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Shootin’ guns and runnin’ with a bull
A lot of times in this line of work you get a tip that some meeting is going to be a real barnburner. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, those meetings turn out to be run-of-the-mill snooze fests.
Nonetheless, despite our better judgment culled from years of experience, and a healthy dose of skepticism and cynicism mixed over ice-cold veins, we sometimes let ourselves get excited for a routine assignment, only to be let down. After that, we type it up on deadline and move along to the next one.
Every now and again, though, we’re pleasantly surprised and delighted to have the opportunity to do what we do and get paid for it. A couple weeks ago, I had back-to-back experiences that fit that bill.
I fired a bunch of guns one night and I got chased by a ticked off, two-ton bull two nights after that.
First off, up until two weeks ago I had never fired a handgun, let alone an AR-15, the poster child for American gun control. As a kid, I remember shooting various bb guns, maybe a .22 rifle, at a friend’s house where some muskrats regularly wreaked havoc. But guns designed to kill people, not scare off rodents, not so much.
Also, I’ve never been to Pamplona. So both experiences were firsts.
When I found out that a group of three Japanese teenagers would be visiting the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club, I figured it was some sort of publicity stunt designed to drum up support for the long-embattled club and gun rights in general. Turns out, the Bremerton Central Lions Club has been taking cultural exchange kids to the shooting range for years.
I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t ask any poignant, let alone pointed, questions about why it’s a good idea for teenagers who come from a country where there are no guns in sight to spend an evening blasting away. I lost all sense of objectivity, though, because cordite filled the air, my ears were ringing a bit and the whole experience was other-worldly. Oh, yeah, it was also a heck of a lot of fun. I was smiling as much as the kids were.
Shooting that AR-15 didn’t change my views on gun control. I still see no reasonable reason for a civilian to own such a weapon. But I do perhaps understand a little better now why folks want to hang onto them so tightly. It was thrilling. I’m sure firing an M-16 or a bazooka would be a lot of fun, too.
Now, on to the “less weighty” experience of meeting a two-ton bull face-to-face, watching it nearly take out two porta potties and then chasing it through a manure-covered parking lot. I was hanging out with a few cowboys in the parking lot during the Xtreme Bulls event at last month’s fair when I heard a commotion, looked up and saw a person high-tailing it in my direction while pushing a stroller. Disoriented, I stubbed out a cigarette, secured my camera and ran towards the bedlam.
One of the competition’s bulls had escaped the main arena and made its way into a side pen near the grandstands designed as an access point to a VIP viewing area. Many of the nearby horses were spooked and fled while I hopped on a fence, stuck my arm through one of the gaps and began firing away with my camera.
One of the cowboys literally caught the bull by the horns, but the rope snapped like a twig. That’s when the bull, apparently a little camera shy, decided to get a little closer to where I was and slammed the fence, sending it, and me, several feet backwards. From there, I took a little break by perching myself on the bumper of a nearby ambulance.
Once I got my wits back, I descended from the ambulance and snapped a few frames of the bull loitering by two porta potties underneath the grandstands.
It then made its way out of the fenced enclosure into the parking lot and took off. I followed suit, chasing after it to see if it ran into anything or anyone.
Looking over my left shoulder, I noticed a cowboy on horseback with a lasso also giving chase. A bunch of other guys, who were impressively fast in cowboy boots and hats, were also in the hunt.
Completely winded, I peeled off from the pack. I figured I had had enough excitement for one night; enough excitement, in fact, for the entire week.
Moments later, the cowboys caught the bull.