Friday, January 18, 2008

Bobcat Boo

One late afternoon a few days ago, as the sun began to set, I grabbed my rifle and headed for the back forty. I have a makeshift ground blind on the edge of one of my fields tucked in amongst some small pines and set up so that I can scan a fairly large sector of the field. The blind itself is mostly limbs scavenged from a blowdown, and thatched with branches and grass. One side of the blind, the right side, has some camouflage burlap cloth draped across. My visibility out that side is restricted, but my reckoning is that anything that steps out of the pines on that side has to walk into my field of view if it comes across the field from right to left or if it moves away from me down the line of pines.

Since I have already harvested all the bucks (one) I am allowing myself to shoot off the property this year, and that one deer being all I need to put in the freezer (Miss Brenda is not a big fan of venison), I intended to see if I could call a pesky coyote up and put the final entry in his health record. I slipped into the blind, sat down on a small stool, and pulled out a call. This particular varmint call makes the squealing sound of a rabbit getting caught by a predator, and will normally cause any coyotes in ear shot to come investigate who is having what for dinner. I blew on the call intermittently for 10 of 15 minutes. The coyotes have either gotten wise to the call or weren't hungry. I didn't see a thing moving.

So, I contented my self with watching a nice red/orange sunset and listening to the sounds of birds making their way to roost. Several small birds flitted around my position and after mistaking their sounds for larger animal footsteps a few times, I quit paying close attention to the sounds around me and sat drowsing as the sun set.

But then a sound of a heavier, slow, step to my right jolted me awake. The first step was followed by a couple more crunches in the grass, and now I was on full alert. I bent down slowly and peeked through a slit in the burlap, my face not a foot from the cloth. As my eyes focused, I realized that I was eye to eye with a very interested bobcat. She knew there was a hurt rabbit nearby and she had crept up to the last place she heard its sounds coming from. Our eyes met and widened in recognition simultaneously. Neither of us blinked or moved for what seemed minutes. Slowly, Miss Kitty began to disengage from our Mexican, errr, Mississippi Standoff. She never took her eyes off of me, but began to ease backward, lifting one paw at a time. I was so close that I could see the muscles under her tawny hide shifting and rippling as she extricated herself from the precarious position. When her nerves would no longer allow a time-consuming backward creep, she whirled in a spotted blur and headed for the safety of a thick line of pines.

I stood and looked over the side of the blind to watch her race away. As she reached the tall grass at the pines she took one final five foot high leap and vanished into the shadows.

I laughed all the way back to the house.
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