Legendary Cowboy is Dr. Douglas B. Murphy
The 2012 Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo Legendary Cowboy is Dr. Douglas B. Murphy, who was born in a two-room log cabin in Bennett, Utah north of Roosevelt.
Growing up he fostered his love of ranching on the family ranch in Bridgeland near Midview Reservoir on the west side of the basin.
“There’s no other profession that I would pick more than being a cowboy,” said Murphy, a lifelong cattleman.
Murphy started his cattle herd at the age of six when he purchased his first heifer for the whopping sum of 25 cents. The story goes, a seasoned cattle buyer pulled in the Murphy family ranch with a nice heifer on the back of his truck.
“How much is that heifer worth?” Murphy asked the cattleman, who answered a quarter — failing to mention that he meant 25 cents a pound.
Murphy raced to his piggy bank, retrieved a quarter, and brought it to the cattle buyer, who was reportedly so tickled by the offer he sold the heifer on the spot. As much as he likes a good deal, Doc Murphy loves being a cowboy, “because it gives me the opportunity to be out with the animals and the people” who own them.
Murphy is the son of Ervin and Nelda Murphy, the only boy in a family with three sisters. After graduating from Union High School he spent 2.5 years in Norway on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He returned to complete a bachelors degree in physiology from Utah State University followed by a master’s in human anatomy from the University of Utah.
A short time later, he was inducted into the army where he served a year in combat in Vietnam. Once back from Asia Murphy was accepted to and graduated from the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
He opened the Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Vernal in 1976 and is today president of the Utah Veterinary Medical Association.
Murphy married Beth Jones of Heber and together they settled in Vernal to raise four children: two boys and two girls.
The Murphy ranch is located on the fork of Ashley Creek and Dry Fork Canyon in the shadow of towering rocks.
It’s a full production farm with 200 to 300 head of cows maintained by alfalfa hay grown on the ranch.
“Just up from the house is a grazing area for cows next to Ashley where we keep them before they go up Taylor Mountain for the summer from June to end of September”
Murphy combines herds with other ranchers for the summer push up leaving about 1,000 head on the high country pastures.
“I’ve been ranching for all my life. I grew up on my father’s ranch and continued in that tradition,” he said. Both of Murphy’s sons have followed him in the ranching tradition and son, Jon has joined in his dad’s veterinary clinic.
Being around animals has given Murphy a tremendous appreciation for life.
“Every animal is a living thing with a personality of their own,” he said. “It’s been rewarding to associate with the animals.”
Sometimes the animals take on the personalities of their owners, especially the companion animals like cats and dogs, said Murphy.
Although he’s never been a rodeo contestant, he’s been a Rodeo Doc volunteering every year during the Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo to tend the contestants’ horses or the rodeo stock.
“Life is very important,” Murphy said, adding he learned of life’s fragility while serving in Vietnam. “You could be alive one minute, you and your buddy and dead the next. I see that too with animals.”
It’s his respect for life that has made Murphy a successful veterinarian, farmer and rancher. His philosophy is simple — you get out of life what you put into it.
Life takes work like farming and ranching there are no regular hours, no paid vacation, no retirement plan, and the work doesn’t end just cause the sun goes down.
“I don’t believe I ever called the doc during regular work hours. The cows don’t know what the time is,” said Cody Jenkins, longtime friend and fellow rancher.
Still, Murphy said he’d do it again as the rewards are greater than the hassles. His greatest joy is having raised his children in the ranching way of life and watching his grandchildren learn from it now.
“The kids learned to work and how to handle the animals. I think it made them better people,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s family said he is known for two things by his friends and neighbors: service and patriotism.
Always looking for a way to serve, he takes good care of the widows in the canyon helping them with their hay crops or cattle or cutting wood for those in need.
Doc Murphy admits there would be more financially rewarding ways to make a living but it wouldn’t be nearly as gratifying.
“I don’t think there’s a better place in the world to live than this area, the Uintah Basin, or a better profession than being a cowboy,” he said.
Congratulations and thank you, Doc Murphy.