#1908693 - 01/01/08 05:40 PM
Ten Thousand Cows Can't Be Wrong
A Shamanic Tale
“What are you doing?” asked the shaman.
“I'm going to make myself rich.” said the cowboy. The shaman had gotten up from
the fire, and gone to look for the source of all the ruckus. What he had found
was that someone had built a corral and a paddock with an odd arrangement at one
end that the shaman only partially recognized. Those parts included a mound of
dirt that looked like a backstop, and something that looked like a large
“What's that stuff?” asked the shaman.
“That's what's gonna make me rich.” said the cowboy. I saw that over at the
stock yard the other day. They were ripping it out to put in a new one, and I
snagged this baby for myself and got her rebuilt.
“What is it?”
“When you got a slaughter operation,” said the cowboy. “You got this at the end
of the chute leading to stunner. Y'all call this the 'Stairway to Heaven. You
get them guided onto a double-rail conveyor, supported under the belly and
chest. Solid walls on either side of the conveyor keep the animals stable and in
close connection with its fellows, nose to rump. It's just like following their
buddies out into the field. Then you got this thing here. That's my invention.
It hold them just right so you have a uniform window for shooting them. I got
ten thousand head here, and my plan is to shoot each one from exactly 100
yards-- see my shooting bench back there? It's sound activated, so at the sound
of the shot it's going to release the hydraulic pressure and let the cow run out
there into this field and see how far she runs.
“What on Earth for?” asked the shaman.
“ I got a buddy who's real good at math,” said the cowboy. “From ciphering the
numbers he collects out of this, he says we'll have the ultimate study of
hunting bullet performance. I brought my whole collection out with me. My
buddies brought theirs too. I'm gonna be days at it, so if you don't mind, I
need you to either pitch in, or get out of the line of fire.”
“Doesn't that seem like an awful waste?” asked the shaman
“Oh,” said the cowboy. “We intend on eating everything. Mostly all we're going
to waste is a little rib meat, but with the bigger calibers, we can eat all the
way up to the hole.”
“I mean,” said the shaman. “Isn't this an incredible waste of life?”
“You may see it that way,” said the cowboy. “But for the next few months, I was
either going to be doing this or sitting around the cabin, trying to stay warm.
This gives me something to do. Doing it when it's cold outside helps keep the
“You and your buddies are going to shoot ten thousand head of cattle.” said the
shaman, “and then eat them?”
“Well, “ said the cowboy. “At least for starters. This is just for double lung
shots. Then we have to cover neck shots, heart shots, bow shots, single lung
shots and so on.”
“I hope you have a lot of friends.”
“Oh we do.” said the cowboy. “Once folks start hearing about what I'm intending
to do, I'm certain I'll have even more.”
“Why is that?”
“Cuz everyone's been waiting for this for years. At last we will have a
definitive study of what cows do when they're shot.”
“But who shoots cows?” asked the shaman.
“But I don't. I thought you used a captured bolt system to kill them nowadays.
If you shoot these cows like that, you probably won't be allowed to sell the
beef on the open market.”
“Don't you see? I've got my math buddy who is going to extrapolate this all out.
We can manipulate the data inside computer models to show what happens inside a
deer, a goat, a moose, a . . . well, you name it. I've got the meat problem
fixed. Everyone wants this data so bad, I've got everyone and his uncle lined up
willing to eat everything I produce.”
“Well,” said the shaman. “What if it just so happens that you shoot ten thousand
cows and then let them run away, and they all drop dead. Some run fifty yards
out into the field, some just lie there dead on the spot and still others seem
to last for hours, regardless of what you shoot them with?”
“That won't happen.” said the cowboy. “I know it won't.”
“But what happens if it does? What will it prove?”
“I don't know.” said the cowboy. “But my buddy that's good with math, he'll make
something out of it.”
“Then I'm going to tell the world about it.” said the cowboy, “And we all get
“How's that?” asked the shaman. “Let's just say you shoot your ten thousand head
and you crunch all the numbers and finds out that some mundane cartridge like. .
. oh, I don't know . . . say a 300 Savage kills them dead, but that a .325
Wizzum also kills them dead at 100 yards. Then what?”
“Oh, “ said the cowboy. “We just keep moving the distance. I wasn't thinking at
first. I wanted to move the whole shooting match. Then my buddy, the smart one
with all the math, suggested that I just move the shooting bench back and keep
“And then repeat the process?” the shaman asked.
“Exactly.” said the cowboy.
“But won't that just prove that it's better to shoot your cow up close instead
of far away?”
“Some people don't like to shoot them up close. They'd rather be back further.”
“I dunno. “ said the cowboy. “One guy told me that if you shot too close, the
bullets weren't up to speed yet.”
“Oh,” said the shaman. “I've heard that one too.”
“Another guy told me that he just doesn't feel right, after buying all the
equipment to go hunting-- range finder, spotting scope, big honkin' gun, and
all-- it just ain't sporting to shoot them close-in. He said, he only makes half
a dozen shots each year outta his rifle-- five at the range to make sure it's
sighted in, and one on his elk. He wants to make his shot means something. He
wants the very best equipment money can buy, and he wants to put it to the
limit-- otherwise what's all the pain and suffering with all the recoil for,
“I see,” said the shaman.
“The other thing this is going to prove.” said the cowboy. “Is once we get the
first batch of studies done, we're going to go back over the cows that survived
and see how it is that you can make a cow immune to certain bullets.”
“Immune?” asked the shaman.
“That's right. “ said the cowboy. “I've got some buddies working out how it is
that some animals seem to just shrug off bullets and walk away. You see it with
deer. I hear tell that East of the Brazos river, down in Texas, you can still
shoot deer with little mouse guns like a 243 Winchester and the deer will fall
over. However, west of the Brazos, you need big guns-- up a couple calibers or
two, otherwise the bullets just bounce off or pass on through harmlessly.”
“Amazing.” said the shaman. “And how are you going to investigate this?”
“I guess, we're going to take the cows that survive,” said the cowboy. “And
breed 'em and shoot their offspring, and see if they're more resistant. If so,
we're going to patent the process, and start breeding bullet-resistant cows.”
“Why would you do that?” asked the shaman.
“Oh,” said the cowboy. “We ain't dumb. The patent will include all warm-blooded
quadrupeds. We're going to extend the patent for deer, for moose-- you name it.”
“Why wouldn't you want animals-- cows, deer, whatever – that were more
susceptible to being shot?”
“Well,” said the cowboy. “That's where you get into the idea of corporate
“I don't follow you.”
“We're going to come up with designer game animals.” said the cowboy. “Somebody
is going to buy this idea for sure. All you need do is hint that your rifles,
your bullets, your whatever, is the only thing that will shoot and kill an
animal effectively and the world will beat a path to your door.”
“But isn't that what these companies have been doing for years anyway?” asked
“Yes, but now they'll have the scientific proof to back it up.”
“What if they don't want scientific proof?”
“I don't follow you.”
“What if no one wants your scientific proof?”
“Why wouldn't they?”
“I can see where even one of your buddies, one of the ones involved in your
study is not going to take kindly to the result that his lousy .270 Whatever is
not the end-all he thought it was. He'll start throwing stones at your work. I
can see the gun manufacturers trying to poke holes in it, the ammo
“Ah!” said the cowboy. “What if I was to tell you that a certain international
concern, one with unlimited amounts of capital and a yearning to gobble up its
competition, was eagerly waiting the completion of my Phase One, so that they
can take that, along with their other studies on how to clone game animals with
a distinctive green logo right in the middle of the kill zone, and a special
logo-seeking ferroceramic- tipped bullet and turn it into the absolute most
effective hunting system on the planet? What then? What if I was to tell you
that this is all going to be put into a special all-black tactical package with
the styling you come to expect from a rugged all-weather battle-tested design,
mating traditional hunting sense with the ultimate in modern . . . modern. . .
from the Persian Gulf to the Jungles of . . .” The cowboy sputtered, and the
speech became unintelligible, like a CD with a bad scratch on it.
The cowboy started jerking spasmodically, and a small patch on his neck began to
overheat and smoke. His hat and sunglasses fell to the ground and suddenly the
shaman recognized a familiar face. The cowboy was now taking a gloved hand and
ripping at the red-hot patch of skin on the back of his neck. “God#@#$@ black
rifles!” he screamed. “I'd throw them all to hell! Take every last one and
Men in gray suits. Men in green logo-wear. Men in cowboy outfits. Men in black
tactical garb. Men of every fashion of outdoor wear suddenly descended on the
scene and carried off the cowboy. Soon all the shaman had left was the quiet
lowing of the cattle in the field and the low humming of the motors and the
hissing of the hydraulics of the Stairway to Heaven machinery. He found the red
emergency stop button and the stairway fell silent. It was beginning to snow,
and the air was quite chilly. It was time to go back to the 'Fire for another
cup of coffee.