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JAGUARS IN EARLY TEXAS

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

During November of 1829 Swiss botanist Jean Louis Berlandier was traveling with a detachment of the Mexican army that had joined a group of Comanches on a hunting trip in the Hill Country, northwest of San Antonio. One night the horses stampeded and the Comanches,thinking they were being attacked by their enemies, the Lipans,grabbed their weapons and prepared for battle. Scouting the vicinity the next morning revealed no sign of Lipans, and Berlandier casually dismissed the incident by saying, "Some bear or jaguar had probably been the cause of the stampede." Most Texans would be dumb-founded by the mere thought that there were rainforest jaguars running about in Texas, so Berlandier's comments were basically ignored!


A few years later in 1909 there was an incident in nearby London, Texas in Kimble County when a jaguar was not only seen but killed. Here are some of the details as related by Emmett Hensley, Everett Stewart & Ginger Roberts.


One Sunday morning in the spring of 1909 when Everett was almost ten years old, he asked his Dad if he could spend the day at the Spoon's house playing with Charley. Everett's Dad said ok to the visit and away he went  walking the two miles to Charley's place. After arriving, the two young lads decided to go hunting as Charley's Dad had been missing a sheep or two now and again and Charley was wanting to "catch" whatever was taking those sheep. The two lads were so excited to get going that it didn't bother either one of them that they were barefooted and had on short britches! That was the custom in that day, you didn't wear long britches until you were 14 & 15. Charley picked up a horn he had made out of a hollowed out cow's horn and blew it. The hounds went crazy. It was time to go hunting!


There was a long mountain behind the house about a mile away, and they headed straight for it. Dodging blue thorns and slip sheds, cactus and rocks,they managed to reach the top rim. Then they headed north towards Sam Hardesty's place. On the 1910 Federal Census, it shows Sam and Cora Hardesty living with their children. Dee, age 25, James age20, and Jack age 18 on what later became the Watter's Ranch.


All of a sudden the hounds went wild, they had something; Everett and Charley ran as fast as they could to see what was going on, and when they got to where the dogs were barking, they saw something they couldn't quite believe! It was a huge spotted jaguar in a shallow cave and the dogs weren't about to let it go.  Neither Everett or Charley had a gun as they were depending on the dogs to take care of whatever they came across. It was very obvious that the dogs were not going to be able to handle this or get out of it without injury.


Everett and Charley were mighty scared, they had never seen a jaguar and really didn't even know what they were seeing. They decided they had better run for their own lives and try to get help as fast as their legs would carry them. Down the mountain, not caring anymore about thorns or rocks, cactus or thistles, they headed for the Hardesty home. When they got there you can imagine the story they told Dee, the oldest of the boys. Dee grabbed a sawed off shot-gun, loaded it with #4 shot and they all headed up the mountain.


Even though Dee was older he was afraid as well. He told Everett and Charley to stand behind him and to hold their pocket knives open and ready just in case he missed or worse, just wounded the cat and the cat came out fighting mad after them. Dee was shaking so bad, he decided to let the cat have it with both barrels, but he missed. The cat charged out and ran up the mountain, the hounds quickly circled it and drove it back inside the cave.


The boy's legs were bloody from running so much through the brush, but they hardly noticed. They decided they needed more help and another gun. Looking downwards toward the J.F.Vance place they could see Will McCollum plowing in a field. Again they ran down to him and told him about the whole ordeal. Will got his .22 repeating rifle and followed the boys back up the mountain. He stood above the animal and shot it rapidly four times in the head killing it instantly.



The jaguar weighed 126 pounds and measured 6 feet 7 inches from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail. 


That was a hunting trip that neither of those boys ever forgot..

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