The Mountain Lion moniker is designated for a group of cats that are spread throughout North and South America and go by many names. Whether it be puma, cougar, panther, or lion, they are all the same predatory cat, as names are just regionally specific. These cats are the largest in North America, sometimes weighing up to 200 pounds and stretching to 7 feet long, and are incredible hunters that silently stalk their prey before making a final leap and killing their target with a bite to the neck. Afterwards, they will often drag their kill back to a safe place and hide it. This helps keep other predators from stealing their prize and secures meals for the future, a technique that is crucial to their survival as lions typically eat around 10 pounds of meat per day. Lions are largely solitary animals, with males, called toms, being very territorial towards other toms. Interestingly, lions do not have a specific breeding season, but rather rely on females, called queens, to leave scent marks indicating they are in estrus.
Where To Hunt Mountain Lion
Much of the Western United States offers seasons for mountain lion hunting, with the best states being Montana, Idaho, Colorado, and Arizona. These areas have strong populations of deer and elk, both of which make up a good portion of a lion’s diet, and plenty of rugged land that makes for perfect cat habitat. British Columbia, Alberta, Mexico, and Argentina also offer good opportunities to hunt cats out of the United States.
Mountain Lion Hunting Techniques
Because lions are very solitary, nocturnal animals that often have large territories, traditional hunting practices are fairly ineffective. Because of this, hunters often hunt lions with dogs. This is no rabbit hunt though, as lions are extremely intelligent predators that make their living being invisible.
Those that chase mountain lions, known as houndsman, are likely some of the best woodsman around. They typically begin hunts with a hike, looking to “cut” a fresh track, a task that is harder than you might think, as these tracks are very subtle and often very hard to find. Fresh snows typically provide for the best hunting, as tracks show up well and it is easier to age them. If, and when, a fresh track is located, the houndsman will bring out his dogs and put them on the trail. These dogs, typically blue ticks, redbones, or of a similar breed, will then follow the scent trail and attempt to find and “tree” the lion. This is when the lion, afraid of the group of dogs, will climb a tree for safety. The dogs will then bark like crazy, both to keep the lion in the tree and to let the hunter know they have one treed. Finally, the hunter will either shoot the lion from the tree or let it go, simply having enjoyed the chase.
Mountain Lion Regulations
Many states have both over the counter and special draw licenses for lions. Some states, like Colorado, have unit specific quotas that will close once a harvest limit has been reached for that season. Seasons are typically very long in Colorado, but early portions of the season often do not allow for the use of hounds. Other states, like South Dakota, have some units with year-long seasons that are regulated by extremely small harvest limits. Licenses are typically inexpensive for non-residents in states, like Montana, that hold good numbers of lions.
Mountain Lion Food Quality
Eating predator meat is often looked down upon, as people believe the meat simply tastes bad or fear the potential for the parasite trichinosis. However, lion meat is very similar to that of a wild hog, and can actually be very good when prepared correctly. As far as trichinosis goes, the parasite dies at a temperature of 137 degrees Fahrenheit, so the temperature of 160 degrees for well-done meat is well beyond the safe mark. As long as you ensure the meat is cooked to a safe temperature, no different than you would chicken or pork from the store, then lion is perfectly safe to eat.