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2017-08-17

A fight with a Mountain Lion

by Raymond V. Carter, Jr. Research Historian ©2017

Daniel G. Coffman was mIn 1950, Grandpa Pete worked for the U.S. Border Patrol at San Ignacio, Texas, as a River Rider. His job required him to catch all horses, mules and cattle that crossed the Rio Grande River from Mexico. The hoof and mouth disease quarantine required him to shoot the cattle and burn them. Grandpa said, “What a shame.” The horses and mules were penned and fed and later sold for a dollar a piece. During this time he also hunted for mountain lions.
While river riding along the Rio Grande, Grandpa noticed a hole in a patch of cane, a hole like that of a den. He happened to have his dogs with him. He dismounted his horse and found cat tracks. He got his 30-30 rifle, got down on his belly and crawled into the hole. It was a tight situation, crawling inch by inch with gun in hand. Soon he found his target: About four feet in front of him, the cat, sound asleep. At this time, one of his dogs crawled right over the top of him and stopped. “The dog's butt was in my nose,” he said laughing. “Then all heck broke loose cause the dog bit the lion's rump.”
Grandpa did his best to crawl backwards out of the lion's den and as he got out, the lion came out a different way with the dogs hot on his trail. The lion ran a short distance and climbed up a mesquite tree. Always wanting to give his dogs a little training, Grandpa shot at and hit one of the lion's front paws. The cat jumped down and started fighting the dogs.
Grandpa noticed the lion getting the best of the dogs, so he aimed with his gun to kill the lion. The gun went “klick.” Evidently there was only one bullet in the gun and it was spent wounding the lion. Grandpa had no more bullets.
Grandpa searched for a club and found a hardened mesquite root. When the dogs had the lion's attention, Grandpa would take a swing at the lion's head with the club. When he did, the lion would come after him. Grandpa said he could feel the lion's paw graze his shirt. This went on for a while, when finally Grandpa's aim was true. He hit the lion on the head, killing him.
Grandpa kept the skull of the lion. When I was young, I remember seeing it on a shelf in his old car shed. In 1961, when I was 8-years-old, Grandpa took his son, Lee Roy, my older brother, Walter, and me coon hunting. Grandpa used one of those old calcium carbide lamps for light. That hunting trip proved to be one of the happiest adventures in my life.
If your Grandpa is still around, talk to him and do things with him. Those experiences, you will grow to love, and will last a lifetime