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 © 2019
Where to purchase Kurt James novels and books: