The track was big and it crossed the river on a flat snow covered section.
My headlamp beam illuminated the snow and the young hunter was right about the size. He found it around 3 am and I got there around 6. There was no question about this one, it was fresh and on National Forest Land.
The trouble was that private lands also dotted the landscape up river. We turned out hounds and hoped for the best. An hour later the dogs did what they always do and turned that big track on the snow into a lion in a tree. The land owner was a sweet lady who gave the boys permission to harvest the animal. “Just don’t tell my husband, he’s a cat lover.” She said matter of factly.
One of the young hunters who had a permit and license began the uphill hike through three feet of snow. The sound of hound music echoed across the canyon triumphantly. But so did the lady’s husband who shouted “Don’t harm one hair on that cat! If I hear you shoot I’m going to shoot back!”
Then he yelled at two hunters who waited by the vehicles and said that he had called the game warden and the sherriff. For what I’m not sure but when the young hunters got to the tree it was a huge tom. He stared at them and they swear he had a smirk on his face.
So there they were with a hunters first opportunity to harvest a mountain lion after many years of trying and only half the landowners permission. They shot the cat with cameras and pulled hard on the leashes of faithful hounds. Once down off the mountain the nervous young hunter knocked respectfully on the door and told the landowners that he and his partner were now leaving with their hounds and he wanted to thank them for permission to retrieve his hounds.
“Oh thank you, I really appreciate it.” The woman said. “I wish you would have just shot that lion!”
(This is a true tale from the authors lion season recently )