It nearly played out like a scene in a movie.
Kenny McElroy had tried unsuccessfully to buy a few different bulls during the second half of the 2014 Built Ford Tough Series, and he was not about to be denied again.
Feeling he hadn’t been taken seriously in past dealings with other contractors, McElroy was prepared to make a deal to buy Long John from veteran stock contractor H.D. Page in Las Vegas.
“I had it right there ready to deliver in a briefcase,” McElroy said of the $300,000 he was prepared to spend. “This was cash. Yeah, I had a briefcase with $300,000 in it in my truck, and if he’d a said, ‘Yes,’ he would of took it home.
“I don’t mess around. When I want something I want it.”
Unfortunately for McElroy, Page turned him down.
Among the bulls McElroy had previously tried to purchase was Fire & Smoke, but reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger either bid first or outbid the Ohio-based McElroy.
Although Fire & Smoke had been hauled by Paige Stout, his owners – Harvey and Brenda Bierema – lived in South Dakota, and Berger is from North Dakota.
McElroy said he wasn’t interested in buying “just any bull,” but he wanted to leave the Thomas & Mack Center with Long John, who won $200,000 as the ABBI Classic Champion, at the conclusion of the World Finals.
McElroy was surprised to see Page walk away from the sale.
It would have made it a $500,000 day for D&H Cattle Company.
Asked if he thought Long John was truly worth $300,000, or if it was a price he thought the Pages – H.D. and his father Dillon – wouldn’t turn away from, McElroy said, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t think any bull’s worth $300,000. I’ve got some partners that wanted to step in and wanted a bull that was capable of being in contention there.”
Page said he never saw a briefcase, or knew that McElroy had the cash on hand.
Page also noted that not only does a bull like Long John “pay the bills,” but he also gets attached to great bulls like Long John in way he doesn’t with a lot of the other ones on the ranch.
McElroy said he’d still buy him today if the opportunity presented itself.
Page added, “Well, he could have bought him, but he’s going to need to get a bigger briefcase.”
McElroy would like to think K-C Bucking Bulls would be among the top contractors of which he listed: the Pages, Berger, Jeff Robinson, Jared Allen, Gene Owen and Wolf Creek.
“I don’t know,” continued McElroy, who noted that unlike the others, he doesn’t need partners to buy elite bulls. “I get frustrated, because I think people don’t take me serious sometimes. When I tell people I’m looking for bulls, they’re like, ‘Oh, well, whatever.’
“I’m not wanting long-go bulls. I’m wanting premiere short-go bulls to put on a truck. There’s a difference. I can go buy a pot load of long-go bulls, because everybody has them. It’s those premiere short go bulls that’s going to step up and make you, make you what you are.”
Page said he certainly took McElroy seriously, but has other plans for Long John. Page said he priced the bull “for quite a bit more,” while McElroy said the price tag was more than $700,000.
Page indicated the Finals was a busy week and that under other circumstances, he would have likely sat down with McElroy and worked out an agreeable deal.
One thing is certain, Page made clear that whether or not he owns Long John in the future, he would want to have the right to live breed with him on his ranch in Oklahoma.
As for this upcoming season, some insiders have observed that Long John won because other bulls didn’t perform up to expectations.
McElroy said he studied Long John and noted that he got better throughout the season. From the first time Page bucked him to the World Finals, he improved his average score by two points. There’s no denying he was at his best in Las Vegas when scored 45.5 points in the opening round with Valdiron de Oliveira on him. J.W. Harris drew him in Round 4 and was lucky to make it 3.7 seconds when Long John scored 47.25 points.
Long John is only going to be 5 years old this coming season, but according to McElroy, much like Page, he too was “looking long term.”
Beyond simply bucking him, McElroy saw Long John as a great addition to his breeding program.
Page, intends to live breed Long John beginning this year.
In fact, he’ll not only put him out in their Ardmore, Oklahoma, pasture with their own cows, but for $5,000, other contractors will have an opportunity to breed their best cows with him. However, he will be selective with the breeding process.
“I’d like some guys who have pride in their program to bring their better cows,” Page said, “to try and better their program.”
For the time being, McElroy is hoping to have some of his younger bulls – 1644 Livewire, 222 Bad Intentions, 2142 Achy Bones and a 4-year-old that was bred by the Pages – competing at the opening BFTS event of the 2015 season in Baltimore, Maryland, and again the next week in Chicago.
The Ohio-based contractor, who has “about 40 cows, all well-bred” and some first-year heifers, is still looking to purchase “the right bull” that will help his overall program.
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