First Go At Predator Hunting

Summers in Texas are hot and in the last few days of August, time slows to a crawl!  Hunters are checking their gear, or the young ones, if required by the state, are taking a [hunter course], a good one is Online Hunter Education Courses and a click on the link will get you set up.   If they fish too, along the Texas coast it’s either too windy, or the waters too hot.  Offshore it’s either too rough for the pounding required for the 20, 30 or 40, mile boat ride, or if the winds not blowing, it’s too darn hot!  Bass fishing slows and if there’s no breeze, it’s too darn hot to lake fish too!  However, a bright, light awaits because on September 1st, the north and central zone, dove season opens welcoming in another hunting season.

In late August of 1970, Jim Buck and I had taken advantage of the poor fishing weather to go and see if any doves were flying around some stock tanks on a friend’s place, north of I-10, along the San Bernard River, between Sealy and Columbus, an hours drive west of my southwest, Houston home.  This spot happened to be north of I-10 in the central dove zone.  Jim had also just purchased a distressed rabbit, game call and we thought we’d “kill two birds with one stone” and check on the doves until dark, then try to call up a coon, bobcat or coyote.

We checked out three stock tanks and mourning dove were plentiful, good shooting next week and as the sun set we drove over toward the river, parked Jim’s truck and walked on into the thick stuff.   Armed with Jim’s single shot .22, we picked us out a clearing, hastily constructed a small blind that we’d sit behind then waited for dark to set in.

It was both of ours first go at predator hunting and right at “dark 30”, Jim blasted out several notes of a distress call, he was manning the rifle and I was handling the light, a spot with a 6V battery.  Having read that you turn the light off when calling, then switch it on and shine it in the trees and it would reflect the animal’s eyes, I switched it on and my sweep of the area revealed nothing.  At pitch dark we tried again, then we heard it, a high pitch scream, then another, that scared the snot out of both of us, then silence!

Not knowing what to do, Jim readied his .22 and I turned on the light and shined it up into the trees, nothing but silence.  We just sat there for a good 15 minutes, scared “snotless”, but finally cooler heads prevailed, we decided to make a lot of noise walking back, successfully made the 300 yard walk, and none to soon, climbed into the truck.  All the way home we debated what it was that gave us the jolt, not an alien (we had them back then too), but decided on either a cougar or bobcat.

Back before WW II, once when my brother was in his convertible with the top down, driving back from a late date, when passing through what is known in Texas as The Big Thicket, back then it covered hundreds of square miles, he heard a series of screams, that later were identified by a local as a “painter” or cougar.  Now I know that a female cougar will scream when looking for a mate.  We didn’t know that then when we were scared “snotless”!