November 28, 1918 – December 24, 2003
While some done boots and a Stetson hat to look the part, for Tag Kyne of Gandy, being a cowboy is a way of life. Kyne confesses that he thought he would only have a two week stay at the Milldale Ranch near Gandy; that two week stint culminated into a 55 year stint. I was 25 years old and quite picking corn for John Smith and went to work on Milldale in June of 1944. “I was to help in the hayfield and sort cows and heifer calves off”, Kyne recalls. “I’ve been here ever since.”
Kyne, who is one of the true old-time area cowboys, said he has seen many changes in his occupation. Born in 1918 in North Platte to Everett and Cora Kyne, his father was a ranch hand and the family live in several places in McPherson County. They also lived for some time in Cherry County where they worked at the Don Hanna Ranch. He had 4 sisters and 5 brothers.
“The biggest change would have to be going from using horses to tractors. You didn’t use to load your horses in a trailer, you rode them. He used to ride 10 or 12 miles to the north end of Milldale and round up the cattle and bring them back to the headquarters in the fall.”
Tag added before leaving at sunrise you’d better pack a lunch. Bringing the cows and calves in from the pasture in the fall was his favorite part of the cowboy job.
“The most enjoyment I get is being able to ride a good horse.” Being around livestock and riding the hills was high on his list of good things as well.
Tag had quite a successful career in the early days of the rodeo circuit. He bulldogged steers and roped calves at Sutherland, McCook, Lexington, Stapleton, North Platte and Denver. During his best year he won $2,000. “That was back in the days when you could take $100 and stay the week in Denver. Motel rooms were about $6 or $7 a day.”
A sorrel mare he purchased at Edna, Texas was one of his favorites. He has topped off numerous ranch horses after they had been started. When a fellow ranch hand has a broken bridle or something wrong with his saddle, Tag is the most popular guy on the ranch. “I dabbled in leather work before I came to the Milldale, but I couldn’t tell you when it got out of hand.” Kyne remarked as he sits surrounded by a wide array of items used in his trade in the bunk house where he has lived since coming to Milldale. “Nobody was around to fix the stuff, so somebody has to do it.”
Kyne wrote to an Oregon company and asked them for a saddle making book. They sent him “How To Make Cowboy Horse Gear and How To Make a Saddle” by Bruce Grant. A Lee Rice article also helped. “I’ve learned a lot tearing saddles apart and putting them back together. I told Vern Boeser, who asked me how to make one that if you really want to learn take the tree out and see how it’s made. Just start from there. Vern told me he didn’t know there were that many pieces to a saddle.”
Although Tag never advertised his leather work, he has made in the neighborhood of 100 saddles for people all over the area. “The best advertising I know is to make a good product and sell it cheap.” One satisfied customer also acknowledged that he has a guarantee that you can’t beat. If something happens to one of his saddles, he’ll fix it, and usually do it at no charge.
Tag not only made saddles, he makes chaps, handmade belts (one year he made 175 belts), handbags and billfolds. He made the trophy saddles during the 1960’s each year for the Logan County Fair, All-Around cowboy.
Tag was honored in 1990 by the Logan County Fair for his many years of participation and work at the rodeo. He participated in the rodeo at Stapleton from 1945 and continued until he joined the RCA and ran that circuit. He worked the chutes at the rodeo till 1988. Tag was a member of the PRCA for a number of years and a member of the National Rifle Association.
Tag’s philosophy in life is you have to learn by doing. For him, he lived the simple life and learned to enjoy the simple pleasures along the way.
Tag was a true Sandhiller. He was born, raised and died working on ranches in the Sandhills. For 50 years, he rode for the brand 7-L (Milldale). He was happy working cattle, building saddles and fixing tack for other cowboys. He enjoyed the cowboy way of life. Tag’s idea of fun was following a herd of cattle on a good horse. He was a mentor to a lot of up and coming cowboys.