When I heard our local deputy check out with about 40 head of Hereford mix cattle running loose a half mile outside of our city, I thought about bug spray.
I had bought a can for my patrol bag during the early summer about 6 years ago, while looking for the missing driver from a wreck. I had run by a convenience store, asked if they had bug spray, and after they poured a bottle of water over me to revive me from the faint I felt at the sticker shock, I paid $5.97 for a can of Cutter bug spray. And it lived in that bag for years. But recently, it went missing, and I've been thinking about that.
It is my understanding that some of y'all up north and in other areas don't have chiggers; consider yourselves lucky. They're a bane down here, and it's just now entering their season. What you can empathize with me on is mosquitoes. As I have alluded to, this last month has been one of the wettest on record for north Texas. Fact is, we've got standing water everywhere. Mosquitoes swarm around every light shining. I've actually seen them swarming around the license plate lamp of a car stopped briefly at a stop sign. Fueling under a lighted awning at night is utter hell on earth. Until we've got some wind and some hot dry sun to dry things up, it's going to be like the worst part of the tropics around here.
So I checked my bag again, and finding that my spray was still missing, I went down to the convenience store, the only place open after 8:00 PM. They were happy to sell me a 6 ounce can of Deep Wood Off... for (I'm not making this up) $6.95, plus tax. It came to $7.53. This is not poetic license-- I have the damned receipt.
I thought about it.
The clerk double checked it with wide eyes. Yep-- they really wanted that much. She shook her head.
I bought the can. If I didn't, the Irony Gods would smite me.
5 minutes later, the deputy hollered for me to come help him.
- - - -
The grass wasn't too bad-- only knee high in lots of places. Waist high in others. Chest high in others. I left the thicker stuff alone.
Our plan was to let the cattle owner push 'em toward us, and we would haze 'em into the open gate, with our cars and our persons creating a diversion in their natural path. It was a great plan, that only required me to wait with my car, and to stand mostly on pavement. I just put on a little bug spray on my ankles and arms and neck, and rubbed some on my face.
The herd made it around the guy in the 4X4 out in the muddy field, and I started walking north along the asphalt road. Half a mile up, I began cutting across a pasture, and met up with a helpful guy with a QBeam, a heavy beer buzz, and a lot of enthusiasm for a man of 46. We started an end-around maneuver that Nimitz and Chesty Puller would have been proud of. We pushed 'em into a corner, and then insinuated ourselves just so, so that they trotted to our open gate, and ran in.
All but four. A calf, a cow with a little calf, and a Bull. Frankly, I was mostly concerned about the mama with the little one. I've been charged by a mama cow before, and it makes one pucker. Hereford bulls aren't notoriously mean. I figured we'd make short work of this.
The bull had other plans.
Tasers have a laser, the beam of which created a dot that concerned the mama enough to run into the gate when I moved it over the grass to her off-side. Ha! I thought. This will be easy!
The bull had other plans.
The bull started my way, and in a flash of brilliance, I pulled off my taser cartridge and fired off an arc. The bull checked up hard, and stared at me. I put the laser on his face, and zapped the taser arc again. He looked away, and then started my way. Fast.
I put the beam of my Streamlight and the laser of my taser in his face, and backed up and...
fell right into a large stinging nettle bush. The bull came on, and I found myself wondering if this was truly about to "get western." He ran on by me. Suddenly the pain got a little intense in my lower left arm and wrist. In the dark, I thought that I was being attacked simultaneously by a large amount of fire ants (something else we are damned with here), and began trying to brush them off. Unsuccessful, I put a light to my left arm, and saw my wrist growing red splotches and bumps on it. Ah.
I ran after the bull, cussing.
A quarter mile later, I got around it, and got in front of him, calling upon help from the ghost of Lord Nelson. "Haw!" I yelled. "Git!" I spat. He kept coming, his breath casting twin puffs of steam clearly visible in the humid 70 degree night air. I stood my ground, crackled my taser in his face, and yelled at him.
He lowered his head, and sped up.
So there I was, a mile out of my city (by that time), and a quarter mile from the deputy that I was helping, putting about 4 lbs of pressure on the 8 lb trigger of the Glock 31 I had in my hand (when did that get there?), with the tritium sight standing out neatly against the white face between the horns of a bull that was about 5 feet away and coming.
I stepped aside. "This ain't my job," I thought. Why push a "Dear Chief" letter?
I headed back.
"Man, you gave it a hell of a good try," the deputy said, which helped. The old man who owned the cattle had driven up in his Cadillac, and told us dirty jokes while we awaited the professional wrangler.
I went by the convenience store, tired, bug bit, rash-encrusted, sweaty, and muddy (I had just shined my boots, too!), and bought a stick of jerky.
Yeah. That's right. Who the boss, now, huh? Don't make me snap into a Slim Jim, yo?