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Mike Waters - survivor of a buffalo attack

Updated: May 10, 2023

Don’t Mess With the Bull - Well, buffalo may not have wings, but it sure seemed like Mike Waters did when an enormous buffalo bull hit the gate he was behind.

Buffalo Bull
A large buffalo bull on Mike Water’s farm.  This bull stands well over six feet at the shoulder and weighs about 2800 pounds, according to Mike.

The incident happened last July, while the Waters were attempting to load the huge 2800 pound animal into the stock trailer. Mike says that buffalo tend to lose their minds if they are confined and singled out, and this big bull saw a gate that was not quite closed. He had a good 40 foot run and hit it at about 25 miles per hour. Mike was catapulted 15 feet in the air by the impact, connecting with a hydro pole about five feet up, then dropping to the ground knocked out cold. There had been no time to react to the charge.

When Mike came to, he couldn’t feel anything, couldn’t breathe and thought his wife Kim was standing on his ribs. He screamed for her to get off. In reality, Kim was standing over him to prevent the bull from trampling him.

ORNGE ambulance was not available, so a land ambulance transported Mike directly to Hamilton General. He was in critical condition.

Mike Waters, survivor of a buffalo charge.

Mike doesn’t remember much of that time – he wasn’t allowed pain killers until the extent of his injuries was determined; he drifted in and out of consciousness. The pain was intense – Mike suffered a concussion, a broken back, three broken bones in his shoulder and splintered ribs on the left side. One rib splinter pierced his lung. His ribs were also flayed – a term indicating that the skin on the ribs was blown off. Once x-rays were completed, Mike was rushed to the spinal trauma unit where he was put into a morphine coma for four days. An operation was out of the question – there were too many adverse possibilities for infection or pneumonia. Mike’s bones had to heal on their own. Mike prayed for God to take him home.

After five days Mike was fitted with a back brace which kept his back and ribs in place. He was moved to a step-down unit in a room by himself but still kept on morphine for another six weeks. Three weeks into the ordeal, medical staff started to get him up and walking. The pain was excruciating. Although it was predicted that he wouldn’t walk on his own for six months, Mike was determined and achieved that goal in six weeks.

After four weeks Mike was transferred to West Haldimand General Hospital in Hagersville, still on high doses of morphine. During the next two weeks, his family built a ramp into the house and got it set up for a wheelchair, in preparation for his home coming. Physiotherapy began in the hospital; walking was closely monitored, using a walker.

Now, several months later, Mike is at home, able to walk short distances without aids. He uses an electric wheelchair to get around the farm. He is told that he can’t do much for at least a year- no lifting, no bending, no twisting, which Mike says is, “hard when you have a farm.”

His body may have been pummeled, but sense of humour is intact. He jokes, “As for the bull, he’s out there sharpening his horns.” 

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