This weekend I got into a firefight with a gigantic bobcat that tried to eat me in the dark woods at the back of our property.
I don’t actually know if it was a gigantic bobcat, because the night was pitch black. My friend Ryan says it was probably a squirrel. All I know is that it kept coming my way after I shouted out a curse-laden warning that I was getting ready to shoot. Why was I deep in the woods in the middle of the night? Because Wife thought she saw a fire on the back acres as she was driving home. How do I know the noise wasn’t one of my boys? Because they have the good sense not to go slinking off deep into the animal-infested woods in the pitch black night, so far back that the light from your house is just a dim glimmer nearly obscured by tree branches and bobcats. Or maybe those were just bushes. All the same, I aimed high. I figured the noise would frighten away the approaching mountain lion. Or bobcat. Or squirrel.
In this I was wrong. A 9mm round is not nearly so loud outdoors as it is on the shooting range. The leopard (or mountain lion, or bobcat, or squirrel) kept rustling through the tallgrass in my direction. So I did that thing where you sweep the terrain with your flashlight and your handgun, first in front and then behind, while you slowly extract yourself, which looks pretty cool in the movies, but mostly just makes you think about how whichever way you’re looking, the Kodiak bear — or leopard, or mountain lion, or bobcat, or squirrel — is probably directly behind you and licking its lips.
So what did I learn from this? First, that I need a real flashlight. A man flashlight. The kind that could light up an entire football field. Second, I need a real shotgun. A 12-gauge, pump-action widowmaker. Third, if there really is a fire in the woods, we’ll be able to see it in plenty of time, so there’s no need to go looking for it. Fourth, whatever Indian blood I got from my father didn’t take, because I’m about as useful in an outdoor, man. vs. nature situation as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.