RANGE magazine
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Waddie Mitchell, Nevada Buckaroo

Words & Photo by C.J. Hadley.

A buckaroo since he was a kid, Waddie Mitchell understands how to work and play on the high dry country of northeastern Nevada. He's managed a 36,000-acre ranch, can braid rawhide into reins, break a colt, doctor cattle, and live in a line shack with a wife and five children in the loneliest parts of America. "All my kids are girls except for four of them."

In 1985 he helped start the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev. "We entertained each other around the campfire out on the desert," he says. "We were desperate but I didn't think anyone else would want to hear it."

He learned about poetry from old-time cowboys who would tell stories set to rhyme. He learned well and for more than a decade has entertained folks in Martha's Vineyard, Carnegie Hall, The White House, and on the Johnny Carson Show. He's recited with black-tie philharmonic orchestras and in saloons you wouldn't want to hear about. Without a phony or mean bone in his body, he can charm a snake out of a canyon. And he's real.

His goal is to buy a ranch of his own, "so I can go broke on a ranch by myself instead of helping someone else to do it!"

C.J. Hadley is editor of RANGE. The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is held the last weekend in January in Elko, Nev. Call 888-880-5885 for information. Waddie is often featured.

Winter 2004 Contents

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