Winner of the National Cowboy Symposium Working Cowboy Award
and the Mormon Letter Fiction Award.


Published in 1995, The Last Buckaroo has been out of print since 1997.
We would like to express our thanks to the many friends that have helped
in bringing this Classic Western Novel
back to the shelf and to all those dedicated to preserving our Western Heritage. RWS/MH/CH

Told through the persona of narrator Tap McCoy, a renegade, drifter, loner, and well-seasoned cowboy we experience Tap's happen chance meeting with Dean McCuen, a young drugstore cowboy from back east. While Tap just wants a ride out of town, Dean believes he has found a sidekick and mentor. What follows between Tap and the tag-a-long greenhorn is a rousin', ramblin' tale of their exploits as they ride, rope, brand, and herd their way through ranches, pack stations and feedlots all over the West. It's also a tale of camaraderie and carousing as the two get thrown from their horses, tossed in jail, save lives, see deaths, fight cowboys, and light up the pages with their escapades. Mackey's unvarnished prose and salty style delight us with the life of a fading tradition. Publishers' Weekly said of Mackey, "a buckaroo himself," he spins a colorful yarn about 20th-century cowboys reminiscent of The Rounders." The novel stands on its own as a classic and unique story of an American way of life honoring the Western Lifestyle.

Last Buckaroo has been honored as a Winner of the National Cowboy Symposium Working Cowboy Award and the Mormon Letter Fiction Award.

Most Cowboy stories are written by "western writers." Less commonly you will find cowboy stories written by a literate cowboy. Big difference." - Baxter Black, Cowboy poet and author of the novel, Hey, Cowboy, Wanna get Lucky?

  Mackey Hedges - The Journey 

In the spring of 1990, while working for the Howard Ranch in northeaster Nevada, I got bucked off breaking my back and pelvis. A few weeks into my recovery, the doctor came into my room and told me that there was a good chance that I might never ride again. The Workman's Compensation Insurance people sent over a list of jobs that they felt I could be retrained to handle. The list contained jobs with titles like "computer programmer, fast food restaurant manager, refrigerator repairman, etc."

Needless to say, this didn't do a whole lot to raise my spirits. At 48 years of age and having never made a dollar in my life (excluding the 4 years spent in the Marine Corps) that was not either directly or indirectly related to a cow or horse, I saw my prospects for leading what I considered a "normal" life fading fast.

By the time I was released from the hospital and sent home I was deeply depressed. I was still confined to my bed and had nothing to do all day but lie there feeling sorry for myself. Even though I can't remember seriously contemplating suicide, I do remember thinking that my family and the world in general would be a lot better off if I was gone.

About that same time, my wife had been doing a lot of writing for the Western Horseman as well as a couple of women's magazines so she moved her computer into my bedroom and suggested that I write down some of the stories that all cowboys have about the wrecks they've had or heard about. She said it would make good reading for our three boys when they got older. In truth, she was trying to help me to stop feeling sorry for myself and to take my mind off my present condition.

With no effort at all I came up with fifteen or twenty little incidents that I put down on paper. Then one day after re-reading what I had written I said to myself, "Hell, the kids aren't going to want to read this stuff!" So, I decided to combine all of them into one story with just two main characters.

Doing that took a lot more time than writing about the various bucking horse rides, barroom fights and unusual wrecks. But, I was lucky. My good friend Russell McCoy from the neighboring Owyhee Reservation was also working on the ranch. I would write all day and at night Russell would read back to me what I had written. Then we would discuss how it sounded, make changes and come up with ideas on where I should go with it the next day. By the time I could walk again without help I had finished the story that I called "The Slick Fork Saddle."

Parts of it were typed on a computer, some of it was written in long hand and other parts were written using a standard typewriter. There were hundreds of misspelled words, lots of grammatical and punctuation errors and there were food stains on many of the pages. But it was done and ready to be put away for my boys to read when they got older and wanted to know what it was like to have been a drifting cowboy when there ol' daddy was young.

I feel that at this point I also have to add a little something in here about religion and my own personal spiritual beliefs. I have never met a buckaroo or cowboy that did not believe in some form of a Supreme Being. It's just to difficult to live your life outside seeing so many miracles of nature and the way the whole universe is organized to ignore it or believe that it could have simply happened by chance. Granted, some of our ideas are a little twisted and don't necessarily follow the traditional views of organized religion but I believe that nearly all cowboys feel that there is some outside force that has control over their lives.

Years before my wreck I use to joke with people when they would ask me what I believed for a religion. I would say, "I'm not real sure, I got a father that goes around talking to trees and rocks and thanking deer for feeding his family after he shoots them. I got a Catholic mother that prays to plastic statues and I got a wife that believes there's a phone line between Heaven and Salt Lake City, Utah"

Anyway, one night I hobbled down to the corral to see my horses. There wasn't much of a moon and there were thousands of stars in the sky when I looked up. I'm not sure what prompted me at that particular moment but as I stood there staring at the sky I said out loud, "I'll make a deal with You, God. Fix it so I can ride again and I promise You, I'll never complain about it being too cold or too hot and I'll never take a job that keeps me from being horseback."

I'm not sure if that prayer had anything to do with it or if it was just a coincidence but in any event from the next day on I seemed to get better and better. A week later I was able to sneak a ride on one of my kids' horses and within a month I was riding full time. The doctors couldn't believe it and frankly neither can I.

So much for the sermon, now let's get back to "Last Buckaroo."

The next spring the famous western sculptor Jeff Wolf came out to the ranch for a week to ride with us and take pictures to use with his artwork. One night after supper, he asked my wife if she had anything to read. She gave him the original copy of "The Slick Fork Saddle" and he headed back to the bunkhouse.

Up to that time Russell McCoy and my family were the only ones that had read the book.

The next morning Jeff came to the breakfast table all red eyed and sleepy. He said he had been up all night reading the rough draft. Then he said, "I'll make a deal with you. Let me take this home and get some one to clean it up and correct the spelling and grammar in it. Then I'll give a copy to anyone that buys any of my art that cost them more than $5,000."

I said that he was welcome to take it but asked what I got out of this "deal". Jeff said, "You get your work proof read and copied over in a nice neat format. You'll also get it into the hands of people with money. You never can tell where it will go from there." I couldn't see where that was any great bargain for me but I couldn't see where it would hurt anything either so I agreed.

Over the next year or so a few people that Jeff had sold his work to called wanting copies of the book. Of course I couldn't give them any but it got me to thinking that maybe there might be a market for the book if it could be played on a cassette. Keep in mind that CDs weren't invented at that time.

A year or so earlier, before he moved to Colorado, Baxter Black had been the vet for the J. R. Simplot Company and one of their ranches bordered us. I had met Baxter once or twice when he was out preg testing and working the Simplot Cattle. I got his address from a mutual friend and sent him a copy asking if he would be interested in narrating it and putting the book on tape.

A week or so later I got a call from "Doc. Black." He said that he was too busy to do any recording but that he liked it and suggested that I make an attempt to get it published. As near as I remember it, he then said, "Do you know what you've done?" Before I could answer he went on to say, "You've captured in print a history of the cowboy way of life that is fast fading. I don't think there's another contemporary western novel out there like this one. I'm going to send it back to you along with a letter of introduction to Gibbs Smith Publishing in Utah."

A couple of more years went by and the Howard Ranch sold to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. All of us that were working there lost our jobs and were forced to look for work elsewhere. Needless to say the purchase of the ranch and the subsequent loss of my job in addition to the fact that I was forced to sell the little bunch of cattle that my family and I were in the process of putting together, left a pretty bitter taste in my mouth as far as the environmental movement was concerned.

However, fate is a strange bed partner. I ended up going to work for the Deseret Land and Livestock Company near Woodruff, Utah. One day while driving down the freeway on our way to go shopping in Salt Lake City, I noticed a freeway exit sign that read "Layton ½ mile"

I asked my wife it that wasn't the name of the town where Baxter had said that Gibbs Smith Publishing was located. She said she believed it was so we pulled off the freeway and found a phone booth with a directory in it. We looked it up and sure enough we were only a few miles from their office.

As luck would have it, (and it was darn sure luck) we just happen to have her brief case in the trunk. And, believe it or not, a copy of the cleaned up manuscript as well as Baxter Black's letter were in the little case!

This looked like too much of a coincidence to not follow up on so we drove to the address that we had found in the phone book. When we got there a pretty, well dressed, receptionist met us at the door. She was extremely polite and cordial when she asked if she could help us.

As soon as I told her I had written a book and wanted to see someone about getting it published her whole demeanor changed and you could almost hear her say, "Yea, you and 200 others today." Although, in all honesty that is not what she said. She politely directed me down the hall to an office where I met Gale Yngve, the lady that became a close friend and my editor.

Gale asked a few questions about the book and then asked if anyone of any importance had read it. I said, "You Bet!"

She then asked "Who?" to which I quickly answered "Kent Howard." She wanted to know who Kent Howard was. I told her that he was the President of the Nevada Cattlemen's Association and The 1990 Nevada Cattleman of The Year. I could tell she wasn't impressed so I told her that Raymond Yowell had also read it and liked it.

The look on her face almost screamed "Who the Hell is Raymond Yowell?" so before she could voice the question, I explained that Raymond was the head of the Western Shoshone Sacred Land Council.

At that point she put both hands on the edge of her desk and very sweetly and quietly asked, "Has any one with any literary credentials read your book?" At that point, I laid the letter from Baxter down on the same desk that her fingers were now digging groves into as they turned white.

Well,……..Like they say, "It's not what you know. It's who you know." Everyone in the place threw their prayer cloths down on the floor, faced Colorado and started bowing and paying homage to "Baxter, The God of Western Heritage."

Two weeks later I had a contract, three months later the book came out in print. By fall it had won the National Cowboy Symposium's Tom Blasengame Award for Literature, The Society of Mormon Letters Best Fiction of The Year, was nominated and was first runner up for the Association of Western Artist and Entertainer's Will Rogers Award for Literature and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame's Medicine Feather Award for first time authors. Allan Sacks Production in Hollywood acquired the movie rights and my family and I were driven or flown to receptions from Wyoming to Texas. I was on television a half a dozen times, interviewed by more news papers than I can remember and asked to endorse three or four other western books. Movie and television actor Wilfred Brimley stopped by the house and picked up a copy of the book and actor Lee Horsley called to tell me how much he had enjoyed reading it. A year or so later after Allan Sacks Productions had lost their option on the movie rights Luke Perry and Thomas Carter Productions picked them up. However, the greatest reward of all was that I got to meet hundreds of wonderful people and made friends that are still close to me even now.

It was a real Ego Trip for a poor dumb Nevada buckaroo that no one had even known was alive a year earlier!

Sometime around the year of 2000 Gibbs Smith Publishing decided to stop printing the book and I got the publishing rights back. As soon as it went out of print the existing books began to appear on the Internet for sale. At first the prices were fairly reasonable $35-$40 for hard backs and $20 to $30 for paper backs. Then something happened that I still don't completely understand. The book developed a sort of "cult" type following and the prices began to rise. First edition, hardback copies in mint condition sold for over $600. Even today books in poor to average condition sell for over $100 a copy with paperbacks selling regularly for $45-$85.

A few years ago Mr. Robert Sigman, the past President of Republic Films called to say that he had been given a copy of the book by a friend and wanted to know if the publishing rights were available. I told him that I had gotten them back, but had no idea what to do now that I had them.

That was the beginning of a great friendship. Bob has been working with me ever since that first call. He has worked tirelessly to get the book back into print, encouraged me to begin a sequel and is using his many connections to get the book made into a movie.

As I said earlier, the greatest reward I've gotten from writing Last Buckaroo has been the many kind and generous people that I've met and Bob Sigman ranks right up there at the top of the list.

One of the other fantastic people that the book helped me to become acquainted with was the late Joelle Smith. A mutual friend gave Joelle a copy of the book several years ago and she fell in love with it. In 1999 she called to tell me how much she enjoyed it and made a trip to Utah spending three or four days riding and branding with us. Later one of her more popular paintings, I believe it's called "Waitin' in The Shade" came out. It's a painting of my youngest son Sam, waiting in the shade of his horse for his turn to rope at the branding.

When Bob called to say that he had negotiated with Joelle's mother to use some of her art work in the new addition of the book I was speechless. It was a dream that Joelle and I had discussed several times over the years. My greatest regret is that she is no longer with us to see our dream as a reality.

When Joelle passed away the world lost one of the truly great western artists but for those of us who knew her, we lost a true friend and a wonderful, generous person.

In closing I want to say that I hope that those of you that are reading Last Buckaroo for the first time enjoy it as much as those of us who lived it enjoyed making the memories that it captures.

Thanks and Happy Trails,

Mackey Hedges
Coyote Creek Ranch

Imlay, Nevada

Last Buckaroo
"A Story that Needed Retelling" - Sigman Version

For me, Waylon Jennings said it best. "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys."

For as long as I can remember I have had a fascination with and deep admiration for those who have lived the true cowboy life and for the impossible-to-fake commitment they have to their fast-fading craft.

When it comes to the real deal cowboys, I think the old adage rings true…it takes one to know one. That is why I was excited when, in 1999, my good friend "Cowboy" Larry Maurice contacted me to tell me about Mac Hedges and Last Buckaroo. The book and the man behind it, he said, represented a true testimonial to the Cowboy Ideal. He was sure I would love it.

The only problem was that the book had already been out of print for four years, and it took me a while to find a copy. Once I did, it only took me a few pages to realize that Larry was absolutely right. I loved it! I loved it so much, in fact, that as soon as I finished, I contacted Mac Hedges to tell him so.

The phone call was the beginning of a correspondence that led to our 2003 meeting. Since that time I have spent a lot of time talking with Mac and his wife Candi. And, I should say, listening to him as well. Mac is a truly great storyteller, and I found myself often hanging on his every word, just as I think you will do with this book.

Mac and his family live in Winnemucca, Nevada. No one has ever told Mac about retirement, and at sixty plus years he is still ridin' and ropin' as a buckaroo for the Coyote Creek Ranch. He works l o n g days doing what he loves, surrounded by a wonderful family great friends and loyal stock amid the mountains, plains and valleys that fit him like his most comfortable boots.

Last Buckaroo, by Mackey Hedges was published in 1995 by Gibbs Smith, an independent publisher of many Western novels, art and educational textbooks. The option to reprint was not exercised and the rights reverted to Mac in 1997.

So why reprint the book now? That's simple. My life has been enriched by this story and by the man who crafted it, and I want others to have that same experience. This is a labor of love meant to honor a quintessentially American way of life and a man who truly embodies the cowboy ideal.

And speaking of honoring…we have changed the book's cover to become a tribute to one of America's greatest Western artists and sweethearts, Joelle Smith. A few years back, Joelle left this world far too early, at the age of 47. She was a big fan of Mac and of his book and had offered the use of her gorgeous piece Riata Man as cover art in the event the book was ever reprinted. We decided to take her up on her offer and share her legacy with all those who come in contact with this book. When I contacted Joelle's mother to tell her we'd like to do this, she was touched, and mentioned that we might be interested in an additional collection of prints for use throughout the chapters.

We are delighted to be able to share those with you as well and to provide you with a further window into her extraordinary talent and passion for Western life. I hope you enjoy Last Buckaroo. At the end, you'll find a few pages of Mac's next book, "Shadow of the Wind," which we hope to have in print by early spring.

We invite you to visit our website, and share your comments and reviews. City Slickers and Western Dudes - all invited!

Thanks for your interest in this extraordinary project and in the ways of the West. It's always great to have good friends riding shotgun.

Bob Sigman

Bob Sigman has a solid management track record in the Corporate World with high profile and diverse companies as Bristol Myers, Worldvision Home Video, Republic Pictures, and the America One TV Network. He served his corporate tenure between New York and Los Angeles, but now calls, Charlottesville, Virginia "home." As a consultant, Bob assists corporations and individuals to develop their strategic plans towards helping them realize their sales and marketing objectives.

As President and CEO of Republic Pictures, Bob's position brought him back in touch with many of his childhood heroes, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and many of the "Cowboy" legendary actors and actresses that graced the silver screen of Republic films. Through his "extended" Western Family, Bob met Mackey Hedges and has become a dedicated fan for Last Buckaroo. He, Mac and Mac's wife , Candi, our pleased to be able to bring you this new version of what some have called, a great testimonial" to the Cowboys Life.

  Enjoy clip from Dave Stamey - Buckaroo Man

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