Jim told me a story of his youth. Of course, it could have happened yesterday knowing cowboys the way I do.
Jim was 12. His brothers were two years off, either way. Their dad sent the boys out a’horseback to bring in Bully Boy, one of their herd sires, to the home corrals. Instructions were to stand off by the water trap until Bully Boy came in. Then make sure they close the trap before any other bulls came in, to avoid a bull fight.
The boys had been told many, many, many times to NEVER, NEVER, NEVER get around, beside or between any bulls that were fighting. It was a rule of the range.
Our teenage trio sat at the trap for an hour before they saw Bully Boy coming in with a handful of cows. They arrived without fanfare. The boys could have ridden up and shut the gate easily but … coming out of the brush they saw another bull, a big red one, trudging up the trail to the trap.
“Hold him back!” said the eldest.
“Wouldn’t you like to see a bull fight?” asked Jim.
Well, whatever convoluted logic one might use to make it seem OK carried the day. They rode into the trap and pushed Bully Boy out to meet Big Red.
It couldn’t have been better planned. The two bulls went right for each other. Allow me to quote:
“Two bulls as big as boulders banged together head to head.
It sounded like the closing of a vault!
Tectonic plates colliding, their reverberation spread
Like tremors from the San Andreas Fault!”
When the boys decided they’d had enough entertainment, Jim whipped on his ol’ horse, Tony, and rode right between the bulls screechin’ and hollerin’. Red went one way, Bully Boy went the other.
Jim stayed after Bully Boy till the bull stopped, turned around, and then charged the horse. Bully Boy hit the horse in the shoulder. The jar knocked Jim off the right side and spooked Tony, who lit out buckin’.
Jim was riding an old saddle with a high cantle that tied to the seat at a sharp angle just right to catch his left spur. According to Jim the right stirrup was swingin’ free and he got an arm through it.
From the JPV, Jimbo-Point-Of-View, he could see underneath the horse’s belly at the buckin’, kickin’, gallopin’ horse’s hooves and the big bull hookin’ at the horse with his horns.
Jim said they were battlin’ and buckin’ neck and neck until one solid blow caused him to lose his grip on the stirrup. It swung him back with enough force that his homemade saddle-string spur strap broke and launched him out behind like someone throwing a gunny sack full of wild turkeys off the back of a runaway bass boat.
In the aftermath, they were all worried what story they could tell their dad, till they looked up and there he was. He’d seen the whole thing.
Jim remembered his dad riding up to him, putting his arm around his shoulder and saying, “Son, if this didn’t teach you something, there’s nothin’ I can say.”
Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: