Fear

I’ve been blogging for a while and sometimes I forget that I’ve already told a story, so if I’ve told this story before, please forgive me. I’m going to tell it anyway.

Being alone in the woods is not a scary thing to me, usually.

However, in about 1990, I was hunting a location in Idaho for the first time. Rob and I were camped in a drop camp and hunting elk and mule deer in territory with which we were unfamiliar.

In addition, I picked a spot in some dark timber that gave me a funny feeling. As I recall, the action was quite slow. The woods were quiet and a bit eerie. Of course this feeling was all in my own head.

However, when a horrific loud growling sound emanated from the timber about 100 yards away, the feeling was more than in my head. I stood still, facing the sound, which continued for what seemed to be a long time.

I actually dropped my trousers. And, nearly messed all over myself.

I tried to walk towards the sound, but eventually admitted to myself that I preferred to continue on without confronting the noise. I could only guess what had produced it. I wondered about the source of that sound for many years.

Maybe ten years went by before I was given a clue as to what the sound was about. As I sat near a pond waiting for blacktail deer on our ranch, two to bobcats faced off about 50 years from me. Although they were small, the sound that they made as they tried to intimidate each other made me think.

Could the sound I’d heard years before been created when two mountain lions faced off in a manner similar to the bobcats?

A few more years passed before I got my second clue. As I stopped to open a gate, on the way to our ranch, a could hear a horrendous racket going on in a brush patch that I could see about a half mile away. Crows and ravens were making a racket from all directions as they flew towards the brush patch.

I knew I was hearing two mountain lions fighting, but the reason for the bird involvement was not clear.

About another few years passed before I finally figured it out. One day I arrived out our camp at the ranch. Once again I was alone. The scene from ten years previous played out again. This time near the bottom of the canyon below me.

Again I heard the two lions growling and fighting. Again the birds zeroed in on the site of the action. Finally it all made sense. The two lions were not just fighting, they were fighting over a carcass. And, the birds knew that a free meal was on the way.

That day in Idaho, two mountain lions had faced off about 100 yards from me. The sound of those two cats is to this day the scariest sound I’ve ever heard while alone in the woods. And, in those few moments, it was the most fear I’d ever felt  – except one other time.

That other time was when I giant conifer crashed to the ground during a Montana lightning storm in the middle of a dark night. I was screaming in my sleep when I awoke from a deep sleep while laying only a few yards away from the event. Generally the woods are quite safe, but once in a while fear is appropriate and involuntary reactions occur.

That’s the only time in my life I’ve ever screamed out of fear.

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