Outdoors Column: Wildlife Encounters

Tuesday afternoon, on my way home from the office, I was slowing down to turn off the blacktop road onto the gravel when I saw a cat in the middle of the road. It looked to be a kitten about three quarters grown. Getting closer, I noticed it had a short tail. As I turned onto the gravel, I saw black tips on its ears and black spots on its tan colored body. This was a bob cat kitten. I stopped on the gravel and watched it make its way toward the opposite ditch in front of a neighbor’s house. I got out, wanting to make sure it made it across the road without getting hit by a car. It was then I noticed the neighbor’s dog watching the kitten from his side of the ditch. I quickly wondered what I would do if the dog grabbed it. I am not sure how the dog would react to a stranger rescuing a kitten out of his mouth. I am fairly certain the kitten would not understand my intentions and would object to any help I tried to give it. The dog and I stood on each side of the ditch, looking at each other and watched as the little bob cat walked to the bottom of the ditch and into the culvert under the driveway.

The fleeting thought of looking into the culvert quickly passed when it dawned on me, this might be his home. If it was its home, the mother might also be in there. It would not be good to be in an awkward position, peering into a culvert if the mother decided to come out and protect her territory. The way the dog was acting, he may have already made that mistake as he showed no interest in seeing where the kitten went. I got back in my truck and the dog went back to the house. Neither of us had enough curiosity or courage to push the issue.

Later that night, I was roused from a sound sleep by Jag barking. He rarely barks unless we are being invaded by deer or rabbits. Then, a bit of barking and a short chase solves the problem. His barking continued to the point I could no longer ignore him. I grabbed my shoes and a flashlight to see what his problem was. At the edge of the lawn, there is a tree stump about eight feet tall from where a hickory tree snapped off. Jag was barking viciously at the bottom while looking up. I shined the light up the stump and saw two raccoons eyeing the noisy dog. I knew, without intervention, there would be no end to this stand-off.

Jag terriers have been bred to be courageous and intelligent hunters. Jag has more than his share of courage while he may have been shorted on the intelligence. Two raccoons, larger than himself, could have inflicted considerable damage. He was up for the challenge and not willing to back down. I could not call him off his mission. I finally grabbed him and carried him to the garage. He was not pleased with this development as he was convinced, he was saving the world from marauding raccoons. He went to his bed in the corner and pouted since I would not let him fulfill his destiny as the protector of his property.

Some encounters with wildlife are unique and interesting. Others are just annoying, such as having to get up in the middle of the night to calm down a determined hunter letting the animals go about their business.