A Gift From Santa

After the celebration of Christmas settled down, the visions of, not sugar plums, but bobcats were dancing in my head. The snow had been falling all throughout the day, suddenly stopping right at dark, just when bobcats do their hunting. Instead of playing with the latest technology and electronic gizmo, my heart longed for something else, something as old as the dawn of time…the hunt.

The sound of the hounds bark was a delight, just what I wanted Santa to bring for me and Kruger. Dane, Rooster and Fletcher, some of the best bobcat hunting dogs around are just the company that I want my hound to keep, they are the dogs that I want Kruger and myself both to learn from. Watching the dogs, how their tail twirls on track, the change in their bark when they strike scent, the way they yearn to run the mountain. I learn more from these dogs than I ever thought possible; determination, the will to continue beyond tired, hungry or cold, the will to live in the moment as is if it might be your last, giving 100% of your heart to the pursuit.

During the first year of Kruger’s puppyhood, in the excitement of his arrival, I may have spoiled him a bit. Okay, he is a very spoiled dog. Now that he is over a year old, it is time for him to learn for himself the positive work ethic that I see in Dane, Rooster and Fletcher. It is important to me that my hound has a well-rounded disposition and character. That takes time, that takes the mountain, that takes some hard hunts…here we go.

No sleep, no worries, just hunt

My head bounced around like a sleeping kid on a car ride, only I am 34 years old. My eyes were heavy and I was passing in and out of sleep, trying to stay awake and pay attention to the snow covered road and the tracks that crossed it. I tortured my hunting partner Ty by singing, it was the only thing that seemed to break the desire to sleep.

Rabbit, squirrel, deer, repeat. Is it a coyote or is it a bobcat? The two can be easily confused in certain snow conditions. Nice round track, no toenails, definitely a bobcat. We had found what we were looking for. Granted the track was aged and would be difficult to follow, it was worth a try. No guts, no glory.

The cold mountain air bit through my lungs as we climbed up, high towards the sound of the hounds. Rooster and Fletcher had went to the right, Dane to the left. Which dog(s) do we follow? Which is on the correct track? The mountain is black making seeing the track very difficult. Dane won out as he was heading towards the rock cliffs, a place where bobcats love to go.

The rocks were slick, covered in a dusting of snow, one slip would be a disaster. Dane was not barking treed, but was frantically running circles around the rocks. We followed in his and the bobcats foot-steps, catching up shortly after 2:00am. The bobcat was perched high on a rock face, watching Dane run circles trying to figure out where he had gone.

We were fortunate that the bobcat had not taken cover. Dane had done his job and brought us to our quarry. The bobcat had eluded my hunting partner for some years, a known runner, we had been blessed with success.

Fletcher and Rooster were still on the hunt and could not be caught. The hunt was over and the dogs didn’t know it. Dane had done the job. Two hours passed, it was after 4:00am before we were able to catch the strong hunting hounds.

With the pickup at an idol keeping us warm, the front seat was going to be my bed for the short night. The thrill of the hunt, our determination, our success, it was all worth it. A Merry Christmas to us. Blessed be the world.