32 CALF News • August | September 2020 • H EROES AMONG US W hen one joins the com- pany of Bill Farr, Kenny Monfort, Bob Josserand and Nolan Ryan, that’s a prime position in the beef business. All are past recipients of the National Golden Spur Award – an honor Monte Dean Cluck will receive this fall. Cluck is CEO of Dean Cluck Feed- yard, Inc. The longtime beef industry leader is part of the fourth generation in a family that has been a pillar in crop and livestock production in the Texas Panhandle since the 1950s. The Golden Spur will be presented to him on Oct. 10 in Lubbock at the National Western Heritage Center. “It was humbling when I learned I was nominated for the award,” he tells CALF News .“I never thought of myself as being a nominee for a Golden Spur. I know people who deserve it. When I received the call, it was very emotional; I look forward to receiving the award in October.” Established in 1978, the Golden Spur is the most prestigious honor given by the ranching and livestock industries in recognition of an individual’s accom- plishments.“It has been awarded to iconic industry leaders whose unparal- leled devotion to land and livestock has earned them notable respect and admira- tion from their peers,” according to the Ranching Heritage Association (RHA), which presents the award. “The award also emphasizes the humanistic, scientific and technological contributions of the ranching and live- stock industries to society,” RHA states. Six Texas and national ranching and livestock organizations sponsor the award. They include RHA, the American Quarter Horse Association, National Cattlemen’s Foundation, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Asso- ciation, Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA) and Texas Farm Bureau. Panhandle legacy Although he grew up in Gruver, Texas, Cluck and his wife, Katsy, live in Boerne, Texas, near San Antonio. They have four children – Kaysha Sparling, Kallie Hauschild, Monte II, the late Colt Cluck and four grandchildren. His parents, Dean and Rita Cluck of Gruver, were early pioneers of the cattle feeding industry. Cluck’s great-grandfa- ther homesteaded in Hansford County in the northern Texas Panhandle in the 1920s. He and his wife had 12 children. One of their grandchildren was Dean, who continued the operations. They raised wheat and ran cattle. “In 1961, my dad lost the lease on a farm,” Cluck remembers.“He said he had enough money to either buy four sections of land to farm in New Mexico or start a Panhandle feeding operation. He chose feeding cattle and invested in a 930 Case tractor and a tub grinder, and built five pens in Gruver. In the late 1960s, Cluck family mem- bers built what were then called Caprock 1 and Caprock 2 feedyards near Gruver. In the 1970s, they began expanding farm ground and feedyards.“Dad loved farm ground,” Cluck says.“He passed away in 1999. Shortly after that I picked a couple of people I had a lot of respect for. We started what is now Dean Cluck Feedyard, Inc. “With those partners, my wife and my family’s support, we have grown it into what we are today.” As the family operation expanded in the 1990s and 2000s, it leased ranches in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. In 2014, it acquired Dimmitt Feedyard in Dimmitt, Texas, as well as additional farm and ranch land. Total company feeding capacity exceeds 100,000 head. “Our feedyards are surrounded by farmland that is typically planted in wheat for winter grazing,” Cluck says.“We can often just use horses to drive cattle from wheat pasture to the feedyards. This Monte Cluck By Larry Stalcup Contributing Editor 2020 National Golden Spur Award Winner Continued on page 35  Monte Cluck, whose family helped pioneer the Texas Panhandle cattle feeding industry, is the 2020 National Golden Spur Award winner.