Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hi, my name is Bobby

Meet the bobcat, a downright handsome creature who knows how to take care of himself and how to avoid bad company. It is October and, once upon a time, a significant element of October for me was hunting. But, "once upon a time was very long ago." (I have a variety of song lyrics drifting through my mind this evening.) Whatever .... during recent weeks my thoughts frequently have returned to "the days of the hunt" .... so, I decided to write a brief story about my one and only encounter in the wild with a bobcat –- three of them, to be precise. To accompany my tale, I located a photograph by an unnamed photographer so those who are unfamiliar with the bobcat might have a glimpse of one. I suppose, for the sake of accuracy, I should mention the event of which I write took place not in October, but sometime in late December/early January. As for the music, one piece is Bad Company/Queen performing "Bad Company," and should be self-explanatory –- or not. I could have used another rendition with more pleasing audio (Brian May's guitar solo is awful), but chose a concert from the Ukraine to make my own statement of support. The second is from "Finding Neverland," composed by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek. I have been to Neverland, more than a few times, but my stay usually lasts only for a few hours -- although, on occasion, even for a few months. I hope someday to discover a way to stay there even longer.

The Hunter's Tale

One wondrous winter day (he writes factiously), I decided to go far into the deep, dark forest (all right, enough of that) to an area where I had seen bobcat tracks while deer hunting a few weeks earlier. I never had been a trophy hunter per se, but had gotten it into my head that I would like to have a mounted bobcat in "my gun room." The year before, I had a rug made from a black bear I had shot. I liked seeing this denizen of the woodlands in my room, mingling with books and rifles and decanters filled with assorted liquors and a few paintings; I had begun to think of gathering a few more "trophies." 

Oh, yes. There also was a stand holding a dozen pipes and a number of tobaccos present to choose from, as well as a magazine rack filled with the latest issues of shooting and hunting periodicals. I was, you see, on my way to becoming a member of the "consummate hunter club."

The day was cold.

Very cold. 

Actually, damn cold.

And, a combination of a foot of old snow beneath a few inches of fresh powder covered the ground with an unbroken whiter shade of pale. (Sorry, I could not resist.)

Wind-driven, raggedy clouds soared across the sky as they and the sun battled for supremacy. The same wind blew the new-fallen snow swirling in and out, up and down, among the clustered pine and birch trees. It was an epitome of winter woodland elegance; I was fully absorbed within the timeless nature of Nature.

Moving through the dense forest, I approached a narrow strip of logged-out area where I had seen the tracks -- slowly, cautiously, silently. I had an innate talent for doing this -- for stalking –- and, beyond this inherent "gift," I had honed the ability to near-invisibility through practice, practice, practice. (I could tell a story or two in this regard that I doubt you would believe.)

Thirty or forty yards into the clearing were two bobcats. They were young, only a few months old, and like youngsters of any sort everywhere, they were playing -- leaping and bounding and rolling in snow, each trying to outperform the other in a battle of prowess and strength. I watched them for a while.

It seemed they were too young to be out on their own, so I scanned the woodland opposite me across the clearing and I quickly spotted their mother just beyond the distant tree line. Her gaze shifted between watching them and watching me. She eventually walked out into the clearing -- casually, nonchalantly -- close to where her kittens were engaged in their antics. Once there, she mostly watched me.

Seeing what I was seeing and feeling what I was feeling, I am absolutely sure in my mind that I never once thought of shooting her, but I lifted my rifle and looked at her for a few moments centered in the crosshairs of the scope mounted on it. The six-power magnification of the scope brought her image very close to me.

Whether or not she was offering herself up to me as a prize to save her kittens, I do not know. But, that was what seemed to be happening and what I believe was happening. It was then that I did something I began to do increasingly when I hunted: I fired my rifle into the air rather than at the quarry. In the blink of an eye, the three cats had scurried out of sight into the trees across from me. I think the mother and I both had proven and taught something to each other, and, maybe, the kittens had learned something.

Here ends The Hunter's Tale ....

(After-thought: It was a few years later before I quit hunting altogether, but the idea of "trophy hunting" disappeared forever after that day. And now, the only wildlife I want in "my gun room" are those illustrated in paintings or photographs -- shown alive and strong and free.)


ANITA said...

What a nice storie!!wow!

You can write Fram!!

We call those cats "Gaupe" here in Norway--We have alot of them but they are very shy.Soo nice you became second thought and did not shoot the mother..I say in nature too..They takes care of their young ones(she offered herself to you)
You should continue like this..writing like this..Very good!I could feel the woods,the snow, the silence ,smell of the pine, in every word you did make!

Pleasent reading!

Write more Fram!

Also like the music very much and the photo is just great :)

Greetings from me in Norway

Fram Actual said...

I did not realize members of the lynx family were as widespread throughout the world as they are, Anita, until I did a bit of research after reading your comment. Yes, I think their shyness and stealthiness are reasons they remain largely invisible to most people. They certainly have been invisible to me, and I have spent a considerable amount of time in wilderness areas.

Thank you, for your compliments regarding my writing and the post. You are very sweet to say what you say.

October is slipping away, and with its passing my mood will change and my thoughts will move along to other places and other times. I am not sure why I decide to write something like this memory of my "bobcat hunt." I guess what I am doing is searching my past in hope of finding a direction to take me into the future. Cigars and hunting, songs which hold certain emotions, memories of people, places and times -- mix them with a bit of Benedictine and discover what might emerge.

See you later, Anita. Thanks again ....

A Cuban In London said...

This is one of those stories that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. First off, it's winter, so I imagine that there's hardly any noise around. Snow tends to muffle sounds and all you feel is the wind beating up your face. Perfect for predators and I've heard bobcats are sneaky. Great tale. Thanks for that.

Re Paul Rodgers+Queen, that combo was never my cup fo tea. Queen should called it a day when Freddie died. Paul is Bad Company through and through. He was made for the band and the band was made for him. I saw this concert on telly and I was quite disappointed. No wonder Deacon refused to join in! :-)

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

Yes, CiL, among the best friends to any predator -- including man -- is snow. When cold and wind and an overcast sky are added to the mix, especially in heavily wooded terrain, the hunter has the deck pretty much stacked in his favor. And, falling rain or snow are a hunter's good luck charms. I could go into some detail, but common sense should reveal the benefits of these negatives. This is another instance where I could recite hunts which might be hard to believe.

There is something about hunting, especially in harsh weather conditions, I think, which creates a blend of hereditary lineage and transcendental exuberance that supplants time altogether. For those who possess this "genetic spark," a particle of existence has stood still and been unchanged for millions of years. There is nothing to match the sensation of walking across a frozen lake in the midst of a ground blizzard at the close of a successful hunt.

I completely agree with your thoughts about the Queen/Bad Company venture. Members of Queen should have gone their separate ways with close of the "Freddie Era." Interestingly to me, until Paul Rodgers put in his appearance with Queen, I had forgotten he even existed. I listen to "classic rock" constantly on the radio, but only rarely hear a Free or a Bad Company number and never anything by him solo.

Thanks for coming by, CiL. I am curious: Have you cleaned your guns yet today?

A Cuban In London said...

Thanks for those two Cream clips. I saw that concert on telly recently again.

I meant to ask you in my previous post but completely forgot about it: when you went out hunting, did you not feel as if you were also being hunted? I know I would. Rifle in hand (or whatever weapon yuo chose), moving stealthily on the snow or amongst branches, but knowing that another animal is stalking me at that very moment as well. Spooky. Knowing that no matter how much weaponry I have with me, the predator has a better arsenal: surprise.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

I watch that concert in its entirety once or twice a year and segments of it every month or two, CiL. Cream is one of "those bands" which produced a few songs that are not only symbolic of the music of the "rock era," but are emblematic of a "generational mood." Right now, I would argue, there is no generational mood revealed in terms of music; there is largely only junk music and work from a few marvelous composers whose contributions primarily are film scores. (Hmmmm .... maybe "junk" describes the generational mood.)

I am paranoid, CiL, so you ask your question about "being hunted" to the wrong person. I am only half joking.

In direct response, yes. Like everyone, I am very relaxed at times and not paying much attention to my surroundings, whether in the city or in the forest. As demonstration of this, at the time of my second encounter with wolves in the wild, I was basically out for a walk in woodlands by big water in an area where I once lived and hunted. I more-or-less crossed paths with a wolf which I was overlooking in a topographic sense: It was on a shoreline below me while I was on a higher trail. Subsequently, I was surprised, to say the least, to discover a second wolf had approached me from behind to within about six feet. This wolf evidently believed in the "no harm, no foul" concept, and, after a few seconds, continued on his way. Wolves have bone-crushing, paralyzing power in their jaws, so .... I could go on, but I imagine you get my drift.

I think everyone should be aware that no matter where they are, they might not be hunted, but they probably are being watched by not always friendly eyes. Most people simply do not think like that, and some pay the price. Swimming in very deep and/or murky water is the place where I never, ever, never feel completely comfortable.

Thank you, CiL, for leaving your thoughts. Rock on, man.

Fram Actual said...

In case you pass by here again, CiL:

I have been remembering this event with the second wolf -- thinking about it -- much of Sunday. When the wolf began to walk away, he passed so close to me that I could have reached out and touched him. I did not. It was one instance when my common sense overrode my curiosity, my ego. Subliminal fear, maybe .... maybe uncertainty, maybe submission to greater strength .... who knows ?? It was too fast to remember anything but imagry. I wish I had touched him. It has become one of those "never know" events of my life. (I have a lot of them !!)

I am certain, though, as I was when I encountered a wolf in the wild the first time, that he knew my mind and was unafraid of me for that reason. The first time, I was sort of in control; the second time, the wolf was. This second time, I believe that because I had no emotional reaction when I felt his presence and turned my head and saw him, and that my initial response was that of no movement and to speak to him, that it was just another day at the office to him.

Life often includes trying to understand the un-understandable, and, again, I could tell a dozen stories about encounters with animals which would appear unbelievable to city boys or even to country boys who belong with the gun-nut category.

I may be getting too serious for the blogs ....

Something special ....