Jesse Hardin: Pro­lific Au­thor

Catron Courier - - News - By Becca McTrauchle

Lo­cal au­thor and un­usual char­ac­ter Jesse “Wolf” Hardin lives on a USFWS wildlife sanc­tu­ary seven “jeep sink­ing” river cross­ings from the near­est pave­ment, sur­rounded by mil­lions of acres of na­tional for­est in a re­mote canyon of the Ca­tron County’s Saliz moun­tains. Over the past decades Jesse has writ­ten ar­ti­cles about wildlife, re­gional his­tory, ru­ral cus­toms, food and an­tique firearms for mag­a­zines as di­verse as Gray’s Jour­nal, Per­ma­cul­ture Ac­tivist, Gun Di­gest and Mother Earth News.

The lat­est ex­cit­ing book by Hardin has just been re­leased, en­ter­tain­ingly ti­tled Pan­cho Villa’s Mo­tor­cy­cle: Wild West Sen­ti­ment, Back­woods Hu­mor, & Out­law Wis­dom For a World Gone Astray. Its 107 chap­ters were writ­ten about this very re­gion and its peo­ple, in­clud­ing pieces that have ap­peared since the early 1980s in ev­ery news­pa­per that ever came out of the county, in­clud­ing the Ca­tron Courier (ed. a pre­vi­ous ver- sion of this pa­per) and Glen­wood Gazette, the now de­funct Firestarter and Mes­sen­ger. Pan­cho’s Mo­tor­cyle presents tales of lo­cal char­ac­ters from both re­cent times and the historic past, the story of our county’s nat­u­ral his­tory, and thought­ful es­says on a wide range of sub­jects that are all in­spired by a life close to the land in the “still-Wild West” of South­west New Mex­ico. Hardin talks about such things as free­dom and her­itage, sense of place and learn­ing from the nat­u­ral world, the fool­ish­ness of the eco­nomic sys­tem and the im­por­tance of sus­tain­able busi­ness and barter, his grand­mother’s trea­dle sewing ma­chine and the need to mend our fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties, see­ing through the eyes of a child, the wild­craft­ing of ed­i­ble foods and medicines, the wis­dom of cats, the sig­nif­i­cance of the cow­boy hat, the need for he­roes, and the cou-

ra­geous liv­ing of our dreams in the fron­tiers of our fu­ture. Not to men­tion Pan­cho Villa, seen on the book cover ad­mir­ing an In­dian brand mo­tor­cy­cle some years af­ter raid­ing South­ern New Mex­ico with a force car­ry­ing old time Winch­esters and tra­di­tional bows and ar­rows!

Ca­tron County and the South­west are the fea­tures of and in­spi­ra­tion for many of Hardin’s other books, in­clud­ing Old Guns & Whis­per­ing Ghosts which pro­files lo­cal na­tives and pi­o­neers from the area as well as the sto­ries of firearms in the historic West, and his ac­claimed novel of ad­ven­ture, heal­ing, and ro­mance The Medicine Bear, set in the early 1900s. Even his books for herbal­ists, such as The Plant Healer’s Path and The Heal­ing Ter­rain, use the lessons of this land to make their points about nat­u­ral heal­ing and fol­low­ing our hearts... but he doesn’t just write for those of us who get to live here.

“On one hand, there is no place quite like this re­gion, a unique and en­chant­ing mix of cul­tures and tra­di­tions, moun­tains and deserts, un­de­vel­oped lands and historic com­mu­ni­ties, rugged ter­rain and an al­most mys­ti­cal or spir­i­tual feel. On the other hand, this area is em­blem­atic of ru­ral Amer­ica in gen­eral, from the love of na­ture and wide open spa­ces to the de­ter­mi­na­tion to think out­side the box and do things our own ways.”

Jesse moved here as a young man on a quest in 1979, begin­ning in the ghost town of Mo­gol­lon, and then the fol­low­ing year start­ing to make pay­ments on the sanc­tu­ary he still lives on. He had barely enough in­come to sur­vive for the first ten years. The only means he had for get­ting from his home to Jake’s Gro­cery and the post of­fice was by walk­ing or rid­ing a horse or burro, teach­ing him a bit of what it was like liv­ing in the South­west from the 1830’s un­til well af­ter the turn of the cen­tury. And he saw no con­tra­dic­tion be­tween his pas­sions for land con­ser­va­tion or sus­tain­abil­ity and his cel­e­bra­tion of Old West themes or ru­ral at­ti­tudes. “In a world of in­creas­ing ar­ti­fi­cial­ity, dis­hon­esty and govern­ment con­trol, wild places and free peo­ple set the ex­am­ple and tone for a more vi­brant and em­pow­ered way of liv­ing.”

Hardin is cur­rently com­pletely his 14th book, Law­men of The Old West Un­masked, while as­sist­ing his cop­ub­lisher Kiva Rose in pro­duc­ing the most in­flu­en­tial magazine about the use of herbs in nat­u­ral heal­ing: Plant Healer Magazine, “with a mis­sion of re­duc­ing our de­pen­dence on fed­eral health care and of­ten harm­ful phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.” Herbal­ists, he tells us, “have a few things in com­mon with the finest of fron­tier men and women, in keep­ing tra­di­tions alive, in lis­ten­ing to the land, and in tak­ing risks to try and do good.”

Pan­cho Villa’s Mo­tor­cy­cle can be found at se­lect Ca­tron County busi­nesses, and can be or­dered from his web­site, along with The Medicine Bear or Old Guns & Whis­per­ing Ghosts.

For in­for­ma­tion on Plant Healer Magazine and books about herbs and herbal­ism, go to Plan­ Jesse Hardin can be reached at

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