Approximently 13 miles due west of Sarita, TX we head down a caliche road, crossed an old wooden bridge where the alligator gar lurks, and continued on the dirt road to the crossings known as the turkey foot. Each passing gate my uncle would spout off the Spanish phrase "abrieta la puerta tu loco guajolote" which translates to open the gate you crazy turkey and i knew that was my cue. This continued on and off, pasture to pasture, as my dad and uncle reminenced their days hunting and working the land we crossed. We were headed to the log cabin for a family weekend in the middle of the vast ranch land to just unwind from the busy lives they lived. When we arrived it was a castle in the woods. Layed out to compliment the crooked live oaks and the meadow that surrounds it. For the curiosity of my age, it was perfect. It was also home to a couple of wild hogs we captured and raised from an area not to far away. As we settled in, dusk drew to darkness, I remember the fruit bats darting between the shadows, the coyote's howl, and our pet wild hogs that came in for dinner. It was all perfect to a young child except for what was perched in the high corner on the cabin wall. A majestic beast that stared in a gaze that cut through my bravery and burned an image in my soul.
Decades later that beast is now headed towards me as I make short bursts of high pitched sounds that mimic the field mice that scurry the sendero ahead. It is beautiful, keen, and curious. Barely noticeable as it cuts through the tall grass, yet it's curiously to my sound draws him closer.
Looking down at my phone there is no response, I send another text with multiple question marks hoping that my urgent tone is replied to. I have to be quite so am am not spotted. Nothing, no response, so I make a call in hopes of permission to the question I just texted him.
Weeks prior on our game cam we picked up several of these solitary animals. Their population in this area is becoming very high. Their normal range is 5-50 miles but here on our land we are seeing them way to often and we are concerned that they are having an impact on the fawn population.*
The phone continues to ring and I am getting antsy as a distracted voice sounds through my ear. I am whispering to him about what lerks infront of me. In a hushed voice I ask permission to take what creeps forward. Time is limited, I need to act soon. I must request to take the beast of my childhood due to the respect of my fathers fondness it, he enjoys their suprise presence on the cameras. I continue to mouse call between the whispers as it continues to draw closer. As the permission was granted I slowly lower the phone, raise my rifle, wait for the perfect opportunity, and slowly squeezed the trigger.
That day years ago in the cabin gave me an affinity for the creatures. They have haunted my dreams and blessed me with their presence. I have watched them catch birds, play with mice, and stroll the brush lines across the vastness of the land. While there is never regret in my action i do feel a sadness with the result yet taking this life gives back to the natural balance of our land. The fawns will prosper, and the cats will live on with the sacrifice of just one.
- Daniel Underbrink
*Though the predation of bobcats on deer is debated it is known to occur, Texas Parks and Wildlife writes.
"...Although studies have shown that most of the deer found in bobcat stomachs is carrion, an adult bobcat is strong enough to bring down an adult deer. Its usual method of attack is to jump on the deer's back from a ledge and bite the base of the deer's skull while tearing and slashing with its claws. When the deer drops, the bobcat pulverizes its throat in seconds with fast, strong bites. If a bobcat comes across a fawn, it will not hesitate to make a meal of it..."