Western Memories: Satterfield found roping passion in Parachute
Citizen Telegram Contributor
“Western Memories” is a monthly feature profiling a longtime resident of Western Garfield County and their memories of the area “back in the day.” If you know someone who might have an interesting story or two to tell, email email@example.com or call 384-9114.
PARACHUTE – Jerry Satterfield and his wife, Mary, split their time between Parachute and Wickenburg, Ariz. these days.
“They say Wickenburg is the roping capital of the West,” Satterfield said.
That’s why the couple picked the little Arizona town as a winter retirement getaway.
“There’s a roping here every day,” he said.
Satterfield, 67, usually competes in four or five roping competitions a week and wins plenty of them. He’s won and sold more than 15 prize saddles and 30 belt buckles over the years.
He doesn’t usually keep the saddles because he has a few that fit him really well and he doesn’t much care to switch into new, fancy ones. And there’s not much use for 30 belt buckles either, though he does keep many of those.
Satterfield and his son, Jeff, even won dually pickup trucks once. He traded his out because it was just two-wheel drive. But it was a pretty great win.
“They had a roping here last week that you had to be at least 140 years old between you and your partner,” Satterfield said.
He entered the competition with a buddy and they won.
Satterfield grew up roping cattle on the family ranch outside Parachute. He started competing in roping events in high school, traveling to rodeos all over Western Colorado.
As he got older, Satterfield kept up with roping and went to rodeos all over the region, from Grand Junction and Rifle to Colorado Springs and up to Rock Springs, Wyo. He still goes to most of those during the spring, summer and fall seasons.
“It’s all about practice,” Satterfield said. “I’ve got a ring at my house and steers and we practice just about every day.”
His son and his daughter, Monica Smith, started roping with their dad when they were just five years old. Both kids are good at it, he said.
Satterfield and his wife both grew up on ranches outside of Parachute. Satterfield knew Mary when she was a little girl and they played together. But his family moved to Missouri, where his mother was from, when he was in the second grade. When they returned during Satterfield’s senior year of high school, he met Mary again.
“I knew her before, but she was all growed up,” he said.
Mary was one of about 50 kids who rode the bus from Parachute Creek. There aren’t any families in that area anymore because the natural gas companies bought up all the land, Satterfield said.
The two became high school sweethearts and married not long after graduating from Grand Valley High School in 1964.
Mary is an avid barrel racer. The two have always enjoyed going to rodeo competitions together.
Satterfield worked most of his life for the gas companies doing business in the Parachute area. He also guided hunting and trapping trips.
Life hasn’t changed a whole lot in the area for Satterfield, who still lives on the ranch up Wallace Creek. But Battlement Mesa became a bustling community where there used to be nothing but open fields, he said. That, and the changing wildlife patterns are the biggest things he’s noticed.
“There aren’t any deer any more,” Satterfield said.
And the elk never used to come down out of the mountains, but they’re all over these days.
The rodeos are a little slicker now, too. Professionals breed Mexican steers just for roping competitions and there’s a level of professionalism and polish to the modern rodeos that wasn’t there before.
“They used to be pretty wild,” he said. “People would bring horses they couldn’t break and it was pretty rough.”
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