A Weiner Dog and a Switch
That’s what the trapper told my father-in-law when he inquired as to how he would get a mountain lion we thought had killed one of our pregnant ewes this past week. We found out, he really wasn’t kidding about the wiener dog, and the switch was actually a thunder stick.
Now, this is one of those touchy subjects, something most people don’t really have to deal with in their day to day lives. Hunting a mountain lion who has killed one of your livestock, and of course, plans to do it again is hard on some people’s hearts and minds. But then, so is knowing that what you buy in the super market in little packages was also a living and breathing animal. This is part of our circle of life, predators and prey. Unfortunately, we lost a beloved ewe one that has grown on our hearts since she moved her from the city. She was one of our “City Girls” and was halter broke, sweet and produced some beautiful lambs crossed with Raider last year. I was hoping that she would produce a ram lamb for me this year to use as a breeder in fall, unfortunately her lambs were lost along with her: Chicory Lane Emma.
I had discovered Emma’s mangled body after going on a search for a dead ewe or some sort of mishap because I had seen our LGD, Abby, carrying around a dead and part eaten lamb in her mouth. I wondered if someone had aborted and was still having trouble or… What? I ended up searching around the barn thanks to Abby’s encouragement the night previous with a lot of barking. I believe that the ewe was killed earlier (and so did the trapper) after seeing how much of her was really eaten. It’s just that the cat had probably come back to feed once again and that’s when we noticed Abby’s alert. Now, Abby is an excellent LGD especially toward dogs and coyotes but lacks that take charge personality that would lend her to really fight. We’re now on the search for an already trained male LGD with a more fierce attitude.
Anyway, I found Emma’s body and quickly noticed that there were intestines near by (something a cat won’t eat) and also noticed pine needles scratched around the body though not covering it. That, to me, was a dead giveaway. Cats always like to bury things, especially their next meal. I then noticed that my 2.5 year old daughter was skipping and running around up to 50 yards away from me (we were near our barn,) coming toward me, moving away and I thought this cat could be very close by watching this whole thing. I grabbed my daughter’s hand and we cautiously made our way back to the house. I was thankful for our dog’s companionship at that moment – I have always been one to watch my animal’s reactions to the situations and or environment to see what is happening because I know I cannot rely on my own seeing and hearing or smelling. We quickly called the Fish & Game and talked with some helpful men. Not long after the Game Warden met us and looked around the site. He was questioning that it was a cat (though I think that is a smart tactical move on their part – so as not to get your nerves on end.) He then called our local trapper who has been a Federal Trapper for many many years and he’s definitely an expert in his field. He came out the next morning (Tuesday) and also doubted we would find anything because of all the rain we had (another tactical move.) I kind of doubted he’d find anything too and he mentioned we may have to wait this one out… That would mean another lost sheep and more heartache for us. Let alone the possible confrontation of cat vs. me or someone else close by. That’s a very scary thought.
Our Trapper went up to the scene by himself, looked at the carcass, then let his first pack of three hounds out of his truck. I watched from the house, waiting for my mom to come over so she could watch my daughter for me. The hounds moved around the barn, relieved themselves, and looked around… Soon, they were baying and barking running from our corner fence line out to a little bit of shrubs and bushes on the side of a ridge behind our property line. Not long after those dogs had left and the baying had started that I heard the tail gate of the truck drop a second time and the second pack of three hounds came charging out and running in the direction their friends had gone.
My mom had come and I took off out of the house, with my camera in hand. I walked up the dirt road that goes to our neighbor’s houses beyond ours and crouched beneath a pine tree trying to look in the direction of where the dogs were barking. Hubby had to make a trip to the Bay Area so I had him on my cell phone and told him everything that was happening while it happened. I knew those dogs had treed something by their excitement and barking.
Finally I had heard a shot, and the fog started to lift a little so I could just make out the pack of dogs circling around the fallen cat. As soon as I heard the shot, I heard a large crashing through the bushes, obviously from the cat falling out of whatever she had perched herself in.
The photo above is the same at the one above it, but I zoomed in so you could see the pack and our Trapper.
My Hubby then started telling me to start hiking up there! He told me to hang up and call him back when I could, so I started moving. I met our Trapper when he just reached the bottom of the hill, the cat in tow. My first impression was that she was pretty small, I had envisioned an animal much bigger though maybe my head may have embellished my mind’s eye a bit.
I thanked the Trapper over and over again, and then started asking questions. He said that the cat was about average for a female and was around 65 lbs. He also said that her coat was not in very good condition and that by the looks of her and of the carcass she had left by my barn, she was planning another attack soon. He also said she hadn’t left the area and had probably been watching me for a few days… Doesn’t that give you the warm fuzzies? And as evidenced by the picture above… He really wasn’t kidding about the wiener dog and you’ve never met such a dog in your life. She was so funny and so very big in her own mind’s eye. Our Trapper also told me that a male cat is approximately 100 lbs. heavier and the biggest he’s ever shot was 172 lb. male. Can you imagine how huge that must have been!? I think if I ever came eye to eye with a cat like that (nevertheless, one like this little female), I would have had a heart attack before he could have gotten to me.
So the Trapper took his dogs back to the truck and pulled the truck up to the cat. I told him I’d baby sit while he went. I took lots of photos and looked at her claws.
As you can see, they’re quite large. So is her paw compared to mine.
He loaded her up in the back of his pick-up, filled out some paper work and the permit we were issued by Fish & Game and then left. I’m sure he was off to take all the stats at our local Fish Hatchery where she could be properly weighed and all nails and teeth accounted for. I am curious to find out more about her, such as age etc. so I hope we are able to find out form our Game Warden.
So this leaves me with the thought of how many people will read this post and be slightly offended or what your thoughts are in general? I post things like this because it is real life and my blog is especially about farm life. This is what happens when you own livestock, and when there is a cat stalking you or your animals something needs to be done about it. There are a lot of cats in our wilderness and we do have a lot of wild land left here all around us for them to roam in… It’s just that sometimes the cats find the convenience of pastured animals or even house dogs and cats to be very inviting.
And another thought, we live in California… and most think it’s the land of the fruits, nuts, and flakes but despite all those who think California is one big beach and one big city… Obviously you don’t know how large California really is. There is a lot more country than there is beach or city.