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A Thanksgiving Tail

Dad and I would get together early Thanksgiving morning and have coffee. He made his java so strong you could stand a pitchfork in it. I remember asking him, “Hey Dad, should I drink this or stain the deck with it.” He would laugh and say, “It is not strong. I only used 2 or 3 scoops.” Two or three scoops? He’d take the can and fill up the filter.

We would enjoy talking about family, food and football. The three things that made Thanksgiving our favorite Holiday. No presents, Easter egg hunts or looking for the perfect card.

The smell of the turkey roasting in the oven would fill the room. Carol would get up at 4 a.m. to have that special meal ready for Thanksgiving dinner. My pop would get up to give her a hand. That was his account. Truth was he wanted to get a preview of the meal to come. Maybe provide a little taste testing if needed and make sure Carol had the emotional support for taking on this large task.

It was one of these early Thanksgiving mornings maybe 15 years ago or more. Dad and I sat at the breakfast bar with a cup of coffee in hand, sun rising and deer running across the large open yard and field in the front of his beloved Texas room. (A large family room we gathered in for the Holidays and visiting.)

Being so close to buck season we would check out every deer visible in the woodlands and field around my Dad’s home. When full daylight had arrived the field was empty except for one lone deer about half way down. As Dad peered through the pair of binoculars he said, “Son you are not going to believe this. That’s a mountain lion.” “Sure it’s not bigfoot?” I jokingly replied. He insisted he wasn’t pulling my leg. “Take a look through the binoculars, what do you see?” As I peered through the binoculars, my dad continued as he brought out a pair of naval binoculars he had mounted on a tripod. “I’m telling you son, that is a mountain lion.” Before I answered his questions he repeated this again. Finally I answered, “It’s a large tannish brown cat with a long looping tail.” I had seen bobcats. This was no bobcat. My dad squared up the naval binoculars for me and I viewed what was a mountain lion, cougar or maybe a Nittany lion going back and forth across the open field. About this time Carol came into the Texas room to check her Thanksgiving turkey. Dad said, “Carol, you are not going to believe this” as he urged her to look through the binoculars. She quickly replied, “It’s a mountain lion.” Carol suggested to Dad and I, “Why don’t you guys get the video camera?” Why didn’t we think of this?

I snuck down the driveway adjacent to the long field, an easy walk downhill. As I got to the approximate spot the cat was spotted I went slowly up through heavy brush, which lined the driveway. Long story short, I never managed to capture the mountain lion on tape. Upon returning to the top of the hill, Carol and my Dad informed me I pushed two cats across the field and he couldn’t believe I didn’t see them because as he watched from the house they were only what he estimated to be a couple of first downs ahead of me.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I’ve been known to pull a leg or two just like my Dad. Just one thing. Carol gives both of us credibility. She saw them and wouldn’t tell a fib or story to anyone. The big cats have never been seen since.

I recently received a letter from Beaty Hall, a very nice lady. She told me about her experience. A mountain lion jumped across the road in front of her and a friend while traveling home. Her description of the encounter, “The mountain lion had a long tail extending back flying of course behind it. I’m very thankful we got to witness that wildlife critter.” She was amazed by its strength and grace. I know what you are asking. Where is the proof? Are they really out there? Hard for you to believe with all the hunting and outdoor activity in Penn’s Woods that one hasn’t been shot or photographed now that everyone has a camera on their phone. I know what we saw many Thanksgiving mornings ago and I also believe Beaty’s encounter. Just remember you can’t miss the tail.

To all those hunters looking for that trophy whitetail, let’s be careful out there. Good luck and good hunting.

Take A Moment

We have so much to be thankful for in our great nation. Take the opportunity the day provides and say thanks to all the special folks in your life. Let them know they’re loved and appreciated, especially the cook. Enjoy that special Thanksgiving dinner at the family table. I know many of you have more than one stop. Get to all of them and enjoy. They won’t be there forever.

I give thanks to God for my wife Michelle, Jimmy, Hunter and my four-legged son Buddy, all my family and friends who have been so supportive this past year, my great staff who take such pride in our publication, to you for welcoming us into your home each week and to all the service men and women around the world that protect our freedom each and every day.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Jim Webb

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