Fresh Cougar Tracks

Fresh Cougar Tracks

by Carey Boyce
(Central Oregon)

Jemez River, NM 1995

Jemez River, NM 1995

While fly-fishing on the Jemez River in New Mexico, I entered the river's narrow canyon and headed upstream. In actuality, this canyon is known as a lava cistern cut into the earth thousands of years ago by volcanic flow.

It was no more than twenty five feet wide and the vertical walls were a mere thirty feet tall. My Golden Retriever, Bernard, and I jumped from boulder to boulder as we traversed the river. Fly-fishing always took us to remote and exhilarating destinations and on this day there wasn't a soul around.

Not more than a half hour passed when my retriever, Bernard, stopped dead in his tracks. He would not budge when I called him, which was rare indeed. He held fast in the middle of the stream on a large boulder. His only action was continual barking up toward the canyon's top ledge. He never faltered or changed position as his yelps echoed off the stone walls and to describe the terror and panic flowing through my veins (to this day) is quite impossible. I looked in every direction upward to no avail. . . nothing caught my eye.

My only recourse was to hightail it out of that canyon and hope to God Bernard would do the same. I continued to scream at the top of my lungs and whistle as loud as I could in hopes my dog might snap out of his protective trance and follow suit. As I made my escape down river, it felt as though I was being stalked, by what I wasn't sure. The overwhelming feeling was so eerie I inwardly cowered like never before.

I made it safely out of the canyon and surprisingly my Golden Retriever, Bernard, was close behind. It was apparent that whatever had been stalking us was long gone. The persistent and determined antics of my dog saved my life. We quickly headed down the forest trail that lead to the safety of my SUV. Along the way, I stopped momentarily along the lower river to observe the unmistakable fresh tracks of a Mountain Lion or as some like to say, cougar. To this day, I never go anywhere without "man's best friend."

C. E. Boyce

Fresh Cougar Tracks to Mountain Lion Tracks

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Fresh Cougar Tracks

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Jul 29, 2011 You Rock
by: Kathie Rose

This was a fascinating yet scary article. Please write more or better yet write a book! Kudos to Carey's writing.

Jun 25, 2010 You should mail in your stories to OUTDOO R LIFE
by: Sylvia

Carey - Many thanks for your complimentary interest, but my own is focused on reading the various contributions of many participants on this website. Bet lots of them, including me, look forward to more of your OWN good stuff on kitties large & small!

Jun 23, 2010 Sylvia's Stories
by: Carey Boyce


Please let me know if you have any short stories or articles I can read. If you do, I imagine them to be quite humorous and educational.

Jun 23, 2010 You're a Good Writer
by: Sylvia

Hey, Carey - Thank you for your fun response. Again, that email you wrote was a winner!


Jun 22, 2010 Re-Freshing Cougar Response
by: Carey Boyce

From The Author: Carey Boyce

Michael, Thanks for your kind and inciteful words!


You're a hoot! I truly enjoyed the antics of your written review and personal take, including but not limited to - strange bug fellows, enclosed claustrophobic cliffs, ghostly horror, large cats name Elsa (my fav), and the whereabout of my dear departed Bernie, God rest his soul.

I am most definitely fond of animals except those which spit, pass on their venom, or leave wet disgusting droppings on my car windshield.

And no! A full sized man can not fend off a cougar, mountain lion, or puma in these United States unless he is armed with an Uzi, a lit stick of dynamite, a sawed off shotgun, a bad case of gas, or a picture of his mother-in-law!

(Dean Koontzingly Creepy)
~Carey Boyce~

Jun 21, 2010 Have we died of old age?.
by: Sylvia

(Am struggling to cope with a dial-up here....)

Anyhow, Carey, are you fond of animals? Years ago I had a pet bug who lived under the refrigerator. His name was Cochran le R____ (better not spell it – I might get sued), and I swear on a stack of Bhagavad Gitas he came out when I called him, climbed onto my finger and tucked away the dab of coddled egg and yogurt I fed him every night. He also enjoyed a droplet, now and then, of Harvey’s Bristol Crème. Not making this up.

Be that as it may, back to the kitties.

There’re one or two cougars across the road; I’ve seen them hunkered down in the grass, hunting field-mice. Nevertheless,every July I grab my blackberry bucket, cross the road and push my way into acres of vines 15 feet tall, my backpack stuffed with cans of cat food - just in case.

Could a grown man fend off a cougar? Occasionally I've read stories of guys throttling these cats when the cats pounced. Yet any critter bigger than we are is dicey up close. Not long ago I vaguely recall reading of the tragic death of a young woman in Alaska, who was attacked by one or more wolves.There also have been front-page headlines of an over-bold cougar haunting a hiking trail somewhere near the Straits. I also knew of someone who’d pitched his tent in the Rainforest, and a camp-following cougar leaped out of the bushes and grabbed his arm. Other campers came to his rescue and beat off the cat, who lost interest in a hurry.

If they see us in time,though,cougars supposedly have the good sense to melt into the shadows. Yet hunger probably feels the same to them as it does to us. It’s true we’re destroying their habitat in many areas. But not all areas. Though there's still primordial wilderness - at least where I live - cattle and campgrounds offer easier victuals.

If I were six inches tall, do I wonder what my housecats would do to me? My endearing, irresistable cats? No, not for one moment. Does my heart still go out to animals? Yes.

If he is still with you, give a hug to your Bernie-man.

Jun 21, 2010 Carey - Your Essay was Gorgeously Creepy.
by: Sylvia

Dean Koontzingly creepy!

Your word pictures struck me as déjà vu, the reason being my mother did a needlepoint tapestry years ago, based on a landscape by Watteau or Fragonard that portrayed a family of deer at a stream in a woodland grotto ENCLOSED BY CLIFFS.

The way you described it, the silence of whatever crouched overhead was riveting. Silence is not only restful -- it can be ominous, don’t you agree? It's fun to read ghost novels once in a while, though most are replete with ghouls hooting and clanking, apparitions swarming through the air, creaking coffin lids etc., etc. They make me think of those luminous canvases painted by artists who worked with only a few colors -- which in turn call to mind the hundreds of tints in art supply stores, and the hopefuls convinced that if they buy enough tubes, their paintings will be as radiant as Rembrandt’s.

The Turn of the Screw – a ghost story that towers over any other I’ve ever read – is enveloped in silence. The horror consists in the spectral silence surrounding glimpses, seen from a distance, of something indistinct – something heart-thudingly sinister. The horror resides in the unanswered question: is what is seen real-- or an apparition? Although you saw nothing, Bernard was enraged.

While it’s good you escaped, your account would have lost its ghastly charm if a puma had hurtled out of the gloom and landed on your noggin. A catastrophe – yes! But it would’ve ended the creep-factor. What you described as the ‘eerie’ sensation of being stalked - of not knowing by what or where it was – was chilling.

Well, I finally calmed down after reading your e-mail by opening one of my favorite books and turning to the photo of Joy Adamson lying on the ground, her arms encircling Elsa the lion. Joy’s face is buried in Elsa’s chin-fur, and Elsa is sprawled on her back, hind legs spraddled and eyes squinched shut, her dinner-plate paws gently curled around Momma’s neck.

(Drat. My e-mail to you was about 2,900 words, but doubt it transmitted, so I whacked it in two and will send you the 2nd half in a couple of minutes.)

Jun 20, 2010 Nice story
by: Michael

Thanks Carey for visiting and writing such a nice story, well told and written. It was a pleasure reading it. I felt the tension.

I know pumas are large cats etc. and I know that I have not experienced facing one etc. but I wonder if we are a little too frightened of them unnecessarily. And that is not in any way to say that you were wrong to get out of the canyon.

All my research of the puma tells me that it is a retiring wildcat. And despite the endless possibilities the puma has of attacking people due to people encroaching onto their territory there are very very few attacks and nearly all are attacks on children who are unsupervised by their parents.

I think our fear of this beautiful cat leads us to shoot it and persecute it rather than leave it alone. Anyway that is just my opinion. Most people will no doubt disagree with me!

Thanks once again for a quality post.

Michael Avatar

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