The Sitting Bull
While living in Challis, Idaho Linda and I had an animal experience we have always remembered. We were driving on the highway just north of town in an area where ranches lined the Salmon River. Many of the grain fields had stock feeding on the stubble from the recent harvests. In one of the fields a big white face hereford bull was sitting on his butt with his rear legs spread wide open and his front legs supporting him. He leaned slightly forward. His posture would have made a grade school teacher proud. He was kicking back, watching the traffic, and just looking around. Linda and I were flabbergasted to see that 1400 to 1600 pound bull sitting there like a little kid. As luck would have it, our camera wasn’t with us. It was the one and only time I ever saw an adult cow sitting in the middle of a field. We still laugh about how silly that bull looked.
During the previous winter I had a little adventure concerning a large male cougar. We spent the winter in Clayton living in a trailer. A couple days after Christmas a teenager named Rick, who lived nearby, came knocking on our door in the morning. It was a clear day with the temperature just above zero. Rick’s dad was a retired aerospace engineer and his grandfather was an area native. Rick’s dad was busy building a gyro copter in his garage. His grandfather was too old to get out much, but was teaching him how to hunt, fish, and trap. He had a string of traps up Thompson Creek for coyote and bobcat. One of his sets was a deer head from a bobcat kill. Rick had it hanging from a huge pine tree in the middle of the road. The big tree had the road on each side of it. Rick had four traps beneath the snow under the tree. Each trap was securely anchored. During the night a cougar got into the traps. The cougar ran off with Rick’s traps on two feet. Rick went home and his grandfather forbid him to go after the cat alone. He sent Rick to see if I would help him get his traps back.
When we arrived at the tree it looked like a bomb went off under it. There was blood, cougar hair, chunks of bark, dirt, and snow thrown everywhere. The cougar reached higher than I could reach and left deep claw gouges in the tree. Finally, the trap anchor chains broke and the cougar headed up the mountain with a trap on a foot of each side. An idiot could have followed the tracks. Every time one of the chains got tangled in the sagebrush the cougar just yanked the bush out by the roots. About mid day we found where the cougar had laid up and rested. Our approach from below got him moving again. We followed the cougar for about two and a half miles uphill in a nearly straight line before we had to quit. The game warden saw him several weeks later with one trap still on a rear foot. He was in good shape and hunting.
Rick never got his traps back…….and I’ll bet that cougar never got close to another deer head.