May 27, 2009


By Dean Meyer


Grandpa always said, “It always rains right after a dry spell!” And boy, we got a dandy this weekend. I hope, if you needed rain, you got it too. And, you guys in the east that are waiting for fields to dry up… Well, there is always “prevented planting.” Watching the high school rodeo in the mud this weekend reminded me of an old, true rodeo story about mud, and rain, and cowboys. I know I’ve told it before, but I like it, and I hope you do.
Rodeo stories seem to live on forever. Whether it is the story of the Tooke brothers and their great bucking horses, or the stories of men like Casey Tibbs and the Reynolds boys.
The stories are seldom written down, but passed on from bar stool to bar stool, or over a cup of coffee on a snowy winter night. Sometimes the names get lost over the years and it becomes that “old boy from Belle with the crooked leg.” Or “that bronc rider with one ear from over on the Powder.”
One story I just heard this weekend was of a bull rider named Billy Morris, they thought. Or that “little bitty bull rider from South Dakota.”
It was a miserable, rainy day. The back pens were filled with slop up to the top of your boots. The wind was blowing and everybody was cold and miserable. Billy’s bull was in the last section. And the bull was on the fight.
Jack was loading the bulls and this big old horned-devil got real nasty. He’d hook at anyone that got in the pen. He’d got started jumping over pens and was just demolishing everything. The crowd had disappeared, and most of the cowboys had packed up and headed home or for the next rodeo.
Billy sat humped up under the crow’s nest with his bull rope in his lap. He had his slicker wrapped around him against the cold rain. The rain ran off the front of his hat and formed a small river that ran up against his boots and soon soaked up his socks. But he sat there silently for an hour as they fought this bull.
Jack kept on fighting this bull. He found a hammer and some spikes and was cussing and rebuilding a makeshift panel to work with this bull. The bull had hooked him once as he slipped while climbing the fence and Jack had a noticeable limp. He had invented several new swear words that no one had ever thought of in the history of rodeo, sailing, or starting a chainsaw. And that covers a pretty wide vocabulary.
Occasionally, he would glance over at that humped-up wet pup of a bull rider and swear about the blankety-blank bull riders that didn’t have the blankety-blank sense to make a living any other blankety-blank way. They didn’t have the blankety-blank brains to do anything more than put their hand in a blankety-blank rope and hang on.
The bull had splashed mud over Jack’s clothes. His boots were soaked. His leg hurt. And he was pretty sure he had pneumonia.
Finally, he got the hooky-devil in the chute. He looked over at Billy.
“Billy! Your blankety-blank bull is in the chute! Get your ass on him!”
Billy got up from underneath the crow’s nest. Shook himself like a wet dog coming out of a mud hole, glanced over to the chutes and replied, “The hell with it, I don’t feel like riding today.”
And calmly walked over to his pickup and left.
I think they later found him beat to death, but then again, I might be wrong.