Community story: Ernie’s Wildcat

Daniel Shier
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 5/19/20

Ernie Ramstetter was a successful rancher, running a successful a sheep and cattle operation two miles north of Golden. I knew him in the early 1950’s when he told me this story. Ernie and his …

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Community story: Ernie’s Wildcat

Posted

Ernie Ramstetter was a successful rancher, running a successful a sheep and cattle operation two miles north of Golden. I knew him in the early 1950’s when he told me this story.

Ernie and his brothers grew up in the hills between Blackhawk and Golden. It was ranching country and the boys rode their horses everywhere looking after their dad’s cattle or just looking for mischief.

When Ernie was a teenager, he and his brother were riding one day when they came upon litter of half-grown wildcat kittens, each about the size of a housecat and about 10 times as mean. In an instant, the boys knew they wanted one for their very own and they tried to run one down on their horses. The kitten they were chasing crawled up into a crack between some huge boulders.

Ernie crawled back in the crack. The farther back he went, the smaller the crack was. At the very end of the crack was one very resentful wildcat. Ernie could almost reach the wildcat with his heavy leather riding gloves, but it was tight. He wiggled his shoulders a bit more and he was close enough. A tiny split second before Ernie’s hand closed on the cat, it headed straight for the bit of blue sky just over his shoulder. When the wildcat’s paws touched his shoulder, Ernie’s gloved hand closed over the small of the cat’s back. The cat spat and started clawing his back to ribbons. That made Ernie all the madder and determined to hold on. He was nearly stuck tight in that crack. The cat would not give up, Ernie would not give up, and there was just no room to maneuver.

Gentle reader, if you can’t recall a time when your personal affairs were in just such a situation at Ernie in that crack, then your life has been a hum-drum affair indeed. The next time it happens, just think of Ernie and grin.

As for the cat, bleeding Ernie slowly backed out to where his brother could wrap the kitten in his shirt and they carried it off home, where they soon discovered that the charms of having your own wildcat were overrated.

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