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"The Panther Canyon"


As a young boy the term, “Panther Canyon”, held a certain mystique for me. It was west of the outfit where my dad was the foreman and where I grew into adulthood, out west along the South Wichita river where the meandering old stream twisted and cut a serpentine path through some of the meanest country that Knox, King and Baylor County could offer. There were other gashes in that ancient land too. Getaway, Pecos Oxyoke and a host of others described a country where in olden times, big animals lived and hunted. Wolves, lions and bears roamed at will until man and his sedentary lifestyle clashed with the killing ways of these creatures.

But Panther Canyon was big, its drainage feeding from the deep soil country of North Flat on the old Mashed O Ranch. In 1854, Marcy scouted this land for a potential Comanche reservation site but the ragged precipices of an endless array of arroyos yielded only gyp water, hardly sufficient for human habitation on the long term.

I knew some of the old cowboys who worked that land during the hard years. Running wild cattle, trapping fur for grocery money, those who could tell me stories of the men long before that, the hard core woodsmen who killed out the last big predators at the turn of the century. Yes, Panther canyon had its draw for a youngster with aspirations to understand the times of old.

I recall well the first time I sat on a gypsum ledge of this chasm and let fly with a stream of notes from one of my predator calls. It was in the late 60’s, over ten years before pump jacks rocked in their slow stationary dance from rim to horizon. Armed with my new Remington 600 Mohawk in the .222 caliber and shooting open sights, I was not a formidable adversary for an incoming animal of small size. But at that age, I felt pretty confident that I was in control!

My lifelong friend, Bob Bumpas was with me, both of us having ridden horseback from the old ranch house a couple of miles distant. As I selected my calling location, Bob covered my back with his rifle, watching the brush behind me as I looked down upon the hard, broken country below. Only a few minutes into calling, my young ears began to discern the distant sound of feet approaching at a rapid pace. In those impressionable years, it was easy to be spooked of invisible sounds becoming louder by the second! Suddenly, out of the brush and out of sight from my backup man, a huge coyote burst in full view only a few feet away! I emitted a loud yell and threw a wild shot that very well could still be airborne to this day, and the coyote, more disturbed than me, ducked and dodged to safety in the broken country below. Bob was laughing and I was mad but even to this day, that evening on the edge of Panther Canyon is a story told and retold time and again.

I am offering this new style of predator call for the first part of 2013 and have named it in memory of that day on the rim of that great canyon. The Panther Canyon series fits the hand well and allows good cupping to murmur the sound when necessary. Again, it will be offered in three wood types, juniper, bois d’ arc, and mesquite. It will also be offered with a letter authenticity, instructions for use and caring for the call, a signed 5x7 print of an incoming predator, and a decorated burlap bag. (Photos depict call style, signed print, and decorated bag)