This week’s excerpt continues the profile of Chub’s life on the run living under the assumed name of Jack Evert in Montana. I have drawn from both audio taped and video taped conversations I had with him as well as interviews with people he knew there.
Chub’s first weeks were spent in an older motel on the edge of town- he needed a job and soon he heard about some work in the high country town of Alder which was about forty miles west and straight up. In the spring the area cattlemen band together and lease large portions of government owned land for grazing. They form associations with names like Three Forks, Warm Spring and Black Butt. Together they drive herds of cattle into the mountain valleys and leave them for the summer- usually with just one hired hand watching over them. That man covers a vast area on horseback trying to keep track of hundreds of cattle; doctoring, guarding the calves and generally trying to keep the herd safe from the many hazards of this wide open country.
For Chub the solitude and privacy of the mountains was exactly what he was looking for during his first few summers in Alder and the hard work suited him just fine. There are many dangers for cattle in these mountains including porcupines which are numerous and are especially dangerous for young calves that sniff the slow moving rodents out of curiosity and end up with a nose full of potentially deadly quills. The babies then try to nurse their mothers and end up sticking the quills into their milk bags. The mothers won’t let the babies eat and the next thing you know the cowboy has two sick animals, one of whom weighs at least 1,000 pounds and has to be roped and tied down without the benefit of any pens. Ranchers were always looking for a widower or hermit-type person and when they found a person with “Jack Evert’s” skills not many questions were asked.