, Port Arthur, Texas


February 22, 2014

Chester Moore column: Cougar encounter intense, educational

PORT ARTHUR — In recent weeks I have been working on a project that has required me to recount some of my wild adventures from the past.

     One of the wildest ever occurred in 1997, when my friend and hunting show host Keith Warren to film an episode about cougars near Encinal.

     I would like to share this adventure with you today.

     The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) had a radio collaring to track the cats movements in the Lone Star State. We accompanied TPWD biologist Jim Hillje and his team into this large field with matted, waist high grass. He held a radio receiver and when we got about 150 yards into the field it sounded off.

    “Beep. Beep. Beep.”

    A slow but steady series of beeps according to Hillje revealed the cat was within 500 yards and the closer we got the faster the beeps would be.

    “Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.”

    A quicker series came when we crossed over a ravine in the field. This looked like the perfect spot because it was believed this female had cubs because she had not moved more than a mile in several months and cougars typically move long distances. The rock crevices in this spot would an ideal spot to raise babies and we did find her tracks here but she had set up somewhere else.

    Coming out of the ravine, the beeps intensified and Hillje asked me the strangest question.

    “Chester, do you wade fish in the bays?”

    “Yes sir.

    “Well, I am sure you shuffle your feet so you do not step on the stingrays.”

    “I sure do.”

    “Shuffle your feet here. This cat is in that thick grass and she might not move until we’re right on top of her or step on her,” he said.

    I began executing the absolute perfect feet shuffling which in wadefishing allows you to kick the stingray instead of stepping on it. Getting hit by a ray would hurt. Getting hit by a cougar might be fatal so shuffle I did.

    The receiver was going crazy beeping and Hillje said we were within 50 yards. Tensions mounted as the team looked for the cat which they hoped would be with her young, not out on the hunt. The goal was to fit them with radio collars that would grow with them for a period of months and then recapture to put a permanent one on at adulthood.

    “Look there!” Hillje said pointing at a deep hole in the grass.

    He poked a large metal rod in there and the classic boat motor-sounding growl of a cougar sounded back. She then jumped out of the hole and stood less than 10 feet away from the six of us. It was a tense moment but the cat opted to retreat and shot down through a faint trail in the grass.

    The team found two cubs in the den and immediately got to work fitting them with collars. I have always felt that baby cougars are the cutest of any animal as they have big ears, beautiful eyes and a gorgeous spotted pattern they gradually lose going into adulthood.

    We wore thick gloves and wrapped the cubs in burlap sacks to take pictures with them so that we would not get our scent on them and they look darling as you can in the accompanying photo. The truth is they were vicious little creatures and were trying to rip our faces off. Beautiful but wild after all.                                                                                                  Wildness, of course, is the thing that draws me to the great cats. They are mysterious with some species having the ability to live in the shadow of man virtually undetected.

     (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at . You can watch him on Saturdays at 10 a.m. on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore” and listen to “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.)



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  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
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    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

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