That once happened to me!

Contributed by Donald Walker (copyright)

Another tale from the 70s must surely be one that many people can identify with and say "You know, that once happened to me." What I am about to tell you can happen often to fishermen and walkers and generally it is caused by farmers failing to place adequate warnings about the danger. Not that I suggest that they purposely do this, rather just forget.

However, I'm approaching Nun Munkton to fish a length of the Nidd which is the opposite bank to a farm venue where I was once bitten by a dog. I was on my own this day; my fishing partner had deemed it prudent to cry off because of his wedding anniversary. I parked my car in a little lay-by where there is a style into the field by a sign indicating the fishing. Now this is where the farmer should have placed his danger sign. However, loaded down with all my fishing tackle, I set off up the rise across the field. As I approached the brow a few cows came into view. Loaded down as I was, I didn't really look ahead until I suddenly heard a loud snort. Looking up I saw in front of me a huge bull. This was definitely the biggest bull I have ever seen. I stopped dead in my tracks. I have done some research on this bull by describing it to a local farmer, who says it would have been a Charolais, a French breed. At that moment though I thought I was in a bit of trouble, this field of cows belonged to him and any minute now he's going to tell me. We eyed each other for what seemed ages, me warily, him ominously. I stood rooted to the spot. I could see the river. I was more than halfway there, I was thinking if I had to run for it which way to go. The nearest safety was the river but I'd have to pass the bull. Goodness me what a predicament I was in. The bull moved forward a pace, snorted and pawed the grass, I thought this is it! Then it turned aside, put its head down and started eating grass. It had apparently lost interest in me. I took a step or two forward carefully watching the bull, I was wet through with sweat. Slowly I made my way to the river. Once there the cows and the bull walked out of sight, so I settled down to a nice days fishing. First job was a nice cup of tea from my flask to calm my nerves. I thought, forget the bull, worry about crossing the field later.

I had a good days fishing but only caught one fish worth mentioning. This fish was a barbel. I knew as soon as I hooked it. With experience you have a good idea what a fish is, by the way it acts when hooked. So after several minutes of give and take I landed a very nice barbel which weighed 61b. The fish had been hooked many times before and escaped. I could tell this because it had 8 hooks in its mouth, some with short lengths of line in them. This was a wily powerful fish that knew how to escape by diving behind underwater snags from which the fisherman could only pull until the line parted, freeing the fish. The fish lay still in my landing net as I removed all these hooks, as though it realised what I was doing for it. I held it for a few moments in the water prior to release, then with a flick of its powerful tail it was gone. Better off from its experience dare I say, certainly none the worse.

Well, all good things come to an end and as I packed up I remembered the bull. I climbed up the riverbank to where the cows had been and happy days there was not one to be seen. They must have been moved to another field or maybe taken for milking. What a relief as I made my way back to the car.

My only other experience with animals was much more recent. Last year in fact, and Ill bet other fishermen had this problem. It was on the Belah in the first field upstream from the Road Bridge near Kaber. There was an electric fence 2 yards from the bank, but the young bullocks were on the bank side of it. I was coming back from fishing higher upstream. As I entered the field these bullocks ran towards me, I tried to wave them off but they wouldn't be deterred, they bunched up behind me and kept nudging me in the back with their muzzles. I found this quite concerning but dare not run for it, for I thought if I tripped whilst we were running they might run straight over me. All was well in the end as I made it to the bridge.

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