First Impressions

Oct 14, 2011

Bull Tales

Tom was new in town. at the bull’s head. After This ranch foreman and shaking the dog off, the bull stock dog trainer was get- would pile drive it to the ting the lay of the land with bottom of the pond. Quickly, his family at his new place Tom called them off. of employment. During the He rode to his nearby tour, he spotted a big, good- neighbor’s fence and opened looking red Brangus bull. a gate. The bull stood in the His first impression pond and stared—then wasn’t positive. headed upstream and “Don’t weaken, Dad!” was trashed the neighbor’s wa- what Tom’s kids were holler ter gap. New kid in town, ing as he raced the bull back Tom sighed, thinking about to his pickup. his future fence repair job.

“I’m weakening today!” By now, the bull was trot- Tom declared panting like a ting out across his neighbor’s race horse and slamming his meadow. In the distance, truck door. Tom could see a small barn The last thing he saw in and portable corrals with a the rear view mirror as he half dozen cows. His new pulled away was the bull neighbors were nearby, mind- slinging his head and blow ing their own business. ing snot in all directions. He They looked up when they made a mental note to re- heard two sets of hooves introduce himself to the headed in their direction. bull—for a meeting of minds, Sensing trouble, they hopped of course. The following in their pickup. morning, Tom grabbed a The bull made a couple horse and a couple of his circuits around the pickup. best dogs then headed to Tom used the dogs to get the where the bull treed him. bull off his new neighbors Several hills and a couple and everybody went roaring canyons later, he heard a off across the field. faint barking. Catching up to Tom had his hands full the action, he found the bull minimizing his neighbor’s standing up to his belly in a bull-caused damage, but he stock pond. There was no wasn’t so involved that he safe approach for his dogs. missed the owl-eyed look of The dogs were climbing relief on the truck’s occu- up on the bank and leaping pants as the bull departed.

The bull missed the gate and headed for the nearby national forest. Tom used the dogs to turn the bull and the high-speed parade headed back, full-bore, for his neighbor’s corrals.

This time, his neighbors were more alert. As soon as they heard hooves thundering in their direction, they hopped in the pickup, started it and moved to the center of the meadow.

By now, the bull was mad’ern hell. He wanted a piece of something. Tom hung back and let the dogs do the work as they went round and round the neighbor’s barn.

The bull changed his mind suddenly, quit the field, ducked under a gate and dodged up a creek toward the national forest. Still hanging back, Tom concentrated on wearing out the bull and keeping him from disappearing into the mountains.

The bull bailed off a bank and into a stream. He was getting tired and wanted a fight. Still, Tom held back and refused to argue. Frustrated, the bull quit the stream, blew through another fence and beelined back to the neighbor’s corrals.

By now, when Tom’s new neighbors heard pounding hooves, they realized not much was going to get done that day. They packed in a hurry, jumped in the truck and went home.

The bull was tired. He’d made so many circuits around the corrals there was a rut forming. On the umpteenth flyby, Tom threw open a gate and the bull trotted inside. Exhausted, the bull relaxed but kept a wary eye on Tom.

He, his horse and dogs, slowly rode home. Returning shortly, Tom—very gingerly— loaded the bull into a stock trailer and took him home.

The next day, while Tom was out fixing several holes in his neighbor’s fence, they came by and said there were no hard feelings. They’d been impressed by Tom’s dogs and gave him one of theirs to train.

However, sometimes Tom wonders—did his neighbors give him a dog to train because they liked the way his dogs work? Or did they want a welltrained dog in case that red Brangus bull comes back?

He’s not sure, but he’s glad his neighbors survived their first impression of him. — D. “Bing” Bingham [Bing Bingham is a writer, rancher and storyteller. Contact him at bing@bingbing]