Monday, May 05, 2008

Wolves, Bobcats and Black Panthers

 A while back, I serialized a short story about wolves and panthers in northeast Texas. The story is whimsical and a work of fiction. There are no wolves and certainly no black panthers in east Texas. Or are there?

The answer is – well maybe. Northeast Texas remains an underpopulated part of the state. A region known as the Big Thicket extends north from Beaumont. The Big Thicket is a vast pine forest that stretches for hundreds of miles. This large forest, by anyone’s count, contains more wild animals than humans, many of which moved up from Mexico, or south from the huge Ouachita forests in central Arkansas.

The Big Thicket, by definition, doesn’t extend into far northeast Texas. In reality, however, the vast forest comprising the Big Thicket continues into northwest Louisiana and even into Arkansas, all the way to the Ouachita Mountains. Anyone that has ever visited the area knows if you stray very far off the main highway and follow a winding blacktop or dirt road, you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by a sea of green often called the “pine curtain.”

Behind this curtain of trees and vegetation lies a world as mysterious and haunting as the day the first white man visited it. If you take this road, don’t be surprised if you hear the howl of a wolf, or the low throaty growl of a panther – yes, maybe even a black panther.

While growing up, I often spent the night at my grandmother’s house in the piney woods of Cass County. They still had no electricity when I was young and burned coal oil lanterns at night for illumination. People went to bed early in those days, the smoke, soot and acrid odor of burning fuel more than most people could tolerate for very long.

Wolves were very much a part of east Texas in the 1950s and I still remember their mournful howls when we finally snuffed out the lanterns for the night. Don’t believe me? They had a bounty on their heads and were hunted to near extinction. I recall seeing the carcasses of an entire pack hanging in a row by their hind legs on fence posts. I was probably ten or twelve at the time.

Are there still wolves in east Texas? Not likely. Wolves are social creatures and usually run in packs. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if an occasional Lobo passed through the area. Black panthers are a different story. Locals have reported seeing them many times, although this is unconfirmed and denied by the Authorities. Have I ever seen a black panther? No, but I’ve seen bobcats and heard their woman-like screams in the woods.

If you’re still unconvinced, travel south to Cass County, Texas sometime. Leave the main road and follow a blacktop until it dead-ends. Hike a mile or so back into the piney woods, maybe until you reach a cypress bayou. Pitch your tent and then wait for the sun to go down. But zip the door up tightly. The howls, growls and woman-like screams you will definitely hear may just raise those tiny hairs on the back of your neck.

Still don't believe it? Read some of the comments for this post and you'll change your mind.


All of Eric's books are available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and on his iBook author pages, and his Website.


Anonymous said...

January 12, 2009
Ever hear of Bowie Co. NE Texas?
Park yourself some evening around dark near George Thomas Rd, or Warren Thomas Rd area, Texarkana TX. The howling will set your hair on end! Neighbors here don't venture out after dark without flashlights, for sure. We have to take our dog for a walk, but not far from the house!!! We know the difference between coyotes yipping and wolves howling. We really don't know what to do, either.

Frankie said...

My father inherited my grandfathers ranch in Cherokee county.(been in the family since 1948. Try telling the local ranchers that there are no wolves in the area. Thing is, most do not care if you believe them or not. They know. Throughout the years there have been 3 cougars seen on the property. 1 that was seen by grandfather was black....and yes I do believe him. Even if I told him I didnt and gave him my reasons.....he would not have cared. As far as wolves in the area, there is a distinct difference between the, coyotes, the feral dogs (tons in the area running in packs)and yes wolves. Just because you dont see them does not mean they are not there. We are talking millions of wooded acres. Plenty of room for them to hide from us!!!!!!

Margarita H. said...

Sullivan said... Before sunrise on the morning of February 9th, 2011, a red wolf came up to our flagstone patio and snatched our 17 year old cat, Fatsy. It was very cold that morning. By the time I put on jeans, a jacket, hiking shoes...and grabbed the Remington Wingmaster and 4 shells...too mauch time had been lost. I followed the blood trail into the woods and found the kill site covered with cat hair. Unexplainably, the trail ended there. The white-tailed deer herd that came through here daily, are now steering clear of that stand of loblolly pines and yaupon holly undergrowth. I'm thinking that there may be more than one lone wolf on our property. Thankfully, there was good news that same day, to wash away the loss of our old cat. Our daughter, Tammy, gave birth to beautiful, healthy, Hana Clara Penberthy... and for that miracle of life, I am thankful to God. That's all, y'all, John B. Sullivan Tomball,TX

Corey Banks said...

Solitary Gray wolves in Domino and springdale ....mountain lion too..

Corey Banks said...

Solitary Gray wolves in Domino and springdale ....mountain lion too..a female wolf has raised 2 litters of pups on my uncle's place off Grandmother lives off CR 3662..mountain lion woke the whole community up last November early one morning screaming. These animals are here....