Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West (Paperback)
January 2014 Indie Next List
“Andrews spent a year on an 18,000-acre ranch in Montana that was touted as being committed to the well being of the land, livestock, and wildlife. All goes well in his rugged new life until wolves begin their relentless plundering of the summer herds. In a heartbreaking meditation on life, ethics, animal rights, and conservation, Andrews struggles to keep his herding responsibilities and his fascination for the wolves in balance. Passages in which he channels the wolves are truly haunting, suggestive of a kinship that presages his anguish as he is required to brutally eliminate one of them. This is an elegant, lyrical account of a sensitive, conservation-minded cowboy in the American West of the 21st century.”
— Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT
“Much more than a coming-of-age story, Badluck Way is an important meditation on what it means to share space and breathe the same air as truly wild animals, and the necessary damage that can occur when boundaries are crossed” (Tom Groneberg, author of The Secret Life of Cowboys).
In this gripping memoir of a young man, a wolf, their parallel lives and ultimate collision, Bryce Andrews describes life on the remote, windswept Sun Ranch in southwest Montana. The Sun’s twenty thousand acres of rangeland occupy a still-wild corner of southwest Montana—a high valley surrounded by mountain ranges and steep creeks with portentous names like Grizzly and Bad Luck. Just over the border from Yellowstone National Park, the Sun holds giant herds of cattle and elk amid many predators—bears, mountain lions, and wolves.
In lyrical, haunting language, Andrews recounts marathon days and nights of building fences, riding, roping, and otherwise learning the hard business of caring for cattle, an initiation that changes him from an idealistic city kid into a skilled ranch hand. But when wolves suddenly begin killing the ranch’s cattle, Andrews has to shoulder a rifle, chase the pack, and do what he’d hoped he would never have to do.
Called “an elegant memoir” by the Great Falls Tribune, Badluck Way is about transformation and complications, about living with dirty hands every day. It is about the hard choices that wake us at night and take a lifetime to reconcile. Above all, Badluck Way celebrates the breathtaking beauty of wilderness and the satisfaction of hard work on some of the harshest, most beautiful land in the world.
About the Author
Bryce Andrews was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. He studied at Whitman College and the University of Montana, and has managed several cattle ranches in the West. He lives in Montana.
“This book will make you have deep thoughts about our relationships with the land, nature, and animals.”
— Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation
“One could find no better guide than Bryce Andrews for a journey along the shifting border between the wild and the tame; a daunting frontier filled with unsettling truths, blood and beauty. His wonderfully crafted prose is lean, yet rich in the telling details of seasons spent on a Montana ranch overseeing a shaky co-existence between cattle and wolves. Andrews is a keen-eyed ecologist, a skilled ranch hand and, best of all, a self-examining student of life with a young man’s inclination to push past fear and caution toward an embrace of risky, life-altering experience. In Badluck Way, Andrews shuns both cowboy romanticism and environmentalist sermonizing and illuminates the inescapable conflict between human economic imperatives and the compulsions of animal instinct. His book is a gripping tale of the West, raw and real.”
— David Horsey, columnist and cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times
“This memoir of life as a contemporary, ecologically minded Montana cowboy is heartfelt. Andrews' language often sings. Told in a refined version of a campfire ghost story, his narrative took my breath away.”
— Jana Harris, author of Horses Never Lie about Love
“An important meditation on what it means to share space and breathe the same air as truly wild animals.”
— Tom Groneberg, author of The Secret Life of Cowboys