Bradford Loeffler couldn’t believe what he was looking at when he went to investigate his barking dogs outside of his family’s home near Alice Friday afternoon.
The 2014 graduate of Orange Grove High School had just finished lunch and was headed back to work when he heard of the barking. When he peeked outside, he saw a large mountain lion in the patio standing on its hind legs and hissing at the dogs.
He immediately grabbed a rifle and shot the large cat. The cat scrambled and ran up a tree before Loeffler put him down for good.
“He was just 20 feet away from me when I shot him,” Loeffler said. “I don’t know if he’s considered big compared to other mountain lions, but seeing him that close, he was big enough for me.”
Loeffler’s family lives on a ranch north of Alice by the U.S. Highway 281 rest stop before Farm-To-Market 624. The ranch totals some 700 acres of mostly clear pasture. They don’t often see much wildlife in the area since most of the land is used for baling hay. It was certainly the first mountain lion seen on the property, according to the family.
Afterwards, Loeffler posted several photographs of the big cat on Facebook. They show a large young male lion. There’s also a photograph showing one of the cat’s massive paws. Another shows a mouth-full of big teeth. One photograph shows Loeffler holding up the cat.
“It was all pretty wild, “Loeffler said. “The cat was pretty skinny and was probably looking for water.”
He estimated that the mountain lion weighed just over 100 pounds.
Loeffler, who ropes professionally, said he came home late Thursday night from a roping and noticed the dogs barking more than usual. He suspects the mountain lion may have been in the area overnight.
“The dogs were barking and barking,” he said. “I’m guessing he may have been in the pasture already last night.”
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, mountain lions or cougars are rare, but not uncommon. While they inhabit the entire state, they are most often seen in the southwest part of Texas.