In my last post, I mentioned that I should talk about the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.
Don’t worry; this is a humorous story. (But we really should not have done the thing.)
A few years ago, a friend of mine learned that her horse died. He was old and fully grown and it was just his time (though she wasn’t ready for it!). He was at her family’s property, and they had young children, so to shield them from the death, they dragged him with their truck of to the edge of the property. This unfortunate event happened just after the last snow of the season.
The next morning, they went to retrieve this poor animal’s carcass, and discovered an empty space and some tracks leading away. No blood. No fur. One set of cat tracks. Also, no drag marks.
Freaking crazy, right? This was a 500 pound horse! That was one big and strong cat hauling that mess away.
Then she remembers the cat her dad saw while out hunting one day. He said it was large, black, and skinny. And it had a little tail like a bobcat’s.
They’ve also seen a massive black cat crossing the road leading to their property.
Could this be the owner of the cat tracks leading away from where her horse’s body lied?
My friend also remembered a night when she let the dog out at her brother’s property nearby, and heard a crazy scream/growl (kind of like a mountain lion, but not quite), and saw the horses running like the devil was chasing them. Could that cry have been from this massive panther-bobcat hybrid?
That’s when a brilliant (read: stupid) idea hatched.
My friend, along with another of her friends, and I would go out to this 20 acre field of her brother’s and try to hear this scream/growl/cry thing this cat did. We just wanted to hear it. Nothing else.
We drove the truck to the edge of the field, got out, and started walking toward the middle of the field, armed with flashlights and a couple of recorders to capture any sounds we would hope to hear. We walked and talked and listened, and positioned ourselves facing the tree line that, in the dark, masked the steep hill sloping upwards.
After some time, we heard it: the rustling in the trees. It was faint and brief, but it was there. So what did we do? We took a few steps toward the sound, stopped, and listened again. More rustling. We took a few steps closer still. More rustling, and this time it was clearly moving toward us. We decided to back up this time, slow and steady, all the way back to our original position in the middle of the field. We held this position for several moments before my friend decided to move closer again. By herself. Because she wasn’t too chicken to do it. And she got very, very close to the tree line. We couldn’t see her unless she turned to the side and we could see her cheek in the dark (because she, like me, is very pale and glows in the dark).
After several minutes of her near the tree line by herself and far too close for comfort, we urged her to come back before something leaped out of the trees and mauled her. After she finally made her way back to us, we continued on back to the truck at the edge of the property, got into it, and drove it back into the middle of this field to sit in the bed of the truck and listen, because all we wanted was to hear this mysterious beast growl/scream/roar and it hasn’t done that yet.
After sitting and talking in the dark in the middle of this field, we started hearing coyotes going absolutely crazy. One stood out from them all–it sounded as though it was in pain or scared. We sat and listened to all of these dogs howling and barking. None of the howls were close. From this, we were (relatively) safe. Still, we waited for it to subside before finally deciding to pack it up and go.
We never heard the growl/scream/cry/roar that my friend did. It was a bummer to have gone all that way to hear nothing, but it also meant we weren’t that close to getting eaten (maybe). We made our way back to our homes and went to work the next day (extremely tired, considering it was well after midnight when we left the field).
My friend was telling her boyfriend about this adventure of ours. His one and only question was this:
“Did you guys have a gun in the truck?”
You know that moment when somebody brings up a REALLY good point and all you feel is shame because you didn’t think of the thing? That was us after this question.
We went to the middle of a field in the middle of the Ozark Mountains in the middle of the night hoping to hear the cry of a possibly mutant big cat WITHOUT A GUN.
And there it was solidified. This was the dumbest thing we’d ever done in our lives. We could have been eaten, pounced on, mauled…and we didn’t have a single gun to defend ourselves.
Be careful with your stupid decisions, kids. I’m not telling you to always have a gun, but when you’re in the middle of nowhere where there is wildlife and animals…you should probably be packing. Just to be on the safe side. But really, just don’t go wandering a field in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. You really never know.
Also, my friend’s recorder picked up voices that weren’t ours but that’s a whole other creepy story for another day.
I just had to clarify our dumbest decision after my last post stating my second dumbest.
Stay safe, everybody. Don’t go looking for big cats, even just to hear them. Live and learn!