Sponsored by: Bear Hunting Magazine
Mechanisms of human communication are at a disadvantage and merely scramble to describe the week we had in Northern Idaho. Leaving early Monday morning from Arkansas, Forest Teeter and I drove 26 hours to Clark Fork, Idaho to meet up with friend, Leon Brown of Clark Fork Outfitters. We returned yesterday afternoon with an ice chest full of lion-related wildlife assets not excluding tooth, fang, claw and meat. The wildlife conservation components of legally harvesting a mountain lion over hounds in an ungulate-rich region of the North American West have left my mind and spirit idling near giddy. This isn’t the whole story, but the highlights will do for now as we’ll be running a feature article on this Mountain Lion hunt in Bear Hunting Magazine in 2017.
To expel any urban myths, hunting with hounds can be one of the most physically demanding and difficult hunts available to the North American hunter. Cold temperatures, long snow mobile rides, and steep, snowy mountains and rangy cats are the tetrad of foes to overcome. However, defeated foes are the fuel of satisfaction craved by all hunters. Don’t let the difficulty, however, deter you from attempting a hunt like this. I’ve found that a positive attitude and a never-quit demeanor are more valuable than six months of cross fit training. You need to be in good shape, but don’t wait for the mythical “sheep-shape” syndrome to overtake your existence before you try a hunt like this. That being said, this hunt was physically challenging. Maybe one of the most I’ve been on.
The real heroes of this hunt were the hounds. A historical appreciation of hound hunting is necessary to comprehend the breadth of what you’re partaking of. Leon and his family have bred Plott hounds since the 1960s and they aren’t just a means to end, but they are the end. The relationship of a houndsman to his hounds is unique and reflects a powerful component of our humanity. The ability to leverage the strength of domesticated animals to achieve goals unattainable by our natural capabilities is unique to our species and in essence defining a component of our humanity. Shooting a lion over the baying of a treed hound is in the same category as other human-only activities like “making fire” and altruism.
On this hunt I used a 64-pound takedown recurve bow made by Kent Roberts of Timberghost Archery in Springdale, Arkansas. I chose to shoot a 125-grain Badger broadhead, which made short work of the feline. I have to admit that it was the most stressful archery shot I’ve ever taken. Traditional bows have a knack for making a hunt special. A lot of investment was at stake and there was no room for error. However, the shot placement was excellent through a softball-sized hole between the cat’s shoulder and the tree. You’ll be able to watch the entire hunt on the next episode of Bear Horizon that will be released this coming Friday (December 23rd).
We treed two male Mountain Lions in three days of hunting and I passed the first, and larger, cat because I couldn’t get a bowshot. Northern Idaho is a mecca for Mountain Lion hunting, features spectacular American wilderness, and Leon Brown and Clark Fork Outfitters is the real deal. You will not want to miss the full article and the episode of Bear Horizon.
*Gear Note: First Lite gear was made for a hunt like this. An arctic blast of cold air made daytime temperatures dip into the single digits during our hunt. Base layers of Merino wool and the Sanctuary bib overalls and jacket were the foundation of my warmth strategy. Secondly, the First Lite Grizzly Cold Weather gloves performed flawlessly on long snow mobile rides. However, my favorite piece of gear is the North Branch Soft Shell pants. They are water resistant, tough and were perfect for long hikes in the snow. I often slide down the mountains on my rear and they never tore or got wet. I wore the Soft Shell Pants under my Sanctuary bibs. Gaiters are also crucial for traveling in snow by keeping it out of your pant leg openings.
Leon Brown and Clark Fork Outfitters: