Gerald LeRoy “Perk” Perkins
Long live cowboys. Gerald Perkins, exudes the spirit of the cowboy with a rich heritage that goes back generations.
Gerald was born in 1931 up the Greybull River on his family ranch near Meeteetse Wyoming. The ranch encompassed nearly six thousand acres and ran three hundred mother cows and a band of sheep back in the day. The ranch was later sold and is now a part of the historic Pitchfork.
Stories have been handed down by his dad and granddad of them being the first family to bring sheep into the Big Horn Basin. Stories told in such detail to include the famous Buffalo Bill Cody a close acquaintance, maybe told better as a drinking buddy, to Gerald’s granddad Harv. Or a story about a sheep camp at Five Springs on the Big Horn Mountains when Wildbunch member Harvey Logan ate dinner with Gerald’s dad and granddad. The Perkins name is embedded in the cowboy way of life, the only way of life Gerald has ever known.
Gerald and his sister helped in the day to day operations of the ranch that was expected at the time, tending sheep, feeding cattle, and doing the general livestock work, with his teenage summers spent working at different cow camps around Park County. They grew up horseback and he was farming with a team by the age of five. He also as a boy, raised and sold the bums and recalls getting to sell them and make a little money. His granddaughter Addisyn, now five years old, rides a saddle that he bought when he was only seven. His tale of buying it for under forty dollars and paying for it out of his bum lamb profits seems out of an old west tale.
Gerald attended the small Meeteetse school until he was a junior in high school. He then set out on his own as a cowboy. Working first for the Phelps Ranch breaking horses. He rode the “tougher horses” because the pay was better. He recollects he was paid a $100/month at his first job. He also punched cattle to include calving, branding, doctoring, and just being a cowboy. Gerald’s cowboying days were spent at the Phelps Ranch, The Hoodoo Ranch, Owens Ranch, Maller Ranch, Hillberry Ranch and the Pitchfork Ranch.
Gerald recalls working for the Hoodoo Ranch when he helped move cows to the stockyard near Cody. Sometimes they would move as many as 3000 head at a time headed for the sale in Omaha. The cattle route went down the Cody hill and past the present museum, hospital, and over to the stockyards on the north side of the river. On occasion they would meet a special 36 car train loaded with little “border” steers from down south and trail them back to the Hoodoo. He spent several winters in the McCullough Peaks at the cow camp for the Hoodoo. In 1961 Gerald was brought on as the cow foreman for the Pitchfork and worked there until 1964 when he was hired as a brand inspector for the Wyoming Stock growers Association. Gerald worked as a brand inspector for some 20 years stationed in Lovell where he continues to call home at the age of 84. He was chosen as Brand Inspector of the year in 1973.
Gerald was a cowboy off the ranch too. He rode bareback horses at the Cody Night Show for several years. He roped calves and team roped and taught his children to do the same. He was even an excellent hazer for the high school bulldogers. His son Chuck went on with the cowboy talent and was runner up to the famous Roy Cooper for the All Around title at the National High School Rodeo Finals in 1973. Gerald continued to help at many brandings and gatherings well up into his late 70’s and was still hunting elk horseback less than ten years ago with his son Andy.
Gerald has a natural talent with livestock and has passed this labor of love to his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, all of which share the same cowboy spirit and have learned to ride at an early age. Gerald continues to be part of the rodeo scene watching the grandkids at the local rodeos, team roping, and high school rodeos. He continues to have a say in the quality of livestock that are penned at his house and ensures that with his feeding they have an extra amount of cover to sustain even the coldest winter months. Not an animal on the place would complain about the feed rations or accountability of Gerald.
Being a cowboy isn’t just about the hat or the horse, it’s a lifestyle that some of us are lucky enough to be a part of. Being a cowboy is a way of life that proves that hard work and dedication really does pay off. Being a cowboy is a way of life that teaches us understanding and respect. Being a cowboy depicts a way of life that instills a sense of pride in a job well done. Being a Cowboy teaches us that sometimes when we fall, we have to stand up, dust ourselves off, and get back in the saddle. Gerald Perkins exemplifies all of these things. A man of honor and respect with a no quit attitude, a true “Wyoming Cowboy”, the only way of life he has ever known.