As the light faded, the coyotes started to howl. It sounded like there was one just a couple of hundred yards north of me. That's the closest I've been to a howling coyote in Arizona. As I crossed a wash next to the hill (a curvy wash with lots of paloverdes in it) on my way back to the truck, I heard some noises like horse hooves on rocks. Couldn't see anything, though. As I crossed another wash just beyond the first one, I heard something that sounded a little like a rooster trying to get started crowing in the morning, except it sounded really creepy. Made my skin crawl. It made me think of monsters. I thought about the kinds of monsters I was likely to encounter out there and that helped me relax because I'm pretty sure all the monsters were in town at that time. Then I thought about big cats and told myself that I didn't need to worry about that because they don't make any noise when they are on the hunt. They sneak up behind their prey and then leap silently and hit the neck so hard with their fangs they break it before the prey knows they're there. Silently. I stopped and stood very still and listened very carefully. I. didn't. hear. ANYTHING!
If a big cat is considering having you for dinner, there are two things you do not want to do. First, don't run. That would be like dragging a string past a house cat. They can't resist; they will pounce. Second, don't turn your back on it. If they think you aren't watching and they are hungry, they will pounce.
There's a third thing to consider; staring at a cat will be considered to be confrontational. You could make it mad and then it would pounce to show you who's in charge. Or you might convince it to leave you alone. If you ever encounter a big cat, you'll have to figure all that out on your own.
Anyway, I walked slowly and methodically back to the truck, stopping frequently to look all around. Never saw a cat. Darn it. Click below to see all of the pictures.