Here kitty kitty kitty

I was hiking to a favorite camping spot at dusk a couple weeks ago, the last weekend of hunting season.
I passed 2 guys coming out and they said ‘you going to the watering hole’? -‘Yep’ - Be careful, we just saw a mountain lion drinking there…

I know there are lions all around me and figure I’ve been observed by more than one during my extensive hiking, but knowing he was there just before me was slightly unnerving. I approached quietly and sneakily from a cliff above it hoping to see it, but alas, nothing there. Hopefully I dont look like good prey. With a 60L backpack and some warm clothes I’m almost the size of a small bear. Hopefully they avoid larger animals in general.

People that spend a lot of time outdoors especially if they go solo, off the beaten track and in the off-season are going to run into some predators including cats.

I suggest everyone either carry bear spray or a firearm. Put it on your belt so you can get at it, not buried in your pack.

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Yes, the time we spend in the wilderness is about minutes and hours, not years of interest.
I think it’s the same with flying airplanes, operating heavy equipment and paddling.

We all know people who can say “I have been doing __________________ [fill in the blank] for 30 years”. And yet we find that in that 30 years of “doing _________” they go out 4-5 times a summer for a day each time and every now and then they do a trip with some overnight stays. So in 30 years they actually have 70 24 hour days, (or 140 days and night trips, depending on how you’d describe it) That’s quite a lot, but when we compare that to a boy of 19 years old that grew up in a back-woods area and see him having 3 to 4 hours a day, and that maybe 4 days a week plus a lot of over-nighters and about 1/2 of all the weekends of his life ---- all through those years from about 9 years old to 19, (even in the winters) we’ll see that is quite a difference. By the time that boy is 19 years old he may know and understand a lot more about animals then a 65 year old sportsman who lives in the city or suburbs, even though that 65 year old has “never missed a season” in his life and may “have 30 years doing that”. Years or interest mean less then hours or activity.

As America has become more and more urban we see such real country folks less and less. In the late 1800s and up to WW1 years it was said that 38% of the population lived on 88% of the land. Today 91% of the population lives on 3% of the land.

But as Ppine said, the more time you are out in the wilderness the greater the instances you’ll have with wildlife. It’s just how the world truly is. Because town and city dwellers don’t see such animals doesn’t reduce their numbers.
Cats are usually recluse and avoid humans, but not always. If a human is out in the wilderness where cats live, the cat is watching all the time as it hunts and keeps aware of any threats to itself. They see you many times. But I have seen Lions and Bob Cats many times when I am still an watching and those cats didn’t see me. Because I am not moving I’ve seen them before they see me.
I do often wonder how many saw me that I never saw at all. The mathematical probability of sighting one grows with the time spent where they live, and the numbers of cats living in an area per square mile. We call that population density.
In Western Nevada I used to see a lion or 2 every single year, and some years I’d see 5-7 of them. Here in Wyoming in entire the 30 years I have been here I have seen 4 total. That’s because I spend about 1/2 as many hours out in the field now as I did when I was younger (still a lot however) and mostly because we just don’t have the numbers of lions here they do in Western Nevada. I see as many Bob cats, but a lot less lions.
I do see a lot of Grizzly’s here. Why? Because we have a lot of them! And because I’ve spent 3-7 weeks a year, (depending on the year) living in the wilderness. 25 years ago I was spending 4-5 months a year in the mountains and fields. Again, it’s just simple math. When I was in my 20s clear through the time I was in my early 40s I spent a lot more time outside than I do now, but even now I spend more time among wildlife then most American do And I live a long way from town so even my home is surrounded by wild lands. It was part of my job for a lot of my life. 2 weeks out and one week back was my work schedule for several years, and on my time off I was still in the field a lot, just because I wanted to go climbing, hunting, fishing, or teach private classes on the side.

If I tell people about the instances I have seen and interacted with various animals I’ve had many doubt what I tell them, because they seem to think “no one could have done all that”. But not only did I see and experience those things I tell them about, probably 2/3 of those interactions were BEFORE I was 40 years old. A few going back to before I was a teenager.

If you spend enough time in the areas where there are animals you ARE going to see them, and have them see you. The more time you spend out there, the more it happens.

It’s like professional drivers; if you spend enough time behind the wheel you ARE going to see car crashes. Bet on it.

It’s a mathematical certainty.

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The difference between people that recreate outdoors and people that have a spent life outdoors.

This is hard for a lot of people to understand. Cats are a good indicator of how much time people have been out there.

“I have never seen a mountain lion.” “I have seen a couple of bears in my life.” These are the experiences of people in the first category.

I have been stalked twice that I know of by lions and seen four. One it took two rounds from a 45 to convince it to leave. I have seen numerous bears. More here in the east than out west. Florida has lots of black bears. Had a night in the Smokey Mountains trying to keep our packs away from a young black bear back in the late 70s. He managed to get at them 3 times before we finally were able to hang them under a bridge over the water out of reach. The first episode our packs were leaning against a tree outside the tent. The next they were hanging from the bear pole the park had at the site. The third they were hanging from the rail of a bridge over Big Creek. He just reached over and handlined them up over the rail. We finally managed to hang them under the bridge where they could not be reached. For the most part truly wild animals rarely want anything to do with people, but once in a while they are a real threat. Ones that are more use to people are often the ones that cause problems.

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That’s what you get for putting tasty food in your pack. Live on saltines and sardines and don’t open until you are ready to eat them all.