OAKDALE, Calif. – “Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!”
Julio Moreno stands at the edge of his fence just beyond his barn/feedlot and looks out toward the pasture. His words echoing out and over the rolling hills and swirling within the walnut and almond trees that surround his 60-acre ranch in central California.
In a matter of seconds she appears. Lady Luck, Bushwacker’s mother, rises to the top of the hill and glances back toward Moreno. The longtime stock contractor, looks toward one of his dearest cows and offers one more solid “Whoop!”
Lady Luck nods her head and begins to slowly graze her way down the hill toward Moreno, bringing with her the other 60 or so cows that Moreno owns. Mr. Bull and Roy’s mom are in hot pursuit of Lady Luck, and the trio of famed mothers marches their way toward Moreno.
Normally, this would be Moreno’s call to notify the cows that he and his wife, Kindra, are ready to feed them one of their weekly servings of hay. On Thursday, however, Moreno is just saying hello to the cows that have been as important to his PBR stock contracting career as the bulls that have brought additional fame to the former World Champion contender team roper.
“That is something I really feel proud of,” Moreno says. “All of my bulls that I haul or take are bulls that I have got the mommas or the dads still on my ranch. I raise everything.”
After the tragic passing of Kent Cox in February, Moreno broughtBushwacker home for the first time since he was a 3-year-old. Bushwacker, who is the Bad Boy Mowers $50,000 Bonus Round bull this weekend, stays in the first pen of Moreno’s feedlot. The entire lot is as long as a football field and each of the pens are covered about half way – which allows the bulls to have the freedom to choose whether they want to bathe in the sun or chill in the shade.
On Thursday though, there is not much of a choice with a rare, rainy day on the ranch. It is the first time since returning to Oakdale that Bushwacker has had to choose between the rain and shade. He seemingly enjoys both, letting one shy rain drop trickle slowly down his right eye lid, while posing for photos from PBR LIVE subscribers Jessica Keith and Ryan Kelly, who won a social promotion to visit Bushwacker.
The publicity doesn’t bother the two-time World Champion Bull. He has calmed down since the two fans first arrived at 11:15 a.m. Bushwacker first welcomed his group of visitors by slowly moving his front legs back and forth in the ground, uneasy about the visitors with their rain jackets on top of their heads.
Once they offer to feed him some fresh hay out of their hands, Bushwacker is welcoming and playful as can be. Eating the hay and tossing it up over his head; it is reminiscent of those early days in Oakdale when Bushwacker would throw hay over his back and run to the top of the hill in his pen away from Moreno.
Moreno has owned the ranch for close to four years. It was originally called Two Palm Springs Ranch before Moreno purchased the property.
Kindra’s 11 guinea hens are squawking in the background as Moreno continuously tries to hush them quiet. The pony that the Moreno’s won in Santa Barbara, California, this summer is in a pen next to them across from Bushwacker, as well as Julio’s two superstitious donkeys – Tijuana and Matty.
Julio once heard that having two miniature donkeys helps keep away sickness from his cattle, so far – knock on wood – it has seemed to work.
Moreno is at peace walking down the alleyway of his feedlot, which was built in the early ‘90s. He used to try and run Bushwacker up and down the alley for training like he does with Mr. Bull and Roy, but Bushwacker would always trot over to the left side and hook at all of the bales of hay.
The alleyway is Moreno’s favorite part of the ranch.
“I love just the walk down that lane,” Moreno said. “Especially in the winter time, I get a cup of coffee and I get my little truck that I drive out there and I throw hay to the ones that need hay and I grain the ones that need grain.”
Nowadays, he runs Bushwacker up and down the opposite alleyway near the pens holding Mr. Bull, Roy, and the retired Troubadour.
Troubadour has amazingly become as docile as ever. He will come up to the edge of his pen and lick the faces of anyone visiting him, such as Jessica. Troubadour used to be the bull that everyone wanted to see on the ranch before Bushwacker came around. Now he is second fiddle.
Still, it doesn’t bother him, believes Moreno.
“He has a human personality, for sure,” Moreno said. “He knows they will come to him pretty soon. It seemed like after he retired that was just it. He would come to the fence and you would start scratching him and he’d like that. It kept growing and growing to where you can do with whatever you want with him. He is like a pet.”
Soon Bushwacker will be the bull cozying up to the fence in search of a friendly scratch on the backside. Until then though, Bushwacker has much to do if he hopes to become the second bull in PBR history to win three World Champion Bull titles before retiring at the conclusion of the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Regardless of what happens in Las Vegas, he will always have his loving Oakdale home waiting for him.
FANS REACT TO WINNING TRIP TO VISIT BUSHWACKER
It was a day full of laughter and fun for this week’s two PBR LIVE subscribers that won a trip to visit Bushwacker on Julio Moreno’s ranch and tickets to the Kawasaki Strong Battle at the Bay.
Fort Collins, Colorado, residents Jessica Keith and Ryan Kelly were the two lucky winners and called the day a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They took hundreds of photos of Bushwacker and enjoyed lunch with Moreno in town.
“Julio was open arms from the minute we walked on there,” Kelly said. “Besides the whole experience, obviously feeding Bushwacker was definitely the best experience out of the whole thing. Seeing a living legend of bucking bulls and his nature and how big he is was an experience in itself.”
PBR LIVE subscribers Ryan Kelly and Jessica Keith won a trip to visit Bushwacker on Julio Moreno’s ranch.
Keith added, “Every second of it was great. We were able to hand feed him like a baby,” “I don’t know what Julio does to his bulls. They are almost like house pets.”
Ryan even had the opportunity to sit on Troubadour in his pen.
“Me being able to go get on him sit on a legend,” Kelly said. “That is bragging rights on my part.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.