Timeline: Late fall Grindstone Island about 1943.
There were still some leaves on the bushes and trees that covered the western end of Rusho Bay. The fall colors were gone and most of the leaves were now dirty brown or tan, barely hanging on as if they were waiting for a strong wind to sweep them from their branches. On the ground, underfoot the blanket of dry leaves crunched and crackled as we walked along, making it impossible to move without making a sound.
My brother Milton and I were completing a hunt for partridges or grouse in the area from the marsh to Rusho Bay. The partridges were ground feeders and ground nesters, but they could fly – fast but never in a straight line. Therefore, our chances of getting one was better with them flying versus on the ground. My mouth watered at the thought of them fried up in my mother’s cast iron skillet. The taste was unforgettable.
From our pasture, we hunted near the marsh, me up on the stone ridge that ended at Bentzen’s hayfield and my brother on the ground. At the hayfield, we changed position, Now I was the one close to the bay and Milton was up on the ridge.
We were headed home going west - just as the sun was going down and close to the horizon. It was still light enough to see the ground when I came to the west end of the bay and proceeded around the end of the rock formation. I was almost at the location where an old barn had once stood when suddenly a full-grown mountain lion stood looking at me, maybe 50 feet away, maybe closer.
The large cat was about two feet high with spots on its back, no tail but ears that stood straight up on its head. In my fright, I fired my shotgun without aiming. The large cat then ran to my right and vanished into the brush in front of my brother. Milton saw nothing but responded to my gun fire and heard me holler. Milton came running in my direction and found me totally frightened by the sight of the big cat. My words made no sense. I was shaken and very scared.
The next day, Milton and I revisited the scene and found my empty shell casing and discovered I had fired my gun in the ground about 10 feet to my left. There was no sign of the giant cat nor any indication that it had passed by here. The woods were now quiet except for the sound of some ducks quacking in the bay nearby, a couple of squirrels could be heard chattering, and to the east, we could hear the drumming of a partridge. We were alone in the woods, or were we?
I passed by this location many, many times over the years and that eerie feeling that eyes were watching me never left.
By Manley L. Rusho
Manley Rusho was born on Grindstone Island nine+ decades ago. Back in 2021, Manley started sharing his memories with TI Life. (Manley Rusho articles) This Editor and his many friends send our very best as we know he is not able to return but we want him to know spring has arrived on Grindstone Island as everything is turning green. We also want him to know we are thinking of you Manley. As always, we thank you, most sincerely, for sharing - as the life and times on Grindstone Island are special and should never be forgotten.
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