by Darol Dickinson
Okanagan Game Farm was established in Kaleden, BC, CAN in June 22, 1967. During their quest to identify unique species of interesting animals they acquired a small herd of Watusi cattle. They were on display for thousands of people to see and were bred and professionally cared for. This was no doubt the finest early group of Watusi in the far north.
Richard Patterson of Sisters, Oregon was nationally famous for exhibition Llamas and Arabian horses. Some time in the late seventies he acquired a Watusi breeding group from Okanagan. With this group was a smooth well built chocolate red Watusi bull with fairly flat-out horns -- lots of horn. He had the widest spread I had seen at that time. I called Patterson in the early eighties and found him uninterested in selling this nice bull, nor about selling anything. His sales skills involved a long series of unreturned phone calls.
In early 1979 I had purchased 15 Watusi from the Rare Animal Survival center at Ocala, FL, from Roland Lindeman. Negotiating with Mr Lindeman was no walk in the park either. The whole account of how that came down was recorded in my book FILLET OF HORN. Mr. Lindeman had a beautiful huge horned chocolate bull, who was a two year old, that I bought, and at the last minute he backed out and I got the Zander bull instead. Zander was very pretty spotted but not as large of horn as the original bull.
A retired rodeo clown, amateur stock contractor, Dean Drake of Canyon City, Colorado purchased some of the Patterson Watusi and got this really nice bull in the package. The Watusi thing was really cooking when Drake entered the picture. Some Watusi had sold for $25,000 and Bonadelli in California had sold one of our cows from the Rare Animal purchase for $55,000.00. At that point no Watusi were registered. There were no Watusi auctions.
The Ankole Watusi International Registry was founded and major management problems hit the fan. Soon after the new association, World Watusi Assn was founded. Once the two registrations started, the cattle values soon dropped.
Drake controlled the AWIR. To his credit he started to exhibiting Watusi cattle at many of the leading cattle shows like Denver, Fort Worth, San Antonio, etc. As a result he sold semen on every bull he could purchase. To come up with original names he collected Ankole #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5. He collected several more. Many of the great PBR bucking bulls with Watusi genetics were a result of the old bulls Drake sold semen from.
Drake's best bull was Ankole #5, the really nice Okanagan bull that he had purchased via Patterson. I went to see his efforts near Canyon City and Drake had Watusi, zebra, Brahman, bucking horses, and a variety of zoo animals all in the same pens, together.
Ankole #5 was the best horned and best conformation bull of the breed that I had seen. Drake had hauled him all over the nation. He had been petted on the face by thousands of kids. I had the Rare Animal females and needed this bull. I knew Drake had bought him for about $8000. After exasperating dealings Drake offered him to me for $20,000. I hurt to think of this price, but told him I would take him. I would be back the following day with a trailer and a check.
When I returned, Drake changed his mind and Ankole #5 was not for sale. To say the least, I was more than mad that he would not keep his word. Rather than never have use of this great bull I bought 50 straws of Ankole #5 semen. I have retained it now for 33 years, until last year, we placed one straw of Ankole #5 in the Buffalo Bill cow Afro Keezena. Afro Keezena's dam was by Liar's Lake Country Boy and out of a Fortune II cow.
On 4-7-15 this wild African colored bull calf was born by artificial insemination thanks to Ankole #5. It is a miracle 33 years in the making. To say that I am excited about this little fellow is an understatement. I am hoping for a fresh foundation bloodline to develop from this little bull. His sire is so far back in most Watusi pedigrees he is like an unrelated bloodline.
After my failed effort to buy Ankole #5 he shortly thereafter died during an exhibit at one of the big shows with some crazy turn of events. He only lived a short time after my $20,000 was refused, but the semen lives on. DD