A Hunting Mule

One of them exclaimed that was a sight to see, a mule pointing quail like a birddog, the only difference being that she did not point her tail straight up or lift one foot, she just used her ears.

On an early morning in 1969 a mule filly was born. This wasn't just any mule. The mother was ½ racing horse, ¼ quarter horse and ¼ quarter racing appaloosa. The sire was a fourteen hand Tennessee Mammoth Jackass. Now take a quick minute and picture a thoroughbred, quarter horse, appaloosa mule – not something that you see every day.

The little filly was weaned a little early because of the mother's health and to make it easier to take care of the young filly. The owner of the colt, also the Director of the New Mexico Boys Ranch, put her in his back yard. As a novelty for the young boys on the ranch, they would bring her into the house and get her to lie down and they would all watch TV together, using her as a pillow. Once again, imagine that.

They gave her the name Sara Gay, named after a lady that attended the First Baptist Church in Belen, N.M. where all the boys attended Church. January 17, 1972 a new family moved and began managing the ranch. Along with the ranch came Sara Gay, which began a long legacy of hunting trips, working cattle, and training the boys to work hard and play hard.

Sara Gay became a member of the family and a local attraction. As if watching TV, in the house, with the family was not enough; the Christmas play at church would usually have Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem, with Mary astride Sara Gay coming down the aisle to the front to complete the Nativity Scene. As for working cattle in the ranching scene, Sara became good at positioning herself so that you could throw the rope and would stand with front feet planted and would only move as the cow circled, then lift one foot at a time to keep pointing toward the cow. Sara learned where the latch was to every gate at Boys Ranch. We went through the gate without me dismounting. Cattle that lagged behind would get a warning squeal that was barely audible to me that usually pushed the cattle right along, but if it did not, they would get a nip on the tail and which always received a quick and comical reaction. To say the least, Sara was an extremely intelligent mule. Now it gets even better!

Every now and then I would go rabbit hunting with Sara. When we bow hunted jack rabbits, I could give her right flank pressure and she would turn sideways so that the bowshot was straight from the left side. After doing this a few times it even became unnecessary to give her signals. When game was spotted, she automatically turned for the shot! We hunted in big pastures of sagebrush and mesquite. We hunted upwind and she would get "gamey." That is, she would know there was game in the bush ahead because she could smell whatever it was and I could tell by seeing her ears erect and pointed toward the bush. It was usually a rabbit, but sometimes quail, and rarely a coyote that slept too soundly.

Once, I invited a couple of friends quail hunting. When they arrived, I had Sara ready to go and they asked why I was taking her. I replied that we needed her along to act as our bird dog to find the quail. They began to eye me in a strange questioning way, but shrugged their shoulders and came along.

Well, it wasn't too far into the hunt that Sara stopped and pointed. I told them to get position quickly. Sure enough the quail flushed and away the quail went. The hunters each got one bird and the excitement rose to a high pitch. One of them exclaimed that was a sight to see, a mule pointing quail like a birddog, the only difference being that she did not point her tail straight up or lift one foot, she just used her ears. The other said that the birds had spread out along the edge of the river and he had marked them down. Let's go after them! I told them as calmly and politely as I could that we couldn't go after the quail down by the river. They wanted to know why and I told them the reason.

If we go down to the river, the quail hunting would be over. Sara wouldn't hunt quail anymore because she would rather fish than hunt!


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