Jim's Mountain Lion Hunting

by Field Editor Jim Benson

As I sit here watching the first snow storm of the year I can't help thinking about Mt. Lion hunting. There are 50 different states and a million different reason that make a person think about hunting. From the first frost in the Mts. that start the elk in rut, to the first thaw that starts spring bear. Each of us has our own reasons and they are all special to every one of us. There are as many reasons as there are species of game to hunt.

Hunting dangerous game is not for everyone, and can turn the hunter into the hunted. I will never forget my first Mt. Lion kill. I had been hunting with Shane Edgar of Humboldt outfitters when we cut a fresh lion track. We noticed there was a small amount of blood in one of the paw tracks. The first thing we thought of was that it had broke a pad open on the rocks. Later that day we would find out how wrong we were.

We started tracking the lion with the dogs on leash, but when we hit the first of many southern slopes of barren ground we turned his strike dog Dude loose. To any one that has not had the pleasure of watching a good dog work it is all most impossible to describe the events that took place that afternoon. To those of you that have had the pleasure know just what it means. Words just don't complete the picture that you are seeing.
After tracking the lion for about four hours we decided that Shane would return to get the truck, and I would continue with the two other dogs. The events that take place from here are going to be with me for the rest of my life.

Twenty minuets after Shane left; Dude was in a flat area below me that was covered in snow and trees. Catching my breath and listening to him I knew he was on the lion. My first thought was that if he caught the lion by himself he was going to be in big trouble. There was no way I could get there in time to help him so I cut the two pups loose. Well that was not the smartest thing I could have done. When the pups got there all they managed to do was mess up everything that Dude had accomplished. The pups started playing around and got Dudes attention distracted from the task at hand. By the time I got there all the dogs were over the hill chasing each other and were off the lion track.

Thinking that I really messed up my opportunity for a lion, all I could do was sit there and think about what I had just done. About that time I heard the dogs coming back down the lion track. I remember Shane telling me that the only way to catch Dude was to hid behind a tree on the lion track and catch him when he comes running by. OK sounds like good advise. Well to make a long story short I missed. Anyone that would have seen this and had a video camera would be ten thousand dollars richer.

Well as anyone that has hunted knows strange things happen and this was no exception. Dude turned and started on the lion track backwards. Thinking that my hunt was over and we were going to have to go back to were we started to get the dogs, all I could do was sit down and think up excuses to tell Shane what happened.

As I sat there listening to the dogs going back the way they came, feeling like a fool, the strangest thing happened. Dude started barking treed; I couldn't believe what I was hearing. How could this happen? Some how in all the commotion the lion must have doubled back on us, and the dogs caught up with him.

Again as anyone that has hunted lions knows watching a rookie with a treed lion trying to catch and leash three dogs before he shoots would make the second ten thousand-dollar winner of the day.
Needless to say that was a rush crawling around under a treed lion trying to catch three dogs that had no intention of being caught. When the last of the dogs was finally leashed all that was left to do was dispatch the lion.

Once I got up to my trophy I noticed blood on one of his paws, there were two toes missing. My first thought was how could I have shot his toes off. After a closer look I could see he had been caught in a trap and had lost his two middle toes on his front foot. Somewhere there is a trapper with a story about the one that got away I would love to hear.

My tom was 7' 2" and weighed 160 lbs. He meets the Nevada Record Book minimum and will always be one of my most rememberable hunts.


Return to Pics & Stories