When you’re partying on the streets of Pamplona, get ready for an intense nine day celebration. But offend this guest of honor, and you may be the one seeing red. It’s time to grab life by the horns.
With a temperament often aggravated by humans, or mating season, our perception of bulls is mostly shrouded in myth. But as Benjamin Miller found out in 2015, the power behind this beast is all too real.
Suffering several horrific wounds, including a 40 cm (15.7 in) gash, this tourist barely escaped with his life. But if you’re at a fiesta with this party crasher, could you stare the bull down?
How long are their horns? Does a bull see red?
Bred to be lean and muscular, the image of the Spanish Fighting Bull remains iconic in this gory spectator sport. Chosen for their aggression and brute strength, these bovines are isolated, then harrarrased for the amusement of the public. While not all bulls are subject to this treatment, if you’re facing down this angry beast, follow these steps and you might escape their wrath.
Step 1. Change the Momentum.
Reaching speeds up to 56 km/h (35 mph), not even gold medalist Usain Bolt stands a chance outrunning this beast. With this insane speed, and the ability to change direction quickly, your best bet for escaping from a bull is to run in a zigzag.
Sidestep to redirect its momentum and avoid those incoming horns. Used mostly for defense, these horns can reach record lengths over 3 m (10ft) and can impale you in an instant. If you’re in a fenced in area, stick to the perimeter and get ready to climb over when the charge comes.
Step 2. Watch the Bull.
Lose sight, and this stalking brute could take advantage of your fear and sneak up on you. A bull has a flight zone of 6 m (20 ft), so if you clear this distance it might give up on the chase. If a bull haven’t charged yet, and you need to escape, keep cool, and walk backwards.
Step 3. Move to its Blind Spot.
Although cattle posses panoramic vision in excess of 300 degrees, their eyesight isn’t focused. or clear. When a matador teases a bull by waving his bright red cape, it’s not the color that gets the bull’s attention.
It’s the aggressive motion. And this color blind animal responds to the threat by attacking. Get in the blind spot behind its neck, out of its field of vision, and keep your movements small.
Step 4. Use Blunt Force.
When a bull charges, your bare hands won’t do much good. Weighing from 500 to 700 kg (1,100-1,600 lb), the Spanish Fighting Bull is way out of your weight class. If you want to stand a chance, grab a sturdy object that won’t break on impact, like an axe handle or a long pipe. Yell loudly, as you aim for the muzzle or the nose. Strike hard and strike fast. Prove you won’t go down without a fight, and the bull may break off the attack.
Step 5. Don’t Stare.
Unlike an elephant, a bull doesn’t waste time with a mock charge. If it wants to charge you, it will. When a bull is present, don’t interact with cows and young calves, especially during mating season. Taunting the bull and interacting with cows could be interpreted as a challenge to its rank in the herd. So have your head lowered, and avoid eye contact.
If the bull stares back, it will start shaking aggressively. It’ll lower its heads and kick up dirt as it growls. Keep your eyes to yourself, and don’t let your pride invite a challenge you can’t win.
Step 6. Remain Dominant.
Before the charge begins, a bull will size you up like your significant other’s ex at a bar. Showing fear could incite the bull to charge. Playing dead won’t help you either. You’ll actually be seen as more of an annoyance that needs to be removed.
If you’re living on a farm with cattle, start the bull’s training at a young age, and never play butting games with calves. When a bull calf turns two years old, it challenges the top bull in the herd. While the game might seem cute now, you’re teaching this future behemoth a deadly pastime. But if you’re on a farm with no other bulls around, it’ll consider the human leading the cattle as the dominant male.
In Ireland, over 50 % of livestock deaths are due to bulls. So avoid this confrontation now, before it’s ready to exert dominance over you to take control of the herd. When you want to show affection, pet a bull calf under its chin, its shoulder, or on its rear, but never its forehead.
And never let your small child around a bull at any time. So you got out of the pen alive, and you’re ready to put some miles between you and this beast. But you took that corner a little too fast, and now your car is dangling over the side of a mountain.
- “Raging Bull: How To Survive A Bull Charge – American Survival Guide”. Staff, ASG, Michael Angona, Sean Curtis, Christopher Nyerges, and Steven Barlow. 2019. American Survival Guide.
- “Gored Through The Neck: Matador Who Cheated Death Makes His Comeback – DER SPIEGEL – International”. Juan Moreno, DER SPIEGEL. 2020. spiegel.de.
- “Bullfighter gets the worst of it”. 2020. dailynews.com.
- “Preventing Bull Accidents”. Temple, Grandin. 2020. grandin.com.
- “Why Are Bulls So Aggressive?”. 2020. Seeker.
- “How Bullfighting Works”. KAREN KIRKPATRICK. Howstuffworks.
- “US student in intensive care after being gored by bull during Spanish festival”. 2015. The Independent.