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Synopsis

The American cowboy is a cultural icon, who has been celebrated as a symbol of freedom, hard work, and heartland values. However, reality for working cowboys expands far beyond the romantic notions of Hollywood. Today, a small number of men and women on ranches in Northern Nevada and Southern Idaho continue the time-honored traditions and working methods that have been practiced for over one hundred years.

Gathering Remnants takes viewers into the lives of Ruth Jackson, Mark Jensen, Tom Hall, Darrin Pfeifer, and Sticker Wiggins and lets these real cowboys tell their own stories – granting access to the inner-workings of the cowboys’ minds as they reveal their personalities, quirks, and most intimate beliefs. These “buckaroos,” as they call themselves, will surprise you with their tales and perhaps prompt you to question your own life choices.

Cowboys’ lives are defined by a historic code – not a written law, but a self-governed set of rules handed down from one generation to the next. As the unforgettable Sticker declares, “I was raised the old-fashioned way. You work as hard as you can for a man, whether you’re making a nickel a day or a hundred bucks an hour.”

We see and hear that hardships are common place for cowboys. The physical nature of the job, injuries, loneliness, and elements; heat, dust, and freezing temperatures are always a reality. The hours are long and the pay is low. Cowboys deal with life and death daily and act as stewards to thousands of animals and acres under their care.

Cowboys are transient in nature and value independence. Their adventuresome spirits and lifetimes of hard work are rewarded with elements of danger that fill their days with excitement. “I’ve torn my sternum, knocked both my lungs loose, busted most of my ribs, tore a shoulder blade off, had a pulmonary embolism,” says Mark with a hint of pride.

Directed and produced by Kendall Nelson, filmed by John Plummer, and featuring an authentic western soundtrack, Gathering Remnants might very well be a portrait of the last American cowboys. It’s an unflinching, thought provoking documentary that profiles and explores the lives of these real-life buckaroos – and questions whether the traditional cowboys’ ways of life will survive the 21st century. From their home on the range cowboys speak for themselves as they share their love of the land, distain for rules, and their somewhat contradictory views on society.