Tag Archives: fox

Predator! (Or pussy cat?)

Alan stopped dead in his tracks. I nearly ran into him.
“What is that?” he whispered.
His headlamp was fixed 30 feet up the trail and maybe 10 feet to the right. There, two bright green eyes starred from the brush.
We were on the Falls Lake section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on a seven-mile night hike, and I thought of the two things it could reasonably be: a fox or a bobcat. The eyes were the critter’s most easily identifiable feature, but we could also make out a rough outline of its head.
“It’s ears seem a little small for a fox,” I whispered back.
“Could it be a bobcat?” Alan asked. Suddenly, we both sounded like Marlin Perkins.
A month earlier, in the middle of the day, I’d inadvertently treed a bobcat on the Bartram Trail in western North Carolina. It had behaved the same way: holding its ground and holding eye contact even as we eased closer.
“Take two steps,” I said, nudging Alan up the trail. Now I was like Marlin Perkins using Jim Fowler as a protective shield. Alan, apparently unfamiliar with the Wild Kingdom dynamic, took two steps forward. The eyes held their ground.
“Take two more steps,” I whispered. Alan hesitated, then took two more steps. The eyes remained fixed.
We were nearly perpendicular to the critter. I flashed the critter from a side angle and my headlamp caught it in a revealing side profile.
“It’s a cat,” I said.
“A house cat,” Alan clarified. Indeed, it was a handsome, healthy Tabby. “What’s a house cat doing way out here?”
“Probably came from up there,” I said, turning and pointing up the slope where, not 30 yards away, sat a spacious, well-lit home, one of many that dot the trail along the 26-mile stretch between NC 50 and the Falls Lake dam.
We stared at the cat for a few more moments, it stared back. Finally, in silence, we moved on.
Such is life in the Wild Kingdom of the Triangle.
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