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Wilfred Ruecker (1917-)


As told in his own words:

I was born “horse crazy” in a farming community near Cornelius, Oregon where my father was the Lutheran Parochial school teacher. My mother’s name was Emilia Kleier and she had been one of his earlier grade school pupils.

My birth date was October 10, 1917. I was the second of six children. In 1925 my father took a job teaching another Lutheran school at Salem, Oregon and that lasted until June of 1930 when the school was closed because of lack of funding.

I delivered papers through all of my high school years and graduated in 1934. By July 1935 I had made it to the ranch country of Central Oregon.

Among the four or five people I worked for there, Sumner Houston must have influenced me the most. He was known as a good rider, horseman and good mare chaser. He tutored me some on the horse breaking.

I guess I hung out my shingle in the spring of 1939 when I rode seven head of Manford Nye’s four to seven year old geldings for a month. “They added some to my education.”

I worked for or with or became acquainted with Mike Mayfield, Harley Mayfield, Pat Rambow, Charley Houston, Roy Ritter and Joe Giles. Claude Bryson was a neighbor.

I Came to Burns, Oregon on July 5th 1939. I hayed at the Island Ranch that summer, where T. Allen Jones was the ranch boss. After haying they put me on the riding crew where Stub Curry was the Buckaroo Boss. That lasted until the cattle were worked and shaped up for the winter. I liked their way of working and handling stock.

I worked for Stub Curry again at the Whitehorse in 1941 and 1942 after he had been sent there as ranch manager.

I was drafted into the army in early April of 1942. I spent three years, seven months and twelve days in the Air Corps, nearly three years in England and several months in Belgium. After my discharge I worked at the Alvord Ranch where Stub was running the ranch operation and the cattle for Jim Pogue. I rode with Nolan Curry, Stub’s father. In the spring of 1947 they sent a calf chute up there to brand calves in. I believe I was the first cowboy in Oregon to quit a job over a calf chute.

I worked the balance of 1947 until March of 1948 at Diamond, Oregon when Paul Stewart hired me to buckaroo his cattle at Whitehorse. That only lasted about nine months.

In February 1949 I went to work for Echave Brothers at Oregon Canyon. I was there eighteen months, and in that time I had started fifteen head of horses. I worked for them again several more years in 1961, 62 and 63. I worked there with Ralph Hurtado. We neighbored with Arch Meyers, Santa Jaca and Charley Maher and his crew from the Whitehorse.

Most of the spring and summer of 1940 I was in the Bakersfield area of California.

When I returned to Central Oregon I was approached by Newt Morris who wanted someone to ride six or seven head of horses he wanted to show the Army horse buyers who were to be in Bend in a couple of weeks. When I left there in March I had started seventeen head of horses.

I spent a month at the ZX Ranch at Paisley before going back to Burns and the Whitehorse Ranch, as mentioned earlier.

I would like to forget 1952 into 1953 when I became involved in a partnership with 250 head of heifers we summered along the Deshutes River. It was May of 1959 when I finished paying off my share of the loss.

I spent nine months at the Crowley Ranch in Barren Valley before going to work for Henry and Charley Otley at Diamond, Oregon. I worked for them a total of five and one half years, in two heats.

In the fall of 1964 Clevon Dixon hired me to ride for him at the MC Ranch at Adel, Oregon. It was still owned by the Kittridge family at that time. While there I also worked with Roy Clark and Ross Dollarhide Sr.

Later that fall Rollin Baker hired me a Buckaroo Boss at the Whitehorse. I was there into May of 1965 when he left and I did too.

I went back to the MC Ranch until December 1966 when Jenkins Ranches at Diamond hired me to look after their cattle in the summer. In the winter months I calved from one to over two hundred heifers a year.

I think Bud Uta, Teddy Jones, Stub Curry and Bob and Louis Hughet were among the best ropers I worked with, and there were other good ones too.

I also worked with several Indians that were good horseman and good cowboys. I know at least five or six girls or women that were sure enough good help around cattle. In the years I was riding I started or finished breaking 150 head of horses. I had worked for Jenkins Ranch at Diamond for thirteen years before coming to Winnemucca, Nevada in 1979 to work for Buzz McDonald.

An Englishman, Melville Whyte, once said, “I can freely state the best of my fun has been with a horse and a hound”.

“I can freely state that the best of my fun has been with a horse and a rope.”

Wilfred Ruecker was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in September of 2000.

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