July 8, 2014



There are many necessary evils in life. Maybe more in the ranching business than in many occupations. Rising creeks with washed-out fences. Dust and snowstorms. Lightning strikes and range fires. Prolapsed cows and backwards calves. The list can go on. But bulls are the worst.
These past couple of weeks, ranchers have been busy turning bulls out with cows. They are the worst things on the planet to handle. Well, maybe high school boys would rate up there very close.
Bulls that have been together for several months have pretty much established the pecking order. That is, until you chase them through a gate. Then all hell breaks loose. I don’t care if it is a wire gate, a pipe gate, a swinging gate, or a dragging gate. I don’t care if you are moving them from one pasture to another, or from one pen in the corral to the other. They beller like mad, paw a little dirt, and the fight is on! Inevitably, they, kind of like some wrestlers, prefer to work on the edge of the mat. And you can bet your bottom dollar that they will crash into the fence. I don’t care if it is wire, pipe, or electric. When a bunch of ton bulls hit the fence, it is demolished.
If you are on horseback, on a 4-wheeler, or in a pickup, get out of the way. I usually send Vern Baker into the fray, just to speed up the destruction. Vern is my dog. Well, a dog. He’s the one that specializes in being in the wrong place. But dang, he loves speeding up the action in a bullfight.
Doug and Cheryl took bulls out last week. Some Hereford. Some Angus. Now, everyone knows Angus bulls love to beller and start the fight. Herefords kind of hang back, saving their energy for later. Doug has both breeds of bulls.
The trouble started because it looked easy. All the bulls but one were lying right by the gate. One black one was off by himself. Cheryl was to open the gate and wait until the bulls were all headed that way. Ron was going to hold herd. Doug would ease around the lone bull and bring him up. Good plan. But bulls hadn’t heard it.
It was muddy and Cheryl couldn’t get her horse over to the gate. The lone bull started bellering because he knew they were going to go through a gate. The others walked up to the gate, which was still closed, and started the fight. Didn’t need a gate. One got pushed through the fence.
Doug swore at the bulls. Then he swore at Cheryl and Ron. But, eventually he ran out of swear words and helped chase the bulls through what was left of the fence.
They trailed them along, and cut off the black bulls in the home pasture. Then Doug loped ahead to open the gate into the pasture the herefords were supposed to go in. Things were coming together nicely now.
The bulls trailed up to the gate, into the pasture, and as the next fight started, Doug counted. Eleven. Eleven hereford bulls. There was 12 when they left the bull pasture.
Doug swore at Cheryl. He didn’t dare swear at Ron cause Ron was carrying a gun. Never swear at an armed man who is already kind of crazy.
They rode back and found the bull standing in a bull berry thicket swatting flies. He went up towards the gate. About 20 yards from the gate, he saw the other bulls heading for the cows. He almost jumped the fence. Almost meaning he only tore out the top two wires and four posts.
Doug reached for Ron’s gun. We still don’t know if he was contemplating killing the bull or himself.
Just think, in a couple months, you can lock the bulls back up.