Collecting Firewood Western Style

Collecting Firewood Western Style

A Story by Montana Tom

This will be one of a collection of stories from a true Montana Cowboy, Robin Shipman, known throughout this part of the country as "Shippy".


This will be the first of a collection of stories that really come from a good friend known throughout Montana as “Shippy”. Shippy was born and raised in Ennis, Montana. Even before he was out of high school, at the ripe age of 16, he started cowboying as a source of income and continued with that art all of his life. He is one of the few remaining true cowboys, not the kind that have only ever seen an arena. His experiences and knowledge of the mountains of the Madison Valley, where he ran cattle for years, contribute to the wealth of stories that he recalls from time to time. As well as I might be able to pen the detail of his words the stories will never be as entertaining as hearing them from him with his very own Western twang. I believe they need to be in some sort of print so here goes.


Around September of 1975 Jim Foster and I were driving South down the road from Ennis, Montana, in a pickup truck, to get a load of firewood up the West Fork of the Madison River. We saw a couple of guys walking their bikes along side of the highway that looked like they were well tired of peddling. We stopped and ask them if they would like a lift. They accepted gladly.


It was apparent they were foreigners, of some sort, but could speak English quite well. They said ‘Yes’ to our offer of a lift and loaded their bikes in the back of our truck, jumped up into the back and we all took off down the road. Around nine miles down the road we came to our turn off, the Lyons Bridge at the West Fork Road, which was our route up into the mountains to get firewood. Our biker boys in the back began banging on the back window because we never paused when making the turn to let them off. Jim and I just kept talking acting like we never heard them. We had already conjured up the notion that a little extra help with the firewood might be a pretty good idea. Our pickup had high stake racks on each side so jumping out was not a choice either.


We bounced along the logging road for another two or three miles up the mountain side. When we got to the stack of logs, the biker boys were real pissed, swearing, and having a fit. I told them to calm down, have one of our beers. If they wanted to get back to the road any faster, to help us cut and load up, a load of wood, then we would be on our way sooner rather than later. They sputtered on, drank a beer and eventually did calm down and helped us load the truck with firewood.


The truck was loaded with wood to the top so we hung their bikes on the outside of the stake racks and with all four of us, in the front seat, headed into Ennis. I told them that since they were so good about helping us I would buy them a hamburger at the Grizzly Bar, Oh no, they said, we’re buying the hamburger for you guys, this is a Montana experience we will never forget.

© 2011 Montana Tom

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Montana Tom ... liked your story, glad I never had the chance to ride a bike in Montana! The two fellers should of known better than hook a ride with 2 wood whackers, on the prowl for firewood. Funny story told with experience. One thing about Montana hamburgers, one never has to ask "Where's the beef?" Keep On Keeping On ... CW

Posted 9 Years Ago

A "just right story". Perfectly written and sounds just like a Montana cowboy would tell it. You got it Tommy!!!! I can just hear you saying, "Move on over Chris." Fun site isn't it? Now, next time I suggest hemming and hawing..just do it! I love your comfortable style. By the way...because of your story, A Letter...I looked Cabalas up on line. I was looking for spoon lures and a tour guide told me they had tons of selections to look at on line. I have directions to cut the end of a spoon (I want to use one of mom's silver spoons). Then you drill two tiny holes at either end and attach a tiny round thingy like a key ring, only really little ones that you get at Michael's crafts. Then you attach the fish hook and stuff. I want to make some for Charlie. Soooo I looked up Cabalas and yup...they have a big selection which I looked at to get ideas for painting designs on the back side of the spoon head. So, thanks for writing "The Letter" to Cabalas. Don't stop. We want more from Montana Tom.Neat pictures, too.

Posted 9 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
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Added on January 6, 2011
Last Updated on January 29, 2011
Tags: montana, cowboys, stories


Montana Tom
Montana Tom

Belgrade, MT

Tom has lived in Montana most of his life. Lived and worked in Yellowstone National Park for 5 yrs. Pilots his Cessna 210, enjoys photography, hunting, fishing, woodworking, and surfing the net. Retir.. more..