One With The Beast
I love animals. They’re delicious!
Well, of course, the most pure and original relationship mankind has had with critters certainly pivots upon the procurement and reverence for the life sustaining protein they have provided us time immemorial. I think we can all agree that in its most basic and simplistic consideration, venison is indeed life.
Once our species began to consume meat, our brains began to develop, and we got real smart real quick.
With those smarts came the inescapable better understanding and genuine respect for the animals beyond just sustenance, and hence the beginning of hieroglyphics on cave walls, showing an increasing love affair with the beasts that provided ultimate fun, sport, meat, tools, weapons, shelter, clothing, medicine, trophies and much powerful spirit.
I have only had a quickie 70-year blip on life’s radar so far, but I am certain that as a hunter, my love affair with animals is as pure and righteous as God had intended. My overall life, liberty and pursuit of happiness has an awful lot to do with my year-round lifestyle connection with animals on every imaginable level.
Loving animals alone is insufficient and inadequate without genuine respect.
The dumbing down of mankind, particularly Americans, has opened a dangerous chasm in how we relate to and treat animals. When you can be so ignorant as to claim veganism somehow saves animals from death, you have an embarrassing cult of denial that can be traced back to pretty much every failure in the modern world.
The slaughter of livestock and wildlife has never been reduced due to vegetarianism or veganism I assure you.
Tragically, each year we hear of repetitious horror stories where goofballs get gored by elk and bison when trying to get too close for photographs.
Bicyclists, hikers and campers are killed by cougars, bears, alligators, and just last week alone, two ladies were mauled to death by their pet dogs.
Our good friend and Yukon guide killed a charging grizzly bear last week only to discover the mauled remains of his wife and daughter behind the cabin.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are those of us who grasp and celebrate the renewability of livestock and wildlife through the real-world conservation of hunting, fishing, trapping, farming and ranching respect.
Slaughter is good. It sustains humankind.
Beyond ranching and farming feeding mankind with domestic critters, hunters have always been on the forefront of wildlife conservation and stand loud and proud of our successful sustain-yield wildlife management model.
Beyond managing indigenous critters, private landowners began importing African and Asian wildlife way back in the early 1900s, if for nothing else, the sheer admiration of such stunning, fascinating and beautiful creatures.
Little did they know back then that their efforts would end up saving numerous species from extinction for the glaringly simple reality that when valued and managed as an annual renewable resource, all wildlife will flourish.
I joined the thousands and thousands of Texas landowners and brought in some exotic species onto my home SpiritWild Ranch once I moved to Texas back in 2002, and the joy and gratification these stunning beasts have brought us is immeasurable.
Having hunted Africa more than 20 times since 1978, I soon came to realize that these imported animals live their lives exactly the same as they do in their homelands.
Harvesting the surplus each year is as real as hunting gets, the same as we do with deer, elk, bear, cougar, moose, pronghorn and all wildlife.
Managing the wildlife, and more importantly, the habitat, is a fulltime responsibility, and my daily chores puts me in close proximity to these wonderful animals.
I wish to share an amazing life and death experience with you to remind us that as much as we love wildlife, true love is ultimately shown with respect for their wildness, always keeping a safe distance, being prepared and never taking them for granted.
Checking my trapline and hunting squirrels with the dogs as I do daily, my Catahoula/Lab cross Happy suddenly broke rank and I saw a flash of a small gemsbok calf hightailing it through the cedars.
All three dogs were in full kill mode as they caught the little guy and went wild on it.
I desperately ran after them to separate them as quickly as possible, and as I lunged to grab Happy, I was blindsided by what felt like a huge linebacker and I was instantaneously blown to the ground.
Long black horns bracketed my face and head as the huge antelope’s head rammed my chest, barely missing a deadly stab by an enraged 800-pound protective cow gemsbok.
Knowing instantly what was happening and that gemsbok are notorious for their aggressiveness and reputation for killing lions, my Glock 10mm was already out and pointing as I slammed hard to the ground, the first shot ringing out as the beast battered me with all she had.
That first 180 grain round caught her under the chin at point blank range as I desperately clawed rearward on my back doing my absolute best Bruce Lee flinching away from her deadly horn thrusts.
Instantly my 2nd round pounded her again in the throat as the horns whipped past my face again, causing her to buckle momentarily as I hit her two more times somewhere in the throat/neck region.
By this time, only a couple seconds into the fray, the dogs were attacking her hindquarters, and as she swung on them, I gave her two more 180s in the chest, causing her to stagger slightly as she reared back and plowed back into me.
Shooting in close retention mode from my back on the ground, my next shot struck her square in the forehead just inches from the gun barrel as the horns stabbed either side of my now twisted chest, raking the ground violently on both sides of me.
Beginning to lose steam, the mad cow pivoted to take on the dogs again as I gave her two more rounds to the side of her neck when she staggered and loped away.
For the first time I actually saw my front sights and touched off two more rounds that both landed close to her center shoulder, causing her to stumble to a halt, still swinging her horns savagely at the dogs.
I raced to the cedar thicket where she made her last stand and took my first timed shot to the back of her head, finally dropping her in a heap, the dogs still going wild on her, raising a cacophony of devil dog barking, growling and howling.
I just stood there for a brief moment breathing heavily, spent, literally out of body, checking myself for stab wounds.
I train daily with my Glock 10mm, always from concealment. I have carried a handgun since graduating from High School, and I consider unarmed and helpless a tragic, suicidal irresponsibility.
I also chose the 10mm for its increased knock-down power, and fortunately, even at the age of 70, I am still reasonably athletic, especially when the adrenalin is pumping in a life and death tsunami survival instinct dump.
Being that I was as prepared as a human could possibly be, there is still no reason I survived an attack by such an accomplished, formidable beast, designed by God to be the ultimate foe.
God must have big plans for me.
I am certain that if I had been unarmed, or even had a lesser caliber handgun, and had not trained my entire life to be one with my weapon, and had I not been acutely aware of the power and modus-operandi of a gemsbok, that there is no way I would have come out alive.
Still, it is sheer luck I am here to share this story with you.
I keep the dogs on a tight leash now during calving season and have electronic collars on them just in case.
Animals are animals, and should always being respected as such.
I have always loved life, but after that deep, graphic look into the gemsbok ether, I wake up a little bit more alive everyday.
The beast is dead, long live the mighty beast, and long live the mighty/lucky hunter.