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A "Bull" Story
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Old 08-04-2018, 10:18 AM
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Default A "Bull" Story

What you are about to read is very true, no "bull", but it does have a bull in it.

Growing up on a 1200 mother cow cattle ranch in the Bears Paw mountains of Montana had it's trials as well as fun. There were very few times of actual danger and probably my worst was in the dead of winter during a brief warm spell between bouts of 40 below.

I was horseback alone on a brisk January day looking for a "lost" Hereford bull we called "Hook" due to having lost the weight off his right horn when he was young causing it to grow up, forward and out naturally. He knew how to use it as he'd badly gored a horse the previous fall. The rather smallish horse I was riding (Popeye) was quite agile and would unintentionally almost "unseat" me when he'd turn (without any guidance from me) quicker and sooner than the cow we were working knew she was going to.

Anyway, Popeye and I found Hook and after short chase Hook turned and took us catching poor Popeye in the chest sending him stumbling backwards with me grabbing a fistful of saddle horn to stay aboard. Hook stopped (I don't know why) and as Popeye quickly recovered I grabbed my Ruger Old Army (yes, a cap 'n ball pistol) and aiming for the little swirl of hair in Hook's forehead I promptly and without thinking, shot him. Popeye, unaccustomed to gunfire, whirled to the left, unseating me but I managed to keep ahold of the reins AND the pistol. I was up as quickly as my winter apparel and stiff leather batwing chaps would let me. I turned to see Hook through a haze of real black powder smoke, deader 'n a door nail, with a neat blue hole in that little swirl of hair. It was then I realized I was still clenching my right mitten in my teeth with the uncontrollable urge to vomit.

After I "contained" myself and got the still trembling Popeye calmed a bit, I took stock of my situation. I didn't really remember pulling off my mitten or drawing my pistol, but I did remember Dad saying "Aim for the swirl". I holstered the (still smoking) Old Army, snapped the flap and got back in the saddle. Poor Popeye was sweating like he'd run 20 miles in August (as was I) so we headed for the horse trailer a couple miles away. Popeye snorted at the still very dead Hook as we rode by as if telling him "HAH, you sorry , that'll teach you!"

After getting back to the barn I took care of Popeye, rubbing him down (with what else) a gunny sack and then brushing him and giving him a bait of rolled oats, barley and molasses then draping a horse blanket over him to keep him from getting a chill (it was a balmy ten below after all). Dad encountered me as I was unhooking the horse trailer and asked me why we were back so soon (we were only gone 4 hours) and did we find Hook.

I looked up at Dad, "Yes, we found Hook."

Dad could tell all was not well and asked "Well, what happened?" so I told him everything as best as I could remember. While listening to me recount the events Dad's face turned white, then red then back to normal and pushing his hat back a bit he said,

"Serves that ornery old cuss right." then he put his hand on my shoulder, looked me square in the eye and asked, "Did you aim for the swirl?"

"Yep!"

"Good lad, now let's go get warm."

Although I was asked by the other hands if I'd found Hook, my answer was always no and nothing else was ever said about the incident and we never told Mom, so unless Dad told somebody, this is only the second telling of this story.

RJ
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