I still remember the first time I saw an old boot on a fence post.

We were camping at a popular resort on South Dakota's Roy Lake.  The road heading into the state park was lined with cowboy boots, work boots, hiking boots, and probably some other boots I'm forgetting about.

I remember my son asking, "Why are all those cowboy boots on that fence, Daddy?"  Much like a lot of the questions he asked during his younger years, I faked my way through the answer.  To be honest, I really didn't know what it meant.

I suspected it was some sort of tribute but I really didn't know for what.

Since then, I have encountered many more fence posts with old boots on them.  I frequently run into them during my hunting trips across North Dakota.  We even have some pretty close to where I live near Highway 1804 south of Bismarck.

I finally decided to talk to the landowner who had this row of boots and get to the bottom of this boot dilemma.

After I gained permission to do some pheasant hunting on his land, I asked him about the boots.  It was actually a sad story.  Each boot belonged to a family member who had worked on the farm at one time and had since then passed on.  So, I was partially right.  I figured it was in remembrance of something.

The old gentleman also told me it could represent other things as well.

Some farmers and ranchers also will put a boot on a fence for a special horse that might have passed away.  A pair of boots could also represent the hard work that has taken place on the farm or ranch.

Back in the day, some farmers and ranchers also used boots as a form of communication.

Before telephones, if a boot near the entrance of the ranch was pointing away from the house, it meant he wasn't home.  If the boot pointed towards the home, they were home for guests.

A pretty cool conversation with a wise old man.  In the end, the boots on a fence post could mean several things.  No matter what, leave them alone, they represent something special to that ranch.

(A big thank you to Abandoned Nebraska for the use of the photo)

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