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Buckaroo Museum, Winnemucca Nevada

Bob Maupin

George Robert ‘Bob’ Maupin (1915-1993)

George Robert ‘Bob’ Maupin was born March 15, 1915, to Virgil and Edna (Linebarger) Maupin in the little town of Ola, Idaho. He spent much of his early years in the Owyhee country on a homestead that is now covered by the Owyhee Reservoir and the Owyhee Breaks. Many days included tagging along with his father Virgil, Uncle Perry Maupin, cousins Phil and Sam Maupin, and Uncle Ben Franks. This is where a lot of beginning horsemanship skills were learned. His mother died in childbirth when he was only 10 years old, and Bob rode 10 miles in the dark to bring back the doctor. He then helped his father build road from Vale, Oregon to Crowley with a team of horses. His father also drove a 16 horse team (sometimes 32) pulling freight wagon from Vale to Burns, Oregon, and Bob was one of the ‘crew’ members. Virgil was touted as driving in one end of the Round Barn (once owned by Pete French near Diamond, Oregon) with a team of 32 horses . . . as the lead came out of the barn, the end horses and wagon were just going in. Bob started out early in life being around horses, becoming an expert teamster and later a highly respected buckaroo.

His riding skills may have begun when Bob’s sisters tied him onto a steer when he was very young, and he had to ride for quite a long time! When he was a teenager, he started colts and did quite a lot of haying with horse drawn equipment for many ranchers in the Diamond Valley area. Charlie Otley remembered him riding his bucking wrangle horse through the camp of tents full of workers first thing in the morning, scattering tents and workers alike. He had quite a fun sense of humor and probably wasn’t very popular with the older guys during these times. One crew member stated that, ‘We have to get that kid out of here! If you’re in front of him, he’ll run over you and if you’re behind him, he’ll catch up with you and run over you!’ He was referring to the horse drawn mowers. Bob was good enough with horses, even at that age, that he was usually assigned the young, inexperienced set of teams, so no one knew what was going to happen from day to day.

In 1935, Bob took a job with Tom and Bob Dowell in the Crowley area. This is where he met his future wife, Tom and Bob’s sister, Mary. Bob Maupin and the rest of the crew’s job was to break horses and also bring in wild horses off the range. It wasn’t uncommon for them to ride one horse part of the day, and when that one became tired they would rope a wild one, tie it down until they could get a saddle and rider on it, and then be on their way again. They had an inventory of 1,000 head of horses, give or take a few hundred, which they broke to ride and be team horses. They would then trail the horses from Crowley to Vale where they were sold and loaded on the train. Some of the local ladies in Vale who had their clothes hanging on the line to dry, were understandably not very impressed with these trail drives. Bob said, ‘It was quite a site, those horses going through those ladies’ yards!’ Owner Bob Dowell once said that Bob Maupin was the only man he knew that could ride whatever horse he (Bob Dowell) could, and that was quite a statement.

Right: Bob’s favorite horse of all time, “Tony”, raised by the Dowell Brothers

Mike Acton, owner of Pine Creek and Robbins Ranches, in Drewsey, Oregon, hired Bob in 1948 when he was married with a family of four. Bob started out as an irrigator. Every morning, he would saddle up, grab a shovel and ride through the meadows scattering water. One local rancher held a small ‘rodeo’ each week during the summer. Mike finally convinced Bob to ride a bronc one day, just for fun. He was noted as saying, “And THAT, boys, is my irrigator!” This was after Bob put on quite a ride, showing everyone that he did, in fact, know how to ride. Bob taught ‘young tenderfoots’ Don Toelle and Louis Armstrong many things while they were all working for Acton. After Mike Acton sold the ranches, Bob stayed for many years working for the new owners of Pine Creek Ranch under Manager Eldon ‘Pug’ Catterson.

In the early 1960s, when Lawrence ‘Coon’ Miller was the Manager of the Whitehorse Ranch in Fields, Oregon, Bob was the Buckaroo Boss. Some of his buckaroos were Walt Fisher, Bill Sherer and Bob’s son, John Maupin. If he really needed more good hands, he would make the trip to McDermitt, Nevada and bring back some of George Able’s Indian boys. Glenn Abel and Archie Horn were among his favorites. Bob’s son John worked side by side with him and became as good a hand as Bob. Sometimes Bob would ride alongside his crew members holding them on a bucking horse saying, ‘Now don’t you fall off!’, much like his father and uncle had done for him when he was a youngster. Bob’s wife Mary was also part of the crew. Summer months found them starting early in the morning from camp, loading up the pack horse with lunch and branding irons. They would brand calves holding rodeer the old fashioned way with no fences. Then they would ride back home, no horse trailers involved. The Echave boys from the Oregon End Ranch, Jack and Lois Stoddart and the Sherburn families were all ‘local’ neighbors that would sometimes help at brandings. These ‘locals’ were all from many miles away.

In 1965, Bob went back to Pine Creek Ranch, this time as the Ranch Manager. Bob enjoyed being able to once again ride with neighbor and very good friend, Francis Miller. As manager, Bob did everything his hired men did. He would buckaroo, pack a shovel, build fence, put up hay and anything else that needed to be done. To this day, his grandkids quote Bob as saying, “Whatever the job, be it big or small, do it well, or not at all.” After a long day in the hayfield, Bob would saddle up whatever horse he had entered in the Harney County Stockhorse Futurity and would ‘practice’ using the neighbor’s cows who would be in the lane next to his house coming home from summer range. He would train the horses all year long when he was buckarooing, but this gave him a chance to work his horses some more and he just couldn’t pass it up, much to the poor cow’s dismay. He brought home several trophies over the years from the Harney County Fair. One particular ‘bone of contention’ was that he always seemed to beat one of his long-time friends Eldon Catterson. Every year Eldon would swear it wasn’t going to happen again, but then it would, and they would start the competition all over the next year.

One of Bob’s last jobs was as Buckaroo Boss for Roaring Springs Ranch. This was in the late 1960’s when Allied Land and Livestock owned the ranch. Once again, he worked for Manager Lawrence Miller. At that time, Roaring Springs’ cow count was around 5,000 head. He covered a lot of country from the Steens Mountain, the P Ranch in Frenchglen to the Kueny Ranch in Fields all while living at Three Mile Creek near the ranch headquarters in Catlow Valley. His duties included moving cows, branding, sorting, checking allotments and water holes, keeping the crew busy and in line, and many hours spent in the saddle, all things that a good buckaroo boss does.

1984 - Bob’s grandson Jeff Maupin (left), Bob (center),
Bob’s grandson Shawn Mace (right)

In his retirement, until he died in 1993, Bob passed down his knowledge to his grandchildren, the next generation of buckaroos. He spent years along side his grandkids riding horse-back on the high desert teaching them to start colts, rope calves, work cows and most of all to have fun. “Gramp” as his grandkids called him, was quick with a smile and always ready to tell a story. One of the last colts that Bob helped start is now 29 years old (2014). This old, palomino horse is helping show Bob’s great-grandchildren, whom he never met, horsemanship as it was in the early 1900s.

1987-Bob on “Bamberry” at the Mule Ranch in Anderson Valley

Bob’s lifetime occupation afforded him the opportunity to make many well-rounded stock horses, and more than one person noted that he seemed to have a ‘way’ with horses, truly loving them and proving that he was a true buckaroo in every sense of the word. Many years in the saddle while riding in the Owyhee Country, Crowley, Alvord Desert, Whitehorse Mountain, Drewsey and the Malheur Forest made him one of the best.

Bob Maupin was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in 2014.



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