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I almost went Bull Riding once



Back in the day as a Sheriff's Department Detective one of my jobs was as a sniper. Now don't go getting excited, It never really amounted to much, thankfully. I spent a lot of time punching holes in paper and was called to a few situations which resulted in deployment and then peaceful surrender.

The most noteworthy call came one hot summer day from the local stockyards. The owner called the Sheriff's office to ask for a sharp shooter to cull a Black Angus bull that had gotten loose and was causing considerable trouble.

I happened to be close by and took the call. I soon found myself among some cowboys on horseback on the North edge of town. The story, as told to me went something like this. A very large and cantankerous Angus bull of about a thousand pounds had gotten loose from the stockyards and, after wooling a couple of cowboys and charging a horse or two had left the compound and headed southeast toward town.

The last report had him wandering the brush in a creek bottom with some cowboys in pursuit. I enlisted the aid of a local PD officer whom I trusted and asked him to bring along his shotgun loaded with slugs as backup. I uncased my trusty Ruger M77.308 complete with a Leupold 4-12 x 50 Vari x 3 scope and recoil arrester. I loaded up five Winchester Silvertip 165 grain boat tail rounds in the magazine and closed the bolt. It was time to go hunting.

We entered the brush, which was a forty or so acre creek bottom and very low flood plain area, undeveloped and unused. Visions of Capstick stalking African big game danced in my head as I moved forward at a slow pace, my trusty gun bearer trailing.

Now having never hunted anything larger than a Whitetail Deer and certainly nothing intent on doing me great bodily harm I couldn't help but recall the tails of the aforementioned Peter Hathaway Capstick. Capstick was a professional hunter in Zimbabwe back in the sixties and always recounted his adventures with precise detail. Usually with much flare and humor. He also told of the damage an angry Bovine could inflict on the human form if he so desired.

Now this was no Cape Buffalo we were hunting but I was not going to take any chances, I mean, after all how romantic would the story be of a cop being stomped by a cow up by Wal-Mart. Never the less I employed what stalking skills I had and finally located our quarry.

He stood at the edge of the creek breathing hard with his butt to the high bank. There were three cowboys sitting atop their horses a considerable distance west while we stalked in from the north. I whispered to Jon that I could see him and pointed him out. The brush was quite thick and it did take a bit of looking to make him out, but once we saw the whole of him he couldn't be missed.

The bull was standing his ground looking back and forth at us and the cowboys. I maneuvered to my left for a better shot and closed the distance to about thirty yards. This bull was actually pawing the ground and blowing snot with each breath. To say that he was somewhat perturbed would be an understatement. He continued watching us until we stopped, then one of the horses made that noise that horses make for which there is no real literary term, especially when it startles the bejeebers out of you. This was the break I was looking for. I took careful aim and settled the crosshairs on his massive neck, trying to calculate the distance between the bullet's path and the crosshairs in my scope so as not to muff it and BOOM. The rifle had no kick and I saw the animal drop like a bag of hammers.

A cowboy whooped and shouted good shot, while another replied "Well it was only thirty yards". Reality bites, and at the right time too. We approached the bull while the cowboys stayed where they were. I should have wondered why they did this but... I poked the bull with my gun barrel and determined he was dead. I then pulled a rookie mistake and sat atop the behemoth with his left foreleg sticking out from between my knees, sticking straight out between my knees mind you. With my rifle, fortunately in my left hand I smiled at Jon who smiled back and to this day I wonder if he saw it coming.

The old bull was hit through the neck and momentarily paralyzed. As I perched atop his mass of black hide and muscles he suddenly came to life and snorted a breath and kicked his two left legs, which if you will remember were sticking straight out and one of them between my knees. For a second I thought I was a goner but then my training kicked in and suddenly my .40 caliber Smith and Wesson was in my right hand and headed for the base of his brain. I don't know if it made contact before it went off or not but it did its job well and the beast went limp.

Suddenly I realized I was about ten feet away and looking at the bull from a different angle than before. The owner, standing up the hill on the road shouted at us asking what was going on. In true Capstick fashion I replied, "just paying the insurance".


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