Breeding the Perfect Bull- page 8 | People & Places | Smithsonian
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On the R.A. Brown Ranch, fifth-generation ranger Donnell Brown can't help thinking about the potential he had created through decades' worth of work. (Karen Kasmauski)

Breeding the Perfect Bull

A Texas cattleman used genetic science to breed his masterpiece – a near-perfect Red Angus bull. Then nature took its course

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“You should have just told her thank you,” one of the other cowboys offers.

“But I didn’t understand it. I’m like huh? It had these shoulder flap deals. I’m like, what are these for?

“You should have just said thank you.”

“She said she got it from some top-notch store,” Jeff says. “Norbert’s?”

Nordstrom’s!

Donnell walks up.

“Morning, gentlemen!” he says. “Ready to roll?”

“Yes, sir,” Jeff says. “We’ll get ’er loaded here in a moment.”

They’re headed to a ranch rodeo five hours away, for working cowboys only—not those highly paid professional bull riders you see on TV. This is ranch versus ranch, all the cowboys testing the skills they actually use each day. Roping, doctoring, milking, bronc riding. (No bull riding, because no working cowboy would ever have reason enough—or be stupid enough—to climb on the back of a bull.) Jeff will ride bronc tonight. On one hand it’s an honor to be the bronc rider but on the other hand it’s what you give to the young guy with no wife and no kids. Just in case.

They will take separate trucks, Donnell alone in his, because the others know better. Donnell can easily turn a five-hour trip into a ten-hour trip. Easily. He likes to stop and chat with customers. He’ll pass out sale catalogs and hang posters of Turbo at sale barns, feed stores, any place that looks good. He has a roll of tape in his truck.

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