Hunters treasure rare wildlife encounters. Tim Renken Column


Mar 11, 2001
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Tim Renken Outdoor Adventure : OUTDOORS:

Hunters treasure rare wildlife encounters.

By Tim Renken Of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


One November evening in 1963, a deer hunter walked into a camp in Dent County, Mo., dragging the body of a large female bobcat.

Everybody gathered around to admire it. Somebody suggested that the hunter have the bobcat mounted. Nobody thought to question why the hunter, an upstanding citizen in that area, had shot that beautiful cat.

Some 30 years later, another deer hunter came back to camp one evening and announced proudly that he had seen a bobcat. It had walked down a field road, passing within 20 yards.

Shooting it never occurred to him. Somebody remarked that seeing a bobcat would be even more fun than shooting a deer.

That's how much attitudes among most hunters have changed in 30 years. A generation ago, all wildlife was for shooting. Today, encounters with unusual wild creatures are regarded as treasures.

One of the results of that widespread change in attitude has been the increased possibility of seeing unusual wildlife. This fall, there is a good chance that hunters will see bears. Maybe even a cougar. What a tale that would be back at camp.

Yes, there are cougars in Missouri and Illinois. Maybe these big cats are former pets turned loose or wild migrants from elsewhere. The abundance of deer in most areas has made it possible for cougars to live here.

Five sightings of cougars have been confirmed by Missouri Department of Conservation experts in recent years. Last winter, a man videotaped a cougar in the northeastern county of Lewis. Conservation agents came later and found its tracks.

Two cougars have been videotaped in the Ozarks. One was shot out of a tree by two loutish coon hunters in Carter County in 1994.

Last August, an adult male cougar, 125 pounds and 7 1/2 feet long nose to tail, was killed by a car in western Iowa. Earlier, some local farmers had complained about something big and hungry attacking cattle.

A dog-food-eating cougar was reported in Indiana this fall.

A person has a much better chance of seeing a bear here, of course, because between 200 and 300 live in the state. Most live in the western and central Ozarks. At least two, though, were sighted this year in the northeastern counties of Lewis, Marion, Clark and Knox.

Bobcat live all over the state. They aren't abundant and never have been. Most hunters, probably, have never been lucky enough to see one.

Cougars, bear and bobcats, it goes without saying, are protected under the state's wildlife code.

The hope here is that you are privileged to see one, or some other rare wildlife, during your hunting this year.


Aug 16, 2001
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 Was hunting south of Springfield Mo. a couple years ago (Christian County) saw a black bear as it passed my tree stand,the next spring turkey season while sitting in my truck i saw another bear.
 It dont seem so unussual anymore in the southern part of the state.


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Jul 9, 2001
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With that bobcat thing we saw them 3 days in a row with about 2 people a day seeing them.

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