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Friday, July 23, 2010



So I got a call from the neighbor’s son’s girlfriend the other day- she was minding the dogs (I know those dogs and it wouldn’t work the other way around). She said she just them out back for a walk and came face-to-face with a mountain lion, which hissed at her and scared the crap out of her. We live in a residential neighborhood which abuts a tract of land about seven acres in breadth- not really a wild jungle situation. Which made me think that if the hiss could be interpreted it probably meant, “Do you have any idea where there’s a mountain around here?”
She said she called 911 and they told her to go back into the woods and take a picture of it (and what- post it on Facebook?). Animal Control wanted no part of it either since technically it had broken no law.

The idea of a wild animal in our backyard that you woudn’t normally run over in a car was at once fascinating and frightening to me. My wife walks our dog back there all the time, and although I don’t think a mountain lion would attack a human for no good reason, I wondered if their system for rating reasons might be different than ours.

I thought I had better get out there and… well I didn’t really have a fully constructed plan in place. I put on a jacket and long pants even though it was about 90 degrees, thinking that if it bit me, neither of those garments had been recently laundered, and I would have the last laugh as I sat in the hospital. I put on a hat in case it bit my hair, and I took along a weapon- the deadliest thing I could find in the garage was a pickax.

Once I was in the woods, I looked down at my hand and said what the fuck am I going to do with a pickax? I may as well plan to conk it over the head with a ball-peen hammer, or jab it with a shish kebab skewer. I went running back to the house and found my father’s Winchester 94 (“The Gun That Won The West,” he never tired of telling me). I started keeping the gun in the bedroom ever since I saw that home alarm system commercial where this girl is alone and her old boyfriend with a snarly face breaks in and terrorizes her and her kid. I always thought that the same thing could happen to me: that that girl's snarly-faced boyfriend could break into my house. I have a dog, but the dog always looks like it’s smiling, and the only way it could ever harm a stranger is if it licks his skin off, causing all his organs to flop around the room.

I dug up the shells to go with it, and even though the box said, “best if used before 1974” (I should have asked my Dad- wasn’t the friggin’ West won by 1974???), I figured what’s the worst that could happen? Well I could shoot and kill myself, or be mauled by a mountain lion, but I only thought of those things later.

I thought I better test fire the weapon to see if it still worked after all these years- what if this friggin’ wildcat pounces on me, and I pull the trigger, and the thing makes a “doink” sound and nothing comes out? Or worse yet, the mountain lion puts its finger in the barrel and the gun backfires into my face? I know my father went on hunting trips, but I only remember him dragging his own carcass home with him.

I put a shell into the chamber and picked a place along the path to fire the rifle- I could just see me pointing it at a rock, and the ricochet comes back and kills me, with the mountain lion snickering away. I pulled the trigger and jesus the noise was an echoing cacophony that must have been heard for miles. I hoped at the very least I may have struck oil like Jed Clampett, and I could move to Beverly Hills where the mountain lions are better behaved.

When I continued into the woods, I heard a sound and spun around to a pair of eyes staring at me- a large fox. It did not seem frightened of me, and started circling my position as if to say, “I think I left my glasses somewhere around here.” I theorized that the mountain lion had made a play for the fox’s young, and perhaps I posed a similar threat in its mind. So far I did not see any evidence that wild animals are “more scared of you than you are of them,” and I think I even saw the fox give me the finger.

I continued on, and noticed a deer blind, which I climbed, toting the gun. I saw movement in the distance- a deer. I turned to call my wife- she would get a kick out of being called by an idiot with a gun sitting in a deer blind 15 feet up a tree. When I turned back I saw something that looked like the tail of a mountain lion, although I was far away and it also looked a little like a dinosaur.

I started thinking, what would Commander McBragg have done in this situation? I started thinking of amusing things to write in a blog. It dawned on me that I better focus here, this could turn into a life-and-death situation for one of us. I wondered if I would actually kill it if I saw it- the thing hissed right at the neighbor; that seems pretty threatening to me. Is a mountain lion an endangered species? Would I get in trouble if I killed it? I thought of getting a restraining order on it, or possibly trapping it. The pickax might come in handy after all if I dug a hole and put leaves over it. After about 45 minutes I popped the shell, climbed back down and watched Judge Judy.

Incidentally, a mountain lion is the same as a puma, a cougar or a panther. Its range is extensive, from Canada down to South America. A black panther is not a panther at all, but more likely a jaguar. The mountain lion cannot roar, but will growl, hiss and even scream, if someone steps on their foot. If you see a Cougar or a Jaguar on the highway, move out of the way, especially if it honks at you. The bobcat is much smaller, and gets its name from “Robert.” The jaguar and the leopard are much bigger, and indigenous to more tropical climates. A leotard is a cross between a leopard and a retard.

Provided by website-hit-counters.com site.

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