How Not To Shoot The Bull

Dateline: 20 June 2005

In the green Owasco Valley, ‘neath the sky so blue, stands, beloved, the little rural village of Moravia, New York. I happen to live in the hills six miles outside the village, but this is not a story about me.

If you turn off North Main Street in Moravia and go a half mile up Oak Hill Road, you will find Owasco Meat Company on the left. It is a white concrete-block building. It is the place where country folks from these parts take their animals to be “processed,” which is a polite word for “butchered” or (gasp!) “slaughtered.”

Last Month, on a sunny Sunday morning, two men were attempting to unload a one-ton bull from a truck at the Meat Company. None too cooperative, the bull managed to break free of its handlers. It hoofed right on down into the village.

Moravia was unusually busy that morning. The last of 100 bicycle racers had made their way south on Main Street mere seconds before the bull appeared on the scene. Mr. Bull was moving along “at a full trot,” according to one eye witness.

With the bike race going through, there was more law enforcement on hand than would normally be the case. Sheriff’s deputies responded. Now here’s where the story gets a little sketchy. But I’m confident that my facts are, for the most part, accurate.....

Mr. Bull made his way into the parking lot behind the bank, and was intercepted by The Law. My understanding is that an officer pulled his patrol car up alongside the bull and fired several shots into the animal’s neck with his sidearm.

This action did not have the desired effect, at all. Fact is, it made matters considerably worse because now Mr. Bull was really upset. The chase was on. Out came the M16 rifles.

Deputies again intercepted the fugitive across town on Central Avenue. They attempted to corral Mr. Bull with their patrol cars. After inflicting considerable damage to the vehicles (and absorbing several more rounds of ammo), the creature took off back for the other side of town, where he had already been.

It was there, in his back yard, on East Cayuga Street, that assistant fire chief, Greg Genson, met the beast with a 12-gauge shotgun. Mr. Genson slew the creature with a single shot to its head. The terrorist animal would no longer wreak carnage on the peaceful village; Moravia was safe again. I’m told it made the national news.

One farmer I know, related to me (with a big guffaw) that they could probably have saved all those bullets (depending on who you ask, 12 to 17 shots were fired into the animal) if they had just used a bucket of grain to catch the bull. 

I’m not so sure. I’ve seen an angry bull. An angry bull is a very dangerous thing. So I don’t fault The Law for attempting to euthanize (which is a polite word for “kill”) the bull. I am, however, amazed that none of the officers who confronted the beast knew how to properly put it down. Obviously, these men were not agrarians. City cops probably.

In case you ever find yourself in a situation where you must shoot a bull (or some other large farm mammal), let me tell you the right way to do the job. It is the Agrarian way; simple, deliberate, intelligent, effective, and humane. Do this.....

Visualize the X formed by an imaginary line going from the animal’s right ear to its left eye, and from its left ear to its right eye. Got the picture? Good. Now, the center of the X will be in the center of the forehead, just above the eyes. Shoot at the center of the X. One shot.

The giant’s knees will buckle and it will drop dead in a heap right where it stood. I have seen this done, with a 22 caliber rifle (at close range). A 12-gauge shotgun slug will surely do it. I understand a sledge hammer to the same spot will work too.


Anonymous said...


Great blog you have here.

It always is amazing to me when in my part of the world there's the occasional story on the news about a bull loose in a metro area.Escaped from the stockyards or truck or the like.They use more artillary on the critter than can be believed and they just keep going.Here on the farm I have the duty to shoot any bovine on slaughtering day. Your description is right on on how to do it.I use an old single shot Sears 22 that I bought for a whopping 20 some bucks as a youngster.Use a long or long rifle shell and will drop any size bull, cow or steer/heifer.After my first experience, which I will not get into, every one was brought down with on shot.

Tom Scepaniak, Minn

Anonymous said...

In the book, The Encyclopedia of Country Living, Carla Emery has detailed instructions for this sort of thing complete with diagrams. It is an excellent book for agrarians.

Anonymous said...

Works on our hogs too. A properly placed shell in the forehead does the job.

WhipStaff Ranch
Solway MN

Deborah said...

Like your blog. We live near the next lake over, come from Christian agrarian backgrounds and live that way ourselves on a much smaller piece of property.

One note on large animals and dropping them. The .22/sledgehammer/slug to the forehead drops them, but a major vein must be opened (usually in the neck) to actually finish the deed and kill the animal. A shot to the head doesn't stop the heart, it renders unconscious and/or brain dead.

In this post
the deer in question actually drowned in the ditch water before my husband arrived to open its vein.

deee said...

I was lucky enough to see a sheep "put down" in Mongolia. The fellow just casually grabbed the animal, they're used to being handled. He parted the wool and took a sharp knife and slit a maybe two inch opening in the neck. Then, humming a little Mongolian tune all the while, reached inside and pinched the artery. It just closed it's eyes, and that was it. Buddhism is so sweet

SharonR said...

So, Herrick, what was the end of that story? Did the owner of the bull attempt to take it to the butcher after all? I would think the meat is no longer good after such a chase. What do you think?

Herrick Kimball said...


I don't know the final outcome. I suspect they processed it. I don't think the meat was ruined, but there might have been a difference in flavor with all the adrenalin. I've heard that a quick, unsuspecting death is best for flavor.