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Buckaroo Museum, Winnemucca Nevada


Jim Andrae


©photo by Lee Raine (cowboyshowcase.com)

Jim Andrae (1933--)

Jim Andrae was born February 14, 1933 in Mountain City, Nevada. He was delivered by Sam Baker’s wife, who was a mid-wife in the area. His parents were Tuffy and Katie (Zaney) Andrae. He had one brother Jack, who passed away at an early age. Tuffy owned a ranch near the Spanish Ranch in northern Elko County. Jim went to grade school at the Spanish Ranch in a building next to the cook house. He would ride his horse from his dad’s ranch to school.

All Jim ever wanted to do was be a buckaroo. He went to work for the Spanish Ranch to ride broncos in 1949 at age 16. He stated in a recent interview with Mike Laughlin, that it was the excitement and riding tough horses that he was looking for when he hired on there. The Spanish Ranch is a large outfit started by the Altube Bros, who came from California in 1871 to the Independence Valley in northern Nevada. They used the Pitchfork brand on their cattle and horses. The Altube’s also acquired the IL ranch in 1898 and then later sold it to Allied Land and Livestock. Ellison Ranching Co. owned the Spanish Ranch when Jim worked there. Stanley Ellison was the overall manager at the Spanish Ranch and Claude Barkdull was ranch and cattle manager. At that time Jim said the ranch ran close to 10,000 mother cows and about 600 horses.

He got his wish to ride broncos then, as he puts it, saddle them (geldings ranging from 6 or 7 years old) then get on them in the corral, turn them around a time or two and out the gate they went. There were no gooseneck trailers in those days, so by the time they got to the rodeer some 10 to 15 miles away the horses were calmed down and ready to learn something. Back then the cattle were gathered and held in an open group or rodeer with no fences or corrals on the open range. The neighboring ranch’s cattle would be parted out first and held in separate bunches, then each ranch would drive their cattle home the same day. Jim served as the Spanish Ranch representative or ‘rep’ for 5 years at the IL rodeers, parting or sorting out the Ellison Pitchfork cattle, usually 300 to 400 head. He then trailed them home that same day with not much help, only maybe to get them started on the trail. Andrae claimed the horses got rode enough to make good horses out of them instead of riding in a trailer like they do nowadays. Jim said they’d use the ‘two pull’ method of breaking horses. You would pull your cinch tight, pull your hat down and get on. Jim stated on those days with large rodeers, it took quite awhile to sort out all the neighboring ranch’s cattle so they could eventually brand the IL calves. It took most of the day to get done branding the 150-200 calves in the rodeer.

He became well suited to the buckaroo lifestyle that he yearned for as a young kid. The Ellison Ranch raised their own horses. They were half thoroughbred and half quarter horse according to Andrae. He said they were good to catch the smaller and slower wild horses on the desert, able to out run them in no time. The best horses he had seen were started using the Spanish vaquero techniques. Jim never took a hankering to showing horses like his dad did. When Tuffy would go to a horse show somewhere, Jim would go to a rodeo instead and ride broncs. One time Stanely Ellison was going to weigh the steers early one morning. Jim was riding a pretty broncy horse and he told the cowboss that maybe he should stay behind a ways and lope his horse in a circle to air him out a little. The cowboss didn’t think that was a good idea. About then Jim’s horse blew up and bucked down through the middle of the steers, scattering them everywhere. Next time they went to weigh the steers, Ellison sat down by Jim at supper the night before and told him he better ride his personal bridle horse if that bronco was all he had to ride.


Jim running a branding crew, holding a vaccine gun.

The open ranges were fenced in large fields by the BLM in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Jim claimed they were suppose to regulate the cattle and make it easier to manage the range. But, as far as he was concerned the fences created too many corners for cattle to gang up in instead of flowing naturally to forage and graze. The wild horses were abundant then too, Ellison hired pilot Len Shepard to fly and roundup the excess horses. Ellison told Shepard and his buckaroos to get everyone, because it they left any out on the range, the BLM would figure on providing grazing for them in the future. In the 1980’s, Jim helped run the wild horses in the Dry Creek area. They caught over 300 head, and the ranch kept 13 stud colts out of that gather to use as saddle horses. He said not one of them turned out or amounted to anything. One time Jim and his crew roped 40 head of wild horses, which he said, that was the easy part, loading them was the hard part, but the action made it exciting.

Jim married Sharon Smith in 1956. She was the daughter of Allied Land and Livestock ranch Superintendent, Charlie Smith. Smith encouraged Jim to come work at the IL. In 1957 Jim began working for the IL Ranch in northern Elko County. At that time the IL was owned by Allied Land and Livestock, who purchased it in the 1930’s. They also had holdings in southern Oregon at the Roaring Springs Ranch near the Steens Mt. They were one of the largest cow outfits going. In 1968 the IL had 9,200 cattle and 16,000 sheep. It was started in 1871 by a mining and railroad man named Isaac Laurence Requa. He recorded the IL brand which was from the first letters in his name. They also used the Lazy SL brand. Jim buckarooed there many years and became the ranch manager later on. The IL covers 1,300,000 acres and has 151,000 deeded acres located about 75 miles from Elko, NV. The headquarters is on the So. Fork Owyhee River. It was 35 miles to its eastern border and 55 miles to its western border from the headquarters. There is 351 miles of fences on the IL ranch. Jim was the buckaroo boss at the IL for 7 years.

After the birth of their son Rick in 1965, Jim and Sharon moved to Smith Valley, Nevada where he worked in ranching in the early 1970’s. They made the move so they would be closer to school. He then worked two years for the John Asquaga Ranch at Jack’s Valley, Nevada before leaving there in the late 1970’s. He hired on as the cattle manager at the T Lazy S ranch near Battle Mt. Nevada for Agri-Beef. Then, in the early 1980’s he returned to the IL Ranch and was ranch manager there until he left in 2006. Jim and Sharon moved to Elko area after over 22 years as manager at the IL.

Jim says the ranch and buckaroo life has been the best life. It is the people around you in ranching that makes it so unique. He worked with a lot of good hands over the years and remembers Lolo Munoz and Albino Taos two Mexican vaqueros (both inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame) He said they would use 75 to 90 ft. rawhide riatas and always catch what they were trying to rope with ease.

Andrae retired from buckarooing and now works as a brand inspector in Elko County, NV.

Jim Andrae was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in 2014


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