Goodbye to Buddie Stockwell
We were sorry to hear about longtime mule skinner Buddie Stockwell. We appreciate all the work that Buddy put into mules in Colorado with the Rocky Mountain Longears Association. Here is one of my favorite stories about Buddy.
In the fall of 1984, Loveland, Colorado muleskinner Buddie Stockwell and horseshoer Jerry Banks, along with a few friends, decided to make a hunting trip into the Rocky Mountains. Packing in, the weather was beautiful with warm temperatures, calm breeze, and nary a hint of what was to come. After setting up camp and tending to their horses and mules, the hunters went about the business of tracking elk. Hunting was good, but after a few days, one evening brought with it an unpredictable storm of incredible severity. The hunters awoke the following morning to find their camp buried in four feet or more of snow, and with no chance of the storm lifting.
Quickly, the hunters packed up what they could on the horses and mules; tents and a lot of gear had to be left behind since time was of the essence. As they left the campsite, snow deepened and the terrain underneath was steep, rocky, and treacherous. They had only gone a short distance when the snow became so deep, and the terrain so hazardous that the horses refused to go one step farther–the horses would not blaze the trail out! Anxiety was high and the hunters were fearful of never making if off the mountain.
In the face of great danger, Buddie asked his trusted mule, Goliath, to break trail for the others, and with slow, careful, deliberate steps, Goliath led them all safely down the mountain to their trucks and trailers, which were also buried in snow. In bitter cold, they freed the vehicles, loaded them up, and made their way back to the lowlands to safety. The storms on the mountain worsened, and it was spring before Jerry and Buddie could return for the rest of their gear–but both men and their friends were grateful to Goliath for leading them down the mountain to safety.