Yet another botched encounter

fair-chase

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2012
Messages
97
Location
S.E. WA
Well, I think it's official, I'm going to go down in history as the guy with the most Mountain Lion encounters without ever firing a shot. LOL. At least it's feeling that way. I thought I would share my latest debacle with you guys in hopes that someone can learn from my mistakes. I'm pretty sure I figured out the dozen ways I screwed the pooch on this one, but in case I missed anything, feel free to chime in with your own thoughts.

Preface

After finding out that the Mountain Lion season for the Blue Mountains area of South Eastern Washington was going to be closing earlier than anticipated, I quickly called one of my landowner contacts to see if I could get a day of hunting in on his property before the closure. He happily obliged. Out of all of my landowner contacts, I regarded this particular property to be the finest for late winter Mountain Lions. It is a wintering area for the local deer herds and they stack up here like cord wood once the snows start to build in the upper elevations. It would be prime conditions to find a lion in here and I only had one day to get it done.

Mistake Number 1 - Laziness

Conditions were perfect when I arrived at the gated access road to the property at 4:30am. Vehicle thermometer said 12*F and a light dusting of snow had just fallen overnight. I had a plan of attack laid out where I would climb the 800ft canyon wall to gain elevation, and then walk the ridgeline calling every mile until I reached the property boundary (approx 5 miles). Well, no excuses, I just lost motivation and the mental will power to go through with my original plan and route. I ended up going the easy route. Staying on the bottom of the canyon where there is almost no elevation change from one end to the other, and a nice decommissioned/gated ranch road for easy traveling.

Mistake Number 2 - Unprepared

I stopped just short of a mile down the gated road when I spotted the first cluster of deer feeding on the opposing canyon wall about 300 yards away. Conditions looked right for a calling stand so I set my pack and rifle down on a perch that I was planning on using to spot from, and walked out to where I wanted the FoxPro set up. Got the caller strategically placed (as well as it could be since I was disadvantage by my decision not to climb to the top) and began heading back to my perch. Suddenly, a couple of does from the herd started barking. Busted! Or so I thought. I look up at them in disgust that they could have busted me so easily. This is when I see the herd split in two. One part of the herd is barreling down the hill straight for me. The other half are going up to the top. Ah-ha! It wasn't me they were barking at after all. I quickly throw my binos up to see what predator was causing this ruckus and to my amazement it was a respectable Mountain Lion. He was in hot pursuit, chasing the half of the herd that were headed up hill. But wait, I haven't even got back to my rifle yet. So, the quick witted genius that I am :D I think to myself "I've got to stop him before he chases those deer to the next county". I quickly hit the remote for the caller and let out an RS Cougar Whistle at full volume. I've never seen a cat put on the breaks like this one did but it was amazing. He went from a full out sprint chasing the deer to a dead stop within a single leap.

Mistake Number 3 - Impatience

So now, less than an hour into the hunt, I have a respectable Mountain Lion interested. He changes direction and begins heading down my way. Woohoo! I patiently wait for his view to be obstructed before moving back to my perch and my rifle. I have to be honest, I don't like being unarmed when calling Mountain Lions. Now, I'm settled into my perch, rifle in hand finally, and waiting for him to show. 5 minutes....10 minutes....The anticipation is killing me! I let out another whistle. He answers back. Another, he answers back again. This goes on for the better part of 20 minutes of exchanging whistles. During this time he never breaks cover. I get frustrated, and a little antsy, and decide to throw out a more aggressive sound. A defensive growl. Dead silence follows. Cat was never herd from or seen again.

Mistake Number 4 – No Follow Through

After no contact for the better part of an hour I pack it in. Utterly defeated. I should have circled around and gained the elevation advantage and just waited for him to show later in the day. But I didn’t, and now the season (in that part of the state at least) is closed for the season.


If nothing else this is a good way for me to keep track of the things I've done wrong and hopefully improve on them in the future.
 
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fair-chase

fair-chase

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2012
Messages
97
Location
S.E. WA
Thanks for the kind words gentlemen. I am positive if I keep after them that it will all come together one of these days.
 
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