McKean Minute: Cat or Dog?

Are you a cat or are you a dog?

I’m not asking whether you crave catnip or bury bones in your yard—though you might do both. I’m asking you as a hunter what sort of predator you are.

The topic came up in an oblique way the other day as I admitted to a friend that when it comes to deer hunting, I’d rather be on my feet than sit a stand. My preference probably owes to the area I normally hunt, which is fairly open and populated by more mule deer than whitetails. But it also comes down to personal preference. I simply feel like I’m going to have more encounters with animals and convert encounters to success when I’m on my feet and on the ground.

My friend called me everything but a rich man. He just couldn’t understand how anyone would abandon all the advantages they get by being on an elevated platform—containing their scent, maintaining their silence, and having a vantage point—in order to shuffle about on the ground.

That’s when I called him a cat.

You have to understand that my buddy is the ultimate dog owner. His Labs are well-trained and well-honed hunting machines. He drives a big pickup, and there’s usually a dog kennel in the bed. Hell, my friend even looks like a dog, with floppy jowels and a nose that’s wet most of the time. But he’s clearly a cat.

Why? Because he’s an ambush predator. Me? I’m a dog. I’m a pursuit predator.

Think about it. If you’re a hunter who lays in wait, whether it’s a ground blind or a tree stand, you’re an ambush predator, behaving exactly like a leopard or a cougar or a ginger tabby. Yo

u maintain your silence and blend in to your surroundings. You wait for the right moment and then spring into action. You’re a cat. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I feel like I’m at my most lethal when I can spot an animal and then figure out a way to move into killing range. I make my own luck, playing the wind, hushing my steps, and keeping my profile low and hidden. If the animal moves, I move with it. And when I get my chance, I close ground and make my move. I’m a wolf. A coyote. A jackal. A scrubcountry cur. I’m a dog.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

So, I have to ask the question—no judgement here: Which are you, a dog or a cat?

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