I think I’ve told you before about our resident Mountain Lion. We were calling him Joaquin until he showed up with two babies. Then John the Baptist dubbed her “Miss Kitty”. Which is very fitting. Because just like the old Gunsmoke saloon owner, Miss Kitty, has a soft as well as a dangerous side. The ripped up deer carcasses are testament to the danger. The fact that we’ve coexisted happily for a number of years is proof of her gentle side. We don’t foolishly go out wandering around in her territory during her hunting hours and she doesn’t come out in the day and kill us or the dogs
So far, it’s all working out despite some close encounters. Three times the workmen have seen her. I saw a large brown streak over by the garage one evening that was too low to be a deer. Judging by the frenzied yapping of the terriers (and the fact that Lucy immediately hid under the claw foot bathtub), I’d say it was Miss Kitty. The closest encounter was one winter morning when John went down to the creek and found a ripped open deer carcass still steaming. He ran backwards up the hill because John knows better than to turn his back on a Mountain Lion. Within three minutes, he came back with three other guys. The full grown deer carcass had been ripped in half and carried away. Clearly, Miss Kitty had been right nearby watching John the whole time. Instead of savaging him, she politely waited until he was gone and took her breakfast elsewhere.
Lately, the deer have been clustering around the barn and the pasture in large groups. Which is usually a sign that Miss Kitty is elsewhere. Not anymore.
Did I mention it was in the vineyard? As in, within a place protected by an 8 foot deer-proof fence. Apparently Mountain Lions can jump and clamber over a fence even deer can’t clear. Guess that’s the end of my working at dusk within the vineyard in the mistaken belief that the terriers and I were protected.
Then yesterday, in the powdery dust of the road up to the vineyard…
Yipes! We’re hoping Miss Kitty is still abiding by the terms of our detente. And that she’s instilling those values in the one or two young cubs who seem to be traveling with her. I have to spray compost tea on my garden sometime after the sun has set. John’s accompanying me with a gun. The terriers, who might be mistaken for appetizers, will stay behind.
Miss Kitty, if you are reading this blog, there are plenty of deer on the rest of the property. No reason to scale the vineyard fence. Unless you have a taste for Cabernet, Mourvedre, Grenache and Cinsault. I hear any one of those goes well with venison. But not well with terrier. Or human.
My bet would be that she sees you as a fellow predator given that you walk around the place with out hiding or otherwise showing fear. Same for Oscar and Lucy, their barking may be the result of fear, but prey animals usually don’t try to scare away predators with noise. A predator seeing another predator is going to avoid the other, unless you’re in a big group and you’re really hungry.
Everything I’ve read about Mountain Lions says we shouldn’t be lunch. We don’t go into her territory during hunting hours except in groups, we don’t walk under high rocks where she waits to pounce. The only problem is that if there are two cubs with her, as the tracks would seem to indicate, the numbers are now even — at least after John and his crew go home. Three Lions against me and two terriers. The odds have shifted somewhat.
The young mountain lions are more of a wild card, I think based on nothing substantial. Sounds like you are doing what you can to peacefully share the area.
I’ve always considered Gunsmoke’s Miss Kitty to be my first tv role model:)
I have a resident mountain lion also. I see him once in a while, it always gives me the chills, but it is so cool to see them
In the wild. It’s something most people never get to experience…