Ready, aim… tranquilize!

On the Edge of Common Sense
By Baxter Black, DVM

Unless you’re a tiger trimmer in Tanganyika, the tranquilizer gun has not lived up to its potential.

During its preliminary promotion, it was touted as the greatest invention since the rope. But, in the livestock business, it has never quite fulfilled its expectations. The biggest problem seems to be its predictable unpredictable results.

Most large-animal vets have tranquilizer guns. Some of my colleagues learned the fine art of using one. The rest of us have stuck away with our fleams and hog cholera vaccine. I suspect “operator error” had a lot to do with our failures.

Dr. Green said he and Dr. Corley used it with success when they were gathering wild cattle down in Mississippi. It gave them an advantage over better ropers in the area. Even a good roper has to get within throwing distance.

The Outlaw family had eight cows and one uncatchable wanderin’ bull. The bull was part Braymer … that was the uncatchable part.

Mr. Outlaw kept them in a scrubby pasture next to his neighbor. This neighbor practiced rotational grazing and his pasture was lush. Mr. Outlaw’s bull spent most of his time at the neighbors. Since the bull managed to crawl back through and breed the eight cows every spring, Mr. Outlaw saw no reason to be concerned.

When the threats became unbearable, Mr. Outlaw finally agreed to sell his wanderin’ bull. He called on Drs. Green and Corley to expedite the matter.

Our boys arrived on the scene, chased the bull back onto the Outlaws’ property and began to trail him through the brush. The bull took a breather in a clearin’ and our ballistic vets pulled down and nailed him with the tranquilizer dart. They got him roped and staggered to the open-top trailer, where they tied him in.

The bull laid down and passed out.

Mr. Outlaw was pleased: “I’m takin’ him over to Bryan Brothers … Oughta get a pretty penny for him!”

“Yup,” said Dr. Green. “But he’d be worth more if he walked outta the trailer, fer sure.”

“You bet, Doc. How long you reckon it’ll take this tranquilizer to wear off?”

“Forty-five minutes to an hour.”

“Great! I better git goin’!”

That afternoon, they saw Mr. Outlaw back home at the coffee shop.

“How’d it go?” they asked.

“Oh, fine, fine. Made a lotta money. Only had one problem. He was still down when I got there. I had to run him through the car wash twice to get him awake enough to sell!”