Yonder Journal

Hell Week

    It’s 7:45am in a four-bedroom basement in Rural Alberta. The TV, which TV is always on, is playing through its perpetual loop of rodeo highlights, live rodeo, and various Will Ferrell movies; Semi-Pro and AnchorMan clear favorites. On an ironing board next to a billiards table sits a steaming iron, a crisp still-warm pair of wranglers, and a pink button-up cowboy shirt with SKOAL embroidered down one sleeve in overly large letters. On a wooden coffee table, copies of PSN, American Cowboy, Club, Juggs and Spank lie next to several limp reusable ice bags; the old school medical blue cloth kind with a screw-top, and several nearly-empty beer bottles filled with spit. The rest is bodies and boots just kinda here and there.

    Ben, Blaze, Ryan, Luke, Dustin, Roy and Chet are all bored. In-between a near constant stream of calls and texts to friends throughout rural Alberta and British Columbia regarding the quality and personality of the horses they’re up-on over the next couple three days; horses with names like Scary Larry, Power Supply, Fearless Warrior, Working News, Sun Devil, etc., the boys are shooting Prairie Dogs, often at point blank range, with slingshots and compound bows. This is Hell Week. Vast stretches of driving and a unique form of redneck lounging that vacillates between R&R and creative-if-a-little-destructive time killing all of it interrupted at least once if not twice (or more) a day by eight secondsβ€”if you’re luckyβ€”on the back of a Saddle Bronc horse in the middle of a well spectated rodeo ring in one town or another for a week in the middle of July.