Sometimes it is really fun to try something new. Roping gophers turned out to be one of those times. Actually I never roped a gopher but on a couple occasions I snared one by looping a noose made with fishing line over a gopher hole. When the gopher stuck his head out, I yanked the noose tight around its neck. That’s when things would get exciting because my fishing line was still on my fishing pole. Talk about fighting a big fish on a twenty pound test line with a fly rod; well, try fighting an angry gopher with the same setup. This turned out to be as much fun as catching fish so when the fish weren’t biting and you got bored then gopher fishing turned out to be a great distraction. There was one drawback to gopher fishing though. Eventually the gopher would wise up and go down his hole. There was no way you could drag a determined gopher back out of his hole with light fishing line so you had to either cut the line or break it and lose up to twenty feet of good fishing line in the process.
Now this particular story I want to tell isn’t exactly about roping gophers. Nope, it’s actually about using a real lariat to rope a rock marmot. My good friend BJ took me and another guy who was nicknamed Squirrely up west of Dupuyer to fish on a little creek up along the Rocky Mountain Front. Along about noon we got tired of fishing and went poking around an old abandoned ranch. There wasn’t much interesting unless you liked peeking in the windows of the old ranch house or walking in horse shit through the corrals and the old barn.
What was interesting though was the place was crawling with rock marmots. Just so you know, rock marmots are about four times bigger than gophers and about twice as smart. BJ had some old lariat ropes in the back of his pickup since he liked to team rope steers. I really don’t remember if Squirrely roped steers or not but with a nickname like Squirrely, who knows. Anyway we tried to snare some of those rock marmots but they were too smart for that. I believe that’s when Squirrelly suggested trying to rope them. BJ figured this might work since those marmots tended to run and weren’t much interested in staying in their holes.
We started chasing those big old rock marmots around while twirling our lariats over our heads. All three of us just missed lassoing one of them quite a few times. Marmots are sneaky little critters though and can twist and turn faster than steers so we couldn’t quite catch them. Roping has never been my strong suit anyway so I probably would have been a piss poor cowboy. I have probably roped more things by accident than on purpose but I am persistent. I devised a plan. BJ and Squirrely ran a big marmot around the ranch house and I waited around a corner. When that marmot ran around the corner I dropped the loop over his head and caught him slick as a whistle.
Now I had a marmot on a rope but he didn’t pull like a steer or a calf does. No sir. He ran right at me. I had to run faster to keep the loop tight around his neck or he would get away. I sure didn’t want him to get away because I could tell he was really pissed about getting roped and there’s no telling what a pissed off rock marmot will do to an idiot cowboy wantabe. BJ tried heeling him a few times but little short marmot legs are tough to catch. Finally I ran under the old clothes line while looping my rope over the top of the clothes line. I kept running until the rope pulled the marmot up off the ground. By now the loop had worked down under his front legs so he was just hanging up there in the air with a rope around his chest. Now that folks is the way to rope a marmot.
The tricky part was getting the rope back off of him. He was plenty riled up and riled up rock marmots are scary as heck. We kept him swinging until he calmed down and promised not to kill us if we let him go. Then I lowered him down until his feet touched the ground. That of course loosened up the loop around his chest and ZIP, just like that he was running free. The problem was he ran straight at me!
I know you will believe that this is a true story. After all, what kind of an idiot could make up a story like this. Oh, by the way, I don’t recommend lassoing rock marmots. They tend to get really angry and angry rock marmots don’t keep promises. I am just lucky the pickup truck was close enough so I could escape by jumping into the back end. He kept me in the back of the pickup until I promised to never lasso rock marmots again.
You ever see the teeth those little buggers have?