Cowboy Bob's Campfire ConversationsCowboy Campfire

Table of Contents

Cowboy Bob and the Bouncin' Bovine
The Dyin' Gunfighter
The Truth About Wild Horses
Bunc Bradshaw and the Mexican Captain
Cowboy Bob: Movie Star
The Cowboy's Wardrobe
Some Other Cowboy Paraphernalia
The First Bulldogger
God's Bit and Bridle
The Adventures of Cheyenne Dawson
Louis Remme's Wild Ride
Cowboy Bob and the Bunny Buckle

The Philmont Mountain Lion

A lot of city folk don't 'preciate what a sparse commodity water can be up in the high county.

Back when I was a kid, I spent a few weeks each summer at the Philmont Scout Ranch up in the Sangre de Cristo Range of New Mexico.

One time, we were camped at Cimeroncito camp when one of the city-bred boys went off and left the shower runnin' all night. The next mornin' we discovered that he had plumb destroyed the water table.

It took a couple of days for the camp to borrow some portable water tanks - what are often called "water buffaloes" - from the National Guard.

Those tanks hadn't been used for a while, and had a fair amount of rust on the inside, which made the water bright orange for the first few days.

I recall haulin' the first couple of buckets to our campsite. The scoutmaster said to me, "Are we havin' orange Kool-Aid today?"

"No sir," I replied, "that's plain water out of the tank."

You should have seen the look on his face!

Anyhow, durin' the time while the camp was huntin' up the tank trailers, we had to fetch our water from a stream maybe half a mile away.

Now, Philmont is a workin' ranch, with sizable herds of cattle, horses and even buffalo scattered around. One day, when I went for water, I found several cows parked right where I had planned to dip my buckets.

You always want to boil or purify even the cleanest-lookin' water, on account of the wildlife leavin' some pretty nasty little germs swimmin' around. But those cows had also done a pretty good job of stirrin' up a lot of mud.

Kool-Aid was OK, but I didn't figure the other scouts would 'preciate water that looked like day-old coffee.

There's a trail next to that stream that leads to an old gold minin' camp and up over the pass to Rayado Camp. I decided to hike up that trail a bit in search of some cleaner-lookin' water.

Now, that stream runs through a fairly narrow ravine, slopin' up gradually on the trail side, but with a steep cliff climbin' up from the far bank. Except for where the trail is, the ravine is filled with quakin' aspen, a few pine and a lot of brush. All in all, it's a pretty dark and spooky place.

Well, I was walkin' up that trail, lookin' for a convenient place where I could get to the stream, when I heard a quiet rustlin' sound behind me. I thought it was one of the other Scouts, and I was mighty wishful of company about then.

I turned around, but all I seen was a little motion in the brush alongside the trail.

Thinkin' it was another kid tryin' to sneak up on me, I decided to try to catch him at it. I started walkin' up the trail again, then spun around sudden-like when I heard the sound again.

Well sir, I spotted my companion, and it weren't no Boy Scout. Instead, I found myself starin' into the eyes of a good-sized mountain lion!

With him between me and my camp, I couldn't go that way for help, so I started backin' up the trail. The minin' camp was a far piece away and up a side canyon, but maybe I could get close enough to yell for help.

Mountain Lion With every step I took backwards, that mountain lion took a step towards me. Once, I tried standin' rock still, hopin' that he'd lose interest and go away. Instead, he just lay down in the trail - and never took his eyes off me.

As I kept backin' up the trail, I realized that the brush had thinned out between me and the stream. I decided to make a break for it, cross the stream and try to climb the cliff to high ground on the other side.

I threw my water pails at the lion, which made him back off a few feet. Runnin' as fast as I could, I crashed through the brush, jumped the stream, and started scramblin' up the cliff.

Well, that old mountain lion wasn't about to let his lunch get away, so he took a couple of leaps to the base of the cliff. One more bounce and he had his claws into my boot.

So here I am, tryin' my best to get up a cliff, and at the other end of me is 150 pounds of hungry lion. . . pullin' my leg. . . and pullin' my leg. . . .*

* Just like I'm pullin' yours.

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