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WINNEMUCCA, NV – Clay Elwood “Buck” Tipton was honored as the 2018 “Ranch Hand of the Year” at the Winnemuca Ranch Hand Rodeo Feb. 28 through March 4. It’s a fitting honor for the longtime northern Nevada resident and rancher, according to Agricultural District No. 3 President Kent Maher.

“Buck has been a friend to northern Nevada, to ranching, to family values, to community values,” said Maher. “He has shared his skills from his earliest youth through his later years; his life has served to strengthen our local ranching heritage.” 

Clay Elwood “Buck” Tipton was born April 6, 1919, in Elkhart, Kansas, to Allie May Combs and Clay Hughes “Tip” Tipton. Buck had an older brother, Hugh; a younger brother, Glenn; and a sister, Dale Delong. 

In 1927 the family left Kansas in a Model T truck following the Oregon Trail west to Nampa, Idaho. After finishing the school year out in Nampa, they again continued their journey west. Instead of continuing to follow the dusty Oregon Trail, they headed south to Nevada. The family decided to settle in Humboldt County, and in June 1928 the family moved to Golconda.

In 1936, after school let out, Buck went to work full time as a ranch hand. He worked at the North Fork Ranch, on the Little Humboldt River, and in 1937, when fellow cowboy Jack Fresetta’s horses came in without Jack, Buck was with the “posse” that set out to find him. 

Buck joined the local National Guard just before Pearl Harbor was attacked. His unit was activated and sent to Yuma, Arizona, for desert warfare training. After the Allies routed the Germans in North Africa, his anti-aircraft division was sent to the Aleutian Islands. He spent most of World War II there. He said the warmest temperature was 58 degrees.

Following World War II, Buck came back to Nevada. He worked first at the CS Ranch, then headed to the Denio, Nevada/Fields, Oregon area. During this time, he was on the very last cattle drive from Southern Oregon to Winnemucca, Nevada. The trip took just over 2 weeks to complete.

He was working at the Quinn River Crossing Ranch when he met Jean Harbin, a young woman from Wells, Nevada. Jean’s father was the head of the survey team for the State of Nevada highway crew and his crew was building what is now Highway 140. Jean worked in the kitchen at the Quinn River Crossing Ranch helping to feed not only the ranch crew and buckaroos but also the survey crew.

Jean and Buck were married on June 18, 1950, in Wells, Nevada. They continued ranching and began to raise a family, including Frosty, Ken, Clayre and Julie.

After leaving the Flying M Ranch at the end of 1959, Jean wanted to stay in one place for schooling, so the family bought a house in Golconda and Buck was able to get a job with the Nevada State Highway Department. The job offered decent insurance and retirement benefits. Buck retired from the State of Nevada shortly after purchasing the old family ranch in Pumpernickel Valley where the family continued ranching until 1989. 

Jean passed away in 1993. After Jean’s passing, Buck began helping his sons, daughters, nieces and nephews with spring brandings. He often commented that with his immediate family’s ranches (Tiptons, Delongs, Fillippinis, Kings and Moiolas) he thought he’d had a small hand in helping brand nearly 10,000 calves annually. The last branding that Buck helped with was just after his 95th birthday.

As age started to slow him down, he switched gears and began to braid fine leather bridle reins, which he banded around a small cable to add strength and weight. He also braided bracelets for his granddaughters and a leash or two for his daughters’ dogs.

Buck is very proud of all his family and his extended family of cowboys and cowgirls, some of whom are past champions of the Ranch Hand Rodeo and some of whom are continuing to compete today. Not bad for a kid that drifted off the “High Plains” 90 years ago!

The “Ranch Hand of the Year” award is sponsored by the Agricultural District No. 3 as a way to recognize those men and women who make their living in the ranching industry.

Past recipients include Frank Loveland, Loui Cerri, Harold Chapin, John and Tim DeLong, Buster Dufurrena, Jane Angus, Larry Hill, Louie and Frank Bidart, Sammye and Dan Ugalde, John Falen, Lilla and Woodie Bell, and Garley Amos.

“We wish to recognize the outstanding people who have contributed so much, not only to the ranching community, but to cowboy heritage itself,” said Agricultural Director No. 3 Director Kim Petersen.

Results of the Winnemucca Ranch Hand Rodeo Week follow:

Ranch Rodeo: 1. TL Ranch, Bruneau, ID. 2. Maher Ranch, McDermitt, NV. 3. Eldridges, Elko, NV. 4. Nonella Livestock, Sprague River, OR. 5. Jim Ranch, Owyhee, OR.

Top Hand: Gus King, TL Ranch, Bruneau, ID. Steer Stop: Katie McFarlane, Mac­kenzie Ranch, Jordan Valley, NV. Saddle Bronc: Paul Padilla, Gartiez Ranch, Winnemucca, NV. Branding: Mackenzie Ranch, Jordan Valley, NV. Mugging: MacKenzie Ranch. Ranch Doctoring: Jim Ranch, Owyhee, OR. Team Roping: Maher Ranch, McDermitt, NV. Trailer Loading: Ride Em N Slide Em, Burley, ID.

Cow Dog Trials

Brace Class: Brian Abingdon with Wallie and Reika. Intermediate Class: Alyssa Skinner with Callie. Open Pro: Chris Bennett with Chip. Nursery Champion: Pat Browning with Dolly. Ranch Champion: Sarah Porter with Molly.

Stock Horse Challenge

Open Ranch Horse and Open Snaffle Bit/Hackamore: Handy N Gotta Gun, owned and ridden by Flint Lee. Open Two Rein/Bridle: Nics Highbrow, owned and ridden by Jymme Dominguez. Non-Pro Snaffle Bit/Hackamore: Peps High Brow, owned and ridden by Dylan Heishman. Non-Pro Two Rein/Bridle: TI Smokum Plain Chic, owned and ridden by Andrea Otley. Limited Non Pro Bridle: Hytime Cruiser, owned and ridden by Cindy Cullen.

Rope And Performance Horse Sale

Overall average: $6,551

Top 10 average: $11,175

High selling horse: Lot 16, Hancocks Mr. Blue Boy, $17,250, consigned by Brad Ford, Parma, ID; buyer Shawn Mesenbrink, Nampa, ID.