The Photography of D L Ennis, and more!


Monday, April 03, 2006

The Hunter and His Hunting-Cat

Image: by D L Ennis, The Hunter and His Hunting-Cat, in the George Washington National Forest.

A couple of years ago I was in the George Washington National Forest hunting, not with a gun, but with a camera, when I ran across the young man in the photo hunting with a cat. I thought to my self, ‘This guy is dangerous!’ I took this picture from about twenty feet behind him and neither he nor his cat knew I was there. I wondered, should I announce myself or just wait until he is gone and get the heck out of there?

Curiosity got the best of me and I said, ‘Hello!’ He turned and looked at me, sort of shyly, and returned my greeting. ‘Taking your cat for a walk?’ I asked. ‘Hunting squirrels.’ He said. I couldn’t help it; I laughed out loud! He didn’t even smile.

After a quiet moment I asked him if we could talk, he graciously accepted my invitation and we parked ourselves on a downed-tree near by.

I’ve never seen anyone using a cat to hunt with before…Is he a good hunter? The young man was wearing glasses with lenses about as thick as I had ever seen. ‘Yeah, he’s a real good hunter!’

The young fellow, with a serious expression, went on to explain how much he loved hunting and that his eyes were failing. He told me that he could tell by how his cat was acting what was moving, that he himself could only hear until he got pretty close to the game.

I asked, Why a cat? Why not a dog? ‘Dogs make to much noise and I can’t get close enough to what I am hunting to take a good shot. I move slow, and I am very quiet, and so is Charcoal.’ (His cat.) I wished him luck, and told him to be careful, and headed home. It still struck me as funny, and was a definite first for me.

Over the past couple of years I have looked at this picture several times with the same befuddlement and amusement, and while looking through some photos today, I ran across it again. I thought about the young man and the cat, and since I was at the computer anyway, I did a Google search, (hunting with cats.) Guess what I found…

Ban on Hunting With Dogs Sees Huge Increase in Hunting With Cats - February 17th 2005

Following the passing of the law that sees Hunting with Dogs banned this Friday, the Countryside Alliance has reported that its hunting clubs has seen a massive increase in Hunting with Cats during the transition period.“Before all this nonsense about fox hunting hit the headlines, it was very rare for people to go hunting with cats,” Countryside Alliance spokesperson Keith Wilson declared, “However, with the unfortunate fact that Hunting with Dogs is to become illegal this Friday many of our members have decided to investigate alternative fox killing methods that are not banned by the law.”

Hunting with cats is the favourite alternative Mr Wilson reports, with nearly 45% of former dog users now taking an army of Tom cats to hunt down the foxes. The feedback on their effectiveness was mixed. Some users reported that whilst the cats didn't catch many foxes they did keep their lap warm whilst they rode around on the horses whilst others complained that after chasing a fox for a good 15 minutes most the cats stopped for no reason at all and proceeded to wash themselves.

You can read the rest of the article here.

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