Doctoring a Bull
We heard him first. He was bellerin’ constantly from a long way off. We were riding on the north end of our summer range that day, far from the cow camp. We came to a spot on the ridge above the valley where we thought the noise was coming from, and we had a pretty good view. We spotted some cattle about a mile away, down in a swale next to the lake. I pulled my binoculars out of my saddlebags for a closer look. I spotted him right away, a big Black Angus bull. He had maybe 20 to 25 cows with him. He was in a world of hurt, and he was letting everything and everybody know it. We rode until we had closed the distance to about four or five hundred yards. From that vantage point, with the glasses I could see what the trouble was even from that distance. This guy needed help! We rode down the steep slope in a series of switch backs the horses made through the lush grass and brush until we were within 30 to 40 yards of this bruiser. Man, what a racket he was making. He made almost continuous long painful sounding groaning bawling almost roaring noises, let me tell you—it was awful to listen to.
Kevin, my partner, and I sat our ponies for a minute trying to determine our plan of action to help this miserable king of the Harem. We quickly ruled out trying to herd him all the way back to the corrals, we figured he either couldn’t make that long journey in that hurt he was in, or that he just wouldn’t for the same reason, PAIN!
The only and best thing would be to fill him full of combiotic or penicillin and hoped he’d heal up over time. We only had one good dependable rope horse, Hondo. Neither Kevin’s horse nor the appy, Greg, my nephew, was riding were savvy rope horses. We could get in a lot of trouble trying to use them. It wasn’t lookin’ good. Doctoring a bull was going to take two good rope horses, and we only had one. We had to do something, but what? It seemed impossible.
As we pondered the situation all of a sudden, the light went on in my head. I was looking at a big old dead partly decayed fir tree laying on the ground not far away. It started to click in my brain. That tree would be like the second horse we needed. The tree was about four feet in diameter at the base. The limbs were pretty much nonexistent for about the first seven or eight feet from that end. If we could get the bull to walk around the base of the tree, I could rope the bull by one hind leg, put Hondo in reverse and pull that leg up and over the log, scissoring the bull against the tree, one leg over the top of the log, the other leg on the ground, sorta like an open pair of scissors, pull the bull up tight against the tree in this manner immobilizing Mr. Blackie so he couldn’t go forward or backward or sideward as long as the rope held the one leg good and tight.
I explained my plan to my two compadres, they agreed it oughta work as long as Hondo would do his job. I had full confidence he would. Soon we had Blackie herded into position, I got a good heel shot, set the trap, and waited till he took a step forward, pulled the slack and snagged his right rear hoof, dallied up and put Hondo in reverse as planned dragged the bulls hoof up and over the top of the log until he was straddling that big tree like a hurdler. Hondo was doing a superb job of keeping the rope snugged tight and Mr. Bull wasn’t going anywhere—we all felt relieved and happy, but Blackie was fit to be tied, pardon the pun. He thrashed, and bellered and blew snot all over everything, but we had him.
I told Greg to get on Hondo as soon as I got off, and keep him holding tight, so I could get the medicine out and ready. Soon I had the syringe filled with 12 cc’s of combiotic. I figured as long as I was on one side of the tree and the bull on the other I’d be all right. I slipped up on the left side of Blackie across the tree from his standing leg and punched the needle in his tough old hide. It bent. I just pushed it on in, plugged in the syringe and pumped in the 12 ccs.
I repeated the process two more times till I had 36 cc’s pumped in. All the time the bull was raising the roof. Hondo and Greg were holding steady, Kevin was helping me with the medicine. If looks could kill, Blackie would have murdered me but all was well. We got the medical supplies back in the saddlebags and prepared to release the bull. I told Greg that when we loosed the rope, I didn’t know if the bull would run or turn on me, but if he tried for me, that Greg would have to jump Hondo in between us to save my hide. We all got ready. At the signal Greg gave me some slack, I quickly pulled the loop off the bulls hoof. The bull took off for tall timber, much to our relief!
We didn’t see Blackie for about ten more days, but when we did, he was all healed up and a happy range bull again, and that made us happy too, not to mention the cows.