MOUNTAIN LION  [NASHDOITSOLBAI]  THREE POSTS, HUNTER GRAY [NOVEMBER 14/15 2002]  A BIT UPDATED

 

NOTES ON COYOTES AND [WILD] CATS [HUNTER BEAR, 1/12/03]

 

 

MOUNTAIN LION  [NASHDOITSOLBAI]  THREE POSTS, HUNTER GRAY [NOVEMBER 14/15 2002]  A BIT UPDATED

See  also,  http://hunterbear.org/panthers.htm  [PANTHERS]

 

If you're so inclined, there's even more to worry about around here than,
say, certain national and world leaders -- or the capitalist system.

The meat-eating "Threats" can weigh up to 200 pounds. Or even more.

We're having morning coffee at our house -- with the [local] Pocatello  ID
paper telling its readers: " OFFICIALS WARN:  MOUNTAIN LIONS ARE ON THE
PROWL  -- Predators following deer herds may wind up in suburban
neighborhoods"

The paper's basic advice is, "If people come across a mountain lion, raise
their arms and make noise. Never turn and run or bend over to pick up a
rock."

Well, lions are around us all the time -- and no problems.  Although I yield
to no one in my commitment to the right to bear arms -- and most folks
around here are sensibly gun savvy -- I think I'm a little more concerned
about a few paranoid suburbanites whose knowledge of firearms is limited
than I am about Big Kitty.  Where we frequently go -- not far from here --
there are three lions: an extremely large male, a younger male, and a
female. And coyotes howl every night.

Nice to have them all nearby.

Still looking for a nice male bobcat to mate with my half-bobcat, Cloudy.
Lots of bobcat tracks lately, so we're hopeful.  A lion, of course, would be
a little big.


Hunter Gray  [Hunter Bear]
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'


==============================

Glad to get a question.  A bobcat is also called a wild-cat -- and it
certainly sounds like that which you call a woods cat.  Maximum weight is
usually about 20 lbs, often somewhat smaller, spotted, tufted ears and furry
tufted paws, short tail.  A lynx -- Canadian Lynx -- is quite similar but
much bigger and can sometimes make 50 or even 60 pounds. Both a bobcat and a
lynx [and lions] run by bounding -- great jumps.

 Cloudy is one-half house-cat and one-half bobcat -- with the latter
predominating personality-wise. And she bounds, high and mighty.  She is
extremely attached to me.  Gets along well with the regular cats and our
dog.  The vet asked once, when she was in for her regular shots, "do you
supervise her when she's out?"  We do -- mostly for her protection.  Despite
the delicacy of the vet's term, "supervise,"  Cloudy scratched the vet in
dramatic fashion very shortly after that question was asked.

A mountain lion is also a puma and a cougar and a pantera and  catamount --
and, in the American context -- a panther.  Occasionally, a lion will be
"blue" [gray] and, even more rarely, black. Most are essentially yellowish.
The term mountain lion is used from Southern Idaho [where we are] down into
the Southwest, cougar is used from around here ' northward and way up into
the Pacific Northwest.  Puma, a very general term, is much less used in the
West.  Panther is a common Southern designation.  Pantera, of course, is
Mexico and southward.  Catamount is pretty archaic -- and was mostly eastern
Middle West into the Northeast. It's all the same great animal.

The jaguar -- tigre -- is mostly south of the border but there are some in
extreme Southern Arizona.  They can be yellow with dark spots and a variant
is black. They are generally larger than a lion.

A very readable book about lion -- and bear -- hunting and with heavy
emphasis on lion behavior in the West is J. Frank Dobie's excellent, The Ben
Lilly Legend [Boston:  Little, Brown  1950.]  I bought my copy at Santa Fe
at 16 -- when the book initially came out.  There have been many subsequent
editions.

Best -

Hunter Gray  [Hunter Bear]
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'


==============================

Prompted by Juan's very interesting comments on Marxism, just a quick
further contribution to the discussion of mountain lions.  Their range is
obviously extremely extensive in the Hemisphere and thus the names are
myriad.  Although leon  is another handle in Mexico -- and elsewhere in
[Spanish] Latin America -- I've heard pantera used very broadly in the
Mexican setting.

I may post this on another list or two where interest has been expressed.

But this is a strong word of advocacy for  Nashdoitsolbai [a reasonably
accurate transposition into writing of the Navajo name for our good friend.]

I began hunting and trapping -- ever more extensively -- from early
childhood on. [I had my first rifle, a .22 Winchester, at seven.]  At one
point, in my early twenties, I had 200 of the very large Victor No. 4
double-spring traps and an extensive range in Northern Arizona.  [I now have
one trap left and continue to set it with my bare hands, over my knee --
simply as  an exercise. Any vacillation would "lose me" a thumb or finger.]
Out of that came many trapping successes -- I'm not going to elaborate --
and also one of my very first published short stories:  "Last Of The Wild
Ones" which, via an agent [Scott Meredith] became the nicely illustrated
lead fictional piece in the November, '57 issue of Argosy magazine, whose
circ then was almost two million or so. This was under my original name of
John R Salter, Jr. [The four hundred bucks, less 10% commission, joined the
GI Bill in continuing to take me along the "higher ed" trail at Arizona
State University.]

But, more to the point, the focus of the story is on a boy who, acting
defiantly in the face of an elder's plea,  presumptuously kills a very rare
lion -- a reddish lion with an extensive cattle-killing history and a high
price on its head -- in order to secure the bounty money to help buy a
pickup.  The  ethos of the story was immediately noted by my father -- not
disapprovingly -- as a signal shift on my part away from my still-heavily
focused youthful interest. And, by that time, having already been a very
explicit Red  since quite early in '55, I was moving forward to Save the
World on a number of other fronts.

I still hunt on occasion for meat.  I don't trap and haven't for decades --
but I'm not an anti-trapper when that involves individuals and societies
whose livelihood is genuinely based on that. I still faithfully sub to the
old trapper's magazine, Fur/Fish/Game. [For two years, late '50s into '60, I
had a wonderful pet coyote that I'd raised from his first day onward and who
eventually, when I was working one summer in the very wild and rugged turf
of Eastern Arizona, left home and got married -- occasionally returning with
his mate to visit.  I'm probably now related to every coyote in that vast
region.  And I've certainly never killed a coyote since I raised him.]

My take on lions is that they virtually never attack humans.  The greatest
recent lion hunter of them all, Benjamin Vernon Lilly, who began hunting in
the Deep South, then Mexico, and spent most of his career in New Mexico and
Arizona, could cite scarcely an instance where such attacks occurred.  But
in the very rare instances of which he was aware,  all were in the South in
settings where human communities had expanded rapidly into lion turf.  He
noted, BTW, that he had never heard a lion scream its traditional cry.  I
have -- twice -- and it sounds very much like a woman.

There's obviously a little of this lion/human confrontation now in the New
West.

From the post World War II era, the West has seen, of course, a growing
number of instances of extremely rapid urbanization, often involving tens
and tens of thousands of people in very limited geographical areas and in
very short time periods. This extraordinary population explosion --  e.g.,
myriads of suburbs and many in choice scenic settings -- has played hell
with every ecological dimension,  big or small, covert or overt,  and this
certainly includes the culture of the lions.

 It also very much threatens, among other things, the treaty-guaranteed
water supplies and fish and game of many Native American tribal nations.

And, in several instances like, say, mass-expanding Denver/Boulder, there
are a very few -- very, very few -- instances where humans have been
threatened, maybe even jumped by a lion. Given, too, what's happening
demographically on the California coast, I'm sure there've been or will be a
few instances where humans and lions -- and the cats are certainly
aboriginal inhabitants -- directly collide.  Does that mean I would support
even limited hunting of lions?  Without getting into the "animal rights"
thing,  No.

 Pepper spray -- No again --that's too close range.  Guns?  Not unless one
really knows how to use them for self-defense.

How about waving a copy of Ashcroft's Patriot Act in the lion's face?  Now
that -- I'm sure -- could get one a different kind of culinary experience
indeed.  A quite fast moving one, materially -- and definitely a transition,
spirit-wise.

I guess I don't have much sympathy for urban America's "personal security at
all costs" fetish -- especially when they come out into the wild and
otherwise rural regions. If anyone's worried about lions, travel with almost
any kind of dog.  That should be sufficient deterrent.

Anyway, as I say, we have lions around us up here with frequency -- and in
no sense feel threatened.  Growth here has been much slower -- Pocatello's
whole metro would have to scrape hard to get 65,000 -- and  the Bureau of
Land Management region begins less than a hundred yards from our back door,
soon joined by Caribou National Forest. All of that -- BLM and USFS -- is
public land.  No further building up here will ever occur.

After I posted yesterday, I went once again 'way up to the base habitat of
our lion buddies.  Lots of fresh tracks of lions -- and many mule deer as
well, and at least one moose.  Everybody's gathering for the winter.

And I'm sure the lions, as they have been for eons, are most appreciative of
the contributions of the others.


NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR  [OCTOBER 7 2007:

This page occasionally draws questions -- almost always very good ones.  I answer them.

Here is a worthwhile colloquy from the other day:

Laural writes from Fort Collins, Colorado:
 
Hi, I visited your site after it was linked to another on mountain lion safety. my regular hiking spot is now sporting a new sign on lion sightings and is advising caution. It reccomends NOT taking a dog, but it also reccomends not hiking alone. arranging for a human chaperone on every hike is impossible, not to mention disspiriting since being alone in the wilderness is one of my most significant and life-affirming experiences. I have a 40 lb mutt I keep on a leash. He barks at strangers at the door and still puts up his hackles when seeing another dog on the trail. I think (?) he would be protective in an encounter, but since there is so much out there indicating dogs are attractants, I'm not sure what I should be doing. it does seem to me that with the tendency to pounce, pepper spray or a gun (which I wouldnt carry anyway), wouldnt do much good because you couldnt see it coming. I've read you should wear a hat with eyes on the back. I've read look it in the eyes and dont look it in the eyes! I've read to wear a bell to make noise, but isnt that just another attractant? I've had the good fortune of seeing my first bear this summer and of course am conflicted about seeing a lion. What's your opinion/experience on these matters?
 
ps. I have a friend from Pocatello who's now living in Alamosa. she and her husband work at the City of Rocks. I've been to Pocatello to visit her and loved the town.We stayed with a guy named "Sky," an artist with a lot of character. You know him? Thanks for the cool web postings. your little clan sounds fun.
 
Laural A.
Fort Collins, CO
 
My response:
 
Dear Laural A.
 
Thanks much for your good letter and inquiry.  I agree with you that it's frequently impossible to have a human hiking partner. 
But I do see a 40 pound dog friend as a fine, all purpose companion and I wouldn't hesitate one bit to take him along.  I usually have a dog for companionship.  I've lived in lion country most of my life -- am originally from Northern Arizona [as you have probably picked up on our website] and I know of no instance within my awareness where a lion has attacked  a human. They are curious, but very cautious. Assuming that there is a very, very slight chance of that occurring -- in areas of rapid and heavy human urban expansion -- I think the dog would be quite enough.  I've taken many long, lonely hikes around these parts -- sometimes have a dog, sometimes not, and I have never even taken one of my seven firearms [including a revolver.]  Basically, I think "no sweat" on the lion score.  If you wanted to take a bell, fine. [Never heard of that one.]  I am reluctant to have either of my two adult daughters hike on the edges of our wild country up here where we live -- but my concern solely involves a possible rare human of ill motives, and has nothing to do with lions.  Further back in "our" wilds, we rarely see any humans -- save for a couple of likeminded and friendly neighbors.  If you take your dog, you'll do fine.
 
And thanks for your good words.  I don't believe I know "Sky" but he sounds worth knowing.  I will keep an eye open for him.
 
Take care, Laural, and thanks.  Happy Trails -- as "they" used to say.  If you have any further queries, please don't hesitate to get back to me.
 
All best, H
 
 
HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'
 
Check out our Hunterbear social justice website:  www.hunterbear.org
[The site is dedicated to our one-half Bobcat, Cloudy Gray:
http://hunterbear.org/cloudy_gray.htm
 
In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear] 
 http://www.hunterbear.org/GRAY%20LANDS%20AND%20GRAY%20GHOSTS.htm

 

NOTES ON COYOTES AND [WILD] CATS [HUNTER BEAR, 1/12/03]

 

Although I'm originally from Northern Arizona, I was briefly in the
Nebraska sandhills and was given two coyote pups, hardly more than a day
old, eyes closed. Their seven litter-mates had just been killed for bounty.
A friend had a female dog with a new litter of pups and we splashed water on
all of the pups -- dogs and coyotes -- and physically mixed them together
in such a fashion that to the mother dog they all smelled alike and she
hospitably took in the newcomers . Back in Arizona, one coyote left
early -- and, I'm sure, made it OK. The other remained with me for a long
time until his lady friend came -- at a point where I was working in a
remote mountain area on the Arizona/New Mexico border. Earlier, while I was
finishing up at Arizona State University, we were in Tempe. For his own
protection, he was usually chained in back of the house. Now and then he'd
make his getaway -- and on two occasions left neighbors' dogs pregnant [the
boxer and the cocker spaniel I mentioned earlier]. Fascinated, their owners
kept the pups through weaning and gave them all away to good homes. My
coyote, with me from practically the day he'd been born, knew instinctively
how to dig a perfect coyote den, buried every bit of food he didn't eat and
remembered exactly where it had been buried [a wolfish trait], howled and
was recorded by many, and knew how to fight very effectively -- once
permanently crippling a large aggressive chow via ham-stringing. He was very
gentle with children -- but hard on chickens. [People were commendably
understanding -- as my father was when my coyote, meeting my folks for the
first time, immediately gobbled up the family parakeet.] He had all of his
shots and I'm sure he lived to a ripe old age. Ranchers, cowpunchers and
miners all knew about him and many knew him -- he was much larger than the
Arizona coyotes -- and they had no thought of harming him. That was a long
time ago and, by now, I'm probably related to every coyote in Eastern
Arizona.

Dogs and coyotes mate very easily. These mixes are common.

Our half-coyote, years later, came to us on the Navajo Reservation in the
Lukachukai Mountain region. He had sharp instincts, did a lot of digging
[but no den], buried his food, was an excellent hunter. He was very loyal
to our family and got along quite well with conventional dogs and also with
cats. He was exceptionally strong, powerful. As I indicated, he lived to a
ripe old age -- always with us.

My full-blooded coyote was named Good -- as was our later mixed-blood.

Cloudy -- our half bobcat -- came to us from the East Grand Forks, Minnesota
area. The people who had gotten her had small children who treated her
roughly -- a mistake on their part. She was extremely young when she was
given to me -- and we immediately bonded in almost instantaneous fashion.
At that time, our family lived across the Red River in Grand Forks, North
Dakota. Soon thereafter, the flood came which wiped out much of the area and
we returned to the Mountain West. She's very possessive of me, jealous, can
be bossy, and is generally friendly to all family members [including our
other cats and our Shelty] -- although quite aloof with strangers. She
takes absolutely no guff from anyone. While giving her a booster shot, the
vet remarked, "Of course, you supervise her when she's outside?" I had
barely
finished an affirmative when Cloudy dramatically scratched the questioner.
And, frankly, she is extremely psychic.

There are bobcats [and mountain lions as well] very close to our house right
here in Eastern Idaho. Perhaps we'll find Cloudy a relationship and 3/4s
blood offspring. But she will always be with us. In fact, she camps at this
computer whenever I'm here.

All best - Hunter [Hunter Bear]

Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'


In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]

 

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