Monday, April 23, 2018

Cattle and Shooting

      I got a chance to go shooting with an old friend this weekend. As is generally the case, we found a nice spot on BLM land and set up our targets in an area surrounded by hills and low ridges that would stop the bullets from flying too far if there was an errant stray. Since the road ran pretty much north-south, we were forced to shoot directly east, and set our targets accordingly. Fortunately, the sun was high enough that it wasn't an issue.  The morning was beautiful, quiet, and the breeze was pretty mild. All in all, a good day for shooting.
Not our cattle (Source)

      After about half an hour of shooting, we suddenly started to see black shapes appear at the top of a ridge to the south of us. A small herd of cattle had heard the shooting, and had started wandering closer as they slowly grazed.

      Another half an hour, and the cattle had now drifted to within 100 yards of where we were, although still to the south of us. But, as though drawn by an invisible force, they continued north, finally forcing us to stop as they got too close to where we had our targets. As we packed up our gear, I suspect the animals took some small satisfaction at driving away some more human interlopers.

        This is not an uncommon occurrence when shooting on federal land that is also being used to graze cattle. Cattle seem drawn to gun fire. Never a sudden rush. Not even a leisurely stroll. But, all the while grazing, they just edge closer and closer. Then, generally, they stop about 50 yards away. Content to be close, but not too close. I've only had one occasion where the cattle actually came up to the group I was with, and that time, they were walking around the cars as we were packing up.

       I'm not sure what draws them in. It may be curiosity. But I suspect that, to them, shooting means humans, and humans mean a sort of safety. After all, a herd doesn't have to worry about a coyote hanging around if there is a group of people nearby--especially shooters. Cattle certainly aren't scared of the noise.

       It happens enough, though, that if I see cattle nearby, it is almost a given that they will mosey on over to see what we are doing.

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