Derek Ashley followed his father, Darryl, in joining the long list of prestigious cattlemen when he was named the 2018 Working Cowboy of the Year on Aug. 17 before the start of the rodeo.
“It’s just an honor to be in it and follow in his footsteps,” Derek Ashley said. “There are a lot better cowboys to be in it than me, but it’s an honor.”
Ashley, who received the award 24 years after his father, works on his family’s ranch with his father, managing the herd, land and the workers on the ranch. He has worked on the ranch since he was a young boy.
In nominating Ashley, Cuatro Hines stated, “He has had years of experience learning from his father and grandfather about the ways a cattle operation is run. Early on, when his mother [Lucy] started working in town, he was his dad’s buddy riding along checking the livestock. … The dedication of this young man is shown through the stock he handles. Not only cattle, but his love of cow dogs and horses hold a special place in his life.”
Ashley, a 2012 graduate of Texas A&M with a bachelors degree in animal science, said that ranching is in his blood since his family has had the ranch registered since 1873.
Ashley said that being a cowboy is more compli- cated in the 21st century.
“It’s a lot of the same work, but it’s different equipment and it’s harder to make a living,” he said. “It’s some of the same challenges. You’re fighting drought. But you’re going into a global market. Other countries produce it cheaper. I don’t know if they produce it better.”
Before Ashley was recognized for the award, Ernie Bandy was sitting in the stands as a family member during the recognition of Avant Burmeister Coward, a 2017 South Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame inductee, and turned to say of Derek Ashley, “That’s one hell of a cowboy.”
Bandy recalled one day last year when Derek and Darryl came to help him lock down an 1,800-pound bull, which Bandy called “The Bull from Hell.” He terrorized the cowboys for hours bulldozing through fences and dodging capture by escaping through thick brush.
Bandy said the “Bull from Hell” story is just a regular part of a working cowboy’s life.
Bandy said Derek and Darryl Ashley are the very definition of working cowboy. He said there are no two finer men.
“They are as good as men get, then you take it up a notch and that is Darryl and Derek,” Bandy said.
He added that no one really knows what a working cowboy does. While everyone knows cowboying is hard, few, he said, realize the dangers. To Bandy, Derek and Darryl Ashley bring to mind his favorite John Wayne quote, “Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway.”
Please take time to look through this entire issue to read about the 53rd Pleasanton Young Farmers Rodeo.