Guided Mountain Lion Hunts
The Guided Mountain Lion Hunt Experience
I have been putting clients on Guided Mountain Lion Hunts for over 10 years, across the west, and I have learned a lot along the way. For most hunters getting their Cougar is a “one and done” thing. In fact in all my years I have only had one client go back for a second guided mountain lion hunt and he actually goes every year, but he is very rare. The other commonality among my clients wanting to get their cougar is they want to be successful…imagine that! So considering these two things and the fact that the average guided mountain lion hunt in 2020 is around $6000 my number one goal in booking clients on this hunt is to make sure they are set up for success and I will tell you how to do that and try to be helpful.
Mountain Lion Hunt Guides
Before we dive into how to, let’s quickly discuss a few aspects of Mountain Lion hunting that few clients realize until they go on their first hunt. Houndsman, as a whole, beat to a different drum than most humans. You have to consider the human that chooses to live among 6-10 constantly barking dogs that are not the greatest “pet” 12 months a year. They do this for the love of treeing cats and the love of the dogs and their training. The dogs are VERY expensive, and so are all the collars and equipment, not including the year round food. Most loose money, some break even, and others get the business side of it and make it pencil, but almost none “in a big way.” When it comes down to it, they do it for the love of the chase, and that is it.
The Guided Mountain Lion Hunt
Now, let’s discuss the hunt. If you choose to cut tracks with your cougar outfitter, you will either be bumping along in a 4 x 4 (likely chained up on all four wheels) before light till early afternoon or doing 40 miles an hour or faster on a snowmobile, looking for tracks. Usually clients who are not really experienced at riding sleds will struggle to keep up or just choose to let them cut tracks while they enjoy coffee and breakfast so they don’t hold their guide back in covering more country. Covering more miles is what it is all about when it comes to cat hunting as these critters will often lay up for 22 hours a day and stay on a kill for days before moving on. They need to do some milles. Often great outfitters will have multiple people cutting tracks for them and that is a very successful strategy as it adds to success to have more eyes out there looking for you. With some of my best guys they will have up to 3 to 4 people looking per client but the cost goes up when you hunt with a Mountain Lion Outfitter of this quality.
Let’s assume the track has been cut. Now, we are hoping that the snow is right to keep the dogs on it. Snow, it’s recentness and appropriate depth is the single largest variable that creates success or failure. When it comes down to it…with the right snow and the right guy, I see near 100% success. Bad snow, and success drops off to crap percentages. Here is why. Dogs follow tracks both visually and by smell. If the moisture or recentness aren’t correct, they cannot smell the cougar in the track it leaves, but they can follow the track visually. If a courgar’s tracks continue across solid imprintable snow with no interuptions like walking over rock, hard snow or crossing other tracks, it’s likely those dogs will catch up to that cat. This is rarely the case though, as there are often other cats in the same area and they live among elk and deer (their food) and they are on the wintering range where snow melts and falls on a regular cycle. When snow melts and then refreezes then it’s hard and no tracks can be left. So the short of it is, good snow (2 – 6 inches), and a track left within a few hours means a cat in a tree almost always.
As a last and quick mention as well, a good cat guy will not just willy-nilly, let their dogs go on a track without considering if it’s possible to see if they are still close by. They will often circle the area looking to see if the cat moved into the next drainage or out of the area. In big countries, often this isn’t as possible but on private ground it is usually quite doable.
Mountain Lion Hunts I Prefer
So after all this what is the winning strategy I’ve developed over the last couple years in helping my clients kill their cougars? Well, it’s with guys who operate on private ground that have the right budgets to work with to do it right. Then, scheduling clients during the best snow times or to put a client “on call.” So let’s break that down. I like private ground chasers as they are in better control of the harvest numbers as well as on well roaded ground, making cutting tracks and locating far more successful. I also like guys who are paid well enough to pay for additional people out cutting tracks as that makes the chances of finding a good one, just that much better. And lastly, I like scheduling clients with enough advance to put them on the hunt from December to mid February for the best snow possibilities and I love when clients are able to go “on call” as it lets them get the call when the snow is perfect and often when a cat is already located. These are often one day hunts. My favorite Colorado private ground cougar outfitter is my “go to” guy for success and he has all these above components on his hunt. Click here to find out more about this hunt.
In years and years of placing clients with him I have only had one go home empty handed. In that case he booked, late season, on set dates (which I try to avoid but it was his only choice). Had he been able to stay one or two days longer, or go on call, he would’ve gotten his cat. It was just the “luck” of it. Feel free and call me with any questions.
208 867 6675