My First Mountain Lion

It was my first Mountain Lion hunt. 

As usual, for most hunting adventures, we got an early start.  Mark Schwomeyer picked my dad (Nick Siebrasse) and I up at 4:30 AM.  With Trailer in tow, we headed for the fresh snow covered mountains.Upon location, we unloaded the Polaris Side-by-Side we had equipped with snow tracks the night before.  Mark at the wheel, Nick in the Middle, I comfortably on the other side.  Our goal was to spot a fresh Mountain Lion track before sun-up.

Up the mountain we went - coffee in hand, searching carefully for a cat track.  As luck would have it, and 10 miles of forest road later, we did NOT cut a track.  Now, sun-up and still no track, we headed back to town to pick up another great hunting buddy, Doug Krings.  After a quick pitstop at the Town Pump to fuel up on corndogs and coffee, we headed back out to our next cat-hunting destination.  Trailer in tow again, we drove the first gravel road that was known to be a Mountain Lion crossing. 

This time, luck was on our side. 

Doug, (barely with us for more than a half hour) spotted a track.  The time was 9:00 AM. 

Mark jumped out of the truck to have a look and said, “I could kiss you right now Doug.”  My dad and I tried to make Mark prove it but he was not that desperate.  Smiles around and landowner permission obtained, we were cat hunting!

We parked a few hundred yards from where the tracks left the road, and the dog could smell our excitement.  June, a six-year-old Blue Tick Veteran Lion hunter was unloaded first by our Hounds man, leashed to the trailer and outfitted with a GPS tracking collar.  Next, was Mac, a large Black & Tan hound followed by Clyde, a Walker hound.  Last, and defiantly the smallest was Sadie, a six-month-old puppy who had freshly awoken from a nap.

As howls of excitement broke the thin winter air we were off to the track.  Once upon the trail and the first smells of cat reached the dogs’ nose, the chase was on.  “The first howl after the first scent of the cat is the best,” Mark replied.  Back to retrieve my bow and arrow, I could hear the howls fade over the hillside.  Off towards the dogs, we went. 

You can learn a lot from following the tracks, they tell the story. 

They show the behavior of the Mountain Lion.  Across hillsides, over rock faces, through fences, and across drainages we went.  We could hear the dogs in the distance and every time we thought we were closing the distance on the cat the howls of the dogs would fade off again.

Five miles later on foot for us and nine miles on foot for the dogs, we had decided that the cat had slipped away and ditched us.  At 12:00 noon, we chose to gather up the dogs and head home.  Across the canyon, the dogs were still in pursuit of the cat. 

Once down to the bottom of the hill and down by the creek, Doug, Nick and I called over June and Clyde.  Mark had gone after Mac up the hill a ways.  With June and Clyde caught by the collar Mark yelled down at us, “There are cat tracks everywhere up here, let the dogs go again.”  Unbeknown to us, June and Clyde were right under the Mountain Lion. 

Mark walked over and yelled, “We got a cat in the Tree.”

Attitudes changed from Nay to Yay in the snap of a finger.  Excitement rose as we all gazed upon the majestic Mountain Lion. 

Observation began - to make sure we had a Tom (male) or dry (Non-nursing) female.  Both sexes were still in season for this district.  After careful observation took place, it was confirmed that this cat was legal to shoot.  

With a narrow but ample window of the cat’s vitals, I began to focus on my spot.  I had my trusty Arroyo” recurve in hand.  The Lion was positioned perfectly in the tree.  After the dogs were tied up and cameras rolling, I took careful aim. 

Repositioning my stance and finding my anchor in the corner of my mouth I let the arrow fly.  It had found its mark right behind the front shoulder.  The cat jumped from the branches, hit the ground and took 3-4 large strides and expired. 

Hugs and high-fives were in order - the hunt was over.

Bill's Arroyo bow and first Montana Mountain Lion.  Photo credit: Bill Siebrasse

Bill's Arroyo bow and first Montana Mountain Lion.  Photo credit: Bill Siebrasse

After a few pictures with the Mountain Lion and the superstar dogs, we headed back towards the truck.  Steve LePage, (another good friend) had shortened our walk back by three miles by picking us up and taking us back to the truck.  After retrieving the cat with the Polaris, we went back to town and celebrated New Year's Eve.   All shared great stories, smiles, and new friendships.  It was a great way to close the year 2016.  A chase I will never forget.

Bill and his father, Nick Siebrasse, after another successful father/son hunt.

 

Bill Siebrasse lives in Bozeman, MT
He is an architect, an avid traditional archery hunter, and a founder of The Bridger Bowmen

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