threedeerWhy the Hell didn’t we do this sooner? For years we’ve been talking about how our little man-made pond, Lake Charles (named after our dearly departed founding terrier), was like the last water hole on the Serengeti. Especially during the last three years of extreme drought, it’s been the only reliable water in summer. So critters of all shapes and sizes have been congregating there. All of us have seen the deer, a few of us have seen the coyotes, in wetter years, when we actually could find footprints, we’ve seen Mountain Lion tracks. During all this time, we’ve said over and over, “We should have a night vision camera so we could see the wildlife that we know is out there.” Well, the Ranch Guys rectified that situation and bought and installed a motion-sensitive, night vision camera. And as expected, we caught a lot of deer. We knew they were there anyway. It’s an ongoing battle between Ranch Manager Louis and what he calls “the asshole deer”. He plants a section during the day, the deer eat it overnight. We knew that. Now we have photographic proof — crime scene photos, if you will.

Aha! Caught in the act with a nose in the middle of our California Golden Poppies.

Aha! Caught in the act with a nose in the middle of our California Golden Poppies.

Yup. No shame at all.

Yup. No shame at all.

We even found out that we could switch the camera to daylight capture as well.

Deer Selfie!

Deer Selfie!

 

Early in our surveillance, we caught this, which we believe is Miss Kitty streaking faster than an infrared camera.

Early in our surveillance, we caught this, which we believe is Miss Kitty streaking faster than an infrared camera.

But we were after bigger game. For years, we’ve known we share this land with a Mountain Lion. Since Mountain Lions are extremely solitary and very territorial, we’re pretty sure it’s just one and the same one. A few years ago, we started to see her tracks shadowed by smaller tracks which means she had a cub. That identified our Mountain Lion as a female. We promptly named her Miss Kitty. It can take a mother Mountain Lion up to two years to train a cub to hunt, and judging by the periods when we’ve seen dual tracks, we think she’s had at least two sets of cubs since we’ve owned the land. While several of our workmen and contractors have caught sight of her now and then, I’ve only seen her once. I think. Oscar has a perfect view of the pond from the up on the bed in the living loft bedroom window. One morning, pre-dawn, he suddenly bristled but didn’t bark as he does when he sees a deer. I looked out the window in time to see something brown streak by one of the outbuildings. At first I thought it was a deer, but then realized it had been too close to the ground to be a deer and was moving in a completely different manner. I’m betting it was Miss Kitty. But I’d like to really see her.

In fact, the question was: where are all our big predators? We’ve all seen the family of coyotes who visit occasionally, most of us have seen our resident Bob Cat. Where were they in all this? Unfortunately, we may have missed our best window of opportunity. Now that we are into some serious rains, little Lake Charles isn’t the crucial water source it once was. In fact, other than the “could be Mountain Lion” sighting, all we caught on camera was a little fox.

Then a week or so ago, THIS! Miss Kitty in a full on glamour shot.

Then a week or so ago, THIS! Miss Kitty in a full on glamour shot.

Now we are on full Mountain Lion alert. Did I mention that she took down a deer about a month ago right outside the barn. We dragged the remains of the carcass out to the pasture where various critters have been snacking on it.

Not much left of it now. But flocks of Turkey Vultures are still dragging bits of it all over the pasture.

Not much left of it now. But flocks of Turkey Vultures are still dragging bits of it all over the pasture.

We’ve had a long-standing agreement with Miss Kitty: we don’t go stomping around down in the thick woods during her prime nighttime hunting hours and she doesn’t come out in the daytime and kill me or the dogs. But we are being extra cautious around here these days. In fact, today I was walking around near where we think her lair is (accompanied by Ranch Manager Louis, DJ and a chain saw), when we saw this:

Clearly, this Madrone is her favorite scratching post.

Clearly, this Madrone is her favorite scratching post.

For those of my readers who occasionally visit up here, I won’t tell you how close this is to the tent cabin that is our guest quarters!

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