As Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association’s executive director of communications, I spend a lot of time talking to reporters.
Time and time again, I get asked the same questions: Tell me about these special rangers. Does cattle rustling really still happen? What do these guys actually do?
It’s a story I love to tell. Not only because we’re proud of the work these men do, but also because I know these journalists’ readers and viewers will enjoy it. Unfortunately, I do have to tell them — as many of you know — cattle rustling is indeed still a thing.
In 2020, the TSCRA Special Rangers recovered more than $3.4 million worth of livestock and ranch-related property and investigated 711 cases involving more than 1,300 head of livestock. This has resulted in 24 convictions and 152 years of sentencing, which includes prison, probation, deferred adjudication and suspension time.
But these commissioned peace officers don’t just investigate crimes. Perhaps no better example exists than a story Special Ranger Joey Aguilar from District 29 recently shared with me.
A call came in while he was working in Zapata County: a man was bleeding and unconscious after being injured by a bull’s horns while unloading cattle. Aguilar was among the first to the scene and found the 30-year-old, who he’d met a few months prior when the rancher reported a bull had been shot on his property. The man was conscious, but bleeding profusely.
Aguilar applied a tourniquet from his individual first aid kit, provided to him through Special Ranger Foundation funds, to the man’s femoral artery to control the bleeding. It had slowed to a trickle by the time the ambulance arrived.
Today, the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Rangers don’t only investigate more sophisticated crimes, but they also get called on to help in more ways than ever. And with no state funding, their training and equipment is solely paid for by monetary gifts from association members. (It’s also worth noting that the items in their first aid kits must be replenished at least annually.) Much of this money comes in through their annual fundraiser, the Special Ranger Foundation Silent Auction, held online and in conjunction with the Cattle Raisers Convention and Expo.
If you’d like to donate to the cause — and get a cool and unique item in the process — sign up today and bid through 5 p.m. Saturday, July 24.
Katrina Huffstutler is the executive director of communications for Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association