The Art of Manliness Podcast Episode #18: Tales of Grit From the Wild West With Matthew Mayo

by Brett on March 2, 2010 · 37 comments

in Podcast

Welcome back to The Art of Manliness Podcast!

In this week’s episode we talk to author Matthew Mayo. Matt has recently written a book called Cowboys, Mountain Men, and Grizzly Bears: Fifty of the Grittiest Moments in the History of the Wild West. We discuss Hugh Glass and his 350 mile crawl of revenge to kill the men who left him for dead, lawman Bass Reeves and his amazing career as America’s first black U.S. Marshal,  and many more manly men (and a few tough ladies) who helped tame the Wild West.

For more information about Matt’s book, check out his site at

Win a Copy of the Book!

Matt has been kind enough to provide us with a copy of his book to give away to one lucky reader/listener of The Art of Manliness. All you have to do to enter to win is leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite figure from Wild West history. Fan of Wyatt Earp? Idolized Davy Crockett as a boy? Share with us in the comments.

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris March 2, 2010 at 12:47 am

“Arkansas” Dave Rudabaugh. Man with straight-up brass tacks. Died too soon. The man was a bastard and a fiend.

2 Sir Lancelot March 2, 2010 at 3:12 am

Well, since you’re asking for real-life characters, and I grew up on a diet of John Wayne films, I have to go with Davy Crockertt himself, thanks to Duke’s portrayal of him in The Alamo.

3 Brett March 2, 2010 at 8:59 am

Personally, I’m a Billy the Kid buff. He and all the rest of the Lincoln County War gang.

4 Brian Starr March 2, 2010 at 9:13 am

Wild Bill Hickok

5 DJ Wetzel March 2, 2010 at 9:15 am

Since I could not be parted from my coonskin cap as a boy, I would definitely have to say that Davy Crockett.

However, while not a real life hero, the legendary Pecos Bill was also an idol of mine…although my mom got mad at me when I tried to go off and lasso a tornado, but boys will be boys!

6 Brian Starr March 2, 2010 at 9:16 am

Wild Bill Hickock: lawman/gunslinger/gambler/Veteran.

7 Jeremy March 2, 2010 at 9:53 am

“Buffalo” Bill Cody: The guy took the wild west and turned it into a traveling show for all to see… and he married Annie Oakley… not a bad run.

8 Brett March 2, 2010 at 9:55 am

Used to teach in Hennessey, Oklahoma. It was named after a wild-west character named Pat Hennessy, who was an an Irish cowboy who also shipped supplies to stores around Oklahoma. He was caught by bandits (dressed as Indians) tied to a wagon wheel, and burned alive.
Each year during Pat Hennessy Days, the town members have a festival and actually reinact Hennessy being burned on the wagon wheel!

Hennessey is also famous for being the location where “Blackface” Charlie Bryant was captured after some of the Dalton gang’s train robberies.

9 BobK March 2, 2010 at 9:57 am

Excellent podcast with Matt Mayo. There are certainly some legends that came out of the wild west, and many have been popularized on TV or in the movies and books. I enjoy reading those stories, especially in the narrative history genre which Mayo’s book is written.

I always like to hear and read the story of Hugh Glass and giants like John Colter and Jim Bridger, but one of the most impressive stories I have read was the journal of a trapper named Osborne Russell. He was an ordinary trapper, except for the fact that he could read and write, and he kept a journal so we can see the daily life of the mountain man trapper. His is a harrowing story of survival in the climate and environment which alone could kill a man. They spent their days in the fall and spring up to their waist in icy cold water setting traps and skinning beaver. On top of that they were always being attacked by Indians who stole their provisions, their blankets, their horses, and their pelts, leaving them to fend for themselves in an unforgiving wilderness. In one journal entry, Russell wrote about being attacked by Indians in which he was shot in the leg with an arrow. He ran 65 miles in two days and only stopped when his leg cramped up. We read of Jim Bridger being shot in the chest and carrying the three inch long arrow for two years until he encountered Dr. Whitman who carved into him and dug the arrow point out, but we don’t always hear of the anonymous mountain men, of whom there were many.

I am most anxious to read Matt’s new book and I am quite sure it will become part of my collection.

10 Jason Muhr March 2, 2010 at 10:10 am

William Clark impresses me, Meriwether Lewis and the rest of the expedition party would have never made it home if not for the man William Clark.

11 Jason Muhr March 2, 2010 at 10:12 am

William Clark. If not for Clark, the Lewis and Clark expedition would have failed.

12 Ryan Waldron March 2, 2010 at 10:15 am

Do Louis and Clark count as wild west? they went further west, and furhter into the wilderness than any Europeans had yet traveled. If they do not qualify then I have to say I’ve been intrigued by John Henry “Doc” Holliday.

13 FreedbyJC March 2, 2010 at 10:20 am

Mountain man Jeremiah Johnson… not the Robert Redford type … Awesome untold story …

14 Ryan March 2, 2010 at 10:31 am

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–can’t forget the sql guys.

Sorry couldn’t help the geek humor. Nice podcast. Win or lose, I’ll probably end up with a copy of the book. Sounds like a great read.

15 Emil Outzen March 2, 2010 at 10:36 am

In the 17 years have lived so far, cowboys haven’t really been the thing and especially in Denmark the wild west seems to be far, far away. But when I think of the wild west the figure who pops up in my mind, is as far as I know the most fictional at all. Yes I am thinking of noone but Lucky Luke.

He was everyting you thought was REALLY cool as a kid. He had a well trained horse, a dog, and then he was just god damm cool. He was always very silent, but also so confident. Always making sure life in the wild west was going on as supposed to (The Daltons behind bars), and then he had nothing but himself, his dog, horse and hat.

16 Bryan March 2, 2010 at 10:52 am

My favorite has to be Daniel Boone. I know he is not as “western” as some others, but he made it out to Missouri at the end of the 1700s. He was a manly man! Ever hear of “Last of the Mohicans”? Yeah, that was based on Daniel Boone’s real life actions!

17 Ed Conti March 2, 2010 at 11:42 am

WOW!!! My favorite western person is Hugh Glass whom I first heard about when I saw Man in the Wilderness in 1971. Thanks…stay_connect_Ed

18 Andrew Vietze March 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I have a copy of Matt’s book and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The man knows the West, and, better still, knows how to tell a story.

19 Josh Pardy March 2, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Wyatt Earp is so intriguing, kind of amoral character it seems, but certainly at least attempting to find good.

20 GJ Flannery March 2, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Kit Carson. “Be Prepared,” we always said in the Boy Scouts, and he was most certainly prepared.

21 Greg March 2, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Jedediah Smith and James Beckwourth. Each man went through the Rockies and over the Sierras into California alone.

22 Brendan Callan March 2, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I’m going to have to agree with Greg. Jedidiah Smith was epic. He even had someone sew his ear back on without anesthetics after he got mauled by a bear.

23 Brohammas March 2, 2010 at 8:15 pm

The coolest Mtn. Man of all time was “Ramrod” aka David Montgomery…. my Dad.
My Dad wrote books on how to build your own tipi, make a tomohawk, shoot black powder and all that stuff. Dude had me skinning musk rats for my allowance.
The wild west still lives and though our suburban neighbors thought tanning and smoking hides in the back yard was strange, he was always cool to me.

24 matt March 2, 2010 at 8:22 pm

John Wayne

25 Mike Tiller March 2, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Chief Joesph; the man provides us with best example of manliness. He was diplomatic, loved his family and willing to set aside his personal feelings to satisfy his people.

26 Russ Cross March 2, 2010 at 9:27 pm

I’ve always been interested in Wild Bill Hickock.

27 Brew March 3, 2010 at 1:34 am

Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, son of Sacagawea and youngest member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition! He was born with bad-assery from both parents: an Indian linguist and a French fur trapper.

28 Nate March 3, 2010 at 1:38 am

I have to say, my favorite figure from the Wild West is Bat Masterson. He embodies everything The Art of Manliness stands for. His word was true. He was known as a tough rugged man that was honest and fair. He was a man of vigor and had a great work ethic. Bat Masterson helped tame the old west and was as tough as they come. He stood for what was right and didn’t waiver on his principles. He was a lawman that was respected and feared. When the wild west started to become less wild, he settled back in New York as a sports reporter covering the world of pugulism and wasn’t afraid to report on a fixed fight making sure the cheat was outed. If you have a chance to read his biography, you won’t be disappointed. Bat lived an incredible life and there are some amazing stories of him taming the Old West.

29 Keli Kear March 3, 2010 at 2:11 am

I always like the stories of Deputy Marshall Wyatt Earp and his posse. Particularly the time spent in Tombstone, Arizona and then the Earp Vendetta Ride.

30 Briain March 3, 2010 at 9:40 am

Judge Roy Bean, definitely one of the most colorful characters. Dispensed “Ice Cold Beer”, And “Law West of the Pecos”

31 JT March 3, 2010 at 9:50 am

Joseph Walker. Probably the king of all mountain men, but he never comes up in books that much because he was so successful. He planned his expeditions perfectly. Other than him I’d have to go with Bill Tilghman. Started off as an old west Marshall in the rough Indian Territory and lived all the way up to the oil boom. He was hired, in his 70′s, to clean up an oil town. It was the old west vs. mobsters. Also, Last of The Mohicans was NOT based on Daniel Boone….

32 Derl Hicks March 3, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Hard to name a favorite. I was always interested in the Fighting Earp Brothers and then when I read several books about Wyatt and learned about his vendetta ride I was hooked on Wyatt Earp. I’m also a big fan of the guardians of the plains Bill Tilghman, Heck Thomas, and Chris Madsen. Madsen is the only one I haven’t been able to find a biograpy of yet.

33 Louie March 4, 2010 at 4:53 am

I would have to go with Doc Holiday. As the films would portray him, he was well spoken, well read, could play cards like a sun-of-gun, and could put a new vent in your skull from a hundred yards.

34 Mark Dauster March 5, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Captain William Owen “Bucky” O’neill
Troop “A” Rough Riders

35 Neil Smith March 7, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Take your pick. Any of the Texas Rangers, they protected Texas settlers from Indians and Mexicans with nothing but a horse, a gun and a keen vision of what Texas should be.

36 Michael Ritter March 8, 2010 at 10:41 am

Every guy noted above was “manly,” even though some may not have been artful about it. I’m not sure Wiliam H. Bonney, aka Billy the Kid, was artful in his role in the Lincoln County Range War. How artful is a sledge hammer?
And you bet, William Clark, or Red Hair as the Indians called him, was a man’s man, a genuine frontiersman who brought true grit and hard-assed experience to the almost ridiculous physical/motivational challenges of the great expedition, and balanced out Lewis’ inexperience.
Then comes Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, manly enough to include erudition and sophistication, but also to have severely stabbed a trapper for simply loitering to perhaps steal horses in a fur camp. Being horseless meant death from the Blackfeet (and Baptiste also had a very short temper, which may/may not be so manly).

37 Nate @ Practical Manliness March 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Davy Crockett, without a doubt.

All our politicians should read Crockett’s Not Yours To Give. It is an important truth that has now been forgotten.

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