Being a Cowboy and riding across the barren lands of the United States is one thing, but hunting in England, in what we would describe as the wilds of rural Lincolnshire is quite another. Nathan Brown is a twenty seven year old and every bit the Cowboy that you could imagine. The enthusiasm he has about his vocation in life knows no bounds and it is more than likely he has the experience of someone, possibly twice his age. So when the Burton Hounds met at a deserted Farm Yard on the flat lands below the Lincolnshire Wolds recently, one had to look twice through the crowd to see if this was a proper Cowboy, or some new Subscriber who happened to have longish hair, a beard and a Stetson. Sure enough, this was a real Cowboy and one thing is for certain, there would not have been many of them seen in this part of England before!
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The Burton are well known for their love of good old fashioned hospitality both before and after the chase and this day was no different! Except, the young ladies, and I have to say some of the older ones out on this occasion seemed rather preoccupied. They were totally transfixed on the visitor from afar and were seen swooning around him throughout a very busy and active day. They were definitely not concentrating on the pure form of hunting on this occasion. There was something else on their minds and at tea afterwards it became obvious. They were witnessed jostling for position to get hold of the seat next to their new found friend. Never have we seen such antics in this normally very quiet and placid part of the World!
Born in New Mexico, Nathan is very open about the fact that he was adopted into a livestock farming family who bred Simmental Cattle, and also grew wheat up on the high plains. This he interestingly describes as dry land farming. Very apt as the last two years they have suffered the most dreadful drought conditions, with the vast majority of the crop being wiped out. Sadly Nathan’s father and grandfather died last year so he decided to become a drifter. Interestingly this is not someone who wanders aimlessly from one job to another. These are cowboys who travel throughout the west during the spring and autumn fall, rounding up cattle and attending to all their welfare needs such as inoculating and branding. It is a fascinating journey which takes them from Texas, through the Rockies to Arizona and then on to California. This is not just a nice gentle hack through some of the most stunning scenery in the world, it is sheer hard work and demonstrates the true dedication he and his colleagues have to their duty as a cowboys. Nathan describes this as a lifetime journey, acquiring horsemanship and riding skills and many more besides. For example, shoeing, packing saddles, catching wild cattle and handling them, training horses and the making of the gear they need for their journey such as spurs chaps etc. During the summer months he spends his time riding high up in the mountains with tourists as well as escorting elk hunters.
So many of us who have been involved in hunting in England for some time, may be fascinated to know the first impressions of a real cowboy, who has crossed the Atlantic and been introduced to hunting in England.
Sadly the British and International press have long painted the picture of our activities solely being the preserve of the upper classes, and Nathan was certainly thinking that this was going to be the case. He was also concerned that there was going to be a degree of unfriendliness and ridicule towards him if he was unable to keep up. Cowboys, he told me are very mean to newcomers and are not open to sharing information. One has to learn by using ones skills of observation which we all know are of great importance in any activity, but mixed with a smattering of good humour and kindliness will make all the difference to the new participant. The Burton Hunt, however, scored a victory here. They are well known for being one of the friendliest of our UK Hunts and on this occasion they excelled themselves. Nathan departed for the USA telling me that he had been very pleasantly surprised and people were as nice as can be. The combination of riding in an English saddle, jumping fences for the first time and being able to watch the Huntsman handle the Hounds in such a fascinating way, were all highlights of his trip. Our memory of him, other than charming all the girls, will be of him riding loose reined at full gallop through a keen hunting farmers yard which happened to be full of cattle. One hand was waving in the air and it was at that point we noticed there was something missing and that was his lasso! Could this skill be used as an exemption to the dreaded hunting act of 2005?!