by John Jeanneney
Tim Nichols, over on the New York/Vermont border, has the best of tracking worlds. He is positioned to track in the early bear seasons in Vermont and northern New York, and he also gets to track deer and bear later in New York’s Southern Zone. Tim’s latest adventure in Vermont suggests that the “Green Mountain Boys” don’t always have their act together in early September. The sun still beats down hot on their heads, and they have been known to get over-excited.
The call came in to Tim from the Vermont Conservation Officers; they had a report of a wounded mountain lion, shot in the hind quarters with a 30-30. The hunters were afraid that the big cat, in his distress, might attack someone.. They were sure that he was big and at 30 or 40 yards they had clearly seen his long tail (mountain lions, unlike bobcats, have long tails).
Tim arrived with the Conservation Officers to learn that an attempt had already been made to track the cat with a Golden Retriever. There had been a little altercation with the cat in a big thicket, and it had been the Golden who fled and refused to track any more.
Tim and his Bavarian Mountain Bloodhound then tracked the cat out of the thicket to where the big predator was dispatched by the officers. Surprise! It wasn’t really that big (30-35 pounds) and the tail was actually very short; it was a bobcat! And the bobcat was out of season.
It will be interesting to see what the Vermont courts do with this case. Bobcat hunting season was not open, and in the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Code there is also an article forbidding the shooting of mountain lions, if there are any. At least the hunters did the right thing in reporting what they believed they had seen and what they believed they had done.
For Tim and Bruno it wasn’t a difficult tracking job even though the line was nearly a day old. What was impressive was the way young Bruno stood up to the live, snarling bob cat. Maybe it wasn’t a mountain lion, but it was capable of doing some nasty work on a dog.