Saturday, December 14, 2013
Cats and High-Powered Rifles
There aren't many moments that you want to revisit less than a close encounter with a cougar when your best defence is a Nikon DSLR. Been there, done that. I decided to do some backwoods photography using my amazing BMW R1200GS bike and provincial forestry roads.
I rode a pretty rough dirt trail for 15-20 minutes to the end. Then I got off the bike, grabbed my camera and tripod and set out to survey the scenery. I hadn't gone very far before I spotted it. "It" was a Vancouver Island cougar about 60-feet distant checking me out. Like I said, I had a Nikon D7000 to defend myself.
There's a powerful feeling that comes over you at that point. You realize, almost instantaneously, that the cat has every advantage and knows it. It's not looking at you as a threat but as prey. It's weighing whether you're worth fighting to eat.
We stood there and eyeballed each other, maybe two or three minutes (it felt like twenty or thirty), before the cat's shoulders dropped and it moved off into the brush. It must have fed fairly recently.
I went straight back to my Beemer, stowed my gear and headed off the mountain, vowing never again. That didn't last,
Now, with all due regard to John Moses Browning, I'm back in the high mountains of Vancouver Island. I still carry the Nikon but my critical gear is a BLR, .308 Win, takedown. Get off the bike, put the rifle together, load it and sling it over my shoulder and then, finally, I get to work on what to photograph.
I love Vancouver Island and every opportunity it affords to enjoy this wonderful and vast wilderness. It's just that one time when I realized I was on the menu.. well, you get what I mean.