Allyn “Spud” Paulson backs his semi up to a loading dock at the Los Angeles International Airport in July 2022. Paulson transported 17 Guernseys from northern Indiana to be shipped to Hawaii. 
Allyn “Spud” Paulson backs his semi up to a loading dock at the Los Angeles International Airport in July 2022. Paulson transported 17 Guernseys from northern Indiana to be shipped to Hawaii. PHOTO SUBMITTED
How did you get started in the trucking industry? I started trucking pretty much right out of high school around 1997 or 1998 with a pickup truck and gooseneck trailer. I grew up in South Dakota and would work sales in the Midwest and would truck cattle out of those sales, mainly in the Midwest, down to Oklahoma and Texas and back up. I would also haul some females for ABS and STgenetics and occasionally some bulls for them.

What do you enjoy about your career? I enjoy the people I meet along the way. You make a great network of friends you can rely on in a lot of different situations. I am headed south to Oklahoma right now (March 5), and I will probably stop at a friend’s place in Missouri to chore. I have another truck zigzagging through Missouri, and I was able to give him places where he could stop and chore. I also like being able to see so many different animals. It is always fun to spot the good ones. I have bought cattle I have hauled for myself and for other clients.

What does a typical day look like for you? There really is not a typical day. Every day is definitely different, but every day revolves around caring for the cattle, whether it is pitching out the trailer, bedding the trailer or choring on the road: feeding, watering, milking any milk cows I am hauling. Choring takes a lot of time, and it can be difficult depending on the load. Heifer chores can typically take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. If I have milk cows, chores can take up to two hours.

What helps you keep your focus on long days? I listen to Sirius radio. I also enjoy taking the time to catch up and chat with friends. I always know I can call my good buddy Brian Olbrich in the wee hours of the morning, because he’s usually still doing chores.   
Tell us about your most unique experience being a truck driver. The most unique experience I have probably had was this past summer. I hauled 17 Guernsey cows into the Los Angeles International Airport to be shipped to Hawaii. I helped load them into shipping crates. They were being sent to Hawaii for a raw milk dairy. I’ll be going back to LAX to pick six of them back up because they are going to be sent to New York.

What is your route and what do you haul? I haul coast to coast, border to border, and everywhere in between.

Tell us about your first truck and the one you currently drive. The truck I first started with was a 1990 GMC three-quarter ton truck. I pulled an old 7- by 24-foot trailer that I had fixed up in high school. Now, I drive a 2006 379 Peterbuilt with an Eby 50-foot double-deck cattle pot. I also have a Freightliner 60 with an 8.5- by 36-foot Eby trailer and a 2019 GMC 3500 that pulls an 8-by-26 Eby; so I have a small, medium and large. It is not uncommon to have all three out on the road at one time. I have friends who drive the smaller trucks for me when needed.

What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in your career? The regulations have gotten much stricter. When I first started out, the Department of Transportation wasn’t nearly as strict as it is now. You have to be more compliant. It is also much harder to get a commercial driver’s license now than it was even 10 years ago. Another change is technology and the ability to communicate when you are on the road. When I started trucking, it was maps, hand-written directions and a bag phone. I had a $700 phone bill once from being on roaming so much with that bag phone. Now, you have the world in the cab with you with cell phones, GPS and satellite radio. That ability to connect takes some of the stress off of the problems you might encounter along the way.      
How many miles have you put on in your career? How many states have you been to? I have put on well over 2 million miles in the last 25 years. I have worn out six pickup trucks. I have been to every state except Maine, Alaska and Hawaii; but, one of my trailers has been to Maine.

What common mistakes do other drivers make near truck drivers? People being on their phones, texting and swerving into my lane, and cutting off a truck like mine. People have no idea what it takes for one of these to stop, and the moving load makes it even harder.

What is your favorite truck stop and what is your favorite dish there? I like chicken tenders at the Woodshed near Big Cabin, Oklahoma.

What is your favorite time of year to drive in? I enjoy driving in the fall of the year – September and October – with the leaves turning colors, and the corn and soybeans are ready to be combined. I enjoy the scenery.

Tell us about a unique time when you had trouble hauling and how you overcame it. This is where that network of people comes in handy. Around 2005 or 2006, the motor blew up on my Ford and stranded me in Angola, Indiana. Fortunately, I knew a family of Jersey breeders near Angola. Steve Bachelor brought his truck and hooked up to my trailer, and we got the cows on my load to his place to care for them. Another friend, Bruce Gingerich, came over from Millersburg, Indiana, and got me to the Chicago area where I was able to have a guy bring a truck down from Wisconsin to get me the rest of the way back to my farm in Columbus, Wisconsin.

What on-going regulations do you have to follow? There is a ton of paperwork that needs to be taken care of to comply with all of the regulations. I need to keep a log book; there is International Fuel Tax Agreement paper work and tracking fuel receipts; trucking authority regulations; DOT regulations and inspections for my trucks; and keeping my CDL updated, to name a few.

Do you have a trucking companion and how often do they ride with you? Occasionally, my sons, Suton and Dakota, will ride with me when they can.

When you are not on the road, what do you like to do in your spare time? I like to relax a little bit, catch up on some paperwork and wash the trucks. I enjoy doing maintenance on the trucks, making sure everything is as it should be. I also enjoy working with some show heifers here and there. I try not to schedule too many long hauls during the summer, as I enjoy spending time with my boys and being at cattle shows.

Tell us about your family. I have two sons, Suton and Dakota.