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SD trail drive held in advance of special bull sale

Duane Jobden drives nearly 100 2-year-old horned Hereford bulls across Spring Creek approximately 15 miles south of Scenic, bringing them to be loaded on semis and eventually sold at Gordon, Neb. (AP photo)1 / 2
Curtis Temple watches over his cattle about halfway into the 10-mile trip it took to get them to a highway and loaded for sale south of Scenic in this April 18 photograph. (AP photo)2 / 2

SCENIC -- For a time, it evoked memories of the Old West, with encouraging shouts of "Come bull! Hip! Haw!" and cowboys wrangling steer through an open prairie.

Such calls punctuated the rural solitude recently as a small cluster of riders moved a herd of 100 Hereford bulls to a shipping point 10 miles from their winter pasture south of Scenic, just as it was done before trucks and trailers became commonplace.

In an era where cattlemen ponder volumes of paperwork, weighing documented genetic traits to decide which bull is best for their breeding operation, a special cattle sale this week was be something of a throwback.

There are no birth weights or expected production indicators available on these bulls owned by rancher Curtis Temple. What a buyer sees is what they will get.

Temple, 50, used the bull sale as a way to pay tribute to his hardworking ancestors and their values.

"I wanted to do something for dad," Temple told the Rapid City Journal.

While other ranch families host memorial steer-ropings and rodeos to honor their ancestors, Temple thought: why not a bull sale? The cattle and horses represent his family's commitment to good cattle and horses, he said.

So, almost four years to the day after his father's passing, Temple sold 100 horned Hereford bulls, 65 heifers and 15 head of horses in memory of his father at the Pitchfork Ranch's Memorial Hereford Bull Sale at the Gordon, Neb., Livestock Auction.

But first the bulls had to be brought to the sale site, and that required a three-hour trail ride to get them where they could eventually be trucked.

An occasional head-butting, "power-play" between a pair of muscle-flexing 2-year bulls sometimes slowed the herd's progress, but the advance of a nearby horse and yell from the rider usually separated the horned combatants.

"I'll just be happy when I see them go across the highway," cowboy Duane Jobgen remarked to a nearby rider. Jobgen, his son Paul, and another friend, Katie Nordhorst, helped Curtis Temple and his son, Trey, with the threehour trail drive.

"These bulls have never seen the blacktop and sometimes they don't like it."

A little sand on OST Highway 27 and plenty of shouting persuaded the reluctant bulls to step on to the highway. A few miles later the bulls reached a make-shift set of pens to begin the second leg of their journey.

"Do you think these bulls will sell?" Temple asked another rider.

Watching his herd wander across the prairie bluffs, Temple seemed unaware of the beauty of the warm spring day as he concentrated on his herd.

"Dad is probably shaking his head at me and thinking 'What is he doing?' " Temple chuckled softly the following morning.

Following the sale, Temple hosted a meal and dance at the American Legion Hall.