This is, I think, Mount Greywolf taken from the trail toward the trail to access Mount Baldy on the backside of Mounts Maynard and Tyler. It is one of the places where you can get some rays early in the spring (probably well before spring). It captures a moment on the trail that filled me with awe and thankfulness for being there.
I have known and walked the upper Maynard Burn Trail many times before, but never this early in the year and despite the drifts Diane (my hiking partner) and I drove through to get here, the air felt warm and comfortable. Something began which was an important lesson for me. I wrote about that day in a column, but it was never published. So, I’ll tell this tale now.
As we walked along the trail near where this photo was taken, we met two young men hunting cougars. In my column I offhandedly questioned why anyone would hunt cougars, “since everyone knows that predators do not make good eating.”
One of my readers contacted me via the Gazette about my words and I called him. He asked me if I had ever eaten cougar? Well, no. Well, would you like to try some? It’s actually quite good. Well sure, can you tell me how to cook it?
This young man came to my home bearing cougar meat and sat and talked with me about cougars. He had spent a lot of time at the Olympic Game Farm listening to cougars and recording their sounds.
He is one of a few trackers called when someone is having a cougar problem, usually involving the loss of livestock. He does not actually track his prey, rather he calls his prey to him using the sounds that he has learned to imitate. I don’t know about you, but I have a wee bit of difficulty imagining myself walking into the woods and sitting down and beginning to make sounds that I am pretty sure will bring a cougar to me. Of course, he has a rifle and a handgun, but … the cougar he is seeking obviously is a good hunter.
Cougars will not eat anything that they did not kill; they normally will have one, two or three meals and leave their kill for others to finish up. Cougar meat looks like pork. It has no “gamey” taste. It’s relatively uninteresting, but probably could be quite tasty with the “right” combination of spices. Not bad at all for a carnivore!
I love it when folks call my bluff when I say things that I obviously know nothing about. In my visits with my black-sheep uncle, I tasted things a lot worse than cougar … try squirrel or possum! Turtle is actually quite good. Come to think of it chicken is just about as bland as cougar. My wife wasn’t home yet when Steve came by and I know that she was not going to be thrilled with the idea of a cougar dinner … she did eat some and felt that it could have been really good if I had cooked it better. I knew that she was right.
Sometimes I say stupid things just to get a response. Other times, it’s just because I’m a little too pleased with myself. I thank Steve for the reminder that I really should be more careful about what I say. When he isn’t hunting cougars, Steve makes and sells game calls and custom knives.
This picture reflects the essence of why I like to walk in wild places. It puts my life into perspective and reminds me that I am a very small part of a glorious whole. A whole so large and grand and diverse that I will never truly comprehend it!
Richard Olmer can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mon, Jan 30, 2012
A pleasant surprise and a lost art
Wed, Nov 2, 2011
On this summer, global warming and facial hair
Fri, Sep 9, 2011
A summer almost gone?
Mon, Aug 1, 2011
The origins of trail names
Wed, Jul 6, 2011
Where exactly does spirit reside?
Wed, Jun 1, 2011
Where to begin?
Wed, Apr 6, 2011
Considering cougar cuisine
Wed, Mar 2, 2011
The folly of resolutions
Tue, Jan 18, 2011
A place of uncommon beauty
Tue, Jan 4, 2011
Christmas: What does it all mean?
Tue, Dec 21, 2010
A spiritual advisor
Wed, Nov 10, 2010
Understanding personal gifts of everyday people
Tue, Oct 26, 2010
So, after you've done it all, what's left?
Wed, Oct 6, 2010
The context of place
Wed, Sep 22, 2010
Revisiting old friends
Wed, Sep 1, 2010
Paradise is all around on peninsula
Wed, Aug 18, 2010
The wonder in waterfalls
Wed, Aug 4, 2010
A walk in the park does the soul good
Wed, Jul 21, 2010
Trying to explain
Wed, Jul 7, 2010