I had been on a roll exploring the back country of the Lower Rio Grande Valley on Saturday. I had seen birds and we had even seen an ocelot. The weather was perfect. Then things took a turn for the surreal…The bullet ricocheted off a mesquite tree about thirty feet to my left as my ears filled with the report of the rifle following behind the bullet.
Before this incident, we had seen something rarer than seeing a UFO. It had walked out of the brush and followed the road due south of us walking slowly towards us. I was watering a tree and saw the thing maybe a half mile off and even with my sixty power scope, could not make sense of what I was seeing. It did not look like a coyote, a deer, it made no sense to my eyes. My friend Jim looked and it turned perpendicular to us for an instant. It had a long thin tail. Was it a coyote with mange?
Finally, with the short nose, it dawned on us, we were seeing the rarest cat in the United States. We were looking at an ocelot. The nocturnal cat that is also called a pygmy leopard. If I went looking around to see one the rest of my days, I would probably not see one again. How could I be so lucky.
You know, it seems all of us have days that are really up. Things are going perfect and life is on a roll…but then you start to realize that everything, in the end evens out? Today was one of those days.
Fast forward two hours….
After hunting for years and having been shot at, around, and over before. I knew just where the bullet had originated and frozen, I put up my binoculars and saw a guy holding a Remington model 700, .243 or .270 looking right at me about two hundred yards away from me. He had the rifle in the ready position. The entire viewing took maybe ten seconds and I knew the first shot was missed on purpose and the second shot would be a lot closer, in fact I could almost feel the impact coming.
I had most likely unknowingly walked up on a pot growing operation. Although I was on the far corner of the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, I knew that the man with the biggest gun controlled the land. To challenge the situation meant I needed either a bigger gun or more guns and since I had neither, I made an about face and headed quickly back the ¾ of a mile in the general direction of my car keeping a watchful ear open for any sounds of an ATV at which time I would dive into the mesquite trees, lay down, and play dead, and hopefully I wouldn’t be seen.
I have never been so happy to see a white Chevy sitting in the parking lot and hear it start. We raced out of there with just another story for my adventurers log…having been shot at in the great state of Texas.
Maybe here is not the best place to rant but the US/Mexican border is just plain f’d up. Much of the public land down here, what little of it is even there is now unsafe from either drug smugglers, growers, illegal immigrants, or even worse, the Border patrol agents sent to protect us. It is getting so a guy can hardly even go out for a hike….and for what?
Our immigration policy is in favor of near slavery and big agribusiness. We should legalize marijuana which is only a gateway drug for illegal smugglers since it gateways criminals to pushing the harder drugs, and it has given our government near Naziesque powers to detain everyone, probably even me at will. Enough said.
The poor ocelot, it seems hardly has any place to even live with all the illegal pot growing on federal land these days. I guess we can try to save the poor cat but maybe we should also try to save the rest of us first…from ourselves.
Stay safe, my friends