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Murrells Inlet: Rodeo rider shows locals the ropes in goat roundup

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

The residents of Goat Island in Murrells Inlet proved no match for a professional roper this week.

It’s a tradition at Drunken Jack’s restaurant to move the goats to winter quarters on the Monday after Thanksgiving. After 33 years, Al Hitchcock and his round-up crew have learned a few things. They go at high tide to limit the goats’ escape routes, and they put collars on them.

But roping a goat has proven just about impossible — until Monday. Rodeo rider and roper Tracy Morris of Charlotte, N.C., happened to be dining at Drunken Jack’s on Sunday night when she heard about the goat round-up and agreed to join. “I’ve been swinging a rope since I was a kid,” said Morris, who retired from the Charlotte Fire Department after 30 years of service. “We had a bet who could rope the most. I’m very competitive, especially when it’s guys against the girls.”

Morris roped two goats, something Hitchcock has been trying to do for 20 years. “We had some professional help,” Hitchcock said, “somebody who knew how to throw a lasso and catch a goat rather than throw a lasso and let the goat run into it.”

Morris proved especially helpful when one goat eluded wrangler Jesse Harris and went to the far side of the island. She made short work of the escapee with her lasso and the last one joined his friends on a pontoon boat for transport to the Marsh Walk and their winter home. The six nanny goats will go to a farm at Osprey Marina, and the billy will spend the winter in separate quarters because there’s already a billy goat at the farm. They will return to the island April 15.

Hitchcock said there’s not enough vegetation for them in the winter, and they don’t have shelter from the cold wind. Hitchcock said the goats were put on the island after he found some marijuana plants growing there. “They were local boys in the neighborhood,” he said. “I didn’t want to call the police, but I didn’t want them to find it on the island either. The goats solved that problem for us in a week or so.”

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