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CATTLE TODAY

IT'S THE PITTS -- NON-BUYING BIDDERS

by: Lee Pitts

Believe it or not, there are situations in an auction when a bidder is totally ignored. Maybe it's because their last check is still bouncing or perhaps it's because they belong to one of the following species of non-buying bidders.

The Wavers- We've all seen these folks. Usually they sit up front so that the ring crew can see them when they wave at a wayward spouse or a long lost friend across the room at the same time the auctioneer is selling a million dollar painting or a $10,000 club calf. You'd be surprised how many times we've sold a bull to a lady who owns no cows or a horse to a broken down cowboy who's so broke he has to bum his chew from his girlfriend. You can put your boots in the oven but that doesn't make them biscuits. Likewise, just because someone waves doesn't mean they're a bidder.

The Scratchers- Whereas the wavers don't know any better the scratchers should. This endangered species includes old cow buyers and horse traders who like to be as indiscreet as possible when they bid so that others won't know they're doing so. This creates problems for ring men and auctioneers who are on the lookout for any sign of movement. I once knew an old cow buyer who had a nasty rash one sale day and ended up buying a billy goat and two loads of barren ewes. At top dollar too.

The Fakers- I've only met one member of this species. He was a nice young man whose father worked at the local sale barn. I don't know the politically correct way of saying this but, the young man was mentally challenged. He loved auctions and after observing them for awhile one day he just decided upon order-buying as a career. He was good too, he'd make all the right gestures to cut the bid, cut an animal out and what number to put his purchases on. The only problem was he didn't have any cash or real orders for cattle. This was unfortunate because he had a better eye than many buyers I've known. The first time I worked a sale in his presence I sold out to him many times. I'd imagine the feeling I experienced at those times was similar to what a calf roper must feel like when he goes down the rope only to find an empty loop.

The Crooks- I was taking bids at my first cow sale when the auctioneer told me in no uncertain terms that I was NOT to take bids from a well-known crook who graced us with his presence that day. The bad dude's modus operandi was to bid on the cattle and have his loaded trucks headed for another state before his kited checks started falling back to earth. The crook was as sociable as a sore bagged ewe with triplets, only without the charm, and he was always trying to cut the bid. I wonder, what difference did it make what the price was if he never had any intention of paying in the first place? It wasn't unarmed robbery either, as I discovered the first time I ignored the old codger's bid. I was doing a fairly good job of neglecting him when he opened his faded jacket just enough so that I could see the walnut pistol grips on the gun he had in his shoulder holster. Needless to say, I took his bid and so did the auctioneer.

The Drunks- What is it about horse sales that everyone thinks they need to bring a designated drunk with them? I can usually tell by reading a person's body language, such as a drink in both hands, whether to take a drunk's bid but the problem is that everyone is yelling at you for missing a bid. Once a consignor stopped a sale and yelled at me, “Are you blind? The man's waving his hat to bid, can't you see?” Quietly, I tried to explain to the consignor that the bidder was three sheets to the wind and wouldn't pay up but he replied, “Well, what would it hurt to take his bid a couple times?”

The Duckers And Dodgers- Bidding is fun and people like to do it, including folks who enjoy the attention so much that they bid to be seen... but not to actually buy. And if by their misjudgment they bid one too many times and end up as the winning buyer they'll disappear faster than a box of Depends at an old folk's home.

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