A draw is a small natural watercourse or gully, shallower and more open than a ravine or gorge; also known in some areas as a blind creek if water routinely flows beneath its dry surface. A draw is typically dry and subject to flooding in heavy rains. A woody draw is a troughlike depression, choked with shrubs, thickets, and small trees, that usually leads to a valley from a gap between hills. Woody draws regulate the runoff from rainstorms and help filter pollutants. They also provide havens for wildlife. On the Great Plains, woody draws offer a shady respite from the searing summer light, and a place to ride out the worst of a winter storm. A draw’s ability to conceal, suddenly and surprisingly, is conveyed in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses: “The riders were fanned over the open country a mile below him and he counted not four but six of them before they dropped from sight into a draw.” Gulch, a similar term, was used in the Pennsylvania Appalachians before making its way west to become a common mining term. To be “dry gulched” was to be ambushed in a secluded draw.

Conger Beasley, Jr.