17. Snakes, Cows and Other Damn Nuisances

A. The only thing dumber than cows...
Cows, properly prepared, can be great. But before they are in route from the pasture to the shrink-wrap they do things that, well, only cows could think of. Even before the EPA directives, EB asked us not to throw batteries in the dump for burning. The cows would eat them. The same way they eat discarded feed sacks, scrap paper or cactus. Dan's VW lease car lost the heater tubes, electrical wiring and plug wires. They ate the electrical plugs and propane hoses off the trailers. They would, naturally, eat the corn out of the jeep if it was left there, but they would also, as Ralph can tell you, get gun cases or shotgun hulls. We're not sure of their preference for beer, but Bill once saw a bright reflection in a cow flop. It was about a 1" shred of aluminum proclaiming "Budwis..." They may taste good, but the Budweiser proved that they have no taste. They do like to play lick and nibble with cars or trucks. To cows, parked vehicles must look as though they were marked with signs for "LADIES" or "GENTS". The left side, near the driver's door seems to be particularly popular. Bob had a hard time getting into the cabin on one trip. The door key was not in it's usual place. After spending an hour with a shovel cleaning a couple of bushels of, not too dry, manure off the patio he found the key safely hidden from view and well fertilized when he cleared the porch. They like to stand in a road.
Kathy dropped Bill at the cabin one morning and started for Killeen. About a half an hour later Doug looked out the kitchen window and Kathy was sitting about 75 yards up the road surrounded by cows in a standoff. She didn't want to bump them with the car and they were just fine with that. They guys ran them off and she was on her way. A nudge will move them over most of the time, but Patrick had a crazy yearling kick up her heels and take out a side mirror.
Anyone who has driven up behind cattle at night and could see then that they much appreciate the convenience of having you light up the road for them. They'd stay in front of you and avoid going back into the dark as long they could and until you shoved through them.
Three or four of the guys were walking the lease plinking with their black powder rifles. They were picking off rocks that stood out in dirt banks, cow patties, clumps of dirt and such. Anything that could give evidence of where the shot struck. And were more easily called by the other shooters than the same shots would be had they been on paper. Most of the hunters were OK at estimating distances at bow ranges, so long shots were preferred, since they offered a chance to improve the ability to estimate beyond the bow ranges. The guys got to the southwest side of the lease and to the draw between The north ridge and Jack's ridge. There were cows across the draw and a few hundred yards to the right. Ralph took a long shot to the left at a jackrabbit across the head of a draw and made it. They all walked in a group down into the draw and up the far bank. The cows came, too, and had the dead rabbit surrounded when the guys got there. The cows just stood there, their noses right at the rabbit, sniffing.
Hunting from stands that had you walking through pastures with yearlings often resulted in the whole bunch tearing off in a ground shaking run and a cloud of dust, circling back and following you, in a group, at five or ten paces behind, to the next fence, drawing absolute attention to your camouflaged figure approaching the hunting area. Usually. Doug once used a herd of the hooligans to his advantage. On the way down to the fields below EB's he was surrounded by the critters. He'd walk and they'd walk. He'd stop and they'd stop. He saw three does not far into the field who, from time to time, would give the swarm of yearlings a look and go back to feeding. Doug walked slowly, keeping his live "blind" moving with him until he reached the sparse treeline at the field fence. There he eased up to a tree, got a steady rest and took the oldest doe. At the shot, the doe dropped but the yearlings took off with a "whoosh!" and thunder. He said it was like a covey of six hundred pound quail.
If any cows were in the same pasture as a bow stand, almost effectively as a pack of bird dogs, they sometimes tried "Let's all get a closer look at the leafy-covered guy in the tree." If they didn't see the hunter they still knew that corn was in the feeders and if they remembered they'd come in browse.
One hefier in particular made an impression on Bill. He and Ralph were in the barn helping EB work a bunch of new arrivals. The bunch was held in a pen with Ralph. There was a lot of bawling and jicking and at EB's signal Ralph would push one toward the gate. Bill would swing the gate open and the frightened yearling could see the promise of freedom ahead, would take off up the run, the only way he could go. The ones left behind were anxious to get with the others that had gone ahead. It was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire. They thought they were bad off being abandoned in pen with Ralph. Once they made their escape past Bill the run narrowed and they had no choice but to go into the squeeze chute. There EB'd lock them down, dehorn, inoculate and brand them. There was a lot of bawlin' there. One of the yearlings past the first gate a a run and kicked up her heels and landed a hoof on Bill's left leg just below the pocket. Bill's weight was on the leg and it didn't give. He limped to side and steadying himself on the rail, dropped his pants. There was already the red, complete hoof mark, soon to turn purple and yellow over the next couple of weeks. Although not completely correct, location wise, Ralph and EB agreed that that heifer sure kicked Bill's rear.



feeders,

B. Dogs we used to know
*

C. EB's dogs Sam and Roy Jack's Bucky, Pat's two Brittanys, The Wiemereiner and the armadillo
EB's dog would sit beside him and look for birds coming from behind.

D. Doug and snakes
We really haven't seen many snakes on any of the leases, but Doug has a knack for finding them. He's had them show up in the dove field. He's had 'em sit down on the stump beside him. He's lamented when Ralph killed a pygmy rattler and even shot diamondbacks in the stone wall himself. He's stepped over rattlers on the trail and he's probably seen the toilet snake. Not the plumbing tool;. The one that comes up from the septic tank.

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You'll see headings with no story. They haven't been written yet. I'm waiting to talk to the guys that were there.

If you remember any details better than are written, email the edited text to me. If your recollection may not be accurate, join the club. (-CRS-)

Accuracy should be just a bit less important than a good tale.

Bill

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