| One of the picturesque types
of the cattle range days was the "rustler." In the early days,.a
hard-working cow puncher drew extra pay for capturing unbranded
cattle running on the range and they were accustomed to "get out
and rustle" for calves.
Eventually, cowpunchers saw building their own herds as a quick
way to fortune and, as a result, hundreds of new brands appeared.
As competition for feeding ranges developed in the industry, the
big outfits combined against the little ones and it was made a range
law that no cowboy employed by an outfit should be allowed to own
a brand of his own. Action of this sort started a long drawn-out
warfare between the big cow outfits and a considerable number of
formerly honest cowpunchers who believed that their rights were
being encroached upon and who soon found themselves classed as outlaws.
The ranks of the rustlers became augmented by all sorts of hard
and dissolute characters. As the rustlers grew in strength, the
cattle barons banded together as vigilantes to crush, and often
lynch, rustlers. It was only with the end of the open range that
the end of rustling came to a lawful end.