Sometimes houndsmen find a lion or bobcat track and have to leave it in order to meet other hunters in their party who are also looking for tracks. Or checking traps or stuck on a mountain side somewhere with no cell service.
Houndsmen can’t always sit on the track because they’ve planned to meet others somewhere at a certain time to let the hunters in their party know what they have found. Lion country often doesn’t have cell phone service and hunters are left with a dilemma: They’ve got to leave the track they worked hard to find. So what do they do about it?
In the Bitterroots houndsmen deal with this by marking the track along the roadside somehow to let other houndsmen know that they have every intention to return with hounds and the other hunters they are working with.
Not every houndsmen marks a track but those who do have varying ideas about what claims a track and how long the claim is good for.
But there’s a problem: what if the hunter who marked the track doesn’t come back because he (or she) found a better one? Should the mark be honored all day? Or, what if a hunter sees the marked track and waits until after legal hunting time before turning out hounds? Has he fulfilled the cat hunters code?
Well, like most situational ethics scenarios the answer isn’t cut and dry – black and white or even written down anywhere so things start to get cloudy about the time that mark is pushed into the snow and just continues to get murkier from there.
After a short article written about the cat hunters code sparked contention and heated debate, I (Trigger Toby) spoke with hunters, houndsmen, guides and outfitters to see what others do with the many scenarios houndsmen face on a daily basis just like this one.
Then I thought about the houndsman I scoffed at for running the track before me and my hunting partners returned and decided I owe the man an apology – and the loyal Montana Outdoor Radio Show Listeners (and readers) an explanation. Especially the houndsman who ran the track written about in the original article posted that sparked the debate. He waited for me to return and when I didn’t, he released hounds and harvested a mountain lion. That’s what houndsmen do.
In this day and age of social media it doesn’t take a whole lot of investment in people to sit behind a computer screen pushing buttons. Like any diverse group there are houndsmen who support the notion of marking a track and those who don’t.
So here it is in my own words – only this time the words are said in a video to avoid the confusion that can come when words are read instead of heard. Outdoorsmen and women are important to me and a written article just didn’t seem to be sufficient to address this one.