We need more pics and details, though!
I leave for my first lion hunt in 10 days, hope it works out like yours!
Beautiful lion....very nice!
Glad we chatted prior to ya leaving brothaaa
Happy for ya,
My hunt with Wade and Co. was scheduled for Jan 3rd-7th so I left DC heading to Salt Lake City the evening of the 2nd. I had to wrap up my workday on the 2nd (6am-6pm) and head straight to the airport. My job is really laid back so I’m able to cut out early here and there for stuff like this. Anyway my day on the 2nd started at 4am. With my flight scheduled to hit the ground in SLC at 11:30pm and then the 2 hour drive to Price I was looking at a ~2am ETA. Which meant I’d have enough time for a solid nap before getting after the cats.
Here’s where it gets sideways.....
So the first flight out of DC gets pushed back 30 mins. With a 2 hour lay over in Denver that was no biggie. The flight was about as bumpy as a toads back but I had cats on my mind and all was well.
I land in Denver to find out the plane to SLC was getting maintenance........in Albuquerque and was delayed. The girl working the counter said they’d head to pick us up after the issue was resolved. Albuquerque is an hour and a half from Denver. That’s when my stomach knots. Adding that hour and a half on puts us in SLC at 1am......exactly when the rental car shop closes.
Well as time ticks by out of nowhere they announce that we are being loaded onto another plane and we would be scheduled to land at 12:50. There was a little light at the end of the tunnel!
After another flight of getting shaken around like a martini we hit the ground in SLC at exactly 12:50. I was in seat 3c and had my bags snatched out of the overhead bin and was standing by the door the second the wheels stopped rolling. They cracked the door and I got 230lbs of ass into gear!
Kenetrek’s ARE NOT made for sprinting!
I make it to the counter and I’m able to get my car and head out. It’s 1:45am. At this point I’m starting to feel drunk I’m so tired.
I make it to the hotel, get checked in, head to the room and unpack. After I get all my gear sorted, bow strung and brace height checked it’s 4:15. I’m meeting Bowdy and the fellas at 5am. Sleep wasn’t going to happen. So I took a hot shower, had a hot cup of suck-it-up and rolled out at 4:45am.
I pulled up to Miller’s Travel Center to the Wade Lemon Lion Hunting Armada! Bowdy, Tanner and Drake had the works. 4 wheelers, snowmobiles, dog boxes, lights mounted at various spots on their rigs, all the bells and whistles. Needless to say I was impressed instantly. I pulled myself together as to not come off like a totally unprepared, sleep deprived fool and make my way inside for the meet-and-greet.
My first thought when seeing these guys is that they had their shit together. They all looked the part. I got my second wind and the cat hunt was on!
Bowdy took his rig and the dogs and went one way, I got my stuff into Tanner’s rig and we went another. We rode searching for tracks in the truck till light cracked with no luck. Around 7:15ish Tanner pulled over and took out the side-by-side to check what seemed to be a cart path up the canyon for tracks. At this point I conceded to the fact that I was wasted and needed a few seconds of shut eye and let Tanner take off solo. About an hour and a half later Tanner was back. No tracks and no word over the radio from Bowdy. We picked up and moved to another spot.
After the brief nap I had a bit more energy and focus. Tanner pulled off into another parking area and got the side-by-side back out. This time I was ready to join the hunt. After what felt like a 12-14 mile ride up this canyon with no luck we turned to head back. The crisp, cold air was super refreshing as were the sights and I was excited to see what the next 5 days would bring.
About half way back to the truck we heard the radio crackle. One of the fellas was trying to reach us but we were out of range. After 15-20 minutes of riding Bowdy finally comes through the radio clearly. He tells Tanner to get back to the truck and to come to his location. He turns and looks at me with a sly smiles and says “It’s on!”
I can’t believe it. He’d found a track on day one after just a few hours. I felt less tired and was super anxious to hear the dogs run. Well it took us about an hour to get to where Bowdy had parked. 15 mins before we get there he comes back over the radio and tells us to be quite when we get there and to bring all my gear. He had a cat treed already!!! I was freaking out. It was day one and I was about to lay eyes on the first lion I had ever seen!!!
We get to his truck and the dogs sound like they’re just out of eyesight. At this point it’s just surreal. It never happens this way for me but somehow it was day one of the cat hunt, we’ve got a cat up a tree and he’s not 60 yards off the road. Insane!! Bowdy is standing by the truck, I grab my Tall Tines and my backpack and off we go.
Literally 60 yards later I look up and I clearly see the S shape of its tail! This being my first time seeing a cat I had no idea how to judge these things. All I could tell is that it was gorgeous. Bowdy and Tanner agreed it was a massive cat but with both of its hind feet on the same branch we couldn’t tell it’s sex. I wasn’t wanting to bring a Queen home and I told them I wanted verification before letting an arrow fly. Bowdy went to work coercing the cat to shift positions by pulling the dogs back and walking around the tree. Once the dogs got pulled back it was immediately obvious that the cat was looking for an escape route. I don’t know what it was about him being up a tree but nothing told me he was a monster cat. Well that all changed when he jumped out of the tree and hit the ground about 15 feet to my left and took off. Once his paws hit the ground my jaw hit the floor. He looked massive!! His head and neck looked ridiculously thick and his shoulders were heavy. The dogs were turned loose and the chase was back on.
When the lion bailed out it took off down the canyon from the same direction he came from. Within minutes he was back up a tree. We got back to the trucks, drove down a couple hundred yards and headed to the cat.
This time he was standing and I got the confirmation I wanted. It was 100% a Tom and a dandy at that. Bowdy and Tanner tied the dogs off while I cleared a few branches that were obstructing my shot. I had a clean look at his vitals and I was sitting on ready! I threw Bowdy a look and told him I was ready whenever he was. He checked with Tanner and I was cleared hot!!!
I had a Gold Tip arrow with a 200grn VPA 3 blade nocked on the Tall Tines. I raised up the bow, putting the point of the arrow on my target, drew back, anchored and let it sail. Perfect shot! I got both lungs and blood poured out of the entry hole. The cat was coughing and every time he did even more blood pumped out of him. Before I knew what was going on Bowdy was yelling “shoot him again, keep shooting!” I let 2 more arrows fly both hitting their mark. The cat scurried up the tree only to fall stone dead seconds later!
What the hell had just happened?? I had just hunted for all of 6 hours and had a stud cat on the ground with my recurve. I couldn’t get my head around it and walking up on him was intense. He looked like something from the Jurassic Period. I was over the moon with excitement!!
We did the usual chest bumps, high-fives and hand shakes then got to the business of trophy pics. What a chore!!! Wow!! This is where I realized that I was running on the 2 hours of sleep I got on the plane. After 20 minutes of holding a ~150lb cat I was exhausted. We wrapped up the pics, got him skinned out for the life sized mount, pulled off the meat and headed back up top.
Bowdy had taken the pics with his camera. It had WiFi so once he got some decent signal he sent them to his phone and forwarded them to me.
Holy Guacamole!! When I saw the pics I had taken what looked like a giant cat. It was beyond anything I had hoped for!! We got him checked in with DNR, pulled a tooth, signed my tag and my cat hunt was a wrap.
I’m still spending a big part of my day staring at the pics trying to figure out how the hell I got so lucky.
Thanks to all the fellas here for the messages, advice and words of encouragement. You guys are the best!!
Good luck to everybody on their 2020 adventures and as always I appreciate the support.