Feral Cattle: Dangerous Game Hunting for the Cost-Conscious

Feral cattle hunting

courtesy latimes.com Courtesy of the White Water Preserve

If you asked a few people to start naming dangerous game animals, a particular species – or a family of them – will cross most of their lips. Namely, exotic bovids or at least the ones that are exotic to us Yankees.

Cape buffalo or Congo buffalo (also known as black death) in Africa. The blue bulls of India. The gaur and banteng of southeast Asia. Prior to the classical period in Europe, the wild ancestors of the domestic cow – the aurochs – roamed the forests of the continent and were among the most feared (and revered) wild animals on the continent. Persistent hunting and habitat encroachment, unfortunately, drove them to extinction by the 17th century.

Hunting these animals has long attracted the most serious of sportsmen and sportswomen. Cape buffalo is one of the Big Five of Africa and a must for anyone wanting to do some serious dangerous game hunting. However, hunting any one of these animals is prohibitively expensive.

There is, however, good gnus. (That’s a joke and I won’t be apologizing for it.) There’s a way to get a similar dangerous game experience without quite so much expense. In fact, you don’t even need a passport.

Feral cattle have established populations in certain parts of the country. Like any other domesticated animal, sometimes a few members of a herd will high-tail it away from their dreary farm life and run free. Within a couple generations of breeding, the animals revert to their wild state. This is a particular problem with pigs, but it happens to cows as well.

Feral cattle are no joke. Bulls can weigh more than 1,000 pounds and can be very aggressive. Their attributes are much the same as Cape buffalo and other wild bovids.

The population grows after leaving the farm and eventually may require culling, which – when a state government recognizes a potential cash cow, so to speak – can sometimes lead to hunting opportunities.

For instance, the state of California has a problem herd in the Sand to Snow National Monument, according to the Los Angeles Times. About 150 head have been roaming the area, and there have been some run-ins with hikers and park personnel, including at least one fatality. Besides being aggressive, they can also be detrimental to the landscape.

The Bureau of Land Management is currently looking for solutions, but odds are even a limited draw of hunting permits isn’t going to happen since it might upset the animal rights crowd.

The Aleutian Islands are also home to feral cattle populations, notably on Chirikof and Umnak islands. Some attempts to deal with these cattle have been made, and some subsistence hunting of them has taken place. A hunt has been suggested in previous years, but nothing has come of it.

However, you can hunt feral cattle in Hawaii, of all places. Cattle were brought to the island in the 1800s, and escapees from the ranches have established breeding populations in the jungle areas on Honolulu. A hunting permit is required and you typically will have to buy a hunt package from a ranch as public lands are fairly limited there.

That said, it won’t be like lying on a beach in Oahu. Hawaiian jungle is thick and with successive generations of the beasts living in the wild, the cattle have become wily. Shot opportunities will be fleeting, and can easily wind up being up close and personal, so pack plenty of lead. According to OutdoorHub, some guides won’t take you out with anything less than a .300 Winchester Magnum.

Bad news for you tactical boys; your AR just isn’t going to cut it as-is. But put on a .458 SOCOM upper on and you’re good to go, though they have a 10-round restriction there.

Hawaii, oddly enough, actually has a decent amount of wild game hunting. Besides wild cows, feral goats, feral hogs, whitetail deer and Rio Grande turkey are all available game species. Who knew?

Of course, you can also hunt feral cattle in Australia. A large population of “scrub bulls” exists in various areas. While the expense involved is similar to that of many African hunts, it’s a bargain compared to Cape Buffalo hunts in some African countries. The good news is you don’t need a permit, as the animals are technically an invasive species. You just pay and show up.

What do you think? Would you be up for hunting down wild beef? Let us know!

 

Sam Hoober is a contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters and Bigfoot Gun Belts. He also contributes regularly to USA Carry and the Daily Caller.

comments

  1. avatar Robert Powell says:

    most of the yankee reporters do not know about just how dangerous the good old american/texas long horn is.pound for pound they are as hazardous as a cape buffalo, they are mean, damn fast,can turn on a dime and give change, and will kill to protect themselves and their calves..

    1. avatar How_Terrible says:

      It doesn’t matter how passive an animal looks. If it masses more then 1,000 pounds it can kill the shit out of you without much effort.

    2. avatar Rincoln says:

      Also one of the closest genetically to the Aurochs. They are a truly dangerous animal.

      1. avatar frank speak says:

        reminds me of an experience I once had while out deer hunting in strange territory on a foggy morning…while walking along I suddenly saw something emerge from the mist that was weird as hell…turns out it was a Brahma bull…we went eyeball to eyeball as I slowly circled away being careful not to turn my back to that bizarre critter…never hunted there again!….

    3. avatar Jim B says:

      The most dangerous cattle are Heck cattle. I once hunted on a ranch where the owner bought one. He would buy novelty cattle every year. The ranch hands called it the Nazi bull. They ended up shooting it. It was an amusing story how that came about.

      There are longhorns in the north. There is ranch I hunt on on the Grande Ronde that has them. They never acted threatening whatsoever. On the other hand I wouldn’t walk near a holstein bull that wasn’t in a pen or hobbled. I have a cousin that nearly died after tangling with a holstein bull.

      1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

        Statistics I’ve heard say that if an aggressive bull is able to make contact with you, you have a high probability of dying. Your friend is lucky.

        I, too, have heard that dairy bulls are more often aggressive than beef cattle. I raise beef cattle, but from working with different types of livestock, that’s not surprising to me. I think it’s at least partly with how dairy cattle are kept, compared to beef cattle. I’m sure some genetics involved too. Dairy bulls are kept separate from the cows a lot more than beef cattle are. They get less social interaction with other cattle and it makes them a little crazy. I’ve seen the same thing with stallions and goat bucks. Beef bulls, like mine, on the other hand, are often kept out with the cows all the time — maybe with one group or another, but rarely isolated. I think that settles them down a lot, so long as you don’t seem to be threatening their girls.

        1. avatar TrappedInCommiefornia says:

          It depends on the dairy management practices in your region, as some dairies still only breed during a certain time of year but I believe most are moving away from that. I’ve never heard of anyone here in CA doing it that way, probably because of our mild winters. Once we use a bull for breeding he usually isn’t away from the girls until it’s time for him to take a trip to the slaughterhouse (usually due to size, injury or attitude).
          As for not being around as many other cattle, I can’t speak for other herds, but on my dairy the ratio is usually 3 bulls per 240 females (my dad always says 3 per corral, that way while 2 fight 1 can screw). Unfortunately for the bulls, usually most of the females are already pregnant by the time they get to the bulls, but they still have plenty of action. I would say the reason they are more often mean is because of either genetics or that they see humans frequently which makes them less afraid.
          They are certainly dangerous animals. We held out some big ones here the other day to sell and my employee said 2 of the biggest were fighting and one threw the other up onto its shoulders like it was nothing. But a lot of it depends on how you handle them. Any time we have a mean bull I make it a point to get it out personally, often by myself. It’s dangerous, but I’ve gotten very good at keeping the bulls calm while working with them, while everyone else seems to think they have to scare/intimidate the bulls in order to move them, which just pisses them off and makes the job harder and more dangerous. They may not be gifted with an over-abundance of intelligence, but they know they’re bigger than you. You just have to be smarter.

        2. avatar Cloudbuster says:

          that they see humans frequently which makes them less afraid.

          I’ve no doubt that’s a factor.

      2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        Well stated.

        Most people who haven’t actually been around livestock think that Longhorns are dangerous. They’re among some of the most placid cattle I know of.

        Holsteins have been bred for hundreds of years to live in close proximity to man. They know who is 1100lbs (cow) and 1800+ lbs (bull) and who is 200 lbs. They know exactly what a human can bring to a fight vs. a cow/bull, and in tight quarters, it ain’t much.

        Holstein bulls will try to kill you as soon as your back is turned or your attention mis-directed. Out of all the breeds of cattle I’ve been around (and I’ve been around most of them run on ranches in the west), Holsteins are by far the most dangerous. I had a Holstein bull bend a Powder River gate into a 90-degree “L” affair as he took a run at me. The owner of the bull was ready with a Hotshot, and nailed the bull right smack in the ass with it to get his attention off of me. If the gate had been one of those cheap, flimsy affairs that are sold at Tractor Supply or other rural retail outfits, I might well not be here right now.

        The other breed of cattle that is nearly as dangerous are the Jerseys. Oh, they look so peaceful – small, lazy, placid brown cows.

        Until you have your attention elsewhere, then they will get you. They’re smaller framed, so you have a chance to survive.

        I’ve never, ever had a problem with range cattle – typically Black Angus or black baldies out here in the Intermountain west.

        1. avatar TrappedInCommiefornia says:

          I’ve seen more brahmas and brahma crosses that were crazy than not (small sample size though). And I’ve seen a couple of really mean Angus crosses. But holstein bulls definitely have issues (the cows are rarely aggressive, and when they are it’s usually ketosis). I have heard jerseys are ornery as hell though, but I’ve never actually worked with them.

        2. avatar Wade says:

          Folks just don’t get it. I grew up on a working farm/ranch and can tell you point blank these big animals are dangerous. When a 1k plus pound bull decides he wants to do something he kinda does it. I have seen them uproot a fence row. I have seen them destroy gates. We had one take out the front of a Chevy Silverado because he did not recognize it. He destroyed that truck and we had no clue until we got done walking the property. All the things you have said are very true.

    4. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      I have some Texas Longhorns in my herd and in my experience, despite their fearsome horns, they have pretty mild dispositions — my Angus are more aggressive, in general. I’ve never had a problem with them. But, that said, working with the cattle is the most dangerous thing I do. My bull is more like 2,000 lb., not a measly 1,000 lb. and I’ve got an ox that is just as big. As I said, they’re pretty even tempered, but you do not screw around with them.

      Probably most bad incidents are caused by human stupidity. I had a mom and daughter come onto my land without permission because some idiot neighbor girl said it was OK (sure, ignore all those “No trespassing signs). The ox caught sight of them and came over to investigate. He’s a behemoth. His shoulder is about as high as my head and I’m 5’10. Terrifying to someone not used to cattle, and he was bottle-raised and is handled fairly often, so he has no fear of humans (which actually makes him more dangerous than the ones who aren’t handled.) They started running. So he started running. Knowing him, he didn’t mean any harm, he was just curious about them and wanted to see if they had food, and he started running only because they did — ox-see, ox-do. Scared the crap out of them, but they got over the fence before he reached them. Something that big can kill you by accident if you get it in a playful or ornery mood.

    5. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      A cow with a young calf can be just as dangerous as a bull. I have seen postpartum cows go after dogs that they are normally afraid of. And since the feral cattle don’t get dehorned like their domestic counterparts, they can poke big holes right through your rib cage.

    6. avatar Larry Malone says:

      I’m from Yexas and haven’t heard of any wild Longhorns anymore but we do have a breed of wild Mexican Bulls on the Border that get well above 200# and are as mean as they come known to attack a 1 ton pickup and turn over. Those hunts are provided by local ranches close to Big Bend area and they can charge you whatever they want. It does not require a permit as these breeds are from Mexico and they hunt them there also. They are Breeds from the Mexican fighting Bulls in Mexico.

  2. avatar jwm says:

    It’s legal to shoot feral goats and pigs in CA. I don’t see why they wouldn’t allow hunting feral cattle, especially not if a person has been killed by them. CA is a bit weird, but they do get it right on occasion.

    1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

      Can you hunt mountain lions in California yet? Has the state constitutional amendment that banned lion hunting been rescinded yet? I think it was passed in the 1980s. I know lions are attacking and eating people inside city limits now.

      1. avatar rdsii64 says:

        I remember the Saturday afternoon that a mountain lion was seen in the parking lot of the mall in Temecula Ca. Fish and Game had to dart it and hall it off.

        1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

          Three or four years ago a lion was seen just three blocks from my sister in-laws house in Vacaville California.

    2. avatar Robert Powell says:

      iy is a damn shame that it dosn’t include freal mexicans and arabs….

  3. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    It all depends on Whose Ox is gored.
    In Africa lions and crocodiles live very near villages. It has been suggested by white people in Europe and America that the Africans simply move to a place where these animals don’t live.

    And yet in the United States there are people who are concerned about the overpopulation of Dangerous Game here. Can we suggest that Americans do the same and simply moved to other areas of the country where Dangerous Game does not live???
    I know and Reno Nevada black bears will dig under a house in a residential neighborhood and hibernate there in the crawl space.

    There are people on TTAG who actually said Africans should simply move.

    1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the Horns" PR says:

      I don’t care what color of skin someone has, or doesn’t have. If they vote Progressive, I want them to go back wherever country their family came from.

      I’m an equal-opportunity Leftist hater. 😉

      In Osama BinLaden’s ‘message to the west’, he stated what he wanted from the west :

      “Pack your luggage and get out of our lands”.

      Don’t let the door hit ‘ya where the good Lord split ‘ya, Leftists… 😉

      1. avatar Ing says:

        That’s actually good advice from ol’ Osama. We definitely should do it. And his people can gtf out of ours in return. Being tribal, the Arab countries would probably mistake acquiescence for weakness…but if we handled it right, only once.

  4. avatar Bloving says:

    I was just reading this today:
    https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/vaca-entera
    I can’t for the life of me understand why this isn’t a Texas thing…
    🤠

    1. avatar Jim Bullock says:

      An Ox Roast is a thing in Pennsylvania Dutch country, say Lancaster and surrounding counties. It’s similar to the event you linked except the beast is typically spit roasted. Usually they roast a meat breed steer, though I’ve gone to at lest one that was an actual ox.

      These Ox Roasts are semi-commercial-ish community events, also open to “strangers.” That community / semi-commercial combo is typical for Agrarians. A good chunk of the population around there is Agrarian, a subset of those are PA Dutch, and a there’s a smaller, but still visible Amish presence across that region.

      You can get great stuff in season anywhere Agrarians persist, as the folks processing for their own use, sell off their surplus. Just today I picked up some end-of-the-season berry pies at the Amish stall at the public market. Cheap and awesome. They have to use it or lose it. I have a freezer, while they don’t. So it worked out all around.

  5. avatar Patrick H says:

    I take it that the “jungle areas of Honolulu” are actually the jungle areas of Oahu?

    1. avatar L_W says:

      Yes, tho your not usually allowed/able to access them.

  6. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I would hunt feral cattle in heartbeat if it was available anywhere within an 8 hour drive.

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      Expect the meat to be a lot more like elk than the beef you get from the butcher.

      One reason (domestic) beef tastes so good is the cattle are fattened up before slaughter.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Curtis,

        That would be a good thing, not bad! Everyone that I have ever talked who has eaten elk has said that it is outstanding and tastes a lot like beef.

  7. avatar James W Crawford says:

    https://youtu.be/FQMbXvn2RNI

    Cows with Guns

    We will fight for bovine freedom and hold our large heads high.

    We will run free with the buffalo or die.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Chickens with choppers. Much fun, that.

  8. avatar el Possum Guapo Operator Operating Opossumly says:

    Christ almighty,,a cow head hanging in the den next to the chicken and feral cat mount. Yup

  9. avatar RCC says:

    Scrub bull hunting in parts of Australia can get down to 10 feet or less in some places or out to 100 plus yards just a short way later.

    Makes calibre, sights and projectile selection interesting. I use 240 grain Woodliegh in 30-06. Some people use up to 375.

  10. avatar Steve says:

    I hauled milk for four years and visited maybe 400 different farms in that time. One farm had 3 different age Holstein bulls in a pen made of railroad ties about 30 feet square. I used to look thru the planking while the milk was pumping on and you could tell they would just love to kill you if they had a chance. A neighbor had a herd with a Jersey bull that nearly did kill him one day and another farmers wife did get killed on their farm by a bull. Lots of muscle and bone , best to not get in their way.

  11. avatar Capn Jack says:

    I try to stay out of the way of anything that out weighs me.

    I also believe anything that is wild, IS WILD….

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