Just as announcer Zane Parker was signing off after the last Cody Nite Rodeo ride last Monday night, a bull let the Stampede Park crowd know the show wasn’t yet over.
As the patrons began stirring from their seats, a bull called “Bun Warmer” shocked the witnesses by leaping over the fence at one end of the arena, demonstrating its vertical leap much like an NBA player, instead of trotting back to the corral.
“We didn’t even plan that,” Parker deadpanned.
The bull, which had just tossed rider Fisher Creason, left fans wide-eyed and was spurring the pickup men into chase-down mode.
First over the fence in pursuit though, was Edward Hordern, clown-bullfighter. Moments later, the bull reappeared through the back gate.
“He smelled me, so he wanted back in,” Hordern said.
What could have produced tragedy if the 1,500-pound animal charged at full speed at anyone walking outside the fencing was quickly played for laughs.
The bull never got completely loose because it landed within a back-up enclosure behind the fence wall.
“Free of charge!” Parker informed the spectators of the bonus drama.
Bulls are husky beasts, elongated in shape, with fairly short legs. They do not look as if they can dunk. But once in a while the snorting animals who hate cowboys climbing on their backs for their eight-second rides, get a notion in their heads and take a flyer.
Mo Betta Rodeo stock contractor Maury Tate said these things happen at irregular intervals – sometimes the escapee can be a bucking horse.
“It’s rare,” Tate said of a bull high jumping. “It has happened before. We’ll go for four years without it happening and then it will happen three times in one year.”
Nate Jestes of Douglas, one of the top bullfighters in rodeo, was working that night as part of his rehab from a hamstring injury.
“Not very often,” Jestes said of how regularly he sees bulls jump out of arenas. “More here than anywhere else.”
Jestes and Tate both said one reason such escapades take place more often in Cody is the age of the stock. The bulls, like many of the cowboys, are young and gaining seasoning on how to behave in the arena.
“We go through a lot of young bulls,” Tate said. “It’s a training ground for them too.”
There is a quick minute of tension when livestock goes where it is not supposed to go, but those close to the action realized immediately everyone would be safe because of the bull’s landing zone.
“When they jump over the fence, they’re still contained,” Parker said.
As long as the livestock chooses to vault five feet worth of fence at the pens areas of the park.
Not every bull is athletic enough to get clearance, either.
Before each night’s rodeo, Mongo, the 2,000-pound gray Brahma bull, stands still outside the grandstand for children of all ages to sit on his back and pose for pictures.
It is difficult to imagine the sweets-loving bull jumping over a fence when he doesn’t buck, or even run.
“I don’t think Mongo could quite make it unless there were some Skittles or suckers waiting on the other side,” Tate said.