Badluck Way

Badluck Way

A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West

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“Mine might have been a simple, pretty story, if not for the wolves. In late July, they emerged from the foothills . . .”

In this gripping memoir of a young man, a wolf, their parallel lives and ultimate collision, Bryce Andrews describes life on the remote, windswept Sun Ranch in southwest Montana. The Sun’s twenty thousand acres of rangeland occupy a still-wild corner of southwest Montana—a high valley surrounded by mountain ranges and steep creeks with portentous names like Grizzly, Dead Man, and Bad Luck. Just over the border from Yellowstone National Park, the Sun holds giant herds of cattle and elk amid many predators—bears, mountain lions, and wolves. In lyrical, haunting language, Andrews recounts marathon days and nights of building fences, riding, roping, and otherwise learning the hard business of caring for cattle, an initiation that changes him from an idealistic city kid into a skilled ranch hand. But when wolves suddenly begin killing the ranch’s cattle, Andrews has to shoulder a rifle, chase the pack, and do what he’d hoped he would never have to do.

Badluck Way is about transformation and complications, about living with dirty hands every day. It is about the hard choices that wake us at night and take a lifetime to reconcile. Above all, Badluck Way celebrates the breathtaking beauty of wilderness and the satisfaction of hard work on some of the harshest, most beautiful land in the world. Called “an important meditation on what it means to share space and breathe the same air as truly wild animals” (Tom Groneberg, author of The Secret Life of Cowboys), Badluck Way is the memorable story of one young man’s rebirth in the crucible of the West’s timeless landscape, a place at the center of the heart’s geography, savage and gorgeous in equal measure.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476710839 | 
  • January 2014
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Badluck Way, the Story of a Man, a Wolf, and Their Ultimate Collision

Bryce Andrews, spent a year on the wild, windswept Sun Ranch in southwest Montana, mastering the craft of being a cowboy. But his quiet existence is shattered when the wolves begin killing the ranch's cattle.

Read an Excerpt

Eastbound to the West



One way to say how I ended up on the Sun is that my life in Walla Walla, Washington, where I’d stacked basalt, poured concrete foundations, and waited for a girl to finish her last year of college, ended. The door slammed shut and I just kept moving, out of desperation more than anything else. I went home to Seattle, slept on the floor in a friend’s house in Fremont, and knocked around miserably in bars. Then I joined up with another buddy, who lived on a sailboat that was thirty years old and twenty-eight feet long, and sailed that tub up to the San Juan Islands in a January storm. I was... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Badluck Way includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

After some postgraduate wandering, Bryce Andrews fondly recalled his boyhood and teenage summers spent on a Montana ranch where he would proudly “work for nothing, or next to nothing, finding recompense in the little calluses on my palms.” Those memories inspired him to apply for a seasonal job on a sprawling Montana ranch near Yellowstone National Park—a conservation-minded spread where livestock grazed beside a vast and seldom-traveled wilderness. Soon, Bryce’s days are filled with the physical demands of managing hundreds of cattle upon thousands of acres. At the margin of his busy, pastoral world, a pack of wolves trots through the foothills and high valleys of the Madison Range. Once on the brink of extinction, the American gray wolf’s numbers surged back in recent years, bringing relief to environmentalists and others passionate about wild creatures. For ranchers like Bryce and his colleagues on the Sun Ranch, the wolves present a much more complex set of issues. Though the ranch abounds with elk, deer, and other wild game, the wolve see more

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