By Scott William Meszaros
(aka Martin Man)
Mountain lions have always seemed very elusive and
mystical to me. After years of dreaming, I never
imagined that I would actually be going to do it.
It all started with an e-mail by Matt Burrows (Stick
and String Outfitters) telling me about his successful
hunt. Two days later I read a post on the CBA sponsored
section of Bowsite.com with photos. I had been
talking with Matt for some time about doing a Cougar
hunt. Things materialized on Monday morning and by evening
I was Pay-Pal'ing half of the hunt price to Matt - if
I harvested a lion I would then pay the other half.
The guide called me that evening stating that we were
going hunting the next morning! I had agreed with
Matt to take the first legal cougar that the guide could
tree. There are a ton of lions on this property
and the landowner wanted them reduced - and I would
be happy to take any legal lion with my bow. Tuesday
morning I met the guide at their predetermined location.
It was windy, cold, and the sign was weak due to the
crusted snow. It was evident that not much had
moved around the night before. After hiking 6
- 7 miles we packed it in and I headed in to work by
10 A.M. It snowed the rest of that day so I was
optimistic about conditions the next morning.
The second morning was a different story. The
snow was powdery and the winds had stopped. The
bright Colorado sun was bright and strong. Driving
into the hunting area we saw new trails in the fresh
snow and spotted several deer and elk. We unloaded
the hounds and headed up a small ridge to where the
guide and Matt had cut their own cat trails just a few
days before. As we crested a small ridge, several
nice bull elk jumped up in front of us. We continued
on and just past the elk tracks we cut a huge lion track!
The guide was quite impressed with the size of this
fresh new track. They looked like pie-plates in
the snow. My heart started to pound with excitement
as this was the very first hot cat track
I had ever seen. The guides pup was running
loose to burn off some of his morning energy and started
running the track. The guides two experienced
hounds didnt seem too impressed.
We walked down the hill following the track and found
that the lion had been held up in a small cliff area.
The guide decided we should catch, and leash, the pup.
The guide then set his other experienced dogs loose
on the track. They immediately started howling
and raced off. We shot some quick video while
watching the dogs work. This was evidently a fresh
track of a feeding lion. The dogs raced around
in the small ravine for about 20 minutes, never leaving
our immediate sight. Suddenly, they tore off over
the hill and out across the next hillside. We
climbed to the ridge to listen and watch for the dogs.
They went across the bottom, crossed a paved road and
then went up the canyon about a mile from us.
As the hounds reached the center of the canyon, I spotted
a large herd of elk running across an open park.
Just behind them were the guides hounds.
We were worried that the dogs had trashed
onto the elk tracks (which the guides hounds rarely
do) and were after the live elk - not the fresh cougar
track. We quickly headed back to the guides
truck in an attempt to catch the dogs. The closer
we got to the truck the more the hounds started barking
across the canyon. Once at the truck The guide
got out his radio tracker and said his dogs had treed
something! I was now getting really excited.
My hope was it was the cat with the big track.
We drove a short distance to the paved road and parked
at the base of the draw. We unloaded the pup, and our
gear, and headed up the canyon toward The guides
howling dogs. The dogs were only about half a
mile up the canyon and we quickly rushed to within a
few hundred yards of them. The guide was now certain
the dogs had treed a lion. The guide released
the pup to join the other two dogs as he also videotaped
and discussed what we 'hoped' was about to happen.
We climbed up the steep hillside to the dogs.
There, 10' in the tree, was a monster of a lion.
The guide secured the hounds. I drew my bow and
readied to shoot. I was calm, and confident.
I let the arrow fly. The cat was hanging with
its front legs over a limb and its lower body and legs
hung straight down below him. My arrow flew into
a limb below the cat - I panicked. "How could
I have missed"?
I shot a second arrow which connected with the cat.
I immediately nocked another arrow and drew. But
just before I could send an arrow into the huge cats
chest, it jumped down from the tree and ran into the
small ravine below. The guide and I started after
the lion. The guide and I were concerned that
we had a huge wounded lion on the ground - and that
could mean trouble.
The cat went downhill up the opposite bank.
We went 60 yards when the guide said; Congratulations
Scott looks like youve got yourself a nice lion!
We followed the track a little further and could see
where the big cat had bedded down. The guide progressed
a few steps ahead of me - now just 7 yards from the
brush where we last saw the cat. Suddenly I spotted
an ear flutter in the brush directly next to The guide
and I called out softly freeze, hes right
there! The guide cautiously backed away
very slowly. Together we walked around to the
front side of the dangerous cat - 12 steps away - glaring
at us. I nocked another arrow, shot, and watched
the arrow sink right behind the cats shoulder.
The cat went silent. I know after that last shot
my nerves were somewhat at ease. The guide released
the hounds so they could muzzle the prize they had worked
so hard for.
A few minutes later I pulled the big tom from the brush.
He was gigantic! I could barely move him by myself
even though I was full of adrenaline. The tom
weighed about 200 pounds (no exaggeration) and the skull
green scored 14-12/16 which was well above the Pope
& Young minimum and just a quarter of an inch short
of the Boone & Crockett minimum.
I have to thank Matt Burrows and Stick & String
Outfitters for arranging this hunt for me and the guide
who I must say is one of the most knowledgeable houndsmen
I have ever met. Im thankful that I was
fortunate and lucky enough to be along on this amazing
adventure! Thanks guys for making my dream of
taking a mountain lion become a reality.