Weekend Wonderful- Cougar Hunt 2018
Saturday, the snow finally fell in our sleepy southern Utah town. I had been waiting anxiously for fluffy flakes to fall from the sky, but was almost resigned that it may never happen. While most residents were praying for snow to head off spring drought conditions, I knew that in order for my cougar hunt to start we needed fresh snow for tracking cougars.
We got the call from our hunting guide, Jeremy, just as I was getting ready for my early morning meetings. Thankfully, I was prepared in case this might happen. With my camo near by, I switched gears and dressed in my Sitka apparel joined by my Rigby and our two sons Stockton (17) and Maleck (9). We loaded up in the Toyota. I clutched my Howa 243 hardly believing this was finally happening.
We were bundled up and ready to face the early morning cold. We met our guides Jeremy and Jimmy and their half dozen hounds not six miles from our home. We quickly became acquainted and learned that we weren't strangers after all. Jeremy knew my brothers well and was also the cousin of Robb Bulloch, my brother Chris's best friend. Jeremy released the hounds as we trudged up the hill. The hounds were Outfitted with GPS trackers, so our guides were able to locate their hunting dogs quickly and identify their location. A sudden rushing of yelps alerted us that they had "one" treed.
Carrying my gun I followed Jeremy, our guide close behind. The hunt was in full swing. Climbing across the saddle of the mountain and down a ravine, I met the piercing eyes of my proud and beautiful opponent. I was staring down the eyes of a dangerous predator who was about to become my prey.
Jeremy and Jimmy chained their hounds up, so they could identify the "cougar parts." It was definitely a Tom. Thinking the hunt was coming to a quick close, I got in ready position- shooting sticks and all. Being left eye dominant make things a bit tricky as I have to shoot left handed, but I zeroed in on the kill using the scope of my Howa. But Jeremy and Jimmy had a different plan in mind. I guess they wanted to give us the best ride at this here, "Disneyland."
And they delivered. With their dogs chained, the Cougar slipped from the top of the tree and was on the run. Our guides quickly let their hounds loose and the hunt was on again. That meant back up the steep mountain. Thankfully, I was outfitted in my Keen Snowboots and had my trusty hiking sticks. I was off and soon joined Jimmy and the hounds at the base of the tree, I could have reached out and touched the cougar's tail if I had wanted.
I got my shot off at a less than desirable very short range. Looking through the scope, all I saw was cougar hair and pulled back on the trigger and released. Shocking me almost senseless, the Cougar fell from the tree. In a matter of seconds, he was on his way a second time. "Holy Crap, " I thought, "had I missed him?"
Jimmy yelled at me to go with Jeremy and make sure I had my gun. Not wanting the hounds to get in brawl with an injured cougar, Jeremy stayed with them. Soon enough, we found blood. Thankfully, I had hit him after all. We followed the blood trail and then all of the sudden heard one solitary bark. Rocky had some how gotten away from Jeremy and was hot on this cat's trail. We followed his loud bark and the blood trail stopped when we met up with the hound. It was Rocky, the hound to my rescue with the cougar "treed" once again.
My three boys were right at my heels just as Jimmy told me to take a shot, Rigby was right there to assist me. I was ready to put this predator to bed. With one shot and then one more, the cougar was down. I received shouts of congratulations from my boys and a great big hug from my Rigby. Jeremy joined us and gave me a firm congratulatory hand shake. I had done it.
Maleck who had recently bagged a nice elk in Arizona smiled at me and said, "mom, you are the first one in the family to kill a predator , well done!"
I held up the cougar for photos. This Tom wasn't light. In that position he was as big as I was. Looking over his teeth, Jeremy determined this Tom must be 2-3 years old. He was a beautiful creature. I patted his fur and thought for a moment, "I done broke two commandments today, Thou shalt keep the Sabbath Day Holy, and Thou Shalt not Kill."
Maleck interrupted my thoughts, "Mom, did you know a cougar kills a deer every nine days?" I shrugged my shoulders happily, "Happy to help out your odds for a good hunt this fall, Maleck."
I grew up with four brothers and I am in the trenches of raising four sons. "If you can't beat them, join them." What a great morning. Maleck and I treked our way back to the truck. I pulled the "girl" card and let my Rigby and Stockton, pull the cougar out.
What a great day, and one more adventure to add to my New Year! Thanks Rigby for this one of a kind Christmas gift. Most guys give their girls diamonds, not you... you gave me an adventure, a memory, and your smile of admiration. I will take that over a diamond any day!