Monday, October 20, 2014


I was up early this morning, before dawn, drinking a cup of coffee outside on the patio. About an hour before sunup and though it was a bit cool it’s a great time to soak in the scents and listen to nature. It's a time to get myself together to face the day. 

I have to admit, I wasn't quite expecting the sounds I heard this morning. I hear and see coyotes quite frequently as they finish up hunting and congregate around the pond a couple hundred yards from the house. I think they gossip about the night they had and renew pack bonds and head off to their dens. We have an unspoken agreement. So long as they stay around the pond I’m cool.
Most common in Missouri
Any closer to the house or my yard I will shoot off the air rifle, which sounds badder than it, is. 
I've seen several foxes at just dawn and a little beyond, heard their yips as they make their way to dens. They watch me and I watch them. 

Photo: Missouri conservation
Dan saw a gray fox down (they're not as common as the red fox) at the other pond below the house early Saturday morning. We have several big old owls that sit over there and hunt rabbits. It's quite a hunting ground around that small pond.

This morning was unique. A loud vocalization. Sort of like hearing the word yeah—only drawn out by a non human. It started in low range and increased in sound with a strong emphasis on the ‘ah’. Didn't recognize what the heck it was when I first heard it. Out of place. My first reaction was, ‘what the hell was that?’ It was really close. The second vocalization had a yeah-yow-hiss to it. Oookay. That’s definitely feline but not a domestic one. I've heard domestic cats make a similar sound but not with quite
A friend who does wildlife rescue took this.
the same voice range or depth. Wow. Now mind you, a couple of coyotes were still out over at the pond and so was the cat. Holy cow it’s a Bobcat. By now the sky has lightened and sunrise is still about 5-10 minutes away, but I can see the animals and they are aware of me. I also have binoculars with me so I can see things of interest up close and personal.

Apparently the bobcat had scored a rabbit and two of the coyotes were interested in its bounty. I watched, amazed, as the bobcat dropped the rabbit at its feet and charged the pair of coyotes and then circled back and sat. One coyote came close again and the cat growled and charged again. Damn thing was almost the size of the coyotes. My cats fluffed and watched intently but made no moves to investigate. Smart cats. Dogs didn't make any noise, probably still asleep. Or accustomed to them being around. Coyotes decided the rabbit wasn't worth the effort of going through the bobcat’s defense to get and took off. I knew where the coyotes were by watching the bobcat. I think they were hoping the cat would leave the rabbit and they could score a nice snack. It didn't. It hunched down and ate a bit, ears moving while it’s watching the brush where the coyotes went. About two minutes later it picked up the rabbit and headed up the hill. I lost sight of it in the brush in less than a minute. Amazing. A real life documentary taking place right before my eyes.

I knew Missouri had a healthy population of bobcats but hadn't really seen any (not really surprising since they're rather elusive).  I had seen some unusual scat and markers when wandering around the property and wondered. Didn't look caninecoyote or fox.  I wasn't sure exactly which animal was doing this. Reminded me of markers by mountain lions I had seen out west but I knew it wasn't a lion. We do have them traveling through the Ozarks now and then but no confirmation of them actually living here and raising families and hence marking territory. 

A friend of mine, who does wildlife rescue here in Missouri, said it's probably bobcat and sent pictures of bobcat tower markers and scat. So, now I know my property is in the territory of a bobcat. I had seen the evidence but hadn't seen them. Now, I have. 

Who’da thought? So long as the bobcat, like the coyotes, keeps its distance from the house I’m cool with it. In my yard comes with a death penalty. But it was seriously cool to hear and see this today.