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Posted 1/12/16 (Tue)


We run cattle on the reservation. And the area we pasture in is pretty rough and not much for fences. It’s kind of an open range sort of deal. So the gather begins in October and kind of runs until you go back to grass the next year.
This year I am short three pair. Unless my count is wrong. Which dang sure could be. But we had a guy fly a couple weeks ago and they thought they spotted some. I was tickled to death. I hated to leave a few thousand dollars worth of cattle out in the wind and snow all winter.
We drove up to a ridge as close as we could get to the cattle. I had a four-wheeler and a shod horse in the trailer. When that little package of cows saw us coming they headed for the timber on a high lope. I swore and chased cows for an hour and a half in the brush before I got them out in the open where I could get close enough to read the brands. None were mine. Damn. I hate that.
It kind of reminded me of years ago when we were producing rodeos. We had a couple of bucking bulls that were just impossible to keep in a corral. They were both really good bulls. Bar 33 and Tornado. They would crawl under a corral. They would jump over a corral. They would go through a corral. I swear, Tornado could crawl through a fence that would hold a pig. And Bar 33 could jump over a fence that would hold a buffalo.
But, I always knew when they left the ranch, where we could find them on Friday morning when we were loading up for the next rodeo. Tornado would be out on the flat with the dry cows, and Bar 33 would be seven miles north with Henderson’s milk cows. He had this thing about those spotted cows that he just couldn’t get over. He would go through 500 plain old range cows for a chance to spend a few days with those spotted cows. Amazing.
Both these bulls had been roped enough where they were pretty well halter-broke. They looked a lot worse than they were. You could rope Bar 33 a half mile from a horse trailer and he would lead along pretty good. You just leave the end gate open, drag him up close, and he would jump in.
Tornado was a little tougher. But he would lie down as soon as you roped him. You just shot him with a little birdshot to get him out of the brush, rope him, have somebody (Shirley) bring the trailer, and drag him in. At least that was always the plan.
The year of the Great Escape, they got out in Mandan during the night. Then they went across a footbridge over the Heart River, down a side street, and into a trailer park. There they went into a nice yard with a nice garden and camped for the night. Right in the knee-high sweet corn.
In the morning, sirens were wailing and phones were ringing. There were three wild Brahma bulls threatening the people of Mandan. I quickly got the police calmed down, which is quite a feat in itself. They were bound and determined they should kill or at least tranquilize these beasts. Now, we needed them to buck in a rodeo at two o’clock. We did not need dead or hung-over bulls.
I talked the cops into just stopping the traffic in a few spots, while I took my dog and sicced ’em back to the rodeo grounds. I honestly believe that Bar 33 learned his manners from those milk cows he had been visiting. They walked right out of that yard, down the street like they were in the Fourth of July parade, right around the end of a police car, and across that footbridge back to the rodeo grounds!