Bob Woodmansee: Maverick definition


— As a youngster raised in a poor farming and ranching community in central New Mexico, and later as a rangeland scientist and educator, I learned two definitions of the term "maverick." One applied to a cow or ewe that had the exasperating propensity to break through fences in order to get out of a pen or pasture or into haystacks, grain bins and other unwelcome places.

Typically, these animals had no particular need to display self-serving, nuisance behavior, they just did it. They often would cause significant economic damage and danger to themselves, other animals or farm hands, or even the public when the breakouts were on roads. One outcome of their "maverick" behavior was to teach other innocent, unquestioning, and nonreasoning herd members their obnoxious traits. Local wisdom suggested the only mitigation for unruly behavior was culling from the herd and being sent to market. Otherwise, the whole herd or flock might develop a "pack" mentality, become uncontrollable and create chaos and turmoil with no productive outcome.

The second definition of "maverick" applied to ne'er-do-well, rural human males (less frequently females) who were the guys who would lie, cheat, steal, shoot holes in road signs and tear down Forest Service and BLM gates. They would revel in poaching game animals and shooting nongame animals just for the hell of it. They would brag relentlessly about their exploits, their conquests (real or imagined), and their delusions. They were the real social misfits of the community.

Some of these people received Darwin Awards for stupidity and were removed from the gene pool. Other "mavericks" survived, were able to disguise their antisocial behavior and integrate into society. But rarely, if ever, did these individuals achieve leadership roles because their communities knew that behind the bluster and rhetoric of the "maverick" was someone who could not be trusted.

I have carried these two definitions from my youth. How surprised and astonished I have been to realize two of the candidates for the most important roles in the world have chosen to declare themselves "mavericks"! Certainly, where I grew up, a "maverick" could not be trusted to govern.

Bob Woodmansee

Oak Creek


JLM 8 years, 7 months ago

Gee, and I thought it was Tom Cruise's call sign in Top Gun!

Nice try, Pardner, but I'll take a maverick over a fakir and a poseur any time. LOL


Cindy Antonucci-Ameen 8 years, 7 months ago

Thanks Bob, for this insight. In the same vernacular, I offer a rancher's description of Sarah Palin.

An old Texas rancher was discussing Sarah Palin's bid to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. He said, "Well, ya know, Palin is a post turtle." Not being familiar with the term, I asked, "What's a post turtle?"

The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road and you spy a fencepost with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle."

He saw that I looked puzzled, so he continued, "You know she didn't get up there by herself; she doesn't belong up there; she doesn't know what to do while she is up there and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put her up there to begin with.


JLM 8 years, 7 months ago

Pretty damn...........................................................................................................................funny! Post turtle! Hahahahahahha!

Having more than a passing acquaintance with Texas ranches, I could tell you an even funnier version but it could not be printed and it might make you blush.

LOL, that's a good one!

Of course, I expect the butt of your joke to become the next VP of the United States. She who laughs last lalughs best.

Thanks for a genuine chuckle regardless of anybody's politics!


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