How to throw a wild bull
We were sitting on the verandah after supper a couple of evenings ago. It was the end of the day when we thought we'd finally mustered the yellow mickey.This is the wild bull that Ben described when we were unsaddling in the yards as by far the biggest on Cockatoo Creek. By the end of supper, Buckle was considering whether it might be one of the biggest he had ever seen in 40 years of mustering. "Haven't seen too many bigger than that. My very word."
The yellow mickey was certainly big enough to shrug off any attempts Ben and Buckle had made to keep him in the herd and drive him back to the yards.
Ben had clearly caught him by surprise that day, stampeding him in the middle of his harem of heifers into the mob we had mustered against the boundary fence. But as soon as he had realised his mistake, the big cleanskin had just lowered those enormous horns confidently in our direction, and ambled away back into the bush. Nothing you could do to stop him if you wanted to see the bar at Noree Hill again, said Buckle.
He had said something else on the day that came back to me this evening. "Too big to throw."
Always wary of having my pommie leg pulled, I mentioned this as casually as I could, fishing for a clue. "How exactly do you 'throw a bull'?" There was every chance that it's outback slang for something like 'feeding the pommie jackeroo a load of bullshit'.
"No," said Ben. "Straight up. You can throw a pretty big bull if his horn's aren't too long and you can catch him in a clearing."
Buckle and Jonathon nodded, and Jonathon laughed at my look of disbelief. "No word of a lie," said Buckle.
You need two men on fast horses, Ben explained, and you need to find your mickey in enough space to be able to chase him in a straight line at a flat-out gallop - one horse on either side and just behind him. Then the rider who's going to do the throwing reaches over and grabs his tail by the tassle, and accelerates up alongside him and then away at an angle.
You need a good hold on the tassle, said Ben - take a turn of it round your fist - and as soon as you've got a grip you kick your horse on and accelerate up alongside the galloping bull. The moment you arrive right in the bull's eyeline he's going to swing a horn at you, and that's when you pull his tail as hard as you bloody well can. As he swings his head to gore you, running at that speed, he throws himself off balance, and pulling his tail hard in the same direction as his head is moving will be enough to throw him to the ground.
As soon as he hits the deck, the second rider - the hazer - who's been following close behind has to slide his horse to a standstill immediately and hurl himself onto the bull's hindquarters before he can recover his wind and start to pick himself off the ground. A bovine gets up hind legs first, and if you arrive before he's gathered his hind legs under him, a man's weight on top will be enough to keep him pinned down where you want him. The hazer carries a couple of old stirrup leathers or lengths of rawhide, and he uses these first to tie the bull's hind legs together, and then to tie his hind legs to one foreleg so there's no chance he can get up.
Then everybody takes a breather, said Buckle, including the bull.
Do you believe a word of this ? I didn't. But Ben insisted. "Absolutely on my honour," he said. "We'll go out and find a mickey one day next week and I'll show you how it's done.