By Vic Attardo Contributing Writer
Williamsport, Pa. — When 81-year-old Fred Taylor felt a hard
“thunk” on his head while turkey hunting one day in early November,
he was pretty sure it wasn’t just a nut that had fallen from a
Indeed it wasn’t. For when Taylor, of Montgomery, reared back
from the strong knock on his noggin, he was face-to-face with a
“He had to come out of the tree,” Taylor said recovering from
the incident at his home in Lycoming County. “It came down on me so
quick but then I think it realized I wasn’t a turkey.”
Taylor was injured in the attack, but not badly. He sustained
minor scalp lacerations and is undergoing precautionary treatment
for rabies. When interviewed, he had already gone through a series
of six shots and had three more weeks of treatment ahead.
And though you’d think that getting battered by a bobcat was
enough for any one man to sustain during a day of turkey hunting,
his experience didn’t end with this. There’s a lot more to this
story; but first the bobcat.
Hunting since he was 12 years old, Taylor was with two younger
friends pursuing a turkey flock sighted earlier in the day. After
not seeing the birds for a time, the other two men had gone back to
camp and were awaiting Taylor’s return.
Though he had knee surgery earlier in the year and was walking
carefully, he was just barely overdue for a mid-day meal when he
came stumbling back to his buddies.
“I could see something was wrong,” said Jim Nyce, of New Hanover
Township, near Red Hill, “but he was still pretty solid.
“He told us the darndest thing had happened to him, that he had
been attacked by a bobcat,” Nyce related.
As Taylor told his friends the story, some of the details were
Apparently it had become very windy on the grounds where he was
hunting and the hunter hadn’t “heard a peep” from the turkeys. He
was sitting under a large pine tree and had made three or four
scratches on a slate call and had also used his box call.
“Leaves and limbs were coming down so I was fixing to get out of
there,” Taylor said.
All of a sudden, and completely out of the blue, he felt the
hard blow on his head.
“I didn’t hear him coming at all,” he added. “He just hit me,
knocking off my hat and sending my box call flying.”
When Taylor looked up, there was a bobcat standing 6 feet away.
His 12 gauge Mossberg was by his side and he had just one
“I reached but I’m not as fast as I once was,” he said. “I
wasn’t quite quick enough to get that rascal. ‘Til I picked up my
gun, he was behind a tree and then he was gone.”
Fortunately the bobcat did not make a return visit, and Taylor
set off for camp. But circumstances and calamity were not over
Taylor, Nyce and another man were standing around discussing the
bobcat attack when they noticed a spike buck coming out of the
woods. At the time, the rut was in high gear in central
Pennsyl-vania, and the men saw that the spike was watching Taylor
very carefully – too carefully for comfort.
“I could see he was interested in me,” Taylor said. “All of a
sudden the dang thing was only 30 feet away and he was ready to
Nyce said the buck got frisky and started to move closer to the
older hunter. No one is sure what eventually turned the deer away,
but fortunately Taylor did not have to sustain another animal
attack this day.
As it is, Taylor is no stranger to unusual and unwanted
incidents while hunting. Some years back, he was chased by a bull
elk while hunting in Oregon. Also he once sustained a gunshot wound
while hunting turkey.
“A buddy shot me in the butt,” he said. “If it weren’t for a
tree, it could have been worse. Some friend.”
But the day of the adoring buck and attacking bobcat wasn’t
going to end just yet. Affectionately Nyce says Taylor is a tough
old coot, so when another flock of turkeys was sighted that
afternoon, cleaned-up and refreshed the hunter returned to the
To make a long hunting story short, part of a newly busted flock
came back to the area where Taylor had set up in the last hour of
light. It was a perfect to time to call in birds that had been
With his back to a tree, a turkey came around from behind him
and this time the hunter was certainly quick enough. He dropped the
bird in its tracks.