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Old July 7, 2019, 02:15 PM   #1
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AAR of Livestock DGU and Lessons Learned

Long post warning...

I had an encounter yesterday that made for an interesting morning. I learned a few things and quickly unlearned some things I “knew” to be true. I thought I would share some of my conclusions and see if you folks come to some of your own.

Long story short... I was out at our rural property yesterday cutting firewood...

A family friend has leased the property for grazing a few dozen head of cow calf pairs. After finishing cutting, I cut across the property and witnessed a pack of dogs (6-7) running calves and baying/harassing one of the first calf cows.

I retrieved my AR and was able to shoot three of them before the rest decamped. Two died on the spot while the third made it across the fence into thick brush on a neighboring property. The dogs were hound and pit mixes, common in this part of the country for hunting hogs. Average weight was around 75-100# and all were heavily muscled and in good shape. Range was around 100 yards. One cow was mildly injured (nipped hocks, nose) by the dogs, and several were winded and on the verge of overheating.

The intent of this thread is not to debate the ethics of shooting dogs. In our part the world, shooting dogs that are actively harassing livestock is not only legal, but expected and even encouraged, often even by the dog’s owner. These dogs were not feral in the classic sense, though they certainly weren’t tame. I know who they belong to and the issue of loose dogs has been addressed with those individuals.

Here’s a few things I learned that I thought might apply to other scenarios involving wild animals (which seems to be a common theme on this forum). With some imagination, I suspect you could apply these lessons to a DGU against human predators as well.

1.) It takes a while to process the unexpected... It was several seconds before I processed what I was seeing. I saw dogs, I saw cows, but my brain only said “Oh, that’s cute, dogs and cows playing...” I was in condition white, and not looking for predatory behavior and wasted several seconds figuring the situation out. This even though I pride myself on being aware and observant.

2.) Things move fast... I initially noticed everything happening at around 200 yards by the time I processed and got the pickup stopped and the rifle out, the pack had closed to within 100 yards. This was in the space of less than 10 seconds. They also didn’t hold still for shots. When I made the decision to shoot, I stupidly envisioned clear broadside shots like I take on deer. Not the case... fast moving targets were all I had.

3.) Equipment selection matters... I had a 20” AR with a low power scope with me. I nearly grabbed my cute little .32-20 when I left the house, but the AR was closer to hand. I shot a total of 10 rounds, at distances of 100-125 yards. The scope was just enough for positive target id but had enough field of view to maintain awareness of the entire scene and what lay beyond my targets. Neither my 24x target scope on a bolt action .308, or my .32-20 would have worked nearly as well.
The fact that I had the right tool for the job was purely happenstance. Next time I’ll put some thought into it.

4.) Ammo selection matters... I just grabbed a magazine of whatever ammo was on top of the safe when I left the house. It turned out to be 55g V-Max’s handloaded to 3000 FPS. The bullets performed as advertised, which wasn’t good. They blew up under the skin of the heavily muscled dogs. It was only the shots that went between ribs that did any good.
I’ve long poopooed ammo debates, my thought that was any halfway decent ammo will be fine. I’ve even been known to carry ball ammo in my carry pistol.
I WON’T be doing that anymore. Pick the right load for the job. In this case, I’ll likely switch to 64g Winchester Power Points.

Also: Shoot till they go down... none of these animals dropped at the first shot. I’m used to carefully selected shots on deer, and haven’t had one run in years. Not going to happen with questionable placement on a moving target. Shoot and shoot some more.

5.) Distance/Shooting technique... In this case, all shots were 100+ yards, standing offhand or poorly braced. Luckily, I’ve been working on my offhand shooting lately and did fairly well. It turns out a perfect shooting position won’t always be easily attainable (shocker, I know). Future range sessions with my carry gun will include more weak hand and alternative position practice.

6.) At NO point was I ever in danger myself, and at any point, (in the chance in a million that the dogs had aggressively pursued me) I could have gotten in my truck and simply left.
Takeaway, distance creates safety, and remember all possible exit strategies. Had this been a situation that compromised my personal safety, the best strategy would have been to leave before trouble came my way.
Also, property (especially someone else’s) isn’t worth compromising my safety. If it comes down to protecting me or a cow, it’s me all day long. This goes double or triple for a TV, or a stereo, or even a car.

7.) I had feelings afterwards, and it was a far cry from what I experience on killing a game animal. This surprised me. This is likely because dogs fall under a category called “charismatic mega-fauna” and we’re conditioned to see them as friendly. On a side note, they say the person you’ll most likely have to defend yourself against is someone you know, possibly even someone you’re friendly with. Read into that what you will.

No normal person feels nothing after taking a life. I’m not remorseful, it had to be done, but I basically spent the rest of the day wishing like hell I hadn’t had to do that. I can’t imagine scaling those feelings up to taking a human life, and hope I never have to. This isn’t something that gets covered in the one-paragraph stories in the NRA Armed Citizen column.

Hopefully this was coherent and you can learn some things from my observations, and maybe offer some of your own.


Last edited by dwwhite; July 7, 2019 at 02:23 PM.
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Old July 7, 2019, 02:29 PM   #2
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Glad it worked out for you and you had some introspection. Nice summary.
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Old July 7, 2019, 07:25 PM   #3
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What is AAR and DGU?
I had to put a dog down once. It was a different scenario than yours, but I had to face the feelings afterward all the same. I hope to never have to do something like that again, but I know that I am capable if I have to.
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Old July 7, 2019, 08:07 PM   #4
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Guess I got a little acronym happy..

AAR= After Action Review

DGU= Defensive Gun Use...

DGU may be a little bit of a stretch in this case, but the cow seemed pretty happy I was there to defend her, well, as happy as a cow ever seems, I guess...
I do know that the cow’s owner was happy I was there to prevent his $1000 investment from being run to death.
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Old July 7, 2019, 08:33 PM   #5
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I thought that is what DGU may have been, but I wasn't sure. AAR was lost on me. I wouldn't consider "DGU" as a stretch at all. You used a gun to defend.

I've heard of people shooting dogs for chasing wild game. It doesn't seem like a stretch at all to have to make the same decision to protect livestock.
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Old July 7, 2019, 08:57 PM   #6
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DGU was a new one for me. I learned something and can go home.

Sounds like even if you hesitated you had the tools and ability to handle the situation. I've always thought it would be hard for me to kill a dog. I've had dogs all my life and I generally like dogs over people. That said, livestock is property and you have a right to defend it.

We've had a couple cases similar to that near me. One was pretty tragic. Was a pair of Bernese Mountain dogs that had escaped their yard and were harassing chickens. The farmer shot and killed both, then tossed them over the fence for the owning family to find. Certainly his property, but if they were my dogs I'd hate that man for the rest of my life.

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Old July 7, 2019, 10:12 PM   #7
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1.) It takes a while to process the unexpected...
Excellent observation. IMO, it's not necessary to go through life continually EXPECTING trouble (condition orange or yellow or red, or whatever) it's a huge step to merely NOT expect things to always go smoothly.

In other words, don't go through life expecting trouble--that's stressful. Don't go through life expecting things to always be fine. This delays constructive action while you get your mindset aligned to reality. Instead, go through life with the understanding that reality is fluid. Things can be perfectly fine one moment and tremendously screwed up the next.

When things go haywire, this mindset allows you to adjust rapidly to the new reality.

This helps understand how to prepare and how important preparation is. When reality changes and things go from normal to seriously messed up, it's not enough to rapidly grasp the situation, you need to have the means to respond effectively.
On a side note, they say the person you’ll most likely have to defend yourself against is someone you know, possibly even someone you’re friendly with.
A really good exercise in readiness and preparation is to understand and contemplate the fact that while we mostly think about deadly danger coming from strangers or wild animals, the reality is that it is more likely to come from an acquaintance or relative, or someone's pet.

This is where someone who isn't really interested in being prepared past the tacticool aspects of it will jump the track. They want to think about shooting bears/mountain lions or goblins/badguys. It's not fun to think about the reality that when things really go south they are more likely to be called upon to shoot a doggie or Cousin Frank, not a bear or some big, scary, tattooed escaped prisoner high on animal tranquilizers.
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Old July 8, 2019, 12:03 PM   #8
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I am not really one who reads into every situation like some sort of commando operation. I don't really think that the whole AAR or DGU applies, its just not that deep.

You shot some dogs that ( in your view) needed to be dispatched. You did so at 100+ yard and used a rifle which was plenty capable of doing the job at that distance. This stuff isn't rocket science and what this story indicates to me is that you have a decent grasp of marksmanship as well as functional prowess with your AR.

I don't think this is about ammo selection, shooting style or equipment selection. You could have used any ole 5.56 ammo and likely accomplished the same thing. As far as shooting style goes, you either know how to shoot your rifle in a decent manner or you don't. In regards to equipment selection goes, just about any old rifle can dispatch game the size of dogs. I wouldn't carry a 22LR as a truck gun and neither would most people.

I agree with the suggestion that people need to pay attention and at least consider briefly what it is they are seeing. I will say that when people get too caught up in the whole (situational awareness jazz) can actually begin to see a boogieman behind every blade of grass. Trying too hard to see and detect everything can easily cause an overload of irrelevant static. Most people simply need to make a reasonable effort to remain open and aware of things happening around them. The easiest way to accomplish this is to avoid distractions such as phones, tech and other split attention tasks.

The whole "shoot till they go down" ..I am not sure if you mean focus on the (1) until it drops or if you simply mean keep shooting at all the targets. I guess I will reserve comment until I figure out the context
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Last edited by FireForged; July 8, 2019 at 12:23 PM.
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