Buffalo threw me around like a ragdoll

Steve Mitchell with one of his buffalo in happier times
Steve Mitchell with one of his buffalo in happier times

SERIOUSLY injured buffalo farmer Steve Mitchell from Auchtertool blames himself for last week’s attack which almost cost him his life.

Recovering in hospital after undergoing surgery for extensive injuries to his legs and buttocks following the ferocious attack by his herd last Thursday afternoon, the brave businessman is adamant that the cattle were only acting on instinct when he got too close to their young, and says he blames himself.

Speaking from his hospital bed in ward 54 at the Vic on Tuesday, Steve (30), told the Press: “I really thought my time was up as I was being thrown around by around 30 buffalo. I thought I was not going to get out alive.”

Steve’s nightmare began after an uneventful photo shoot at Clentrie Farm near Auchtertool last Thursday afternoon.

“The art gallery had asked me to do a photo for a competition it is running, and we had finished taking pictures of me with the buffalo as a backdrop. We were coming back through the field where the females were with their new calves. The photographer asked if she could have one more shot, and I stupidly said yes.

“I knelt down about five metres away when one of the mothers lunged forward because I was obviously too near to her baby. The next thing I knew they let out a war cry and I was being tossed around like a rag doll by around 30 angry buffalo.

“I knew I had been hurt badly when I felt the horns go into my buttock, and then my belt got caught on another’s horn and I was dragged along the ground and through a pond. I was beginning to panic and wonder how on earth I was going to get out of it. I shouted to the two the council staff who were there to get the truck we had driven to the field in, and luckily they stayed calm and managed to get it started.

“They drove it towards the buffalo, blaring the horn and it scared them off. As soon as I was free I just legged it to the pick up and threw myself in the back seat, and they brought me straight to hospital.

“I really am very lucky to be alive and it has taught me a very short, sharp lesson. When you work with cattle day in day out you can become complacent, but they are still wild animals who will react naturally when threatened.

“I don’t blame them, I am just really angry at myself for being so stupid. It is not going to put me off farming buffalo.”

Steve, who has been farming buffalo for eight years without incident, has undergone two major operations to injuries to his legs and buttocks and faces at least another week in hospital to recover.

“Everyone has been very supportive, particularly my girlfriend Claire Gardiner, who is working flat out as well as doing her own job.’’

“I have had loads of messages of support through The Buffalo Farm facebook page and I would like to thank all my friends, staff and customers who have been great. I will be back at work as soon as I can.”