It was Fall Roundup time on the Mulkins ranch.  A few calves had been missed during the Spring branding, so now that the cattle had all been gathered and corralled it was time to brand.

This was November in 1950.  Brahman cattle had been introduced into Arizona and were valued for their heat tolerance, and the ranch had a few crossbred and purebred Brahmans (called “Braymers”) to brand.

The ranch owner, Pop Mulkins, his daughter Betty, an Apache youth named Joe, and I made up the branding crew.  Pop did the roping, Joe and I did the wrestling, and Betty handled the branding iron.

Brahman calves sometimes act unusually when roped, thrown, and restrained.  When they are let up, even when only a few months of age, they will sometimes charge the person nearest to them.

Rodeo calf ropers back then sometimes, as they dismounted and ran to the calf, were met by an angry, charging bovine who may not have weighed nearly as much as the roper.

Pop snared the last calf of the day, a brindle “Braymer” heifer.  After being branded, we released her.  Joe and I stepped back towards the corral fence.  Pop put slack in the rope holding the heifer’s hind legs.  She jumped to her feet, shaking with anger and frustration.

Joe was busy examining a splinter in the palm of his hand.  I turned to warm him that the heifer looked like she was about to charge us.  Then I saw Pop Mulkins, on his horse behind the furious heifer, holding his finger up to his lips.  “Shhh!”

So, I said nothing, but got ready to climb the fence.

The heifer charged and before I could react, Joe looked up, saw her coming for us, jumped behind me, seized me by my belt and yelled, “Look out!”

Too late!  The charge caught me right in the belly.  Good thing her horns were just little nubbins.  Pop almost fell off his horse laughing, and even I could see the humor in the situation.

As I bent over, trying to catch my wind, Joe said, “Hey! Did you see that?”

Of course I did.