Our reporter went in search of America’s legendary apple-tailed bob cat. This is his report and journey:
I love the city of Port Vale, located in historic downtown Buck County, Texas. Neat rows of suburban houses surrounded by white picket fences and lone star flags flapping in the desert wind. It gives you the feeling of an all-American paradise.
Yet there is one blot on the landscape, one fear that chills Port Valians to the bone, one unwanted visitor at this tea party of Americana; the apple-tailed apple tailed bob cat.
Americans have a long history with small and large cats. The Simoan grey was brought to the U.S. shores by the Vikings in 1976. After that, cats flooded in, brought on prison ships from Australia and South Africa.
Americans of course have indigenous big cats such as the lynx, puma and lion-bear. Natural selection has bred America’s latest feline foe, the apple-tailed bob cat. At first view, this cat looks more like a domestic tabby, but let it smell blood or raw meat and the cat, quite frankly, goes psycho.
The local sheriff’s office produced statistics for 2015 which read like a medieval torture manual; 47 lost fingers, 16 lost toes, 14 deaths, 7 mauled breasts (female), two road workers had their throats ripped out which were subsequently found in a local Walmart, and 546 car tires burst. The list goes on, including one gynecological event too shocking to publish.
My guide, Dick Ramada and his assistant Olly Farino, agreed to drive me into open country to track and shoot one of these ‘sadistic bastard cats’ as they are known locally.
Outside of Port Vale, the basin in which the city sits rises steeply on all sides. Mountains, capped with snow make for a stunning view, but we knew hiding in those mountains was the apple tail.
You are probably wondering why this cat is called the apple tail. It’s because its tail changes color, the male from green to brown and the female from red to brown not unlike a ripening and then over ripe apple. In the winter, the cat finally sheds its tail, which then grows back in the spring.
Our 4×4’s only took us as far as the base of the steep mountains, from there we walked. Shotguns primed, backpacks fastened and sports cups secured, we began the long march.
We had only walked a mile maybe two when Dick spotted some droppings. The only way to distinguish the apple tail from other feline predators is to taste the feces. This may seem abhorrent to you and I but Dick seemed to enjoy it. In fact, he seemed to taste any and all animal turds he could. Olly abstained, pleading allergies.
What distinguishes apple tail shit from other felines’, Dick explained with his mouth full, is not so much the taste but the texture. Suddenly he stopped, and pointed towards the middle distance to a giant ginger cat, perched on a rock, with a face so contorted it looked like it was chewing a wasps nest.
Silently, we dropped to the ground. Dick having swallowed hard, consuming the last of the guano, reached for his shotgun. The cat sat unaware of our presence, arrogantly surveying its territory. In one movement, Dick had his weapon in his hand, cocked and ready to shoot.
With a terrific bang, Dick discharged his weapon and the apple tail’s head exploded in a shower of blood and bone. Then the cat got up and walked off. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I would never have believed it. Closely related genetically to a chicken, the apple tails nervous system continues for 10 minutes unaware the head is missing and sprayed over 6 counties.
“That’s one less bastard,” Dick grunted, and saluted the dead cat. At that point I noticed he was missing both his little fingers.
Port Vale is certainly God’s own country. It’s stunning. Once the apple tail is finally exterminated, the citizens of Port Vale as well as Buck County can continue their daily lives.
At the time of writing this article, Dick Ramada and Olly Farino had opened their first hunting lodge and, in light of the new hunting and gun laws introduced in Buck County, are offering apple tail shooting days for all the family. Dick and Olly finally married last month.