Western Wanderings: Remembering Bill Tackett

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Apr 25, 2005
Recently the Livestock Marketing Association announced that during this year's World Championship Livestock Auctioneer Contest it would present a Rookie of the Year Award in the name and memory of Bill Tackett.
Bill Tackett was a friend of mine, and he was a great auctioneer. Bill passed on in September 2001. I first met Bill in 1974, when I made my first trip to Ruidoso, NM, for the All American Futurity and Sale with Mack Jones. Following that, I had the pleasure of working in front of him at future Ruidoso sales and at the Keeneland Thoroughbred sales in Kentucky.
Bill was as smooth as silk, and his chant was as easy to listen to as it was for him to do. It seemed as though all he had to do was sit down and open his mouth, and it just rolled out.
Bill was born in Arkansas and lived most of his life in Oklahoma. He started selling when he was 17 years old and as a young man he sold seven sales a week including Exeter, Lamar, Springdale, Hominy and Coffeyville as well as others. As he gained experience, the horse world took notice and he became a highly sought after auctioneer for such prestigious sales as Ruidoso, Keeneland, and Heritage Place, selling Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds.
Bill loved to sell, and, even with the schedule he kept, he found time to work small local sales, selling everything from purebred cattle to jars of honey brought to the sales yard by the weigh man. A rancher friend of Bill's was on the seats one day and declared in a loud voice, "Well, I saw him selling million dollar horses in Kentucky last week and a jar of honey at Pryor auction this week." That was Bill. He loved selling, and he was so good at it.
A friend of Bill's, Smokey Hand, wrote a poem about Bill and the last few lines are "Whos the World Champ...We'll never know, 'cause he didn't have time to go. From the Queen of England to Johnny Brackett, The Gentleman's Name? Mr. Bill Tackett." I have no doubt that if Bill had ever taken the time to enter the World Champion Livestock Auctioneer contest, he would have won it hands down. So the word is out. Whoever wins the first Bill Tackett Memorial Rookie of the Year Award, you have some big boots to fill and a sterling reputation to uphold.
Wander, wander: Recently I wandered down to Reno to help with the IL Ranch Horse Dispersal and had a great time. The horses from this famous ranch were sold under the management of two Idaho horsemen, Terry Russell and Jeff Peck. There were over 100 head of horses in the sale and the majority of them were ridden through the sales ring. This took a number of good cowboys to accomplish and, as you can imagine, there was some excitement as all of this took place. With that many ranch horses there is bound to be a few that just have to express their individuality.
The morning of the sale was a nervous time for all of us involved in the sale, as a spring snow storm clogged the interstate the day and night before, and on the morning of the sale a bad accident closed the highway and traffic was being rerouted. We started a little late to accommodate those stuck in that mess, but when we started auctioneer Rick Machado rolled through the horses in front of a large crowd in good time. When the last horse went through the ring, there was a loud sound of relief and the sale averaged an impressive $2,519 on 121 head of horses.
Congratulations to Terry and Jeff on a great job of getting the horses ready and making it all happen and to all of the proud new owners of "an IL horse".
More wandering: Following a successful cow sale for Dwight Mebane, Western Stockman's Market, Famoso, CA, Rick Machado, Jimmy Settle and I stopped by Jeff Oswood's Stallion Station in Porterville, CA. Jeff was gracious as always and spent some time with us showing us the stallions he is standing and some of the mares in his care. Oswood will breed some 400 mares this year for his clients and has earned a reputation for getting an extremely high percentage of the mares settled. That evening I was invited to a pre-Western Video Market sale at the home of Richard and Nancy Stober, just outside of Madera, CA. It was a class party, and anyone that knows the Stobers would know what I mean. The guest list was like a Who’s Who in the livestock industry, and everyone lucky enough to attend had a great time. I have known Richard for a long time, and first got acquainted with him in the late seventies when he came back to Denver to manage the Denver Livestock Market. Richard is a familiar figure at all of the livestock events on the West Coast and has been involved in every aspect of the cattle business as well as wielding a pretty mean auctioneer's gavel. Thanks Richard and Nancy for your wonderful hospitality. Until next time, I'm going to keep wandering the west where you will meet only the best.