Today, the Vermont Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers the last catamount that was hunted on November 24, 1881.
The Vermonter of June 1901 included information about the catamount, in general, and this beast specifically.
The panther or catamount is recorded by Williams as the most “fierce and ravenous animal which we have.”
It has never been abundant. In looking up the bounties paid since 1869, I find that a bounty of $20.00 was paid on one panther in 1870, one in 1875, and another in 1894.
The first law providing for a bounty on wolves and panthers was created in 1797, and this law has been in force with additions and amendments ever since that date.
The panther has frequently been called “painter” – a provincial expression – and is identical with the mountain lion which Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt sought on his recent hunting trip in Colorado.
There are authentic stories of the fierceness of this animal and proof that when hungry it has pursued and attacked men on horseback.
One instance of this kind occurred in Mount Holly, another in Wallingford ninety or one hundred years ago. I find no record of any person having been killed by a panther, although they attack and kill horses.
A correspondent states that about the year 1866, he saw a panther after it had been killed, which, though “spring poor,” weighed 120 lbs, was 7.5 feet tip to tip, and 2.5 feet high at the shoulder. His tail was 2.5 feet long.
I am indebted to Mr. O. C. Smith, of Barnard, for particulars about the panther in the museum at Montpelier. “It was shot by Alexander Crowell on Thanksgiving day, November 24, 1881, with a shot gun, in the town of Barnard, and measured 7 feet tip to tip, girth 3 ft. 8 in., forearm 22 in., height 3 ft. 8 in. and weight 182 lbs.
It had been seen by many people during two or three years previous to its capture.
Its captor, a veteran of the Civil War, was less than twenty feet from the animal when he fired, having come upon him before he knew it. The panther was preparing to spring upon his pursuer.
It had killed two sheep on the night previous to its capture.
It was killed on the ‘Old Historic Aiken Stand,’ where Lafayette and President Monroe once dined. ”
The Scientific American of January 7, 1882 told more of the story:
The Vermont Panther
To the Editor of the Scientific American:
It seems to me not improper that some mention should be made in your columns of the remarkable specimen of puma (Felis concolor, L.) which was recently killed in the town of Barnard, Vermont.
We are not surprised at the stories related by our fore fathers of hunting wolves, bears, panthers, and other large animals on spots long since thickly settled by man, nor at the strange experiences of the woodsman when his ax was first heard to ring in the primeval forest.
It is not an uncommon thing, indeed, now, for such animals as deer, catamounts, or bears to be shot or trapped in many towns on the northern border of New England; but when a full grown puma, one of the most savage of wild animals on our continent, is taken prowling about the out skirts of a town, in a State which is settled to such an extent as Vermont, we are enabled to realize the condition of the wilderness as it once was, and the nature of those animals with which it was denizened.
The circumstances of this remarkable hunt are as follows:
Some boys, who lived in Barnard, went out after partridges on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1881.
They soon discovered the fresh tracks of some large animal, and on following a short distance crossed their own path.
Being frightened at this circumstance, and also from catching a glimpse of the animal, they hastened back to the house of a neighbor, who soon accompanied them, armed with a shot gun, together with his son, who carried a rifle.
They presently sighted their game, which they chased to a thicket, where it was dislodged several times, but finally shot.
On dragging the animal out, what was at first thought to be a bear proved to be a female panther of the largest size, measuring 7.5 feet from tip to tip, and weighing nearly 200 pounds.
It would seem strange at first that the animal was not more savage, that he did not charge his pursuers and kill them at once.
This may, however, be partially accounted for from the fact, as afterward appeared, that it had made its supper on two sheep in Pomfret only the night before.
This is the second or third of the species killed in the State since the beginning of the century, and in all probability it will be the last.
The animal was in fine condition, being in its new fur, and showing no signs of having been previously trapped or wounded.
The upper right canine was truncated at about the middle, but this might have been done in a skirmish when the puma was young.
In general the color of the upper parts was tawny-yellow, with a darker wash of the same along the dorsal line, on the tip of the tail, the ears, and face.
The whole animal presents in a striking and exaggerated manner the form and features of the ordinary domestic cat.
The tail is straight and larger in diameter at the base, the neck short, the ears erect and pocketed.
The dentition is precisely similar, the canines being conical, and rising an inch or more from the jaws.
The paws are seven inches wide when the fingers are spread, and conceal a very formidable set of claws.
This panther is supposed to have made the town and vicinity where it was taken its home for seven or eight years, and on several occasions has been seen or heard from.
One hundred and thirty sheep have probably fallen victims to its rapacious maw, as the town records would indicate.
The specimen was embalmed and exhibited in several towns in the State, and I am told a thousand dollars have been offered for its skin.
When mounted it will probably be placed in the State museum in Montpelier.
December 14, 1881.
The Vermont Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows beside a picture of Mr. Crowell and the catamount.