Patches made of leather have been around the scouting movement since the teens. Philmont first offered a leather patch in the early 1950s with the leather nature award.
The black felt bull was the source that brought about the design to commemorate Philmont.
The Philmont black felt bull was created in 1944 by Dr. E. K. Fretwell, who was then Chief Scout Executive. It was patterned after the bull found in the tile mosaic located at the downstairs entrance to the Villa Philmonte. In the beginning a first year camper or leader received only the head of the bull to sew over the left pock of the shirt. After another year's participation, one qualified for the body portion and the bull, and with three years, the tail. Eventually the bull was made in one piece, black for men and white for women, and the shirt was changed to a red wool jacket. The white bull was discontinued in the late 1980's.