Monday, March 19, 2007

Hunter bitten by bobcat during Ala. turkey hunt

By Kristin Mamrack
Saturday, March 17, 2007 9:10 PM CDT

A Caledonia man was injured Thursday in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

Hunting in Pickens County, Ala., David Bartimus, 24, suffered injuries to his face, head and back when a bobcat apparently mistook him for a turkey.

"I went turkey hunting," Bartimus explained. "I'd been making some turkey calls (and) I was sitting down next to a tree in a field. I'd been calling and I had one turkey that was talking back to me, so to speak. That went on for about 30 minutes. Then, I thought I heard a turkey fly up in a tree."

With the turkey no longer responding, Bartimus began to pack his things around 7 p.m.

"I kept hearing something behind me in the direction the turkey flew up," he recalled. "I just assumed it was the turkey, then it quit and was quiet.

"I figured I'd pick up my stuff and head out," he continued. "I was still sitting on the ground and turned to my right to lean my gun against a tree. I heard a noise, something coming at me. I turned around and it was in the air; it was a bobcat!"

The animal bit him in the face, jumped on him and wrapped its arms around Bartimus' head.

"I turned to my left as a reflex and threw him off," Bartimus said. "I think he realized I wasn't a turkey, like he assumed, and he took off. He couldn't see me (earlier), because I was behind a tree. As soon as he hit me, he realized I wasn't a turkey."

Bartimus then gathered his belongings and began to make his way out of the woods.

"I turned around to make sure he wasn't coming at me again," he said. "That's when I realized I was bleeding; I was hurt pretty bad."

Bartimus, a security worker for Columbus Air Force Base who also preaches at Plymouth Baptist Church in Columbus, drove himself to Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, where he spent about four hours in the emergency room.

"The worst of the wound was a quarter-of-an-inch from my eye," he noted. "Really, the Lord blessed me there, he didn't get my eye. It was too close to the eye to stitch it, so they glued it. I have tooth marks there almost to the bone and on the right side of my face, another above my eye. I also have scratch marks on my back and the back of my head.

"I'm doing all right, just resting a little bit," he added. "It wasn't as bad as it could have been. It's just one of those things; you accept the fact that, as bizarre as they are, there's always a chance (these things) could happen. We're in their environment. I have no hard feelings toward the bobcat. He made a mistake, which I'm sure he realized. That's life."

The experience didn't faze him too much; he planned to go hunting again Friday night.

"I won't go alone though," he said. local_news/local01.txt

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