make sure the old trip-hopper is working! The grass hopefully has some protein in it this year. I can remember when ranchers sent off grass samples to Texas A&M in the fall for an analysis of the nutrition in the grass and the report would give a negative nutrition analysis. When asked what was meant by a negative analysis, they explained that the cow would expend more energy eating the grass than she received from the grass she ate. It’s sure hard to make things work when you are already behind before you start.

I got to spend a few days with some friends in the Panhandle going to some of the historical sites, including Comanche camps, Texas Ranger camps, Cavalry camps, and a place where Coronado camped. We saw incredible artifacts at the Crosbyton Museum. If you’re ever in the Lubbock-Crosbyton area and have some time, you need to go. Especially if you are an Indian Artifact nut like I am.

Jim Bret Campbell and Scott White from the National Ranching Heritage Association joined our group for the tour and then gave us “the tour” of the Ranching Heritage Museum in Lubbock on the Texas Tech Campus. I have been there on many occasions and enjoy going every chance I get. Things are always changing. They do more than anyone to preserve the ranching heritage of this great nation. Not just Texas, but the entire country. If you are not a member of the National Ranching Heritage Association, you need to be. Their publication, the “Ranch Record” (which you receive with membership), is well worth the dues you pay. It is chock-full of great historical stories and info about ranching in each publication.

We have had a lot of requests for lightweight saddles the past few years. After the first of the year, we will be stocking a “Strip Down” saddle. It should weigh about 25 pounds and be “hell for stout”. We have made them for customers with back problems but never kept them in stock. They should work great for those who need a light weight saddle.

Hope this note finds you all in good spirits and your country in good shape.

Regards,
Gary Dunshee
December 3, 2018


Hi Folks!

Hope this note finds everyone in good shape going into the Fall. Most of the ranches in this part of the world are through with their fall works or are just now finishing up. After a sharp cold snap last month that abruptly ended summer, we are having our normal fall weather. Beautiful days and chilly nights.

We have started seeing the elk again finally. They usually disappear for the rut in September as they did this year. But they did not resurface again until a few days ago on us. The deer hunters will be moving in the week of Thanksgiving for a month or more of hunting. The mule deer season is 2 weeks long, but with the management hunts, co-operating ranches can hunt into January sometimes. All of the ranchers I have talked to out here say their mule deer numbers have never recovered from the fires and drought conditions of recent years. The aoudad on the other hand, seem to be doing quite well. People talk about seeing bunches with over 100 head in them. There are several good outfitters booking hunts as do many of the ranches. They are harvesting some really nice rams in the 34″ range.

As I write this note I can hear the non-stop flow of Chili Cooks in their RV’s leaving Terlingua, going past our cattle guard. Guess they had another successful Pachanga down south.

Big Bend Saddlery leaves Tuesday on our way to the World Championship Ranch Rodeo in Amarillo. This is the best show we have ever been to. Is is put on and run by a dedicated Board of Directors and a great WRCA Staff. The WRCA is all about the working cowboy, and its Foundation is a great benefit to ranch cowboys and their families who might be in need. If you have never been to the World Championships you should try to make it. You won’t go to a better Ranch Rodeo anywhere and you will meet some of the finest people from all phases of the ranching community.

In addition to the nightly rodeo, there is one of the best Trade Shows you can imagine. A Youth Ranch Horse Show, an RHAA sanctioned Ranch Horse Show, Budweiser Clydesdales, Singers, Cowboy Poets, and specialty acts to boot. If you are interested, there is more information elsewhere in the Big Bend Saddlery Newsletter.

Hope you have a good Fall and Happy Thanksgiving!

Gary Dunshee
November 5, 2018


Hi Folks!

Hope all is well at your place and you have had some rain this past month. Most of the people we have talked to across the state have had good rain. 13″ to 16″ in some places. That will grow some grass! It sure looks good here in West Texas. Lots of ranches are weaning and/or shipping cattle now. With grain prices down, the feedlot boys should do well for now.

The Permian Basin oil fields are rockin’ and rollin’. We are happy for the ranchers who benefit from that, but it sure makes traveling through there a pain in the butt! They are drilling within 25 miles of Alpine as the crow flies. I hope it plays out at the mountains. I would hate to see the Davis Mountains scarred by the oilfield. On the other hand, a wise old rancher once told me “The best thing you can do for a cow is to let her rest in the shade of a pump jack”. Might be some truth to that.

Peter Flores was just elected State Senator of District 19 (from San Antonio to El Paso County). We are sure proud to have him represent us. He is a retired Game Warden and a true Statesman, not a politician. He is the first Republican  senator from this district in 139 years.

We just returned from the Tejas Vaquero Annual Trek on the Felix Fisher Ranch outside of Hunt, Texas. Sure a great bunch of guys who know how to have a good time and celebrate our ranching heritage.

Sul Ross State University had its 73rd annual NIRA Rodeo this past weekend. The Rodeo Program, under the leadership of C.J. Aragon, put on a tremendous Rodeo! The Friday night performance was one of the best (most fun) I can remember. It’s great to see young kids participating in the rodeo programs and putting out some work and effort to put on such a successful Rodeo.

Christmas orders are starting to come in to the Shop. If you know you are going to need something made for Christmas, let us know as soon as you can. We can do a lot of hand made items right up ’til a day or two before Christmas because we make them up ahead of time and can add personalization at the last minute. But not everything will be available at the last minute, so the sooner the better!

If you want to see this part of the world with its Sunday clothes on, this next month is the time to do it! Nice days and chilly nights. The buzzards will be headed back to Mexico in a couple of weeks, guess I better go to.

Take care and God Bless,
Gary Dunshee
September 30, 2018


Hi Folks!

Just a line to let you know what’s going on in the Big Bend Region of Far West Texas. We have had good rains for the most part, but there are a few places that can’t seem to buy a rain. Some folks are lush and others have had to move cows off because it is so dry. It was unseasonably hot the first part of the summer but is more normal now with highs in the upper 80’s and cool nights.

The Walker Ranch we (the Dunshees and Baldwins) have leased for the last 35 years has sold to Will & Jenny Wood. We are proud to have them and their family back in this area. They are really fine folks.

Big changes at the Animal Science Department of Sul Ross State University. Bonnie Warnock is the new Dean. She has rolled up her sleeves and is making some needed changes.

C.J. Aragon was hired as the new Rodeo Coach at Sul Ross. He and his wife Tiffany and daughter Lauren come here via Mesa Lands College in New Mexico and Odessa College in Texas. He has had multiple champions at both places and was named the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association “Coach of the Year” in 2010. We are thankful they chose Alpine as a place to build a rodeo program and to raise a family.

Let us know what you would like to hear about from this part of the world and we’ll try to include it in our next note. In the meantime, pray for rain for everyone.

Gary Dunshee
August 29, 2018