During the interview process for the “Double Tough” story (p. 22), the subject, Oklahoma cowboy Lee Patterson told me, “I was working in a welding shop and I thought, ‘Man, this ain’t me.’ I took a job cutting hay and driving a tractor just to get back outdoors. I’m just an outside kind of person.”

Chances are, if you’re reading this magazine, you’ve got a similar character trait. I know I do. Four walls, crowds, and traffic make me uncomfortable. While my favorite view of the world is between the ears of a horse, hiking, camping—even driving country roads—brings me peace.

Out of doors, I can relate to the Psalmist when he says, “The mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.”

Regardless of the motivation, the great outdoors holds a siren’s song for many. This issue is dedicated to exploring the many ways we can enjoy creation through the lens of the cowboy. 

Guest ranches (p. 68) are one of the greatest ways to explore the world on horseback. More intimate than National Parks and with more individual guidance, these ranch destinations can be the perfect fit for seeing new parts of the West in a special way. 

Of course, some folks prefer a more independent form of exploration—hunting—along with the moments that only occur in pursuit of prey. Nathan Solheim describes how, for him, hunting is not only about the animal, but about connecting with people (p. 26), while Julie Mankin explores the many ways hunting and ranching overlap (p. 62).

Of course, another way to get away from it all is by hitting the open road. We’ve focused our Travel section (p. 34) on the Lone Star State. If a lover of the cowboy way of life had to be confined to one state, Texas would certainly be on the short list of options, and our various stories and tips can help you enjoy all the best that happens there. 

Riding, hunting, road tripping, and guest ranch vacations are all great ways to enjoy the natural world in which we live—and by doing so, we might just have a chance to experience something supernatural, too. 



photo by Peter Robbins Photography

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American Cowboy is the cultural chronicler of the West, covering history and heritage, travel and events, art and entertainment, food and fashion delivered to your inbox once a month.

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