If ever you've heard Walt Davis give a talk, or if you read his regular columns in beef producer, you probably recognize him as a man with a mission.
The story teller in Walt Davis only appears secondarily in these moments. In his new book, however, the storyteller is on full display.
The Gyp Lease Tales and Other Lies is a remembrance of Davis's lifetime in the ranching industry in western Texas and southeastern Oklahoma. He begins with tales of gathering cattle horseback behind his father in the mesquite brush on a seven-section, brushy ranch lease in Fisher County, Texas.
He writes about hunting "wormy" cattle with ranch horses that could smell the screwworm infestations and go to them in that rough brush country. Of course, once found you had to rope them and treat them, which required more rough rides through the brush.
"When you are going 'hell bent for leather' over slick rock hills or popping branches as big as your arm off of mesquite trees, it is easy to feel the allure of a career selling used cars," Davis writes, in his typically wry humor.
These are the stories of real cowboys and real ranching 50 to 70 years ago, but it's not necessarily the Walt Davis many of us have come to know over the past 25 years. Instead, it's the story of people and cattle and goats and sheep and horses and dogs and the ways they lived together in tough country, in a sometimes very difficult way of life.
From the pet coon the family raised that eventually left to run off with a big boar coon and live wild, to hard-bucking horses that worked as hard as their riders, to stories of roping pigs and alligators and coyotes and deer, to rattlesnake hunting and practical jokes on college buddies and future brothers-in-law, this set of yarns has enough to keep you turning the pages and grinning.