Huntress Kills Huntress

Before I divulge the details of my cougar hunt, I’d like to share some history. Ever since I began hunting at the age of 13, I never thought I would see a Mountain Lion…especially not in the Panhandle of Idaho. They are far from endangered here, but even the most experienced hunters have never encountered this elusive creature due to our thick timber. They are rare to see – but not rare to be in the presence of. I am far from a seasoned hunter. I am only 24, and although I have put more hours in the woods than most my age, I still have years of time and dedication to invest before I will badge myself with that honor. However, despite the fact that most hunters could go a lifetime without seeing one in the wild…I have seen five, all in close range. Prior to this, I walked through the woods with confidence – as one at the top of the food chain would do. That all changed one day a few years back.

During rifle elk season of 2009, I was heading down a ridge seconds before daylight. I could see, but not well. I crept between some thick alders, into a small opening…with a very large tom crouching towards me just 30 yards away. It took me a second to fully register what I was looking at, but once I did – my crosshairs were instantly between his eyes. I didn’t have a tag, and although at that range he was a legitimate threat, I didn’t pull the trigger. This proved to be a mistake about two hours later. I continued to hold my quivering scope on his unfaltering skull – and he slowly, fearlessly walked away.

I tried to shake off the experience as best I could. My spirits lifted after finding a heavily used game trail, and was convinced I had experienced my once-in-a-lifetime mountain lion encounter. After 3 hours of following the natural trail, I ducked underneath some brush and heard a loud crack above me. The next thing I saw was a large lion catapulting himself out of a 30ft tree, just 10 yards in front of me. The second he hit ground, barely out of my reach, he immediately sprinted away. I’ll never know if it was the same lion I had seen earlier…and i’ll never know if he had been tracking me all along. But I have a feeling. Needless to say, that experience changed how I approached the woods from then on. It is an interesting feeling to hunt and be hunted at the same time. Sometimes I catch myself focusing more on the tree tops than the hunt.

Three years later, just a few weeks ago, I was headed up to my deer blind. I had recently seen my monster buck on the game cam, and was putting in a lot of hours as a result. I arrived at the clear-cut, and immediately scanned it for deer. For some reason I searched the left side of the meadow first, which I never did because there is more activity on the right. The first thing I saw was a crouched body and a long, twitching tail. Just like before, it took me a second to register what I was looking at. I couldn’t believe I was looking at my 5th mountain lion…only this time, I had a tag. It either wanted me or my buck, and I wasn’t planning on letting either of those happen. I started shaking, and breathing became difficult. It felt like buck fever mixed with fear. I took two deep breaths, raised my .270, and took my shot. She dropped instantly. I wanted to scream, but held back. I walked towards her slowly and took another shot at 50 yards, just to be safe. I finally stood above her, and stared in disbelief. On the way back to the truck, I saw something unnerving. Her tracks, directly over mine. She followed me right up until the meadow, and swept downwind. Had I not looked left, I would have continued right into her line of sight.

Mountain lions eat an average of one deer a week, and are extremely difficult to manage. I am thankful to have been able to do my part in predator management, spare my buck, and possibly myself.


Feb 24, 2013 | Category: Blog | Comments: none


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