Cattle rustling: The tradition lives on

Don’t think cattle rustling is something that just happened in the “old days.”

Last week a Colorado rancher suspected of “violating state cattle branding statutes” turned himself into authorities.

Monty Luke Pilgrim, 51, of Little Snake River, is suspected of being in possession of 36 cows and 31 calves belonging to nine different owners.

He is also suspected of misbranding calves as his own.

Authorities estimated the value of the stray cows and calves at $68,000, according to an arrest affidavit filed last week in Moffat County, Colo.

The only difference between today and 125 years ago is that in 1886 Pilgrim would have been strung up from the nearest tree in near-record time.

That said, having personally spent a bit of time in Moffat County, which is in the far Northwest corner of Colorado, Pilgrim may have turned himself in because he knew if he didn’t he was likely to get strung up. Folks in those parts don’t particularly cotton to cattle rustlers.

Pilgrim was booked into jail on suspicion of theft, a Class 3 felony; theft of certain animals, a Class 4 felony; wrongful branding, a Class 6 felony; and “concealing estrays,” a Class 6 felony, according to the Craig (Colo.) Daily Press.

All that’s a fancy way of saying cattle rustling, one supposes.

The warrant followed a joint investigation by sheriff’s office deputies and an inspector from the Department of Agriculture’s Brand Inspection Division.

According to the affidavit, Lonnie Hedges, of Little Snake River, was hunting prairie dogs July 22 near Moffat County Road 110 when he noticed a cow with his brand among a herd of cattle belonging to Pilgrim.

Hedges contacted Colorado Brand Inspector Brad Ocker that day.

Ocker, with the assistance of Sgt. Cortland Folks and deputy Gary Nichols, of the sheriff’s office, began investigating July 27, the Daily Press reported.

On July 28 and 29, authorities assisted Pilgrim in rounding up cattle at three pastures and separating strays.

Of 831 cattle, authorities reported Pilgrim was in possession of 67 cows and calves allegedly belonging to other area ranchers.


2 thoughts on “Cattle rustling: The tradition lives on

  1. Whoever wrote this article seems to forget that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. What this article didn’t say was that all these ranchers ran their cattle on the same ground and that Mr. Pilgrims himself is short about 50 cattle, and that he and the “man” accusing him have never gotten along. I am surprised that a newspaper would allow such a biased article in their paper.

    • I believe that its more than one man accusing Mr. Pilgrim as several different ranchers have stock that have been recovered. I know the area very well and I suppose its very possible that stock can get mixed up. Most of the area ranchers are very good about working with their neighbors. I believe another charge in this case involves the rebranding of cattle. That isn’t stock simply straying, that is the definition of rustling.

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