I Blew it!

Last Wednesday, I received a text from a friend who lives on 50 acres of beautiful mountain terrain, bordering 1000’s of acres of national forest. The night before ( 2:00am), he and his wife were woken by some otherworldly noises: screams, gurgling, growling, etc. A spotlight revealed a cougar killing a large deer in their driveway. They watched for quite some time. Early the next morning, they watched it bury the leftovers for later.

This was it! This was my chance to finally photograph a cougar. I rearranged my day, which among other things, greatly inconvenienced my wife. But she knew what this meant to me. I first had to visit my bear site to pull down one of the 2 camera traps, along with a trail camera. Off I went! The deer was neatly buried in leaves and pine needles and a casual observer would walk right by. This was text book cougar behavior and soooo impressive. I spent the next hour setting up a camera trap. I checked and rechecked everything. This was a big test for my camera trapping skills and honestly, I was pretty confident about the whole thing. At the last second, I decided to set up a game camera.

The land owners had left town, so when I arrived the next morning, I parked at the gate and walked in. I was still 100 yards from my cameras when I found the deer. It was sprawled out along the edge of a deeply wooded area. It was gruesome and my heart began to race. I looked around for a second or two and then be lined it to the cameras. I knew the cameras were working fine because they went off as I passed by. Frantically going through images on the camera’s screen, I had captured a Gray Fox beautifully, but no cougar! WTF? Trail camera videos tell the story from here.

The cougar came in behind the trees and stayed very low. Unfortunately, I had pointed the motion sensor slightly too high. It’s still painful to watch these videos.

Look how powerful this animal is! I’m more fascinated than ever.

I took down the camera, flashes, sensor, etc. My first thought was I was going to reset everything up again, focusing on the deer once again. For about 10 minutes, I tried to figure out a good angle for the camera and where I could mount flashes, etc. But in the back of my mind, I wasn’t comfortable being there. Why hadn’t the cougar made any effort to conceal its prize like it had the night before? It felt as if I may have interupted it’s meal. I had very poor sight lines in multiple directions. I was getting nervous as cougars are known to defend their kills. Maybe I was being paranoid, but I decided hanging out here for another hour was not the best idea. I quickly pointed a trail camera at the deer and left. I won’t know what is on it till tomorrow, Wednesday, the 31st. I’m very, very curious

The consolation prize was this beautiful Gray Fox, undoubtedly attracted by the scent of the deer.

It’s been several days since this chain of events and I’m still upset the I blew it. Videos are cool, but my goal is always beautiful fine art worthy prints, suitable for galleries. In the back of my mind, I know there will be more opportunities and this has been a great learning experience.

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