Scott Moseley

The Hunter

The golden sun made patches of shade as it hit the trees. Mark walked as stealthily as possible down the trail, his 308 rifle strapped to his back. He noted the rocky terrain ahead of him as the mountain grew steeper. He hoped that his prey had not seen him yet as he un-strapped his rifle from his back. He knew that either he or that cougar had to leave, and it sure wasn't going to be him. He pulled the bolt back to put a bullet in the chamber and got a little closer to the rocks. He saw a small cave made by an indent in the rock formation. Mark saw something move near the mouth of it. He stopped and looked through his scope to see what it was. Standing in front of him was a large cougar. He flicked the safety switch to the off position and took aim. As he was about to squeeze the trigger, the big cat looked directly at him. The gun went off, and the cougar fell over. Mark walked over to its lifeless body and knelt next to it.

"Huh. So pretty and majestic: but such a pain for a ranch owner like me." He said. Something stepped out of the cave and over shadowed him. He looked up to see another cougar, but slightly smaller. It barred its teeth and a small growl rose form its throat. "Whoa now girl, easy!" Mark said as he reached for his rifle. The big cat sprung, catching Mark off balance. He tumbled down the hill away from his rifle, until he was stopped by a tree. He stood up and the cat sprung again. Mark could see the claws and teeth ready to tear him into bits.

Thinking fast, Mark dropped to his knees and threw his hat into the air. As the cat flew over head, the cap disappeared. The cat turned around and Mark could see the hat in its mouth. Mark stood back up, slowly, watching the cougar. The hat fell from its mouth and the big cat ripped it up. The cougar looked at Mark as if to say, 'you're next'. The cat walked slowly forward, claws at the ready and teeth bared. A louder growl echoed deep from with in her throat. They circled each other for several minutes, Mark trying to get his gun, and the cougar trying to get Mark. Mark could see his rifle out of the corner of his eye. One thing that he hadn't noticed was that there was a steep drop off where his rifle was, and it was teetering back and forth, balancing dangerously on the edge.

Mark panicked and dashed to his rifle, but the cougar beat him there. The big cat was holding Mark off. A flick of its tail nudged the rifle a little.

"Whoa now, girl whoa!" Mark pleaded, but the big cat had a mind of her own. One more flick of her tail and the rifle rocketed downward. The cat knew what she was doing; she was making the game hers, not Marks. Mark jumped to try to catch his gun. His middle finger snagged the strap and the gun hung in the air as if in suspended animation. As he tried to stand up he felt a massive paw on his back. He could feel the claws start to go through his hunting jacket. He felt another paw on his back, and another set of claws. He could feel the blood drip down on to the rocks. He cringed and could feel the strap start to slip. He pulled up a little. He managed to grab the strap and knew he wasn't going to lose it. As the bladelike claws dug deeper, he readied himself for more pain.

Mark rolled over, causing the blades to slice across his torso. He brought the gun up by the strap, hitting the feline across the muzzle. The cat pulled back angrily. As Mark tried to stand the cat retaliated. She pushed Mark back down, trapping him between her and the rocks. She scratched and clawed, but she couldn't reach Mark's face, because Mark was pushing her up with his rifle. He brought his foot up and kicked her away. As he stood up, she pounced once again, but Mark was ready. He side stepped and the giant cat fell on her face where Mark was supposed to be. Stunned, she sat there for a second.

The tides had turned. Still bleeding, Mark threw back the bolt and let the old casing fly out, putting a new, fresh bullet in the chamber. As the cougar began to stand, the rifle went off again and the great cat slumped back down.

Mark took a deep breath and slung his rifle over his shoulder. "Huh, the things I go through to help my horses." He said to himself. From behind him he heard several little meows. Realization hit Mark like a ton of bricks. "Oh crud!" he shouted under his breath. He turned around to see three little baby cougars, no more that six months old. He walked over to the three little ones, while checking his ammo. When he stood in front of them he emptied the chamber of the empty cartridge and brought up a new round. He stared at the three of them playing like nothing was wrong, and they had not a care in the world. He aimed at the first one through his scope. "You little bother." He muttered under his breath. His finger began to squeeze the trigger. The little kitten stared directly at him and meowed.

Mark gave a heavy sigh and put the gun down. He aimed at a passing crow and the gun went off and the crow spun out of sight. He knelt down in front of the three little kittens. "You know, I have never ever been a big cat fan. Nor have I been very nice to anything, as you saw with that crow. But you three are the most annoying, noisy little cute fuzz balls I have ever seen. Now I know from experience what you three will grow up to be, but I have heard of a thing called domestication, and I think you three will work great." He said as he scooped the three brothers up, and slung his rifle on his back. As he walked past his hat, he didn't even bother picking it up. It was torn so badly that it would have slid off his head. The newly made father of three little cougars walked home with his newly found sons.