Bull Fights for the Old Timer

By Norris Chambers

Many years ago I worked at a radio station in Mexico. It was located just across the

Rio Grande river and beamed a very powerful signal toward the United States. Just about everything that existed was advertised and sold to users around the world, especially in our country. Although I worked several hours a day I did find time for a little sight-seeing and fun. With the help of a Mexican friend I managed to see chicken fights, dog fights, a few people fights and eventually a bull fight.

One nice, sunny afternoon my friend and I rode out of the town in a wagon type taxi that he was familiar with and headed for the hilly country in the south. It was not very far and there was not much there except a large pen constructed of logs and a few crude rows of split log seats surrounding it. There were some smaller pens at one end of the crude arena and I noticed there were several large bulls in the small pens that could be opened into the action area. An attendant approached our taxi and I paid a few pesos for admission. We were handed a crude ticket and motioned to continue to scene of action!

We were well seated when the first fight started. A fancy dressed guy with a sword approached the bull. The animal did a little snorting and charged a time or two but the foe held a red cloth up and the bull hit the cloth instead of the fighter. This continued a few minutes then a couple of helpers ran into the arena and started throwing darts into the bulls’ neck. This made him angry and he tried a little harder to make contact with his attacker. Again the cloth caught his efforts and he failed. After a long period of this type of battle the man stuck the long sword into the bull’s chest, the bull died and the fight was over. The rest of the duels were similar. I didn’t think the bull had much of a chance but the crowd applauded and yelled and screamed “Ole! Ole!”

Clifton and I had had a little experience with mean bulls but we were always more interested in avoiding a fight than engaging in one.

In the old days bull fights were rare. When Clifton and I learned that they sometimes fight each other we were not very old. We had a mean looking bull in our small herd of cattle and we had been told to stay away from him because bulls sometimes didn’t care for kids. Since he was a vicious looking animal we were glad to take that advice. We stayed away from the old fellow as much as possible.

One afternoon the old bull was in the little field west of the house and we were wandering around the fence with slingshots, searching for wild game. Suddenly we heard a low, mean sound coming from the bull. He was looking across the field fence toward a brushy patch on the other side. He had barely finished his first outburst when he started another slow, low-pitched bellow. He was still staring into the brush. From somewhere in the thicket we heard an answering bellow that sounded just as mean and dangerous as the one our bull was using.

I asked Clifton what he thought that meant. He said he had no idea, but it made him think they didn’t like each other and were using some bad bovine language to express their disapproval. The low bellows continued for several minutes. Our old bull held his neck stiff and stared in the direction of the returned answers. The two continued to exchange insults for several minutes. Our bull walked to the fence, extended his head over the top wire and continued to make what we thought might be threatening sounds. These were immediately returned from the brush on the other side of the small field.

We watched as the other bull emerged from the brush and stood at the edge of the field. He didn’t look much like our bull. His color was much lighter and he had longer horns. I figured he must have been at least part Jersey while ours was a Hereford. He saw his noisy foe on our side of the fence and started walking toward him. Our warrior still stood with his head over the top fence wire and bellowed. Clifton asked if I thought they would fight. I told him I thought they wanted to, but the fence might keep them apart. It was a good fence constructed with six barbed wires and solid mesquite posts.

The two foes rushed at each other. They ignored the fence and it immediately fell with snapping posts and tangled wire. They were ramming each other with their horns and ignoring the barbed wire and posts. They seemed to be traveling up and down the fence row, devastating it for a hundred feet or more. It was a noisy and violent fight that left both of the fighters bloody and ruffled. After a few minutes the invader turned and limped back toward his brush and our bull didn’t pursue him!

I commented to Clifton that we had a lot of fence to fix. “Sounds like fun!” he answered. I wondered about his idea of “fun!”