The Wolfer Cowboy | Dakota Life
Clark Arends is a third-generation Meade County rancher. He’s also the grandson of a 1902 Cowboy.
This June he sat down with Dakota Life to share stories of his grandpa, Garfield Simons. Among the original Meade County settlers, Garfield Simons was a 1902 Cowboy, Wolfer and when the need was urgent – a “dentist.”
“Back at that time, the wolves were the real bad predators, and they killed a lot of cattle and horses and whatever. And there was a bounty on them. And I think that was $50 or something for an adult, Wolf, which at that time was huge. The story is that my granddad and two other men, found a wolf den.
Well, anyway, and he says when we went down the next morning, we saw two big gray wolves outside the dam. And then I had to crawl. I went to crawl into the den, there was a short bend in the hole so I couldn't get through. So, I sent one of the small Carney boys into the hole. He came out scared to death. Is that right? If I read this and he says and he said, “There is an old one in there. The boy was afraid to go back in, so I took a hatchet and cut out the hole so I could crawl back and where the pups were, I took my saddle rope and I put it on around one hind foot of the wolf. She was growling when I was putting it on.”
Wolf and coyote hunting was a pretty big deal with him. He was kind of a what they called a wolfer, but he started out as a cowboy. Have you ever heard of the Cowboys in 1902?
The 1902 deal was what they consider the last big roundup up. It was all open, everything was open. There was no fences and cattle outfits, you branded them and turned them loose and who knows where they went. So, all these cowboys would be hired to round up these cattle and they rounded up from dozens and hundreds of miles and they had their representatives there, and then they would say, Well, that's Joe's calf, that's Carl's calf. When those guys got elderly, they formed an association called the Cowboys of 1902.
Another thing that was very interesting that he did and I'll read you this, “there were no dentists except in Sturgis in Rapid City. So, when anyone had a toothache, they would come to – they called him Gary - and he would pull their teeth. He had a pair of forceps and he pulled teeth. For many who came. He didn't pull the teeth until the pain became unbearable.
Well, I guess they knew how to do it. You don't survive out here unless you know the ropes.”