Sunday, October 17, 2010

Exhilirating and Terrifying

We had a family stop by after church today. They are trying to decide which puppy they want. They spent an hour or two hanging out, talking, and of course snuggling with all the cute pups. When the family left, we decided to put in an hour or so clearing scrub oak from our over-grown ATV trail. That stuff grows fast, tall and thick right before your eyes. Izzy and I grabbed some loppers, Ike grabbed a hand saw and MacGyver grabbed his trusty chainsaw. I jumped on the ATV and the kids jumped into the back of the truck and we headed into the woods. We cleared about 1/2 mile in about an hour and a half. Not bad. Along the way we spotted several piles of bear scat, some elk scat and some assorted pieces of skeleton. A leg bone here, several back bones there and we even found a piece of the jaw bone with about 12 teeth in it. We think it may be a bear after looking at the teeth! And the kiddos contemplated. What kills a bear? Other bears. What else? Moutain lions. I noticed the kids stayed a little closer after that. A little less adventurous. A little less wandering. We cleared brush, rocks, and even bones out of the way and made it up to the third meadow. Then we decided we were all hot, thirsty and getting hungry. We headed back down the mountain and back out to the road. Izzy jumped on the back of the four-wheeler with me and Ike jumped into the truck with his dad. They went up the road a bit to turn around and decided to take some pictures along the way. Izzy and I didn't wait around; we just headed home. I knew there were hungry pups that needed to be fed before we headed into town for dinner. As we were heading down the hill, I got about 100 feet from the cabin and thought I saw Tank sniffing around by the camper. I slowed down trying to make sense of how Tank had gotten out. Did the kids forget to put him up? About that time I realized it wasn't Tank. This thing was twice Tank's size. It was the mountain lion. And Maggie was headed straight for it! I called Maggie back but it decided we were too close for his comfort (or maybe Mr. Elusive just didn't like being seen) and started mosying right past our cabin into the pasture right in front of our house. Now by this time, my adrenaline was in full swing. I had stopped the ATV but was just sitting there sort of shocked. Izzy was holding on for dear life and hiding her head between my shoulder blades and my strong, protector of a husband was nowhere to be found. Remember? He was taking pictures? Eventually he made it down the hill and pulled up to me sitting in the middle of the road waving my arms like a madman. He had no idea what in the world I was doing, much less saying. I was trying to show him the mountain lion hanging out in the pasture, just standing there. As if. He hops out of the truck, looks and realizes it is still there. He reaches back into his truck to get his gun, right? Nope. The camera. What? Are you going to throw it at him? Who reaches for a camera? And then he takes off after it trying to get a shot, ooh, wrong choice of words...a picture. OH MY GOODNESS! And guess who follows? Maggie, me and both kids. Yes. Insane we are. Insane. All of us. I whispered to the kiddos to grab some rocks and instructed them if we saw him again to stand your ground, yell and scream and throw rocks at him. I think I saw Izzy's lip quiver. Wow! Supermom, I am. It eventually disappeared behind the barn and into the woods, but not before shaking up our nervous systems! Wow! Equal parts terrifying and exhilirating! We called the DOW guys that have been out here researching, tracking, studying their behavior. I couldn't tell if he was "their guy" or even if he had a radio collar on. My senses were on overdrive and I was definitely not taking notes for questioning later. He suggested we might have a fresh kill site, or that he was stalking for the next kill site. He said they will hang around for a day or so if they get a deer or up to four days if they get an elk or llama. Woah. It took us several hours to talk out the "I can't believe it...Ooh, that was scary...Do you think he'll be back...We saw the mountain lion...Do you think we should move the cat food...maybe we shouldn't leave cat food out for the little or big cats" and finally realized that was pretty scary. In broad daylight! And moved onto...I think he is stalking our dogs. They were all out just an hour and a half prior, running around, playing, doing pretty much what dogs do. And I'm sure he was just licking his chops watching and waiting for us to turn our backs. Shiver. Plus, when the puppies get going, they sound just like an injured animal with their high-pitched squeals. We set up outdoor kennels with lids just because of this very reason. It makes me feel justified. It's not out of the realm of possibilities. In fact, I think the stakes just got a little higher. I'll be double checking the gates as we close them up. I'll be more careful before I open the door and walk outside. Or let the dogs out. Or worse, send my kiddos outside on an errand or chore. Shivers. A friend of ours saw one sitting on his barn where he was heading to feed his horses. Another came home to find one asleep in his driveway sunning himself. The ranch behind ours raises cashmere goats. She's seen a mountain lion haul one of her goats over a ten foot fence. No kidding. And after tonight, I realize they are much bigger in person than I ever realized. Our new motto...Noone left behind. Catchy, huh? We stole it. It just isn't worth the risk to leave anyone out there alone or let the kids go and do whatever it is kids go and do in the woods...Freaks me out. And cool, all at the same time.

I want to see if any of the pictures turned out. Unfortunately, we left the camera in the truck and I am NOT about to run outside to get it. Not tonight.

No comments:

Post a Comment