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A few weeks ago, I was awakened by strange noise from the barn. I keep about 16 sheep out there. Not seeing anything out of the ordinary, I got my son up to do his feeding chores.

Not two minutes later, he comes running in the house to tell me there are 3 dogs in the pen, killing our sheep. I grabbed my 870 and stuffed some 3” #5 turkey loads in it, which were left over from my last turkey hunt.

I get out to the pen, which is about 30 yards by 50 yards. I can see two dead sheep, and the others are all torn up and bleeding from wounds on their necks, bellies, and udders.

There is a big hairy dog in front of me running left to right, away from me, one turkey load puts him down. Immediately, I see what looks like a young black lab run the opposite direction. I swing through and when my bead hits his nose, I hit the trigger. It lets out a yelp and jumps the fence, about 4 feet high. To my left, I noticed a third dog escape under the fence. I only had 2 rounds loaded in my shotgun, by the time I saw the 3rd dog it was gone before I could load and recover.

I was madder than hell and disappointed in my unpreparedness for this kind of invasion. It was a lot more traumatic than I could have imagined. It looked like a scene in a war movie. Blood and hair and entrails everywhere.

After the initial shock wore off, I called the local authorities and started phoning for a vet that could tend to my remaining sheep.

The animal control officer that came out was very understanding and took all my info and statement. He found the owner who was also understanding and apologetic, and we’re working through a solution. In the end, I had 3 dead sheep, with 5 more needing medical attention. It could have been a lot worse.

The thing that has bothered me the most, was how I was unprepared in my home defense. Granted, it was rogue animals in my barn, but it could have just as easily been something more sinister. Especially given the unrest in some parts of the country.

Some points where I failed:

- I didn’t have an alarm of any kind. If I had been notified right when the dogs showed up, I could have dramatically reduced or eliminated casualties. In the past, I’ve caught neighbors’ dogs harassing my sheep or killing chickens, and I’ve chased them off with yelling or a warning shot in front of them.

- Inadequate ammo in my shotgun, and not enough. Need to fix this with correctly outfitting my shotgun and taking a class or two, if this is going to be my main defense tool. Also need to have better defensive ammo on hand. The turkey shot didn’t perform as needed. I found out later that the second dog did get hit in the face, but it didn’t put it down.

- A light. A little in line with the above statement with regard to outfitting a defense weapon. I have trained with flashlight use and a pistol, but not on a shotgun or rifle. Had I known about the attack just 30 minutes sooner, I would have needed a light. One option would be to install more lights and just flood the whole place if necessary. Gotta put more thought into that.

- Deployment. Manipulation of mechanical safe lock under stress cost too much time. Need to have a better deployment system.

- Prevention. My fences were weak in places that I didn’t see. I was preoccupied with keeping the sheep in, so I didn’t take of notice how the dogs could get in.

All these things, and many more, can transfer over to a home invasion. And I can see where there is work to do in that regard.

I hesitate to post this as many people regard their dogs as much as children, but when they pack up and get a taste of blood, I think a primordial instinct kindles in them and they change from pet to predator. I do believe that responsible dog owners take care of them so they don’t run off and get into mischief. Anyone with livestock or small children, especially in rural country, just can’t take chances on things like this.


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I live in the country and have had to stop dogs under similar conditions. Coyotes also. It is not easy to do in the dark as they are usually moving fast. I think a weapon light is good for home defense but additional outside lighting would help for shooting outdoors in the dark. A fully loaded multiple shot weapon ( shotgun is a good choice ) is a prudent choice. I would arm your son as well if that is practical for you. You never know when you might need the extra help. Good luck.
 

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Having livestock and protecting them from predators go hand in hand. It is why many farms have a shotgun kept handy 24/7.

You didn't do too bad for not being completely prepared. You dropped one and tagged a second with one getting away. You are now taking steps to correct some of the problems you identified. Congrats on being willing to learn! Too many people are unwilling or unable to learn from their mistakes.

Time is often the deciding factor in how much damage done by a predator. Doesn't matter if we are talking about dogs/coyote or human predators. The quicker you can respond the better your chances of limiting the destruction. Having a way to store your shotgun in a state of readiness will cut down your response time.
Shotgun ammunition needs to be matched to the game you intend to shoot. #4 to 00 buck are generally good for SD and can be used for predators, but I like a few more pellets with moving targets. I have "T" steel shot in my 12g for coyote. My brother keeps #2 in his 20g. The bigger shot packs a bit more punch yet gives you more chance of connecting with a moving target. I like the steel shot because it is usually faster than lead shot and doesn't require as much lead to make good hits.

Good security lighting pays for itself in the long run. In fact, it may even prevent some predators from molesting your livestock.
 

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You've done a great job of analyzing your situation and how to improve it, zacii, congratulations. I'm sure the next incident will find you much more prepared. You learned much from the situation and I'm sure it will come out better if you are invaded again.
 

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Predators abound, whether 4 legged or 2 legged. It might be a reasonable idea to buy a riot gun, a high capacity, shorter barreled pump or semi-auto shotgun. Then leave it loaded for predators.

My suggestion is that you buy one withOUT the pistol grip.....all the proposed restrictive gun laws will outlaw shotguns with pistol grips. While we hope that legislation never passes, it doesn't hurt to be cautious and think ahead.
 

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I think you did well. As well as can be expected for the response, and your analysis of what went right and what went wrong will aid in being better prepared for the next time. And, living in the country, I am sure there will be a next time.
 

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You don't have a "sheep dog" ? I have a very protective German Shepherd that has free range of my property inside and out, and acts as my alarm, and very effective deterrent system, which gives me time to react and get ready for unexpected company.
 

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You don't have a "sheep dog" ? I have a very protective German Shepherd that has free range of my property inside and out, and acts as my alarm, and very effective deterrent system, which gives me time to react and get ready for unexpected company.
I’m not prepared to keep and maintain a dog. Although, after this attack I’ve considered it.

I wouldn’t do it unless I could fence my entire property so the dog couldn’t get out and bother other folks’ animals.

Two of my neighbors have large wolf/cross/shepherd looking dogs, which I’ve had to chase away from my animals. I don’t want to become part of the problem.

Another neighbor to the northeast of me has lost countless birds, including an expensive, and beautiful peacock, to dogs.


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Out in West Texas, ranchers keep a couple of kinds of weapons handy. Shotguns for smaller critters like skunks and such. I never inquired what loads they use - but almost all of them used short barrel HD type guns with large magazines. Reloading a shotgun is not something you want to do when time is of the essence. A bright light is a given.

Almost all the ranchers I knew kept an AR-15 with a lot of ammo loaded. Now admittedly, most had to deal with drug smugglers, not over active dogs. Still, the large round count and very fast reloading is something few other platforms offer. Again bright lights are mandatory and easily mounted.

And again, most kept a second rifle close at hand as well. A lot of them liked the old 30-30, although the AR-10 was becoming more and more popular. The logic ran that the wife could learn to handle both kinds of AR rifle and lights were easily mounted.

Overkill ? Maybe. Different situation ? Absolutely. But I learned a few good lessons about defending the home that have stuck with me over the years. Just my experience.

Sorry you had to learn one of the great limitations of shotguns: reloading quickly. It is definitely an acquired skill.
 

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But they're like members of the family . . . until they're not.
 

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Out in West Texas, ranchers keep a couple of kinds of weapons handy. Shotguns for smaller critters like skunks and such. I never inquired what loads they use - but almost all of them used short barrel HD type guns with large magazines. Reloading a shotgun is not something you want to do when time is of the essence. A bright light is a given.

Almost all the ranchers I knew kept an AR-15 with a lot of ammo loaded. Now admittedly, most had to deal with drug smugglers, not over active dogs. Still, the large round count and very fast reloading is something few other platforms offer. Again bright lights are mandatory and easily mounted.

And again, most kept a second rifle close at hand as well. A lot of them liked the old 30-30, although the AR-10 was becoming more and more popular. The logic ran that the wife could learn to handle both kinds of AR rifle and lights were easily mounted.

Overkill ? Maybe. Different situation ? Absolutely. But I learned a few good lessons about defending the home that have stuck with me over the years. Just my experience.

Sorry you had to learn one of the great limitations of shotguns: reloading quickly. It is definitely an acquired skill.
An AR-10 will be my next rifle purchase
 

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I’m not prepared to keep and maintain a dog. Although, after this attack I’ve considered it.

I wouldn’t do it unless I could fence my entire property so the dog couldn’t get out and bother other folks’ animals.

Two of my neighbors have large wolf/cross/shepherd looking dogs, which I’ve had to chase away from my animals. I don’t want to become part of the problem.

Another neighbor to the northeast of me has lost countless birds, including an expensive, and beautiful peacock, to dogs.


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sounds like you have more than one possible threat to your livestock. I'd do a little preemptive action and go visit with the neighbors about their dogs. Might help to check into any regulations on liability for lost livestock. Sometimes the consequences are pretty stiff.

I've had to deal with dogs on more than one occasion.
A neighbor's dog will get one chance from me. I'll call the owner and let them know what happened and what will happen if there is a repeat occurrence. Once a dog learns that it is fun to chase/kill livestock, there's not much chance of training to eliminate the behaviour.

I have one neighbor that got Psudo-rabies in his feeder pigs from stray dogs. It cost him many thousands before he got things back to normal. Ever since, any stray that shows up at his place doesn't leave.
 
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An AR-10 will be my next rifle purchase
Be sure to check PSA before you make a final decision. I got a separate upper and lower, both on sale. IIRC the total price was under $500. Fine gun.
 

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My Grandfather, and Uncle who lived on the family farm, kept a 410 shotgun on hand. They killed many a coyote, fox, and coon over the years. If a dog was causing problems, they all knew who had what dog, and whoever owned it shot it if began killing livestock the vast majority of the time. They also paid for the dead animals.

If the owner didn't kill the problem dog, then rifles came out, and the situation was resolved. That's how farmers handle things.
 

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I live rural and have had the occasional problem with predators. I dont use a bird gun, I use a 30/30 lever which is always outside the safe and loaded. Its not what I would grab for SD inside the home but for protecting livestock, the 30/30 is my go-to. I have always managed without the need of a mounted light but I could see why someone might want one. We have numerous flood lights at the house and I can see a pretty good ways off.

Where are your dogs? You have sheep but not dogs to watch them? I dont think I could manage without yard dogs.

I wouldnt beat myself up over the issue, I think you did fine. You have identified a couple of ways to handle the next problem a little better and we all do that in one way or another. We live and learn. Its never going to be perfect.

If it were me, I would just get a good working dog with some size to it.
 

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we live rural as well.
my mossberg has a 9 shot tube and can hold another 4 on the buttstock....it's maxed out with a combination of 00, 02 & 05s, and sits ready to go just inside the closet.
The long guns are also always ready, along with the G19 and Kimber.
and there's TWO Maglites at each door....one for me and one for the Mrs.
And for small nuisance critters, which I don't like to shoot unless absolutely necessary, my .22 rifle that I bought new in 1968 still works it's magic like the day it was new. Although I have been considering replacing that old horsehair scope with something better :)
Last time we had chaos in the night was when a pack of wild dogs clawed thru the bottom of the chicken coop.
 
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