Recently Clyde Maxey put a story on the Appalachian-Life list in which he referred to the fact that cattle never go straight up a hill....they always go at an angle for a distance, then turn back the other way, etc. Anyone raised on a farm is familiar with the bovine trait. However, ONE time I saw an exception, and it almost cost me dearly.
Our neighbor, Freemon Slusher, owned a lot of land along West Fork of Little River, almost all of it being pasture land, and his cattle could roam freely over then full area, as he kept all his gates between the fields open. Freemon had a really mean bull, named "Ole Red", who was exceptionally protective of his herd, and he would go to great lengths to run anyone out of "his" territory.
His territory included a choice fishing spot...in the bend of the river about a quarter mile down the hill from the gate on the dirt road that ran by our house. One afternoon I really, really wanted to go fishing there, so I got my equipment and climbed over the gate at the road. I looked for Ole Red, and I saw him....far off on top of a hill on the other side of the river. For him to reach me, he would have to go down the far side of that hill, ford the river, and come down the meadow to the fishing hole...a distance of about 3/4 mile for him. So I figured I was plenty safe, and I went on down and started fishing.
After about half an hour I noticed the water run by me muddy, which I thought was odd, especially since it cleared back up in a matter of a couple of minutes. Then it dawned on me! I eased up the bank and, sure enough, here come Ole Red down the meadow after me! I took off running up the hill toward the gate as fast as I could, feeling like I could make it easily, since Ole Red would have to take a circular route. But no.....he turned and went straight up the hill toward the gate also! We were in a flat-out barnburner of a race. Just as I jumped from the top of the gate to safety on the other side, Ole Red rammed the gate with his horns. I was about ten years old at the time, and it was the last time I have ever fished.