Saturday, January 10, 2004


I was reading the paper yesterday and read where the authorities had killed a big mountain lion down in Southern California that had killed and eaten one man, attacked a woman bicyclist, and fought with another woman who was with the attacked bicyclist. That brought to mind my own experiences with mountain lions or, as we call them down in Louisiana, panthers.

My daddy died when I was about 5, and I went to live with my grandmother, Minnie Ashworth Droddy. I remember laying in her bed next to her, listening to the sound of the night. Sometimes we would hear my old hound dog and a few of his friends doing a little freestyle hunting back in the woods behind her house. She could tell what the dogs were doing by how they bayed. One night, Ol Red's bay had a particular ring to it, and my grandma, not missing a beat, said, "Red's got himself a panther."

For the next half hour, we followed the sounds of Red chasing the panther. Suddenly, this chilling scream was heard that sent chills all over my body, causing me to snuggle even more closely to my grandma. My Aunt Elsie asked from her bedroom in the next room, "That was a panther." Then the sound of his baying changed again, and mama said, "he's treed it." That old dog kept on way past after my falling asleep. The next morning, hardly remembering the hunt from the night before, I went out to find ol' Red barely alive. I guess that cat got tired of one old hounddog keeping him from his appointed rounds, so he must of come down and kicked ol' Red's ass. There was my poor old hound, just torn up. We nursed him back to us, his wounds healing over time. He didn't go hunting again for a few months, but he did heal.

That night, Mama and Elsie remembered other stories about panthers. One of my uncles had killed one that had come a little too close to the chicken yard one winter morning many years past. There was another story of a couple of her cousins who were on their way home when they encountered a big panther that turned and started stalking them. The girls kept facing the big cat and walked backwards all the rest of the way home, screaming all the time for help. Finally they got close enough for the folks at home to hear, and some of the men folk ran to save them, killing the panther who never stopped stalking the two girls.

And that's a true story. - Ray

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