Find tracks, find cat kill, evidence a cat is in the area. They range and can travel a lot and seek deer in the winter so find a good concentration of deer and you might find a cat. Cat take their time coming in so stay in one place for up to an hour and important, play the wind.
I carried a 9mm sidearm and a can of "bear" spray just in case.
I was Turkey Hunting here in Colorado a few years back on the Front Range. I drove 35 minutes from my house to a spot that I had been seeing lots of Turkey sign. When I got to the spot where I was going to park I saw another guy had beaten me to it. I figured I would try to get around him and go in deeper so I wouldn't mess up his hunt.
I walked a logging road down that was in between 2 ridges and it led down to a canyon. I thought I would walk down the road call and see if I could get reaction gobble. I walked the road and used my box call every 80-100 yards. I walked to the end where there was private land, had a snack and started walking back the direction I came in. As I was walking back I did the same thing - called every 80-100 yards.
As I was about a quarter of a mile from where I had parked I could hear the other hunter calling on top. I got to a point of the road where you could look down in between the ridges to the canyon. As I looked down I could see a Cougar standing about 40 yards away from me looking through the grass and I froze. The cat calmly turned around and ran up the other side of the ridge not making a single sound when he ran off.
The cat had to of followed me out of the canyon beside the road and I had spotted him when I got in between the lion and the other hunter. I have been back to that area several times to try to call a mountain lion in without any luck.
We got across the river at approximately 11am and started to hike through this huge canyon. It was an area that didn't have a lot of cover due to a fire 15 or so years back. As we were walking I was calling every 100 yards to see if I could get a reaction on the other side of the canyon where I figured turkeys had gone for the day. My buddy had a different idea and thought we should split up and go check out the other side. I kept explaining to him that we needed to stay together in case we were in a calling scenario and the turkey would lock up out of range. The discussion quickly turned into an argument and I kept going up hill while he lagged behind me 100 yards back.
He stopped to sit on some rocks where I had lasted called. I motioned to him that we should get on top to see if there was any sign. Once he got up to me we stopped to drink some water. As soon as I took a sip of water I looked down from where we came from saw 3 animals and I thought "Dangit" someone's dogs are following me.
As soon as I thought that it quickly registered in my brain - Lions!!!
They walked out from the other side of the canyon right across the rocks my friend has just been sitting on. If he had not moved 5 minutes earlier he would have had 3 mountain lions on top of him. Since it was a very open burn area we watched them go down into the valley we had walked into where it was very thick brush.
We waited 30 or so minutes and talked about how we witnessed something not a lot of people see in their lifetime but we still had to get out of there and our exit was right where we saw the mountain lions go through. As we were walking out we were trying to make plenty of noise so we wouldn't surprise the mountain lions when we got to the valley.
Once we got there I looked over about 75 yards there was a mountain lion looking right at us. I didnt see the other two. That one disappeared into the thick stuff and we quickly made it back across the river.
I think it was 2 sub adults that hadn't left their mom and they were looking for a turkey dinner.
My friend still hunts with me to this day and if he says something about going in the opposite direction I give him a hard time reminding him that if he didn't listen to me things might have not of turned out so well for him!