The Hunter's Life

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recoil junky 08-04-2018 10:18 AM

A "Bull" Story
What you are about to read is very true, no "bull", but it does have a bull in it.

Growing up on a 1200 mother cow cattle ranch in the Bears Paw mountains of Montana had it's trials as well as fun. There were very few times of actual danger and probably my worst was in the dead of winter during a brief warm spell between bouts of 40 below.

I was horseback alone on a brisk January day looking for a "lost" Hereford bull we called "Hook" due to having lost the weight off his right horn when he was young causing it to grow up, forward and out naturally. He knew how to use it as he'd badly gored a horse the previous fall. The rather smallish horse I was riding (Popeye) was quite agile and would unintentionally almost "unseat" me when he'd turn (without any guidance from me) quicker and sooner than the cow we were working knew she was going to.

Anyway, Popeye and I found Hook and after short chase Hook turned and took us catching poor Popeye in the chest sending him stumbling backwards with me grabbing a fistful of saddle horn to stay aboard. Hook stopped (I don't know why) and as Popeye quickly recovered I grabbed my Ruger Old Army (yes, a cap 'n ball pistol) and aiming for the little swirl of hair in Hook's forehead I promptly and without thinking, shot him. Popeye, unaccustomed to gunfire, whirled to the left, unseating me but I managed to keep ahold of the reins AND the pistol. I was up as quickly as my winter apparel and stiff leather batwing chaps would let me. I turned to see Hook through a haze of real black powder smoke, deader 'n a door nail, with a neat blue hole in that little swirl of hair. It was then I realized I was still clenching my right mitten in my teeth with the uncontrollable urge to vomit.

After I "contained" myself and got the still trembling Popeye calmed a bit, I took stock of my situation. I didn't really remember pulling off my mitten or drawing my pistol, but I did remember Dad saying "Aim for the swirl". I holstered the (still smoking) Old Army, snapped the flap and got back in the saddle. Poor Popeye was sweating like he'd run 20 miles in August (as was I) so we headed for the horse trailer a couple miles away. Popeye snorted at the still very dead Hook as we rode by as if telling him "HAH, you sorry :cens: , that'll teach you!"

After getting back to the barn I took care of Popeye, rubbing him down (with what else) a gunny sack and then brushing him and giving him a bait of rolled oats, barley and molasses then draping a horse blanket over him to keep him from getting a chill (it was a balmy ten below after all). Dad encountered me as I was unhooking the horse trailer and asked me why we were back so soon (we were only gone 4 hours) and did we find Hook.

I looked up at Dad, "Yes, we found Hook."

Dad could tell all was not well and asked "Well, what happened?" so I told him everything as best as I could remember. While listening to me recount the events Dad's face turned white, then red then back to normal and pushing his hat back a bit he said,

"Serves that ornery old cuss right." then he put his hand on my shoulder, looked me square in the eye and asked, "Did you aim for the swirl?"


"Good lad, now let's go get warm."

Although I was asked by the other hands if I'd found Hook, my answer was always no and nothing else was ever said about the incident and we never told Mom, so unless Dad told somebody, this is only the second telling of this story.


Paul Hoskins 08-04-2018 12:58 PM

Re: A "Bull" Story
Good story. Good thinking. Good shot. Good dad. I like stories like this. All is swell that ends well. :biggthumpup: Thanks for sharing an interesting part of your life. .......Paul H

gitano 08-04-2018 02:15 PM

Re: A "Bull" Story

Shoot ALL mean animals. Period. Cows, bulls, horses, goats, sheep, camels, mules, whatever. I have a VERY low threshold of tolerance for mean animals. Sometimes, a male can have other qualities that keep him alive for a while, but they never really last long if they're mean. An animal with a bad attitude is gonna get gone pretty dam quick. One way or the other - sold, given away, or shot.

"Ornery" is a different matter. I don't mind ornery too much, as long as they 'know their place'. Ornery critters usually know better than to push an issue too far and will turn tail before they get into real trouble. The ones that can't make that distinction get gone. PDQ.

There is a lot of effort I'll put out for a domestic animal. BUT... I simply don't tolerate meaness. There's very rarely a reason to. People will defend the mean behavior of bulls and stallions because of "breeding quality". In fact, it's no different than a spoiled, poorly-behaved child. The 'fault' is not the hormones of the animal, it's the lack of training by the owner when the animal was young. I have known several stallions and bulls that were perfectly safe to be around. And many more that were not. The latter would have been hamburger and glue had they belonged to me.


recoil junky 08-04-2018 03:08 PM

Re: A "Bull" Story
This particular bull was "tolerated" by a foreman on another "part" of the ranch. Not because he was a "good breeder" but because he was "fun".


FUN??? did you say actually say FUN??!? When is it :cens: :cens: ing fun to get a horse gored to beyond use, then let the bull go so I had to go find it. :mad: :mad:

Yes Paul, this bull should have been gone long before he gored the horse. I don't have a place for mean OR ornery. Ornery can get you kilt as fast as mean because you can never ever tell when the ornery is going to show up.

Had a couple horses that were ornery, they went to the local salebarn in short order. Never been around ornery mule. Smarter than me, yes, but not ornery.

Hook was left to the coyotes and birds as he deserved. To my knowledge, Dad never went and looked and I sure never went back. It's easy to lose a place in the breaks north of the Missouri River in the Bears Paw Mountains.

Now a mother cow that is range calved (very stupid practice) can get on the fight, but you are expecting that (or should be) and can take "actions" to prevent getting hurt. She won't, as a rule, charge your horse.


sakorick 08-04-2018 03:30 PM

Re: A "Bull" Story
What he said ^

Jamie.270 08-04-2018 05:47 PM

Re: A "Bull" Story
Great story RJ.
My toes got numb just reading it, and I could smell the powder smoke from here.

gitano 08-04-2018 06:10 PM

Re: A "Bull" Story
It's probably just semantics, but if you don't put up with ornery, you'll not have billy goats. Cows with calves I can tolerate. Maternal instinct keeps the species alive. BUT... then there's MEAN cows. There's a difference.

I have a particularly short temper with horses. I tolerate VERY little in the way of ornery with them. I'd just as soon shoot a horse as not. I had horses most of my life up through about 30+. A well-trained horse is like ANY well-trained working animal - truly a gift from God. However, a poorly trained working animal - horse or dog in particular - is the beast from hell. The difference between a mean/poorly trained horse and the same sort of dog is that it's very rare that the dog will even hurt you, let alone kill you. A poorly trained horse can kill you.

I was visiting my Dad when he was stationed in Addis Ababa, Ehiopia. My Dad had a few Arabians that he was very proud of. One day we went out for a ride, and I got "Shanko". He was trained OK, but liked to run. If you gave him his head, he was difficult to rein back in. Also, he was constantly fighting the reins to 'get going'. We only rode for a couple of hours, but my back was really sore the next day from 'leaning back' on the reins the whole time. To add insult to injury, the stupid horse was afraid of cracks in the ground. If he saw one, he'd come to a screeching halt. Those of you familiar with horseback riding know what that means... If you're not experienced at staying in the saddle, you're going right over the horse's head. So... the stupid thing always wanted to run as fast as he could, UNLESS he saw a crack in the ground at which point he'd throw on the brakes. I got tired of saying 'whoa', LEANING back on the reins and getting no response.

A couple of days later, I took Shanko out for another ride. This time I thought, "I'll let him have his head for a while and run some of that 'spit' and vinegar out of him. We ran for a while, but contrary to Hollywood, riding at full gallop takes effort on the rider as well as the horse, and the horse was able to run fast longer than I wanted to ride fast, so I reared back on the reins and said WHOA! Essentially no response. (My Dad wouldn't use a "Tom Thumb" bit because he had been told they were 'cruel'.) Several of these whoas later, I was gettng 'perturbed'. Then he saw a crack. I ALMOST went headfirst over Shanko's head. I was "not happy".

I got off the horse and wandered around on foot 'til I found a stick about 2" in diameter and about 2' long. I told the horse (they DO listen), that if he didn't stop the next time I said whoa, I was going to hit him in the head with the stick. I got back on him and said 'giddyup'. He took off like a shot. To cut to the chase, he didn't stop. Didn't even slow down. I swear to you that I swung that club as hard as I could and hit that horse right between the ears. He went down and I went rolling too! (Honestly, at first I thought I'd killed him.) He staggered to his feet. I got back on him and said giddyup again. Again off we took. Again he failed to stop. I hit him just as hard the second time, and once again, we both went down. THIS time, when I came back to him (NEVER let go of the reins if you can possibly help it!) he wasn't too excited about me getting back on him. Tough. When it comes to animals doing what I want them to, ESPECIALLY WORKING ANIMALS, I ALWAYS "win". Or they die, on the spot. I got back on the horse and said giddyup. He took off, but not as fast, and when I said whoa, he CAME to a stop. Not as fast as he should have, but he stopped. We did that several more times. If he acted like he wasn't going to stop, all I had to do was raise that club, and he stopped.

I doubt if the lesson was long-lasting. I had to get back to my submarine in Rota, Spain a couple of days later. My Dad was a city boy. He'd been taught how to handle animals pretty well by his dad, but he had never owned horses until I was about 10 years old. Most of his 'horse sense' was from books and other people. I'm sure he let Shanko get away with not stopping on whoa after I left. However, if I had stayed there for long, I can assure you that EVERY TIME I rode Shanko, he would have stopped when I wanted him to stop.

I have never eaten horse, but considering what they get fed, I don't know why they wouldn't be good eating, and nowadays, I'd just as soon shoot a horse as ride one.


recoil junky 08-04-2018 07:33 PM

Re: A "Bull" Story
I don't hate horses, I just like mules better. A mule will "tell" you whether or not you are going to get along and a GOOD mule is better than any ten excellent horses.

Arabs, if given their heads are freekin' idiots. A good spade bit and slap upside the head with a stick works wonders. Cruel my aching butt.

A Morgan Arab cross is like a mule kinda, still gullible like all horses, but better than most other breeds.


gitano 08-04-2018 07:55 PM

Re: A "Bull" Story
I like mules A LOT better. But then, that's 'cause I REALLY don't like MOST horses.


Paul Hoskins 08-05-2018 05:27 AM

Re: A "Bull" Story
I never was fond of horses or mules but I prefer a good mule to horses. You always know a mule will hurt you but a horse will be good to you till it knows you're not expecting if & kill you. Grandpa bought a washed up thoroughbred at a stock yard auction that had been broke to work in the harness. In the saddle she rode like a limousine when she hit the saddle gait BUT if she decided to go back to the barn she would slam on the brakes & jerk her head up. When your nose hit the back of her head you know what it's like getting punched in the nose by Joe Lewis. She did that to me ONCE. My brother got it twice. I got off & cut a hickory limb three feet long & about as big as my finger. When she tried it again I was waiting. She kept jerking her head back trying to hit my face. I stood up in the stirrups & with both hands & all my might I clobbered her the full length of her face to the end of her nose. Cut the blood out on her nose. Made a Saint out of the bi..h. She kept an eye on me all the time after that. She still did it to my brother when he tried to ride her. .......Paul H

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