Episode 176: Smollop: Bass Reeves

Gareth: I think he was just being cute.
Dave: No, it’s the Death Wink!

Top of the mustache game. TOP. I can’t grow one and I’m still jealous.

Black Cowboys of the Old West: True, Sensational, and Little-Known Stories from History * Tricia Martineau Wagner

Let us pause and remember Marshal Reeves’ compadre, White Crow, aka Stagecoach Mary Fields: episode 135. And don’t let anyone ever tell you that there were no badass black people fighting for and settling the Wild West. Next time someone makes a smart remark about Morgan Freeman‘s role in Unforgiven, smite them with The Dollop. Verbally. We don’t condone actual violence–head injuries tend to ruin the good learnin’ a person just received.

See? There’s even a blackcowboys.com. Tell ’em I sent ya.

And then, of course, a shoutout to our other favorite tracker: The Revenant himself, Hugh Glass.

The Art of Manliness Podcast: Best Lawman of the West

National Park Service: Fort Smith: Bass Reeves

mental_floss: The Life and Times of U. S. Marshal Bass Reeves


There actually were turkey shoots where I come from–rural southern North Carolina. I just remember, on the last turn before church–which was out in the country–a sandwich-placard sign would show up every autumn announcing the local turkey shoot. I had no idea what that could be, and, to my uber-smart-kid thinking, I should already know this I should already know everything I can’t ask. So I didn’t ask. I instead envisioned turkeys thrown like clay pigeons–


But no.

Turkeys are two things: creatures of habit, and birds. So they flock, and they like to return to flick in the same damn spot, no matter what might be dangerous there. So a turkey shoot started as a method of hunting the wild feathered blockheads by the hunter deliberately disturbing a flock and scattering the birds–

and now we wait. The turkeys will return, transitioning from birds to easy targets to dinner.

Sometimes, in the rural US, a turkey shoot is a contest involving shooting at paper targets, using shotguns, and the prize is a frozen turkey.

Colonial-era turkey shoots involved ridiculous animal cruelty and absolutely no sport, and we shall leave it at that. Shame on you, Daniel Boone. For shame.

Buffalo Soldiers in the West: A Black Soldiers Anthology, ed. by Bruce A. Glasrud and Michael N. Searles

Black Cowboys of Texas by Sara Massey

Bright’s disease: kidney disease that involves edema, heart disease, and high blood pressure, and is basically something you do not want to have while out on a horse in Indian Territory

Speaking of which: Indian Territory, which is familiar to anyone like me who devoured Laura Ingalls Wilder’s memoirs, at any one time contained what is now:

  • Oklahoma
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • Missouri
  • Colorado
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Montana
  • Wyoming

Interesting cultural footprint: the 1921 Collier’s Encyclopedia article on Indian Territory

Oh! One last thing: There is back-and-forth about whether or not the Lone Ranger is based upon Marshal Reeves. (my vote is yes)

Band names from this episode:

  • Hanging Judge
  • Pockets Full of Warrants
  • Death Wink
  • Noogies with a Gun

Cultural references from this episode:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to Top
We use cookies in order to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. We do not store personal info.