Tucked away in the southwest corner of Connecticut, the Nutmeg State, is the quaint hamlet of Plainsfolk.
Rolling hills of green pasture, winding dirt roads, scattered barb wire dot the postcard-landscape.
In the furthest corner of Plainsfolk sits a weathered red barn on 10 acres of an old dairy farm owned by the Auger family. On top of the barn, a banner reads “Welcome 2011 Cow Hunters!”
It’s an unusually cool early April morning and Jim Auger and his two teenage sons guide their visitors’ cars to a parking lot by the duck pond. It’s Jim who had the light-bulb idea three years ago to turn the family’s faltering dairy farm into a rural safari.
“We had all this land… We had cows. Didn’t take a genius to come up with the rest,” Jim explains with a laugh.
Now every weekend from April through September, men (and a few hearty women) pluck down $1000 apiece to hunt for bovine.
“Cow hunters fall into three categories,” Jim’s wife and hostess Laura-Lie explains. “There’s the lazy hunter who doesn’t want to track or flush-out his quarry. There’s the impatient hunter who doesn’t want to wait out his quarry (The Augers guarantee you’ll bag a cow in two hours or less.) And there’s the inept hunter who would never succeed with a animal who can run.”
There’s nothing like a hands-on, gonzo-style journalistic experience, so next morning, after a bountiful breakfast buffet, my 17-year-old son Jo-Jo and I join up with the cow hunters at 11:00am. sharp.
We’re issued standard cow-hunting garb–yellow bell-bottom pants, a lime-green Nehru jacket, and a Yankees’ baseball cap. We’re given a kazoo-like device that “moo’s”. And, of course, a Big Cow-gun.
One of Jim’s sons drives us by golf-cart to one of the rolling-green pastures.
“Right over that hill, there’s a cluster of them,” he whispers. “The cow-hounds will smoke them out. Just be careful if my sister’s milking one of them. Dick Cheney almost shot her last week.”
Sure enough, right over the hill, there’s a bunch of bovine swatting flies with their tails. A short, portly man in our group “moo’s”, a Bessie looks up, he aims and fires his Big Cow-gun.
“That’s gonna look awesome over my fireplace!”
There’s six of us in our group and we each bag a cow before lunch. That evening, we share exciting tales of our adventure over a campfire with vodka tonics.
“Yep, she just looked up kind of dreamy-like and I nailed her between the eyes!”
“Mine was a little trickier. Thought she might charge me but she just yawned.”
Next morning, my son and I drive slowly back to Worcester, a cow roped on top of our ‘98 Voyager.
“Never thought shooting a helpless animal would be such a rewarding experience,” Jo-Jo shrugs.
I pat his shoulder then we exit off the Massachusetts Turnpike to a Friendly’s for a burger and shake.