Baxter Black, the cowboy poets' trail boss, died at the age of 77.

NPR first reported his death, which was confirmed by his son, Guy Black, in a statement. Leukemia was the cause.

Mr. Black, a former rodeo bull rider, spent 13 years tending to the ailments of cattle and horses across the West.

He gathered earthy stories from cowboys and reshaped them into jokes, monologues, and poems for his second career as a raconteur and humorist.

He once had ambitions of being a singer-songwriter, but he ultimately decided that the best medium for his ideas was poetry.

Mr. Black performed his rhyming, metrical works in a distinctive sagebrush twang at the first National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, in 1985.

He was quickly recognized as a modern-day Will Rogers or Ogden Nash of the feedlots:

I like to think I’m good with cows, A pretty fair hand with a horse But am I a surefire cowboy? I’m dodgin’ the answer, of course. I’ve learned to handle the question

Whichever one wants to know it. I ante up an’ say that I’m A better cowboy poet!

Mr. Black was featured in People and national newspapers, and "all of a sudden, here I am, the only person in the world who makes a living doing this."