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Archive for Sunday, March 2, 2008

Behind the Lens: Photographer catches cat fever

March 2, 2008

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A large animal believed to be a mountain lion left its track in the snow - nearly as big as a human hand. Journal-World photographer Richard Gwin took the photo Feb. 24.

A large animal believed to be a mountain lion left its track in the snow - nearly as big as a human hand. Journal-World photographer Richard Gwin took the photo Feb. 24.

Call me crazy, but the idea of photographing a cougar, a puma - a mountain lion - would be one of the most exciting subjects for my lens.

For years, we heard of one on Kansas University's West Campus. It jumped off of someone's car hood. Someone saw one driving his golf cart. Shoot, some have seen a mountain lion in their backyard just passing through.

But ever since a buddy brought in a picture of a track almost the size of his hand, I'm on it again. I just can't get enough time to find this elusive cat - or cats, as I suspect we have many living around us. From Lone Star Lake to Overbrook, north of the Kansas River to south of Eudora - mountain lion sightings are everywhere.

Always ready, I'm using a Nikon D200, with a 400 ASA and a 80-200 mm lens, and my 500 mm lens is constantly by my side.

The snow makes animals easier to track, but here are some helpful hints if you're out looking like myself. First, respect all landowners - ask questions before you start tramping across the prairie or through the woods.

A big cat can weight as much a 150 pounds and eats 8 pounds of food a day. White tail deer are its favorite.

If you run upon a mountain lion (which I don't recommend), DON'T RUN! Stand your ground, pick up a stick or rock, and act as big and bad as you can. A cougar makes a kill and places it somewhere it thinks is safe and covers it with leaves, and eats on it until it turns. If you stumble across such a stash, stay away - the cat is likely nearby and will defend its kill.

If you catch the cat fever like I have, you're going to spend a lot of time, and get few - if any - results. Shoot, it's been four or five years, and I've seen only one pass through my yard. But every time someone new tells me their mountain lion story, it revives my drive to make the picture. Stories are great, but there's nothing like a good picture.

Comments

Keith 6 years, 10 months ago

"Someone saw one driving his golf cart."

Look out, mountain lions have learned to drive.

Kookamooka 6 years, 10 months ago

Keith. You are so funny. I miss ya. This was the best giggle I've had all day.

geekin_topekan 6 years, 10 months ago

And if you do look for mountain lions be sure to look UP.That's where you will most likely find them during the day.

anneht 6 years, 10 months ago

Please, please tell us in what vicinity you made this photograph!!

BigPrune 6 years, 10 months ago

Where was this track? In town, out of town, a remote area, a highly populated area, where, oh where?

Please, pray tell, please tell us where you photographed this track.

Paul Decelles 6 years, 10 months ago

Not about Mountain lions, but this article caught my eye since it is from near my home in Western Massachusetts: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080304/ap_on_sc/wolf_returns_2

Travis Swicegood 6 years, 9 months ago

I was out on the levy road on Sunday. At the far end of the road a very large animal had walked along the road for a quarter of a mile. The paw prints were about the size of the palm of my hand.

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