Bull attack survivor shares experience

Carla Allen
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YARMOUTH - The speed of the attack took Russell Goodwin by surprise. 

Yarmouth's Russell Goodwin survived an attack by a 1,300-pound bull.

The 1,300-pound Brown Swiss bull that he’d raised from a few-days old calf, pawed the ground, lowered its head and charged at him from less than six-feet away.

“I don’t remember hitting the ground,” said Goodwin, who lives on the Argyle Sound Road.

“I remember him coming right down on me and crunching me like I was a piece of wet sponge, just crunching me right into the ground with his forehead. I think that’s what broke my ribs.”

   Twenty minutes earlier on a day in mid-May, Goodwin and his wife Debbie noticed the bull wasn’t in the field when they brought hay up to their milking cow and three steers.

They found him in a neighbouring field. Goodwin told his wife to go back to unplug the electric fence while he tried to drive the bull back to the meadow.

“He was dancing around, right frisky,” said Goodwin, who said afterwards that some people had warned him that once young bulls start eating fresh grass in the spring, they get rambunctious.

“You be careful,” they’d warned him.

Alone with the bull, Goodwin yelled at him to move him along, as he had many times before

“He was going, but not going away from me. He had his head towards me backing up. He stopped, put his head down and I went through the air and landed on my back. I think the first jolt on the ground knocked me out,” said Goodwin, who was likely pretty thankful at that point that he had burned the bull’s horns off as a calf, leaving two-inch humps.

He remembers struggling for breath, with the wind crushed right out of him. He recalls the bull pressing into him three more times before passing out cold for “quite awhile.”

He was disoriented and didn’t know which way was up or down, or where his feet were.

When he regained consciousness he resigned himself to dying.

“I thought, this is it; I can’t take it anymore. I was this close to giving up because there was nobody there and I saw no way out of it.”

Half conscious, it seemed as if he was looking through a three-inch pipe.

He could see a stone wall about 10-feet away. The sight gave him hope. If he could make it across the wall, he’d be safe.

But he couldn’t move his legs. There was no feeling. He didn’t know where they were.

At one point blood was dripping off his face onto some bushes. The bull’s nose was right beside him, smelling and smelling and then the jamming began again.

Wham! He says it didn’t feel like he got hit, but, instantly, he was against the stone wall.

He recalled how often he used to scratch the bull’s chin and how he’d raise his head.

“He was like a big pet,” said Goodwin.

With the bull pinning him against the wall, Goodwin began scratching him under his chin.

“He wasn’t mauling me then, he was just still, but he still had pressure on my lungs and I knew I was going to pass out any second.

“I said to myself, I’m going to lower my hand and as soon as I do that I hope I’m going across that stone wall… but I want to be a little bit awake to go,” said Goodwin.

As soon as he lowered his hand he felt himself sailing across the stone wall, as if he was laying on his back on a flying carpet. He didn’t even feel the bull’s attack that time.

He went between the top of the wall and a strand of electric fence three-feet above, landing on his feet on the other side. He made five steps and climbed into a tree, knowing he’d be safe if the bull decided to try and come over the wall.

While climbing the tree he tried four times unsuccessfully to reach up with his right hand.

“My mind was saying grab that limb, but it wouldn’t move,” he said.

Finally he lifted his right arm up with his left and his right hand was able to squeeze and grip the branch.

Russell remained in the tree for 10 or 15 minutes. The bull returned to the middle of the field and started eating grass again; eyeing his owner similar to the way a cat eyes a mouse. Goodwin was concerned the teasing hadn’t ended. He headed for another tree 20-feet away.

“I got about halfway to that and he came burning across the field at me. I went as fast as I could to get behind the tree to stay behind it.”

The bull remained on the other side of the wall.

His wife arrived and Goodwin yelled for her to go home and tell their oldest son, Ryan, to bring a shotgun.

“I left without knowing he was injured,” said his wife.

Goodwin marvels now that he was able to climb the tree and get on his wheeler, kick it over and drive it back home down the hill to his house.

“It must have been the adrenalin,” he said. 

The first thing he did when he returned to the house was to call someone to sell the bull – it amounted to 660 pounds of dressed meat.

His son Ryan dropped the animal two days later with a three-inch slug.

Debbie drove her husband to the hospital.

“I felt pretty good until about halfway in. I started shaking “like crazy” and I couldn’t breathe good,” he said.

Tests at the Yarmouth hospital showed there was no internal bleeding. Scans and x-rays showed a broken nose, ribs, and vertebrae.  He also had two black eyes.

The next day he was transported to the QE ll in Halifax to determine the damage to his crushed shoulder and to undergo surgery.

The operation, which was originally expected to take two hours, stretched to six.

His rotator cuff was torn as well as muscles and ligaments.

More surgery will be required and extensive physiotherapy. It will take months for the shoulder to heal and Goodwin may not return to fishing this fall.

The experience was a sobering one for the couple.

““If you see any signs of aggression in a bull, don’t hesitate: hamburg. This bull acted up a month before that,” said Debbie.

Don’t get a bull,” she added, laughing.

“Life is short. You never know,” adds Russell.

“I learned my lesson.”

Organizations: Yarmouth hospital

Geographic location: Argyle Sound Road, Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Hal Cooper
    June 19, 2013 - 09:12

    ““If you see any signs of aggression in a bull, don’t hesitate: hamburg. This bull acted up a month before that,” said Debbie. Don’t get a bull,” she added, laughing. Bulls are bulls. The bull "acting up" is a bull being a bull. When we walked into a field with ANY bull we always carried a baseball bat. If the bull made any move that might be considered aggressive, we got out of there, bat or not. So, let me rephrase for Debbie, with no disrespect meant... Don't get a bull if you don't know what you're getting.

  • Melinda Green
    June 19, 2013 - 06:58

    Consider yourself very lucky! My dad died this way...at age 36...when I was almost a year old. It's actually nice to see a happier ending to the same type of story...