Sunday, October 09, 2016

Bull sales bring the best —and worst — potential buyers

by Lee Pitts

The bull business is very competitive and purebred people play to win. Because there’s a limited number of buyers, breeders spend a fortune on color ads and hire their own field men to exhort ranchers to come to their sale.

I knew one breeder who passed out a hundred dollar bill for every bull a ranch manager bought, and once I even saw a bull breeder buy the county fair show steer that belonged to the granddaughter of a large rancher, hoping it would pay off. Sometimes their marketing efforts are for naught, as in the following scenario I’ve seen play out many times.

On the morning of the sale a “big rancher” calls from the airport and asks for a ride to the sale because he needs to buy 30 bulls. Knowing such a buyer could make or break his sale, the breeder pulls out all the stops. (Note: The potential buyer doesn’t have to be male. We held up a sale once so a Texas oil heiress could get there.)

The purebred breeder asks his most presentable marketeer, his wife, who is swamped with fixing lunch for 300 people, to go pick up Mr. and Mrs Big Shot. She goes to the wrong airport, not realizing that the big buyer’s pilot had to land at the big city airport an hour away because the local air strip was not long enough to land his King Air, Lear Jet or Citation.

After some confusion she gets to the right airport and greets a 60ish man wearing a diamond studded cutting horse belt buckle, a pair of Luchesse boots, pressed Wranglers and a 20 X black Stetson. On his arm is his wife (or mistress) who is at least 20 years younger, wearing a rock on her finger that’s worth more than the hired hand’s house. They’re both wearing matching black windbreakers with “Billion Dollar Ranch” embroidered on them.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch the breeder, who has other things to worry about, puts out clean towels, a full roll of toilet paper and sprays room deodorizer throughout the house, which is his definition of housekeeping.

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