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Rustler's Fate

Updated on November 24, 2014

By: Wayne Brown

The dust is flying all about; thick it lays on our mouth

Chasing cattle rustlers on a trail that is leading south

Three long. dry days we followed our stolen herd

We’re tired n’ angry; ready to hang ‘em without a word


We gain ground on the rustlers by each hour of the day

There is no hiding with a herd of steers marking the way

It’s a race to the border down along the Rio Grande

If they make it, the cows are theirs in that foreign land


But we push a little harder, our livelihood is on the hooves

We’ll catch up to them and hang everything that moves

Rustling is a crime by which no good man can abide

We’ll run them down; string a rope; hang their sorry hide


Bone-weary and saddle-sore, we stop and camp for the night

Surely we’ll catch up tomorrow and have that final fight

They will stop too and rest the herd; otherwise cows will die

Tomorrow the struggle commences, as both sides wake to try


The morning sun brings the day, our resolve is much showing

We are in the saddle by early dawn and rapidly we are a-going

The dust of the herd just over the ridge, plodding through the sand

We have to hurry to catch up, we are nearing the Rio Grande


We top the rise and there they move out a ways just ahead

We run our horses and fire our pistols filling the air with lead

Rustlers scatter all about no longer caring about the steers

They ride for their necks toward the border with their fears


We ride them down one by one and some we have to shoot

Others we bring back to the herd and look for trees with roots

A few noose quickly woven then tossed over a strong branch

Leave ‘em dangling in the wind and drive our cows to the ranch

A dirty rustler’s fate is one that no man should ever seek

It’s only for the fool-hardy, the slow of mind, and the sadly weak

One must consider the price before cutting cattle of others loose

Your fate may lie under a strong branch; your neck in a noose



© Copyright WBrown2011. All Rights Reserved


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    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @saddlerider1...That's the mood I wanted to capture Ken...the justification to carry out some frontier justice in a time where there was very little law to protect the average guy. Thanks much. WB

    • saddlerider1 profile image


      7 years ago

      This resounds with revenge, I would have done the same and hung em all high. Let the buzzards eat their sorry ass carcass's. No man would steal my herd and live to tell of it. It would be either them or me eating dust face down with a belly full of lead putting us there. Good write my friend and great Johnny Cash tune.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @50 Caliber...Well, of course Dusty...I understand. As Detective Dirty Harry Callahan once said, "A mans got to know his limitations." That has all kinds of meaning to me. WB

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Wayne a realistic view of justice. I spose one might, in the great expanses of the still wild west, turn a rustler into a speed bump, can't say first hand. Then I must say that my lively hood is set apart from any neighbors, the only justice keepers are the county sheriff and deputies. A ride to town and the nearest call would put them at 4 hours tops response time. So far so good, no reasons to have to make that decision, and hope I never do, 'cuz I got a pretty good idea of what it would be. I cannot buy insurance due to distance from fire or Law dogs, so there are things that I can't afford to loose and things I'm not willing to loose,

      That is strictly day dreaming mind you. Great writing! voted up and awesome.

      Blessings, Amigo,


    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @WillStarr...Now there is a tale of a message being delivered very clearly and very concisely! LOL! WB

      @Ghost32...Oh, I understand can't believe all you hear! LOL! WB

      @Truckstop Sally...I think that is the reason we hang on to the tales of the Old West...colorful, visual, and true in many ways. WB

      @drbj...It's not called rustling anymore, is simple redistribution of wealth. We can't let the rich guys have all the cows too! LOL! WB

      @attemptedhumor...Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it! WB

      @cjv123...I tried. This is such a colorful part of our history complete with some real characters on both sides of the law. It's a fun time to write about. Thanks, Carol! WB

    • cjv123 profile image


      7 years ago from Michigan

      How you paint a picture for the reader and that Johnny Cash song was the perfect touch! I have no idea what it is like to be a cowboy or what it could have been like for these hard-working cowboys - but you sure give us the next best thing!

    • attemptedhumour profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      Years of effort disappearing over the horison is enough for the punishment to fit the crime. You rounded your rustler's up into a neat corral with a Rio Grande finale. Well thought out Wayne. Cheers mate.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      Justice was swift for rustlers, Wayne, as you point out. Too bad it's not as swift today for those who steal from others - at all levels.

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 

      7 years ago

      Life was so hard. But still, the line must be drawn - between honest and dishonest -- stealing. Makes me think of so much in today's world. Making excuses . . . Love the JCash song. Visuals were interesting. This time of year, I do lots of teaching about the Rio Grande as a geographical symbol . . . your reference is even more graphic.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wayne: So I've heard. Strictly third hand, of course.

      Will: Exactly.

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      My best friend owns what was once the main house of an old dude ranch built for the eastern investors of a huge ranch north of Phoenix. It was built in the early 1920's.

      A couple of years ago, two no-goods were caught by the owners of the current ranch (with the help of a little neighborly finger pointing) in another of the old, dude ranch houses, butchering a steer to sell in Phoenix.

      The ranchers suggested they could either leave Arizona immediately and never return, or, they might never leave the ranch at all. They climbed in their old pickup truck, still in their bloody clothes and left. We never saw them again.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @Ghost32...There's still a lot of ground out west for a man to get lost in, huh Fred? WB

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Well written, Wayne. Sort of the Chisholm Trail, only in reverse (north to south).

      Like you and Becky pointed out,it still goes on today, and there's still a little bit of swift justice around, too. Except, since hanging the bad guys openly doesn't work so well in our PC world, it's mostly shoot, shovel, and shut up.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @sheila b....There still plenty of cowboyin' up Oklahoma way...things get pretty wide open and sparse in some areas up there. Lots of Indians too! LOL! Thanks much. WB

      @writer20...Thank you, glad you enjoyed it. WB

      @Becky Katz...Cattle rustling is an art that will never die as long as one man has cows and the other don't! Sounds like the local Sheriff is raising a little rustler himself...good thing that don't hang for it. WB

      @Hypenbird...Sometimes too swift for my depends on whose conducting the trial! LOL! Thanks much! WB

      @caltex...The good Lord did give me much to work with! LOL! I think part of it is that I have always been drawn to the subject. The old west has a lot of color and action...those things are easily put into words for me. Glad you liked it! WB

    • caltex profile image


      7 years ago

      WB, how can you make it seem so easy to make a poem about the old west so interesting?!? Voted up!

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      7 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Swift justice is the way of the Old West. If we had it today, there would fewer "rustlers" perpetuating crimes upon society. People have choices and must live-or die-by them. I like this strong poem Wayne.

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      7 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      My uncle's own a ranch in CA. Every year, they have to go after someone. People think they don't need it. Caught the Sheriff's son and some of his friend's with a calf getting ready for a bar-b-que. Sheriff was p.o.'d when my uncle's insisted on prosecuting.

      Good poem.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good piece, Wayne enjoyable

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      7 years ago

      Mmhmm, quite real.And you know, I don't feel sorry for the rustlers, I feel sorry for the cowboys who had to chase them down. (My son is in Oklahoma for a year, and I keep suggesting he spend time in Texas and see for himself the real cowboy culture. I also keep telling him I expect him to come back east with a cowboy hat.)

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @WillStarr...You are wouldn't be PC today. It wouldn't be cattle theft either...simply redistribution of wealth. WB

      @Absolutely*Kate...Thank you, glad you enjoyed it! WB

      @dahoglund...The justice of the old west was a cruel one and employed whatever was near at hand in many cases. WB

      @tnderhrt23...Thank you, I was hoping for that realism! WB

    • tnderhrt23 profile image


      7 years ago

      Great piece, Wayne! I could bout taste the dust!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Much like the Virginian. There was no law officials to call on out there.

    • Absolutely*Kate profile image


      7 years ago from By the sea, the sea, the beautiful sea ~ Wakefield, Rhode Island, USA

      You had me at "our livelihood is on the hooves" Cowboy Wayne. Then I had to check the byline by the crook of that swingin' rider's rope to make sure I wasn't readin' into the mind of Gus doin' that Lonesome Dove drive again. Man in Black tune rode this one right swell.

      Bravo. ~ Absolutely*Kate

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Today, we would be told they did it because their fathers were mean, and besides, they were just trying to feed their hungry families.

      Cool Hub, Wayne!


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