MANDAN, N.D. - When there is a death in the prime of its life and at the height of its popularity, it's a sudden and a very sad surprise. Unfortunately for the world of Professional Bull Riding, it happened recently with Pearl Harbor.
He was the pride and joy of Berger Bucking Bulls of Mandan. Pearl Harbor was the number-one ranked bull in the world at the time of his death.
Chad Berger has owned a number of great bulls but none of them as good as Pearl.
"I think I was in shock for a few days. We've got several hundred bulls around here and the good Lord had to pick that one. So yes, it was a big surprise and it was a great loss. You just don't go on the street corner and get another one like him," Berger said.
For those that don't understand, the animal is as much of the show as the people trying to ride them, and Pearl Harbor was a super star.
"We had an autopsy done and he had a little bit of a neck injury which formed some blood, and a blood clot went to his brain and that's how we lost him. It was just a freak accident," Berger said.
Talking about Pearl Harbor in past tense, is not an easy thing for Chad to do. What is easy for Berger to reflect on is the impact he had on the public.
"Pearl Harbor had as big fan base as probably any world champion bull rider going down the road right now. We got cards in the mail, hundreds of phone calls and fans have given me stuff. One guy had a suitcase made with Pearl Harbor on it. Another guy painted a feather and sent it with Pearl Harbor on it. It's just a huge, huge following these bulls have now and when you have one that great everybody pays attention you know," Berger said.
Over the years, the Berger's have nurtured some of the top bulls on the planet.
"My dad had Little Yellow Jacket, and at the time, he was the best bull that ever lived, and then along comes Bushwacker and along comes Pearl Harbor. Cody Lambert, the livestock director said when they asked him about Pearl Harbor he said he was as good as Bushwacker and so them are once in a lifetime bulls. I've had a lot of great, great bulls that were close to him but never like him and hopefully we can get another one," Berger said.
The Berger's will have their 18th-annual P.B.R. event next month in Bismarck and when we get closer to it we'll let you know what Berger has planned for that.
For now, I'll simply say nothing like it in the world has ever been done before.