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Contributors to this thread:
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Ghost425 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Dirty D 09-Dec-19
Ucsdryder 09-Dec-19
Grasshopper 09-Dec-19
[email protected] 09-Dec-19
[email protected] 09-Dec-19
Whocares 09-Dec-19
TRnCO 09-Dec-19
yooper89 09-Dec-19
JohnMC 09-Dec-19
Destroyer350 09-Dec-19
Hiplanes 09-Dec-19
Jaquomo 09-Dec-19
Ghost425 09-Dec-19
Stoneman 09-Dec-19
cnelk 09-Dec-19
Quinn @work 09-Dec-19
Bow Bullet 09-Dec-19
Jaquomo 09-Dec-19
JohnMC 10-Dec-19
Adventurewriter 10-Dec-19
Treeline 10-Dec-19
tramper 10-Dec-19
Dirty D 10-Dec-19
Robinhood 10-Dec-19
Yellowjacket 10-Dec-19
Grubby 10-Dec-19
elkmtngear 11-Dec-19
Busta'Ribs 11-Dec-19
Bowfinatic 11-Dec-19
bohuntr 11-Dec-19
goyt 11-Dec-19
ki-ke 11-Dec-19
Kurt 11-Dec-19
JRABQ 11-Dec-19
WV Mountaineer 11-Dec-19
JB 11-Dec-19
standswittaknife 11-Dec-19
BOWUNTR 12-Dec-19
Dirty D 12-Dec-19
Surfbow 12-Dec-19
otcWill 12-Dec-19
T Mac 14-Dec-19
P&Y400 14-Dec-19
trublucolo 15-Dec-19
Keepitreal 17-Dec-19
From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19
Alright folks I'm still pretty jazzed about this whole hunt so I'm gonna attempt my first re-cap vs. making you click over to the blog. We'll see how it goes...

From: Ghost425
09-Dec-19
Hell yeah, can’t wait to hear this story. Chasing a big Tom with dogs is as fun as it gets. Ready for the ride. Don’t forget to post a pic on the lion thread brother.

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19
I'll start with a little backstory. As a few of you know this little kitty has been eluding me from achieving my Big-8. I’ve collected probably 15 years’ worth of mountain lion tags over the years and have yet to see a cat in the wild. I’m always thinking there’s a possibility I might run into one while up elk hunting. And I’ll normally try to get out a couple times a season specifically to target them with predator calls. I even had a buddy who runs lions professionally take me out a time or two and still no lion for me. This coupled with the direction our state is headed and seeing how effective the anti’s are at getting things we love banned I decided to bite the bullet and book a hunt.

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19
This in itself was super painful for a DIY guy. I just felt like I was throwing in the towel and giving up. Also from a pragmatic standpoint I’d be shelling out a bunch of coin for the trip, and I consider myself a fairly frugal guy so that was pretty painful. I even have some reservations about the “Big-8” program in general. Even though it’s something I decided I wanted to accomplish 15-20 years ago, there’s some little bit of me that thinks anytime we organize/competitiveize hunting we’re somehow tainting it somehow, someway. And finally, there’s the whole topic of running lions with dogs in general bouncing around in the back of my head. I don’t know how many times leading up to this hunt I’d be talking with hunters and non-hunters alike and the comment was made, “so the dogs just chase them and you shoot them” doesn’t seem very sporting… These were all the random thoughts running through my head on my way to the Western slope. Thoughts I never have when heading out on a deer or elk hunt.

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19
My hunt was bumped up a few days ahead of schedule because of weather/snow conditions and the outfitter made the comment “should be great conditions and we can hurry up and get this thing over with.” Hmm, not sure how I felt about that comment, while I’ve been on enough hunts I can appreciate the easier ones, getting me tagged out and sent back home ASAP seemed a little weird. Anyway, I arrived at the outfitters place about 6am and met him and the couple guys he has working for him, along with a couple friends and neighbors who like to tag along. All super nice guys and I was getting excited. I could sense they’ve been sitting around waiting for me and there seemed to be a bit of urgency. "Got your bow and your license? Grab you stuff and throw it in the truck.” I was told they had cut a track two days prior and they were pretty sure they knew which hill the lion was on, as they’d driven around the entire place and determined he hadn’t left. They were pretty sure he was up there sitting on a kill. “You never know with these lions and I hate to say it but we might have this thing over with pretty quick.” Again, I’m thinking this is pretty weird and definitely not how I picture my Big-8 journey ending.

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19

Dirty D's embedded Photo
Gearing Up
Dirty D's embedded Photo
Gearing Up
Dirty D's embedded Photo
Tracked Quad
Dirty D's embedded Photo
Tracked Quad
So we all load up and run up the road a ways. All the guys kinda split up circling this hillside, making sure the lion was still where they thought he was. I do have to segue here and mention all the gear these guys run. Between the sleds, quads with snow-tracks, side-by-sides, six wheelers and horses they were not messing around with various methods of getting into anywhere those cats might happen to take them. It also made me feel a little better about paying someone else to take me hunting looking at all those dollars in gear sitting there. Not to mention the years of training for all the dogs and all the work that requires. Anyway back to the story…

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19
As the guys were all driving around the mountain I was talking with one of the guides. Asking all the annoying questions I’m sure every new lion hunter asks. But one response in particular got me a little concerned, when I asked “how far would you say the average shot is” and the response was everywhere from a couple of feet backed up in a cave, up to 70-100 feet up in a tall spruce, aspen or cottonwood. But don’t worry about it, we’ll have a rifle and pistol if he gets someplace you can’t shoot him with your bow.” Don’t worry about it?? That’s the whole reason I’m here I’m thinking, but I figured there are not many places I can’t get an arrow where I couldn’t get a bullet. So I decide to keep my mouth shut and we’ll cross that bridge when/if we get there.

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19
Once they were convinced the cat was is still on the hillside they cut the dogs loose (6 of ‘em). Man those dogs went FLYING up and over that mountainside. I couldn’t believe how quick they were out of earshot and up and over the mountaintop. We hopped on the quads and drove around to the other side. Turns out there was just enough south facing embankment that had burned off which was steep and nasty, that they’d missed the track coming back out and they caught the dogs as they were crossing the main road. There was a quite a bit of me that was relieved it didn’t end before it started. And I was starting to realize there was more to hunting these things than just turning the dogs out.

So we crossed the road and went tearing down miles of two-tracks trying to figure out where the cat had gotten to. I should stop and mention here that “cutting track” isn’t what I had envisioned. I knew these guys typically got up at about midnight and were out by 1-am. But what I pictured was us driving county roads in the pickup, sipping coffee, heater blasting, telling hunting stories. Oh did I underestimate that one! Nothing like hopping on a sled/tracked quad at two AM ripping down two tracks, ducking branches, trying not to get thrown off, chainsaws at the ready because they’d typically be cutting their way into the backcountry (trees that had fallen across the trails). And while those tracked quads are freaking machines that could go anywhere, it felt like I was trapped in a snowblower. They kick up so much snow you’re just kinda in your own little blizzard the whole time, which makes seeing those branches you’re ducking that much more interesting!

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19
We found several tracks in the new spot we’d ridden into and again they tried their best to make sense of them. I realized part of the art of tracking with hounds is you don’t just cut a track and turn the dogs loose. You try your best to figure out where that track is going to end up so you cut down on the potential rodeo factor. We ended up finding the freshest track in the area (although still not smoking hot) and cut the dogs loose again. This time they’d bombed down a STEEP ass hillside and again were 1-mile down in there before you could blink. We had followed them maybe a 1/8 mile or so when I realized the unthinkable. That my quiver was still up at the quads (can you say amateur hour?), so I panicked and sprinted back up the hill. It turns out at 40 degrees and a foot and a half of snow, I should not be sprinting anywhere. I spent the next 2-hours coughing up years of accumulated lung butter, ouch! And I realized that “walking” in those conditions was really a misnomer, it was really more of a controlled fall/slide.

We were working our way down the ridge listening to the dogs bark and at one point we could see them running, just tiny little dots way down on the valley floor below and they were lined out sprinting. Even me, the new guy thought that looked promising, the way they were running you thought they were chasing vs. tracking. But as they made their way into a field they all started circling and backtracking and spent the next hour trying to sort out the trail. Turns out the track was older than they were hoping and the field was destroyed with elk tracks which was messing up the dogs. After a while longer we collected the dogs and had to start coming up with a new game plan.

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19
We spent the rest of the afternoon covering miles of trails hoping to cut another track, finally ending up back at the house about 8 o’clock that night. During the course of the day I realized how crazy these dudes were as I listened to them talk it was all about lions. If they got off topic at all during the day, in a few seconds they’d stop and say “we never did cut Oak creek yet did we? Someone needs to get over there and check that out. And have we ridden the top yet? Also has anyone checked the pipeline over to the power-plant.” This went on all day, you could almost see the wheels turning as their thoughts never drifted more than 5-minutes without returning to the conversations of places we needed to check. There wasn’t a creek, hillside, draw, ridge-line, valley they weren’t concerned about. And I remember at some point looking up, listening, looking at all the crazy gear thinking that the producers of Deadliest Catch needed to come film these dudes because they were freaking crazy!

I do feel a bit lame about this part of the story, once we were back at the house. Fred mentions there’s another area he hasn’t checked out yet and he ought to get over there to see how much snow they’ve still got. I say I’m game to tag along but he says “no you’d better stay here and get some rest, you’re gonna need it.” Ok, don’t have to tell me twice. I’m already beat. As I laid down I realized how dang sore I was hanging onto that quad all day. Even though they relied on their machines and we hadn’t done too much walking, I was already pretty beat up and this was just day one.

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19
The one other thing I’ve noticed at this point is these fellers don’t really seem to sleep, eat or even drink (water or coffee). I’d pretty well skipped breakfast, grabbing a little sleeve of donuts on the way over when I stopped for gas and it wasn’t until about 3 o’clock when someone mentioned food. Lunch was a banana and a couple chips. Thankfully I’m kinda like Cameron Hanes, except trapped in a fat kid’s body and had a stash of elk jerky and granola bars I was scarfing down when nobody was looking, ha!

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19

Dirty D's embedded Photo
3AM Trail Ride
Dirty D's embedded Photo
3AM Trail Ride
The next “morning” which happens to start in the middle of the night we found ourselves making our way over to the valley Fred had scouted without me. He’d cut a female track and thought we needed to ride back in there and get a better look. Getting back in there was another 5-6 miles of the snowblower machine. Fred and I had gotten to a point where there were a bunch of downed logs blocking the trail and both chainsaws were on the sleds. We had split up at the truck and the other guys were checking out some other trails. So we turned around he headed towards another area. About 30-minutes later we got the other guys on the radio and they’d found a tom track that was “smoking hot.” Turns out it was just on the other side of the logs that forced us to turn around and the good news was the trail we’d ridden circled the area so we already knew the lion was still in there. With the good news we went ripping back over there and got the dogs collared. Things were starting to get exciting!

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19
I was pretty nervous and excited walking over to the dogs. They had treed only ¾ mile from the machines in fairly easy country (boy did I get lucky!). As we were hiking over I was fairly concerned about ditching my pack and shedding a layer or two so my string didn’t get caught up in all the bulky clothes. But I was assured not to worry, that the tom was likely up there sleeping and we’d have plenty of time to get situated.

So here’s the other thing I learned first-hand on this trip. I’ve heard guys talk about “So you just walk up and shoot that lion that’s been treed and is sitting up there terrified.” Ok maybe sometimes, but I can assure you this lion was anything but terrified, I’d say pissed was much more appropriate. And I learned if you think that badass freaking lion is terrified, I’m guessing you’d never done this before.

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19
So as we’re leisurely making our way over and I’m being reassured how easy this will be, we come up and over the ridge and drop down to where he’s treed. All of a sudden Cody, the other guide starts screaming “Matt get your f#ck*ing ass down here and get an arrow nocked that lion is gonna kill those dogs.” I turn the corner and it honestly takes me a minute to process what I’m seeing. Halfway up a big spruce tree, maybe 45-feet up or so are two damn hound dogs. I’m really just standing there trying to figure out how those dogs got so high off the ground. I finally realize that there’s another downed tree that had fallen into the tree where the lion was, allowing the dogs to scramble up the log. But as I’m finally starting to figure out what I’m looking at, I start scanning up and down the tree for the lion and don’t see him. It’s a big spruce, 100 plus feet but gets pretty sparse up top and I don’t see the cat. Finally I realize the tom is on the other side of the trunk within feet of the dogs, screaming and PISSED! As Cody is screaming at the dogs up in the tree and Ron (the other guide) is gathering dogs on the ground I’m running around like a madman trying to find a shot. Finally things settle down a little bit. All the dogs are collard, except to two in the tree and I’ve got a shot, or kinda a shot. That’s also when I realized that cat is staring me down and it’s obvious the fat kid is the first one he’s gonna chew on after he kills those damn dogs. About then the first dog falls with two-three seconds of hang time and hits with a thud. I thought for sure he was dead. A few minutes later the second dog bombs/falls out. Somehow neither died or even seemed hurt, in fact they had to grab them quick before they could scramble back up the tree. I was given the green light and thankfully made a great shot and pin-wheeled him. I was so grateful I didn’t flub the shot and cause the rodeo to go on any further.

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19

Dirty D's embedded Photo
I've been dreaming of this Grip & Grin for a LONG time!!
Dirty D's embedded Photo
I've been dreaming of this Grip & Grin for a LONG time!!

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19

Dirty D's embedded Photo
Dirty D's embedded Photo

From: Dirty D
09-Dec-19
Wendy was giving me a hard time as I walked out the door for the trip, saying I’d better get one because we weren’t paying for another hunt. When that lion hit the ground and I thought of her lecturing me the only thing I could think was “that was worth every penny!” I also can’t thank those guys enough for taking me on this hunt. Some things in life you have to experience for yourself and this was one of them. All those random thoughts and reservations I had driving over had long vanished. This hunt was more involved than any deer or elk hunt I’d ever been on and the conditions in which those guys operate are brutal. While on paper it sounds so easy “hunting with dogs” it’s anything but. And I realized that a guy flushing a pheasant or retrieving a mallard is using the animals in the same fashion. I also know I utilize any and all tactics when hunting, whether it’s sitting a waterhole, using game calls, decoys or spot and stalk. This hunt was no different; you use different tools/tactics for the particular task. Experiencing this first hand definitely gave me a whole new appreciation for this style of hunting. It also put me at ease with the thought of chasing the “Big-8” because if I hadn’t set that goal I probably wouldn’t have ever gone out of my way to chase a lion. It honesty was one of the coolest things I’d ever been a part of and I’m so grateful that “Big-8” journey ended the way it did.

Thanks for taggin along..

From: Ucsdryder
09-Dec-19
Wow!!!!! I loved the video. Great shot!

From: Grasshopper
09-Dec-19
Awesome story, congrats on the big 8! Great lion!

09-Dec-19
Nicely done D. The lion was also my 8th. and it was 10 below 0 that morning and interesting enough, the only guided hunt I have ever been on. Now, a full lion mount would be appropriate. Like the sign on I-25 at the boat sale, ie, "you wife just called and said you can buy a boat", I think I heard Wendy say, yea, go get it mounted. LOL. And do not over cook those back straps on the grill, very lean. my best, Paul

09-Dec-19
That was a fun read! Congrats on a cool adventure.

From: Whocares
09-Dec-19
That was fun, Matt! Congrats. Thanks for the neat story. Ironically, my daughter from Kremmling is lion hunting there now and she told me very similar comments on how involved and exciting it is, more so than she thought! They treed a female Saturday but told her they'd hold out for a better one so she's taking a day or two off work. Sent me a neat close up of the one. Think she's trying to make me jealous, which is working!

Great write up, Matt, and glad you had so much fun!

From: TRnCO
09-Dec-19
man that's awesome. Great story, thanks for sharing. Congrats!

From: yooper89
09-Dec-19
Matt that was awesome. Congrats!!

From: JohnMC
09-Dec-19
Matt that is freaking awesome! Great storytelling (as always) and video!

From: Destroyer350
09-Dec-19
Looks like it was an awesome hunt! Congrats!

From: Hiplanes
09-Dec-19
What a story D, that is awesome! Much more involved than I ever thought. Congrats on the Big 8! Now you can relax and we can go for that 10 lb walleye this summer, that is a much more enjoyable pursuit!

From: Jaquomo
09-Dec-19
Way to go, Matt! Great cat!

From: Ghost425
09-Dec-19
That’s was awesome Matt, great story and a great cat.

From: Stoneman
09-Dec-19
Great write up Matt! Brought back memories.

From: cnelk
09-Dec-19
Totally cool!!

This part was great....

“ That’s also when I realized that cat is staring me down and it’s obvious the fat kid is the first one he’s gonna chew on after he kills those damn dogs. ”

From: Quinn @work
09-Dec-19
That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing your hunt!

From: Bow Bullet
09-Dec-19
Fantastic write-up, congrats again!

From: Jaquomo
09-Dec-19
One question - what's with the narrow frame on the videos? Would be cool to watch on a wide screen. I never understood the narrow frame-blurred-sides still photos some people do. Didn't know people did that with videos too. But I'm old...

From: JohnMC
10-Dec-19
Lou it is a cell phone video with phone positioned up/down when taken.

10-Dec-19
Cool write up well done.... its on the bucket list...had a trade going on with a famous guy in Utah and he turned into a flake.....

From: Treeline
10-Dec-19
Great videos and recap! Congratulations! Awesome big lion and a great finish for your 8!

Hunting cats with dogs is amazingly fun! Have hunted with friends for myself and helping. Definitely a lot of work involved!

From: tramper
10-Dec-19
Way to go, Matt! Nice lion!

From: Dirty D
10-Dec-19
Thanks all, definitely appreciate the kinda words.

Jaquomo, JohnMC is correct. The guide was capturing the shot with his iPhone. I'm actually tickled he did such a great job with the phone. Since I've watched the video about 4000x I noticed he's quick enough to zoom out the second the cat is hit, you can tell he has done this before. I tried getting a picture of the dogs while they were still up in the tree and all I got is a selfie, a picture of my boot and a couple blurred/blacked out screens. You could tell I was a bit more rattled than they were, ha!

From: Robinhood
10-Dec-19
Congrats Matt!

From: Yellowjacket
10-Dec-19
Great story and congratulations on the lion and finishing the Big 8!

From: Grubby
10-Dec-19
Great story! Great cat!!

From: elkmtngear
11-Dec-19
Loved the Story, Matt!

Great Tom...Congrats!

From: Busta'Ribs
11-Dec-19
Great job capturing what it's really like doing a lion hunt behind dogs. Awesome shot too, it's amazing how fast those big cats die when you hit them in the right spot.

11-Dec-19
Loved the story! I took one in February so thanks for taking me back. Cougar hunting is unique and incredible!

From: bohuntr
11-Dec-19
Awesome story and lion, congratulations! This is something that I have been planning to do for some time and this just kindled the fire a bunch more!

From: goyt
11-Dec-19
Congratulations. Thanks for the story.

From: ki-ke
11-Dec-19
Great write up matt! Thanks for sharing!

From: Kurt
11-Dec-19
Great writeup about what a cat hunt with dogs is really like!

I went out with a buddy several days a winter for 5 years before I arrowed my second lion. Passed a few up, but it was not easy. My first cat came easy but I learned a lot more on #2.

From: JRABQ
11-Dec-19
Wow that is really cool, congrats! Did you get any pics or video of the dogs up in the tree?

11-Dec-19
Awesome stuff man!

From: JB
11-Dec-19
Great story Matt! Awesome pictures and video!! And your shot was spot on!!! Thank you for sharing!!!!

11-Dec-19
I know and hang out with buddies who run cats. They are very successful too.. Three things about all cat dudes.. they are crazy and fun.. a great combo.. and insanely in shape.. they will simply walk you out of the country..

From: BOWUNTR
12-Dec-19
That was cool.... congratulations. Ed F

From: Dirty D
12-Dec-19
Thanks all, glad you enjoyed reading it as much as i enjoyed writing it!

JRABQ - I tried getting pics but I felt like the guy who's filming the guy drowning vs. jumping in trying to help. And in my spastic state what I did try to capture was a total fail :(

Bummer because it would have been an epic shot. At least I know that image will be burned into my brain forever!

From: Surfbow
12-Dec-19
"Thankfully I’m kinda like Cameron Hanes, except trapped in a fat kid’s body"

Congrats and thanks for sharing! ^This cracked me up...

From: otcWill
12-Dec-19
Best cat story I've read. Congrats buddy! Looking forward to hearing the unabridged story over drinks next week

From: T Mac
14-Dec-19
Great story and congrats on your cat! Definitely on my bucket list. What outfitter did you go with?

From: P&Y400
14-Dec-19
Yeah great story and great photos. Had my interest the whole time. Congrats on a nice Tom cat.

From: trublucolo
15-Dec-19
Nice recap, thanks for sharing.

From: Keepitreal
17-Dec-19
Great story, nicely written. One of the most intense North American hunts a guy can do. Bump on the houndsmen. They are a breed of their own and their hounds are the rock stars!

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