Michael A. Cox

Michael A. Cox

There will always be things we don’t understand, no matter how long we live or how much we learn. Something I will never understand happened last Friday.

The Van Winkle family found one of their calves, a beautiful young Charolais, dead from a bullet wound to the head. The killing took place up on the Uncompahgre Plateau. The calf had only been on the isolated summer range for a week.

Janie Van Winkle told me that it was the first shooting they had experienced in a long while. They had a Mesa County deputy visit the scene. He told them some incidents have been reported in Montrose County and in Grand County, Utah. So far, there are no suspects or arrests. In all honesty, there may well never be.

The calf was not weaned and they found the mama cow and took her down to the ranch. There, they will put the mama with another calf, a twin, whose mama can’t feed two calves.

When the Van Winkles went back to the scene Monday, they found a couple of bears feeding on the remains of the dead calf.

Here is my question. What kind of a mind sees this animal, obviously not a threat to them and obviously not a game animal, and deliberately shoots it dead? Shot in the head, my friends, is not an accident. This was a conscious act. A stupid, illegal act by someone who:

• Just wanted to shoot something.

• Saw the 5-<> brand and, for whatever reason, was triggered.

• Or, thought they would take home some “free” beef, but were scared off before they could claim it. (Janie Van Winkle says, in this case, she doesn’t think it was a meat thing, although she fully expected to see evidence of butchering.)

I vote for number one. Those of us who have been around firearms and have carried for decades don’t have that “want to shoot something” urge. Some of our younger folks do. That’s too bad.

Now, I have never actually seen anyone shoot a sign; obviously they do. But, I have never understood those people who shoot signs or fence posts or highway delineators — those little reflective marker posts that count off fractions of a mile.

I had an old friend, Big Jake (fake name) in Arizona who worked for the highway department. One of his jobs was to replace broken and missing delineators. He was a busy man. He was doing his job on a very rural, but fairly well traveled highway north of Phoenix one day, when he heard gunfire from somewhere east of him.

He investigated. Upon topping a rise, he saw an Arizona Highway patrol car. The driver, an officer of the law in his Smokey hat, was in the process of taking the life of one of my friend’s delineators. Big Jake put his truck in neutral and quietly rolled down the hill, stopping right behind the patrol car. As the delineator terminator emptied his weapon, he turned and the big ADOT truck was the first thing he saw.

Big Jake, who was about 6-foot-7 and a powerlifter of some repute, had gotten down from the cab and was advancing past the patrol car. That thing they call karma was heavy in the air. The smaller statured cop and his empty gun just stood there frozen.

“Those posts cost $50 apiece,” he said. “I have replaced five of them this morning. You know, I have always wondered what kind of a person shoots signs. Now I know,” my friend said, as he walked to this truck and went back to work.

This is not an indictment of law enforcement officers, just a glimpse of some people who shoot signs and other things without ever considering the ramifications that follow. That little calf was worth $600-$800 to the 5-Diamond outfit. That little reflector sign cost taxpayers real dollars.

If you happen to have any information that would help locate and prosecute the calf shooter, please call the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.

USDA responds to disaster request

According to a release from Congressman Scott Tipton, the USDA has approved the request to designate much of the Western Slope a Natural Disaster area.

The request from our congressional delegation was made late last month, based on the late freeze that virtually wiped out Mesa and Delta Counties' fruit crop. The crop loss could amount to as much as $50 million for producers in the area. Montrose, Garfield, Gunnison, and Pitkin counties were given contiguous disaster area status since they suffered some losses as well.

Tipton made the following comment on the declaration: “I am glad Secretary Perdue listened to our calls to address this dire situation and provide farmers in the area additional options for temporary relief to get them through these tough times. This relief will allow farmers to financially recover faster, so they may begin to focus their attention to the next growing season, and we can all look forward to enjoying the famed Palisade Peaches next summer.”

Meanwhile, Palisade peach lovers will find a little bit of the famous fruit at the English Produce Market at Oak Grove and Townsend. Jami told us this past week that she has managed to get some peaches, but supplies will be slimmer than other years.

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