Lacey Peterson
The Union Democrat

Coyote Sam and his band of criminal nitwits are no doubt tying one on tonight.

The gruesome foursome — known for their decades-long grudge against the Mother Lode Round-up — hijacked a priceless antique silver headstall and reins from the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse on Thursday.

Sam's raggedy enforcer Rattlesnake said the solid silver horse equipment would be melted down and sold to pay their electric bill, buy a case of Dinty Moore beef stew and a case of Wild Turkey whiskey.

In a daring daytime heist (as 'ol Sam is notoriously afraid of the dark), the muddy marauders crashed the Round-up Sponsor Appreciation Lunch in downtown Sonora's Emberz Restaurant. The event precedes the Mother Lode Round-up slated for Mother’s Day weekend.

Sam and his crew were 86'd from the Posse years ago and every year try, unsuccessfully, to ruin the Round-up.

The headstall and reins date back to 1958 and were used by then-Round-up Parade Grand Marshal Eddie Webb.

The antique accoutrements were brought out of retirement last year and used in the parade by Grand Marshal Vern Gerdau. This year’s grand marshal, posseman John Egger, had the headstall and reins slung over his shoulder while the posse and Coyote Sam's bandits exchanged insults.

After the sponsor lunch was over (Emberz staff refused to serve Sam's motley crew) the ne’er-do-wells rode their horses on Washington Street. They shot off their guns, scaring passersby and children. A sheriff's deputy passing by begged for his life and gladly sped off the other way when the outlaws convened onto the crowd outside of Emberz.

"Where are those darned Red Shirts?!" Yelled Mango, Sam's newest recruit, recently sprung out of the new juvenile detention center.

"Get the hell outta here!" Egger yelled at the gang of murderers, thieves and registered Libertarians.

A shootout ensued.

The stinky raggamuffins snatched a brand new Stetson hat off of posseman Steve Oliveira and shot it to bits. In the chaos, Sam wrenched the headstall and reins from Egger, who put up a brave fight.

Always a poor sport, Sam then taunted the posse and bragged over his spoils.

"There won't be a Roundup now! You can't ride in the parade now!" Sam shouted to Egger.

The reigning Round-up Queen Karissa Rogers and her court of bejeweled and bedazzled queen and junior queen candidates took the fight to the street and sprayed the bandits down with water in hopes of startling them into dropping the reins and also to try to wash off the manure caked on the criminals faces.

They also threw rose petals at them, knowing it would upset Coyote Sam, whose longtime love Senorita Grossita recently broke up with him for a rose gardener she met at Weight Watchers.

In a flurry of shots and shouts, Sam and his crew rode off down Washington Street, likely headed to smelt the loot and go back to their hideout on Old Wards Ferry Road.

Sam and the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse have a long and sordid history, mostly involving the bitter highwayman trying to ruin the rodeo weekend and utterly failing each and every time.

Coyote Sam harbors a grudge against the posse and the Round-up that goes back generations in his family.

Back in the day, Sam’s great-granddaddy was in charge of the Round-up. When it was time to do everything, the possemen were always too drunk to help, so Sam’s great-granddaddy had to do it all himself, Sam laments year after year.

As it stands, there's no way the Round-up can proceed without the antique headstall and reins. Egger can't ride without them, said posseman Al O'Brien.

This year is the 60th anniversary of the Mother Lode Round-up, and the gear is an essential part of the festivities and tradition.

The only hope of saving the Round-up is if someone can find the map leading to the priceless silver and leather equipment before they are sold and lost forever.

The good news is that Sam's newest recruit Mongo, a tubby, grubby sot, and Dastardly Dan, an infamous Judas, can probably be bribed with a bottle of tequila.

"Tequila makes my clothes come off," Mongo said as he shimmied and shook his enormous behind at Emberz.

The Sheriff's Posse is urging local residents to help them get the headstall back by any means possible.