Joe Brown
Joe Brown

During the 25 years that we ranched in southern Pecos County, we had only one real dangerous situation. It happened in our west pasture that had the Bullis Gap road through it. This was the only public road on the ranch and came off of US 90 about 16 miles west of Sanderson. That should take care of the location.

Now, the situation at the time...I had a small herd of Longhorn cattle in the pasture which the public road cut down the middle of. These cattle consisted of cows and calves of which they ran from babies to 500-pound yearlings. The cattle had to cross the county road to come to water which they usually did about four to five o’clock every afternoon. Our home was on the east side of the ranch so we did not see these cattle every day.

We have here the background for this story. My wife and I decided to drive over and check the cattle one afternoon in the ranch pickup. Crossing over to the county road past the west-side headquarters we got on the Bullis Gap road and proceeded west down it. At approximately where the cows normally crossed coming to water, we saw the herd gathered around a strange Ford pickup. Rushing over there, I found a pickup with a young man in the drivers seat and another young man up in the back of the truck with a 30-30 Winchester in his hands. I pulled over to them and got out.

When both men quit looking at a 500-pound heifer and noticed me, I asked. “What are you two doing in my pasture?” The man in back looked down at the driver who answered my question with, “Oh we are only hunting rabbits and got off the road.” I answered, “That’s a damn lie, you don’t hunt rabbits with a 30-30 rifle, and besides you are trespassing so get off my land now.” The driver said, “Yes sir” and pulled back on to the public road and started to the highway at a high rate of speed. Now remember, the rifleman is still in the back of the truck.

I jumped into my truck and fell in behind them. I did two things. I got my .38 special out and checked the loads, then I told my wife to write down the license plate number which she did. We followed them about three miles to US 90 where the driver stopped and hollered at his companion to get down and get in the truck. The rifleman walked to the back of the pickup then pointed the 30-30 at my truck and then hesitated.

At this point my wife hollered, “He’s going to shoot you.” I answered her with, “No he’s not as he had several chances already and does not have enough backbone to shoot and besides I have my .38 special pointed right at his head and he knows it!”

He got down and climbed in the pickup and they drove off down US 90 toward Sanderson. I asked my wife if she had gotten the license plate numbers and she replied, “Yes what are you going to do now.” I replied, “Let’s go to the house and call Sheriff at Sanderson.” At that time, the sheriff was Bill Cooksey who was a friend of ours.

We drove to the ranch house and I got Bill on the phone and asked him to run that plate for me. He asked me, “Why” and I told him we had found some rustlers looking at my cattle on Bullis Gap road.

He replied, “Give me about 30 minutes and I can tell you who owns that pickup. OK” I said go for it and I’ll be waiting here at the house. About a half hour later, Bill called back with the information I wanted. He said, “Joe this may come as a shock but that truck is owned by a Master Sergeant in the US Army stationed at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas and he is somewhat older than the two you described, so they must have been his children, his sons. Also, from what you told me about the situation I would almost have to believe they were meat hunters which still classifies as rustling in Texas. Call me back if you have any more trouble with them.” I thanked Bill and I appreciated the help.

I felt this was not the first time these men had done this, only the first time they got caught in the act. Also my wife,Goldie, informed me she did not ever want to be with me when we confronted trespassers again!!