Dale Wisely: Dead Bulls


Southern Legitimacy Statement:¬†Dale Wisely grew up in rural Arkansas. His father didn’t speak much, but Dale remembers these two things his father said: (1) Son, your oil is the lifeblood of anything mechanical and (2) Boy, you get back in that truck. The former he said once. The latter, many times.

Dead Bulls

–for Scott Wisely

“Did I ever tell you about Grandpa and the bulls?”

My brother, recently retired, sat across from me in a Chick-Fil-A near our hometown in Arkansas.

“I’m not sure,” I said.

“Well, Daddy and I went along with him to a cattle auction because he needed to buy a bull. He ended up paying good money for a big ‘ol bull. But we only had the pickup with a couple of plank rails on either side of the bed.”

A Chick-Fil-A employee assured us it was her pleasure to bring us coffee refills. My brother paused the story while we doctored our coffees with half-and-half.

“So, after we loaded the bull in the pickup bed, the auction guy said, ‘Well, we’ll see y’all back here shortly.'”

Scott went on to explain that the auctioneer told my grandfather that the bull would not be contained for more than a half-mile in that truck bed and he expected the bull would make its way back to the auction lot in no time.

Our grandfather, known to be a bit stubborn, and overconfident about his trucks, assured the auction employee that they would not see the bull again.

“Sure enough, once we got just down the road,” my brother said, “that bull would slam up against the right-side rail and the truck would lurch to the right. Then it would slam up on the other side and the truck would heave that way. This went on until Grandpa pulled over, got out of the cab, took his rifle off the rack, walked around the truck, and shot the bull through the head.”

This forced the bull to abruptly stop abusing a perfectly good truck bed and drop to the truck bed floor with what must have registered a strain on the truck’s rear shocks.

Although I remembered my grandfather well enough to know he would not be bullied by his own livestock, I narrowly avoided sending hot coffee up my nose at the thought of such an abrupt bull murder.

“Then we drove to McIntire’s and left the bull to be butchered.”

“That was some expensive hamburger,” I said.

“It was,” said Scott. “But the next day I watched Grandpa go out in the pasture to inspect a bull he had purchased a couple of weeks earlier. For whatever reason–probably because he was a bull–the bull took out after Grandpa. Charged right at him. Grandpa, who I guess was in his 60s by then, ran at full speed, dove over the fence, and rolled on landing. Got up, brushed off, went in the house, came out with his gun, and shot THAT bull. He stood there a looked at it a minute and said, ‘Let’s get this one loaded up for McIntire’s and while we’re there, we’ll pick up the meat from the other one.”