Bogged cowboys and croc hunters are often at their wits end when they encounter a bogged cow. It's not really that difficult to see why. A bogged cow is alive, and they are lumbering towards the water with its head out stretched. The potential danger is usually enough to send even the most brave, determined crocodile hunter running. If it's the rock that gets stuck, then the whole thing can be a dangerous situation.
In the early eighteen hundreds, the first recorded case of a bogged cow being shot was at the St Clair River near Melbourne in Victoria. Two fishermen were trying to haul a large bullock when it became stuck in a bog. The Bullock was being choked with its own entrails, and it was feared the animal might die due to suffocation. The men quickly saved the bullock by shooting it through the head, killing it instantly. There were, however, many other incidents where cattle were lost or found dead in bogs, and even a man was killed while trying to rescue cows from a bog in South Australia in 1930.
Bogged cows are not simply a danger to farmers and hunters, as the media has recently reminded us. Crocodiles do occasionally get stuck in mud puddles - some reports say up to six crocodiles have been known to be suffocated in just one hour in this state. Bogged cows can also be deadly. Here are a few real-life examples:
In early 2021, two young Western Australian boys were walking in the rain on their way home from playing on an unstable dirt hill. They were crossing a small stream when they came across a heavily decomposed crocodile calf. The crocodile's head had fallen off, and it could no longer breathe. It could only move its legs, so the boys took the bull by the horns and dragged him to a crocodile farm on the edge of the downstream valley.
Many years ago, my father worked on the dredging crew of a fishing town called Wollongong. My uncle and a colleague helped drag the crocodile back to the sea, but he got caught on a line and dragged for many miles before being fatally suffocated. This was an extreme case, but more commonly crocodiles have been seen dragging cattle from fields and farms over fences, in search of food. Many farmers say that cows will often drag their calf or sheep along fences and farms, even if there is no water nearby.
The crocodiles in Australia are protected and rarely attack humans, but they do occasionally go on hunger strike, striking helpless calves and sheep. There have been reports of cows running loose on farms, breaking down fences and attacking cattle. In one case, a farmer was attacked by a crocodile while washing his chickens. The cow bit him on the leg and dragged him into the bush near his farmhouse.
Bogged cow danger to humans has also been reported, although it seems rather difficult to believe. In one incident, a woman was walking her dog near a crocodile lake in the Pilbara, near Walpole in Western Australia. As she was taking the dog for a walk, the dog started to cross a bridge into the water, and the woman put out her hand to push the dog away. Her dog, which was only about one metre long, managed to squeeze through the gap. It then started to drag a large amount of mud across the path of the woman as she walked past, towards a crocodile lake.
Fortunately, this incident did not result in any fatalities. However, many farmers are worried that their cattle, which are nocturnal and are likely to drink and eat whatever is left behind after a day's work, could be in harm's way if they come into contact with crocodiles or other" Bogged Cows" (also known as bogged-bullock or bogger cows). It is important for croppers and hunters to recognise the value of using high calibre ammunition when dealing with bogged-cows, and they should always shoot at ranges beyond the current animal cover in order to prevent them from becoming reclusive and hiding. The best way to draw a line between a person's personal safety and that of their stock is by being aware of the potential hazards that occur around them. Hunters and croppers need to ensure they understand the potential dangers, and have adequate bullets in reserve to deal with any eventuality. In addition, there are specific loads for each size and weight range of cartridge that are designed to reload safely and leave little waste, meaning that hunters and croppers can continue to hunt and grow their stock without worrying about their guns shooting anything funny.