…can kill you. No joke.
"I spent a week in the deserts of Fossil Oregon with a group from OMSI during a wilderness survival camp in the summer of 2005. And by god, it was hot! Scorching your back in the daytime and freezing your toes off in the middle of the night is enough to drive most people crazy, yet I somehow felt more at home there than I do here in Portland.
We were attacked by a cow—a bull, actually—on our first day out in the field. My friend Pryce says it weighed about a thousand pounds, my other friend Anna estimates 800, and I tend to think it weighed close to 700. At any rate, it was big and imposing, and separated from the rest of its herd. I knew from the start that it was a recipe for trouble.
We’d arrived at our campsite earlier that evening and had just started cooking burritos. After shaking a grasshopper out of my shirt (Pryce was having a field day of the incident), we decided to explore a bit. Walking along a stream not too far from the camp, I noticed something out of the ordinary: a big black bull lying lazily in the grass, trying its best to ignore us.
“Look! Steak!” I said, pointing. The animal didn’t move, but watched me with its black eyes. Pryce, Anna, and another boy named Derrick all peered over my shoulder. I began to sense that it might cause problems, so I steered the group away from it.
Suddenly, we heard Shaun, our guide, calling us to dinner. “FOOD!” we all yelled, and raced each other back to camp. I could see the place where the bovine terror was lurking. I didn’t think much of it, though, for I was busy stuffing my face with the world’s best burrito. Ooh the joy of cheese in the desert! Any amount of food is sheer paradise out there. The infamous ‘Midday Mutiny’ and ‘Battle of the Goldfish Crackers’ is proof enough of this.
Once we were done eating, we sat on a log and talked. Somehow, we hit the topic of cow-tipping. “HEY! I got a great idea!” Pryce blurted out. Once again, I got the feeling that something bad was about to happen, and before I could stop him, Pryce continued, “Let’s go Steve-O on the cow!”
As soon as he finished his exclamation, I looked over in the direction of the bull. To my utter shock and amazement, it stood up.
“Oh CRAP!” I swore. Anna and Derrick were in stunned silence. Suddenly, Pryce let out a chilling yell and ran back toward Shaun waving his arms in the air like a comical maniac.
“Don’t run, Pryce, it’ll chase you!” I called out to him desperately.
The bull ran forward a few paces, then slowed and watched us. Derrick fled shamelessly, leaving Anna and I standing there with only the log between us and the demonic hunk of hamburger meat. We slowly retreated back to the camp. The bull followed, only to be distracted by a Cliff Bar in my backpack. Its nose was dripping with cow snot, and I swore inwardly at the animal for getting it all over my stuff.
Suddenly, Shaun picked up a handful of rocks and began to throw them in the direction of the bull. He yelled and screamed and tried to intimidate the animal. It would charge, stop, pace around for a bit in confusion, then charge again and stop. Finally, Shaun drove the malevolent bull across the stream where it stayed for some time.
But that wasn’t the end of our bovine nightmare…
After moving our campsite further up the hill so as to distance ourselves from the bull, we settled down for a night of well-deserved sleep. But I continuously woke up due to the bone-chilling cold and bright light of the moon. Without the light of the city to dim the night sky, I could see every star in the heavens. The moon was almost full; it shown down on us with the intensity of a silver spotlight. Sleep didn’t come easy.
When I woke the next morning, it wasn’t to the sound of birds singing lightly or even to the quiver of a rattlesnake’s tail, as I had feared. It was to the terrified voice of none other than Pryce himself screaming: “Cow! Cow! Cow! COW! COW! COW! COW! COW! COW!”
I rolled over and went back to sleep…only to discover later that it hadn’t been a dream.
The cow had indeed returned to finish its intended job of terrorizing Pryce, who I’m sure, has never uttered the words “Steve-O” and “Cow” in the sane sentence since that fateful day."
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