I, too, had a similar experience. My parents and all of my relatives are from Ashe County, NC. My parents moved to Maryland in the 50's. But I spent many vacation & summers on my grandparents' farm in Ashe County. They always had cows in the fields. And in later years they leased the land to an adjacent farmer and let his cattle graze. The hills in NC are very sizable. Steeper than some of the mtns in Western MD. The cows always grazed and walked on paths that wound up the steep hills back and forth just like you said.
In later years my grandfather died & my grandmother continued to let the adjacent farmer keep cows on the property. The fields were surrounded by an electric fence. One single wire of electric that the cows would never cross or run through.
Having spent much time down there I had seen plenty of bulls that would usually just ignore us kids. They never bothered us. Even when we aggravated them as kids!
However, years later when I had my own 2 boys down there visiting with me I had heard from my mom and my cousin's that there was a mean bull kept in there now who had chased them and acted crazy.
Anyway, it was in the back of my mind when I walked with my 2 small boys, aged 2 & 4 at the time, up the steep hill to the top to the cemetery. It was owned by another landowner adjacent to my grandma's on the other side. He had young bulls in the fence. As I started over the fence and down the hill to go back to the house, the young bulls started mooing at us. All of the way over to the other property owned by the man who kept the cattle on my grandmother's property, the mean, crazy bull apparently heard them and I saw him start coming from far away.
So I thought, well, we have plenty of time to get down the hill and over the electric fence since the bulls are usually lazy and wouldn't come straight up a steep hill. Well--the bull proved just the opposite & proved to me that that rule doesn't apply if they're crazy-mean!
I noticed he kept coming and started running. We were halfway down the hill in the apple orchard. The apple orchard was old and the old trees falling down so they provided no protection. I started getting scared especially for my two small boys. I had one on my hip & told my 4 year old to "hold Mommy's hand and run with me as fast as you can and don't look back". I said "Run with me straight for the electric fence on the dirt road".
That bull came straight up that steep hill (had never seen one do that before) and charged after us down that hill!! All the while I was running with a baby on my hip and praying that my other son would not trip and fall and that we would make it across the electric fence. It also crossed my mind that maybe this bull was so crazy that he'd come across the electric fence! It was only one wire.
But we made it and he didn't come across. Just stood there stomping and pawing at the ground.
I was furious that such a mean bull was around. I begged my grandmother to let me call my cousin so he could bring over his shotgun and kill it before it killed someone. She wouldn't let me since it wasn't her bull. But I was also scared for her. I was afraid he'd come over the fence some day while she was working in her garden. He was that crazy!
So I know what you mean about not expecting one to act that way!! I never expected that in a hundred years!! The farmer who owned that bull did end up getting rid of it by the time I came back down Christmas. Either my grandmother said something to the other farmer because of all of her great-grandbabies visiting from time to time, or the bull was too mean for the farmer. In any case I was glad he was gone!!