05 November 2009

The recent news about a woman who hit and killed a 265 pound black bear in Covington County, Alabama with her vehicle has prompted me to write about some wild animals/reptiles that inhabit L.A., that is, lower Alabama where I have done my hunting during the past 30 years. It is not surprising to find black bear in south Alabama. The state of Florida has hunting seasons for these creatures. The bears in the panhandle of Florida probably cannot read the signs that read “You are now entering Alabama ”. That could also be said about alligators. I have seen where those creatures have come out of Pea River in Coffee County and crawled onto the land. Our son Joel and his friend Ronnie used to fish in a pond southeast of Opp and they would always see alligators but to my knowledge they never tried to hook one of them.

But on to my ‘cat tale’, that is my encounters with cougars that roam the swamps and woods of south Alabama. I was speaking in a gospel meeting at the church in Samson and we had an evening meal with a family that lived on the highway that led to Florala. When we left the house our oldest sons wanted to see the community of Hacoda. I told them that it was very small but they wanted to see where it was so I drove to the crossroads. While driving back we saw an animal crossing the road and I thought first of all that it was a bobcat but I noticed that it had a long tail. When we got to where the animal had crossed the road I stopped the car and the boys and I got out of the car and looked in the pasture and sure enough there stood that cat looking at us. It was then that I realized we were looking at a cougar. Needless to say, we got into the car and in a hurry. That ole boy whished its tail and turned and slowly walked away. I learned later that several residents of that rural area had heard the creature scream, especially in late afternoon and evening.

I was hunting in Crenshaw County years later west of the small town of Brantley and along side Double Branch. I arrived mid-afternoon and with rifle in hand I entered some pines on my way to an area where I had seen deer signs. I had not gone far before I saw an animal sitting at the base of a tree. I raised my rifle to look at it through my scope and I as did the cat got up and ran away. It was a cougar that resided in a swamp alongside Double Creek. The Brownlee family members informed me that they often heard the cougar screaming during the evening of the day and at night.

I received permission to hunt on some private land that was much closer to the town of Brantley and even closer to highway 331. My neighbor who lived behind us in Opp told me that a cougar stayed down in a bottom near a beautiful stream of water and that his father had heard the cat scream many times. After I had hunted down the ridge for the greater part of that afternoon I walked up to a small corn field and sat down near it hoping that a buck would come looking for his evening meal. While I sat there and wishing, that cat let out a scream that almost made my hair (at that time the word was plural) stand on end. There I was, a grown man with a Browning BAR 308 caliber rifle in my hands but I truly felt uncomfortable. Although I knew factually that the animal had no interest in me it was soon that I forgot about deer and got up and went home.
HUNTERS READ THIS SIGN: You may walk across my pasture free but the bull charges!

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed.

The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services.

He gasps: “My friend is dead! What can I do?”

The operator says: “Calm down, sir, I can help. First, let’s make sure that he’s dead.”

There is a silence, and then a gunshot is heard.

Back on the phone, the guy says: “Okay, now what?”