of the small town of Deer Trail, Colorado is a sign that claims the nation's first rodeo
was held there in 1869. It's easy to imagine the cowboys and livestock of that day and
what it all looked and sounded like. But I wonder if any of the performers were like
He was part Longhorn and part
Brahman. Born in 1923 in Louisiana, he is said to have killed a young man in 1926.
Somehow, he made his way to the Kansas Flint Hills where he was found by Monte Reger of
Buffalo, Oklahoma. Reger and his father-in-law, George Crouch, were rodeo people and
established the famed rodeos at Doby Springs, Oklahoma in the 1920's. Monte traveled to
Kansas in search of rodeo stock and purchased several head. Among this bunch of cattle was
a stand-out steer -- the one with terrific horns. As it happened, there was room on the
railcar for one more head, and the fancy steer was on his way to celebrity. Somewhere in
his life, the steer lost the lower portion of his tail. Because of this feature, and along
with his high twisted horns, he was named Bobcat Twister. Monte trained him to pull carts,
to be ridden, and to jump. He was highly skilled at jumping. So much so that he easily
jumped over a 1930's Chevrolet convertible, which he did for many attendees at rodeos and
public performances, including Madison Square Garden in New York. In the 1990's, I spoke
to Monte's widow, Opal, a pleasant lady who recalled selling postcard pictures of Bobcat
Twister for a nickel. She died in 1998 at age 92.
Being a collector of old steer
horns since 1972, I like to study early pictures of horned cattle. I have dozens in my
collection. They have been my schoolroom. Evidence of the steer's Brahman bloodline is the
shape of his poll section and its shorter hair. Also, notice the acute angle at which the
horns first leave his head, which accounts for this unusually high horn. In addition, we
find an elongated-type ear, common to the Brahman, without the long hair so commonly found
on early Texas cattle. He was narrow framed, having a high ground clearance at the belly.
Typical of his Longhorn ancestry are his generously twisted horns. Now almost lost in horn
discussions is the old term "lyre-shaped," so named after the ancient stringed
instrument. Decades ago, this term was used when referring to horn shapes of cattle
painted on the walls of Egyptian tombs. Bobcat Twister is a classic example of the
lyre-shaped horn. An elderly Texas rancher with whom I became well acquainted tells me
that among the most beautifully shaped horns he saw as a young man were those on
Longhorn-Brahman crossed steers.
Bobby, as he was often called, died
in 1942, and his head was mounted. At last report, he was still in the Reger family. Like
any form of entertainment, the American rodeo circuit has its own stars and celebrities.
All things considered, it might be a while before we see another star quite like Bobcat
Copyright: Alan Rogers