Archive for February 5th, 2008

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One Big Effin’ Cat

February 5, 2008

I came across this article today in the Local paper about big cat sightings in southeastern NC.

My rule is not to comment publicly on religion, politics, or extinctions, lest I be thought a heretic, an eccentric, and a nutjob. But, having broken the first two tenets of that rule on occasion, I won’t be too hard on myself in this case if I venture an opinion on the continued existence of the Eastern Cougar in these parts.

Because I’ve seen one.

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It crossed the road in front of my Civic one August day in 2003, in the middle of a pretty intense drought, as I was driving through the Big Swamp. (Yes, that’s it’s official title. It’s big, it’s a swamp…)

Anyway, aside from formally offering to sell my story to the highest bidder, I wanted to mention this in order to share a much more interesting anecdote about a possible cougar sighting within a few hundred yards of my parents’ house in the pine woods.

My cousin Chick built a very nice deer stand in the woods just behind the family blueberry patch a number of years ago, and for many years he would have some of his people from Georgia and South Carolina down to hunt on holidays.

I spent a good deal of time out there myself, during a period of prolonged unemployment a few years back. Once I spent a whole afternoon watching a beautiful dun-colored bobcat watching the corn pile.

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Another morning, first light revealed a very large owl sitting on a pine limb about six feet from my perch in the stand, staring intently at the softer, more vulnerable parts of my face. owl.jpg

One day near Thanksgiving, Chick deposited a young relative and novice hunter from Georgia in the stand for the evening.

The story, as it was told to me, is that the young hunter saw a smallish buck wander into the cleared lane that stretches 150 years into the woods from the stand. He took aim, fired, and knocked the little buck down.

Dismounting the stand, he started off down the lane to collect the deer. He was about halfway up the lane when what he thought was another deer, of about the same size as the one he shot, stepped into the lane close to the dead animal. The hunter raised his rifle again, but instead of a deer in his scope, he saw what he would describe as a “bis-ass cat with a long tail.”

The cat, according to the story, clamped its jaws down on the deer’s neck and drug it out of the lane and into the dense woods.

The hunter did what any thinking outdoorsman would in such a situation. He abandoned his rifle on the spot, turned, and did not stop running until he made it to his vehicle.

Chick came and retrieved the rifle the next morning, and so far as I know his Georgia relative has not been hunting since.

-duck

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