Legend of Three Toes

Three Toes

For almost 20 years I lived in Western South Dakota. It is the land of extremes from the rolling gold-laden Black Hills to the not so far away desolate Bad Lands. From 110 degree sweltering summer days of July to the bone-chilling 40 degrees below nights of the forever winter. To live in South Dakota, you had to be and still have to be tougher than the rest—the land makes men out of boys or you perish, it is as simple as that. To live there is not for the fainthearted, it is for those who lived for and still seek an adventure.  I loved South Dakota just as much as my native Colorado. The tales of South Dakota have many traditional stories such as the legend of Three Toes.

Legend of Three Toes
This is a tale of an extraordinary, cunning, and ruthless outlaw,
This fugitive roamed the early 1900s keeping his pursuers in awe.
This cunning outlaw was not a man, but a wolf named Three Toes,
For two decades he roamed at will as a devil or so the story goes.
Had a 500-mile range, but favored north of Camp Crook, South Dakota,
In the land of the ancient tribe of the Indian Sioux named Lakota.
Raiding ranches, through hundreds of miles of prairie and badlands,
Living off the land—killed for pleasure the livestock that had brands.
Lost several toes to the traps set by hunters for the $500 bounty,
Slaughtering his victims and leaving a 3-toed track from county to county.
Legend has it his tracks were seen as far as North Dakota and Montana,
His ability to outwit his trackers – his legend now part of Americana.
He would kill dozens of penned sheep leaving their bodies to bloat,
Three Toes had “supernatural abilities” someone once wrote.
He was known to down horses and cattle just for the thrill,
There was no livestock that this devil did not want maim or kill.
Coyotes shadowed him to for his abandon kills for them to feast.
Three Toes became a legend—the Wolf King among all the beasts.
Legend says he was immune to all the human set poison bait,
He became the wolf phantom of such stories of destiny and fate.
As all outlaws and marauders, Three Toes story came to an end,
Past his prime, he was captured alive but escaped to be never seen again.
The legend of Three Toes began north of the black hills in South Dakota,
In the forever windswept landscape of the people named Lakota.

Kurt James
Kurt James © 2019

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Kurt James

Kurt James was born and raised in the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. With family roots in western Kansas and having lived in South Dakota for 20 years Kurt naturally had become an old western and nature enthusiast. Over the years Kurt has become one of Colorado’s prominent nature photographer’s through his brand name of Midnight Wind Photography. His poetry has been featured in the Denver Post, PM Magazine and on 9NEWS in Denver, Colorado. Kurt is also a feature writer for HubPages and Creative Exiles with the article’s focused on Colorado history, ghost towns, outlaws, and poetry. Inspired at a young age by writers such as Jack London, Louis L’Amour and Max Brand have formed Kurt’s natural ability as a storyteller. Kurt has published 7 novels all based in and around the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Using the Midnight Wind Publishing brand Kurt has also released a poetry collection called the wandering man collection - Poetry and Thoughts of a Wandering Man - (Uniquely Colorado edition) and now this collection - Poetry and Reflections of a Wandering Man (Random Thoughts edition). Kurt has also published 3 historical reference books, and one humor book. All are available in print or download on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads and other fine bookstores. And a few shady bookstores as well. Kurt is working on his 9th Colorado adventure tale novel “Rocky Mountain Moonshiner”.

8 thoughts on “Legend of Three Toes

  • August 29, 2019 at 3:15 PM

    Kurt, this is a magnificent piece. I enjoyed it very much as I have a special love for wolves and a strong affinity to the Lakhota people, with several friends there in South Dakota. Well done as always on your rhyme and rhythm.

    • August 29, 2019 at 6:32 PM

      Yes, wolves have been the one animal that has always fascinated me ever since I read “Call of the Wild” Living and raising my kids in South Dakota was a piece of heaven for me. Thanks for stopping by and commenting on this piece.

  • August 31, 2019 at 10:28 AM

    Well written poem Kurt. I love to hear the mythology of land that I respect and also love. I spent most of my life in Nevada and Montana. Some excellent country in the Badlands! Great job! Hope you are well. Jamie

    • September 2, 2019 at 2:33 PM

      Doing well Jamie, and glad you stop by to take a gander at this piece.

  • September 1, 2019 at 5:58 AM

    Thank you for sharing this tale/legend, Kurt. I love to read the mythology and fol tales of other countries., and the first book I ever read of my own choosing was also Call of the Wild, then White Fang. All the best.

    • September 2, 2019 at 2:32 PM

      Of course White Fang was the second book I read John. Both books left an everlasting impact on my life. Thanks for stopping by.

  • September 1, 2019 at 12:46 PM

    This was a really interesting legend Kurt. Wolves are usually pack hunters he must have been one bad ass wolf. That neck of the woods is a place I’ve never travelled, it is super interesting to hear of your tales from that area. Nice work my friend.

    • September 2, 2019 at 2:31 PM

      Thanks Paul – In South Dakota Three-Toes and the damage he caused and his cunning intellect to escape the bounty hunter is still talked about even today. Glad you enjoyed this piece.


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