Raised in a suburb of Los Angeles, Slim Randles was 14 before he was able to buy a horse. This was a $50 horse, and Slim’s dad used to say they fed it around the clock to keep the buzzards from circling the house.
The same could’ve been said of Slim at the time, as he weighed about 135 pounds until he was 40 years old. At the age of 16, Slim and his horse moved to the town of Independence, on the eastern side of the High Sierra. He worked at Sequoia-Kings Pack Trains all summer, taking campers and their gear over the high passes. For the next eight years, he’d pack mules all summer and then either attend college or report for small newspapers in the winter.
He finished high school in Independence, as well. Well, almost. He was given an honorary high school diploma from Owens Valley High School when he was 37 years old.
For sport, Slim roped calves and steers in local rodeos, not very well, but enthusiastically. At the pack station, he became known as a good hand at gentling colts, and several times caught wild horses and burros in the desert mountains to the east of there. It was legal to do so then.
Randles spent the decade of the 1970s in Alaska, working as a feature writer and columnist for the Anchorage Daily News, the state’s largest paper. Each fall Slim guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains, and he built a cabin 12 miles from the nearest road and spent eight years there.
Two dog team expeditions he made for the newspaper in 1970 helped build public interest in long-distance dog mushing, and when the first Iditarod Race was held in 1973, Slim drove a team in it for about 300 miles, until crushing an ankle. For the next three races, he served as a race official.
For three years, Slim was associate editor of Petersen’s Hunting Magazine in Hollywood, and wrote both the blackpowder hunting column and the knife column. He went back to working for newspapers in 1981, first as investigative reporter for the Victorville, California, Daily Press, and then as managing editor of the Pampa News, a daily paper in Pampa, Texas.
Moving to Albuquerque in 1983, Slim wrote a horse column and an outdoor column for The Albuquerque Journal, and then was given a column called “Bosque Beat,” consisting of feature stories on interesting people. He wrote that column for 17 years.
Teaming up with another Rounders Award winner, cowboy and artist Grem Lee, Slim wrote the back-page humor column for New Mexico Magazine called Ol’ Slim’s Views from the Porch for six years, until the magazine changed.
Six years ago he began writing a syndicated humor column for newspapers called “Home Country.” Today it appears in more than 350 newspapers in 44 states and has a readership of more than 4.2 million.
He’s also the author of 16 books, including three novels and the biography of The Rounders author, Max Evans. One of Slim’s most recent books, “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right” has won two state awards and one national award.
Slim spent 12 years in the village of San Ysidro, New Mexico and now lives in Albuquerque with his wife, Catherine. His hobbies include shooting traditional archery competitively, fly fishing, hunting and playing the accordion.