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Cats of the Wild, That I Have Known
Encounters With Wild Cats
As a wild life enthusiast and painter, I have spent a lot of my time in the great outdoors. In this time, I have come across a lot of cats, and three have remained crystallized in my memory. My first account was in south Georgia on a farm. Billy's Farm was about thirty-five acres in size, and had a considerable amount of swamp land in the back, where I had done a lot of deer hunting. The morning that I chose to go there was cold, and it was late in the season. I was walking through waist high corn stalks that had been knocked down back in September, and there were a few corn kernels still on the ground and scattered about. I made my way about half way through the big field, and I headed toward a stand that I had constructed from fallen limbs and small pines. Suddenly I heard a low growl and I immediately looked over to my left, and saw a huge gray colored cat, crouched low to the ground and near the edge of the corn field. It appeared to be a big cougar, and At first, I was a bit panicky. I then decided to put up my rifle, to get the wild animal in my scope's cross hairs. It was then that I saw this was a mother cat and was pregnant.The belly of the cat was practically dragging the ground, and you could tell that it was near giving birth to a litter of kittens. I froze in my tracks and did not move, until I saw the cat move cautiously along the edge of the cornstalks.Then suddenly, it was gone. I made my way back to my stand area and set down my gear on a limb, and then found a comfortable seat on the stool, which I had brought along with me. After remaining there on the stand for about three hours, and the sun having gotten up fairly high in the morning sky, I decided to move back toward my car. I had parked near an old shack at the edge of the big field, which was about one hundred yards in length and about fifty yards wide. This was right along a boundary near a big swamp, and I figured that was where the big mother cat had been staying. I had gotten into my car and closed the door, when another big cat ran from behind the old grey ruins of the shack and scampered down through the lanes of corn stalks, toward the sanctuary of the dark swamp trees, which were laying to the East. I was quite startled by the animal, and the speed at which it ran was astonishing. It probably was the male mate of the mother cat, I had seen earlier. I decided to lay off for a while in hunting that farm, and returned only one other time, later in the Fall.
My next cat encounter was when I was out hunting for crows, and I used an electric call that was like a portable phonograph with a record and turn table. There was a loud speaker attached to a long cord and it could be set up in a hidden spot, where it would remain undetected. I set the rig up and made myself a blind from old tree limbs and downed pines, that had been recently cut in a logging operation. I positioned myself in the middle of the blind, and could only see out in the direction where I was expecting the crows to be coming into the call. I could hear a few calls of some of the crows off in the distance, and this was the direction in which they seemed to be roosting. I was carrying a twelve gauged shot gun and was using number-six shot for the heavy bodied crows, which I expected to be coming in at longer distances to my calls. After calling a few minutes, I had response to my calls by several crows, and they seemed to be heading toward my position, as I sat inside my blind. I raised up to take a shot, as the first wave of crows winged over head. Before I could pull the trigger of my gun, I heard a low snarling sound coming from directly behind my position in the blind, made of the pine limbs. From the corner of my eye, to my extreme left, I could make out grey mottled fur and heard the low guttural rumblings of a big Bob Cat, no more than five feet from where I was sitting. I froze in my shoes, and stayed that way for what seemed like an eternity, there in the woods. This was far away from any other human beings, way out in the county. The big cat did not want to leave because the electric crow call was still blaring, and I guess he thought the crows would be an easy lunch. I carefully eased the barrel of my gun in the general direction of the cat and managed to pull the trigger. With the blast, I heard the cat scamper back into the brush. I got up with crows still circling my stand and decided to pack up and head back, since I was alone and there was no one else to back me up that day. I would return later, but brought a friend along. I decided it was unwise to hunt in those parts, by myself, in the future.
My third adventure, that included wild cats, was the time that I was hunting deer on a river in north Georgia. I had a ground blind near some large pine trees, and I used a camouflaged cloth to wrap around the blind area.The morning air was heavy and the trees were coated in water from an early morning's rain. It was in early October, and the beginning of the deer season, back then. I could smell the strong odor of the buck rub scent that I had sprayed on a nearby tree limb, and I felt that this was going to be a productive morning's hunt. As I sat on my seat and watched through an opening in the branches, I heard a loud growl and suddenly a big Bob Cat walked into view, about five yards from my blind. The big cat was shaking and attempted to rid itself of the water that was clinging to its matted fur. It appeared to be almost comical in appearance, because it looked like it weighed only a few pounds, and when its fur was dry, the cats appeared to be much larger and more fierce. The cat never knew that I was anywhere near him, and continued to skip happily along on its way back into the brush, that chilly Fall Morning. I remained on my stand and was able to harvest a nice little spike buck, and then proudly drug the deer on the two hundred yard trail, back to my son's house. This deer would be the source of several evening's fine venison dinners, and was greatly appreciated by the whole family, in those days. My story of the cat added to the suspense as we sat around the evening dinner table, and I would always remember the water-soaked Bob Cat of the Coosa River. There have been other fond memories in my repertoire of hunting treasures. I will hold on to them for now, and maybe, share a few with you later, if you are willing to listen. Happy outdoor living can truly be a blessing in the rich memories and experiences, that will last a life time.