RS1 Customer, Hunting-Washington.com member "Gramps" Blue Mountains, WA.
After helping a friend deliver some lumber, I went to an area where I had seen cougar tracks. It was so foggy, I could not see 40 feet. I sat in the rig until the fog lifted then I walked out a trail a ways and set up. I found an open area and set the caller and a decoy that looks like a rabbit next to a downed log. I was sitting against a tree about 40 yards away.
I called with a deer distress sound, and I mixed in the first edition RS Cougar Whistle [ the new version is M09 ]. After 30 minutes of near constant calling, I saw a cougar walking my way about 120 yards away. My Dr. tells me that my standing heart rate is 58… within a beat or two of seeing that cat... which looked 10 feet long… my heart rate must have gone to 150. I only saw him for a couple seconds, but he was walking upright, slowly. He disappeared from sight and I was trying to figure out how he might approach. I saw him again and I could see that he was gonna come thru’ some timber and brush to my left. Sure enough there he was….still walking upright and focused on the sound and the decoy. I didn’t know whether to turn off the sound or leave it running so I turned it down and left it running.
It had been about 10 minutes from when I first saw him, and he had first gone out of sight. I turned a small amount and was in a good position to shoot, but was not calmed down one bit… I may have been worse... I am not sure. He had stopped with his head behind a tree... 25 to 30 yards away. I shot for the lung area. I saw hair fly and he jumped up about 6 feet with his back arched and went over backwards and then ran toward the thick timber. He never knew I was there.
I sat there for a few minutes just taking in what had happened and then went to look. I found a few drops of blood and then nothing as he crossed an open area covered with snow. I looked around thinking this may not be a good deal to have a wounded cougar in the thick brush that the tracks headed toward. After a few more minutes, I started following the tracks and found him about 75 feet from where he was when I shot….dead as could be…YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS !!!
He was a male..7’11” nose to tail. I did not have a scale big enough to weigh him. He had been in a fight very recently. He has a torn lower eye lid and 6 or 7 cuts clear thru’ the hide on his head and right side as well as two deep cuts on two of the foot pads. All cuts looked very fresh.
I have been fortunate to have hunted for 50+ years… Prairie dogs to Moose... but nothing quite as exciting as this!
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RS2 Customer Snag Point, SE Washington "own back yard" Encounter:
In the fall of 2008, there was a couple of cougars working the river bottom on my small farm. Having spotted them a couple of times, (never with gun in hand) I began to work out the time table of the cat's movements in our area.
One of the days that I felt he would be around, I grabbed my fx3 and headed to the woods. Just as I was starting to slip into the woods a calf (moo cow calf, not elk) came charging down a trail. Then a moment later I could hear a cougar roaring and screaming about 500 yards away.
I thought "Oh boy, this dang cat's after that calf and all I have to do it sit tight and watch the trail." More roars but no sign of the cougar.
Then I slipped over set up my call and planted my butt in a tree stand that I had set up. More caterwauling, I started my calling with one of the first edition RS Cougar whistles. The woods went silent. Then in about ten minutes, a small bush wiggled a bit, the woods are even more quite. I thought my heart would bust a rib it was pounding so hard. Then the cat made a muffled growl, but it would not come out of its cover.
Within a couple minutes shooting light was gone, and I had a upset Kitty within 50 yards of my stand. I sat tight for another 1/2 hour or better. Then slithered out of my tree. In my mind I could still hear that roar, as I made my way through the now dark woods towards the lights of my house.
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RS3 Customer / Long time Friend Okanagan, NW Washington :
We found cougar tracks in the general area, so my son and I climbed to a mid afternoon stand in open old growth timber on a steep spur ridge running down off a big mountain. I put the Minaska M1 on top of a root wad six feet off the ground. The internal speaker pointed to a smaller timbered basin on one side and I set the TOA speaker three feet away to point into a huge timbered basin on the other side of the ridge.
My son sat 30 feet uphill from me facing uphill, above a slight break in the slope. The e-caller was below the break, level with me and 20 feet to one side. I sat with my back against a big fir facing downhill.
I started the calling sequence with Duelling Fawns at low volume and ramped it up to max. Within seconds I switched to a recording of myself blowing a Weems All Call, a proven cougar call. It is the loudest distress sound I have. After a minute of LOUD prey sound to get the attention of any cougar on the mountainside, I switched to RS Cougar whistles and let it run.
Three minutes into the stand my son fired his 7mm magnum. BLAM! Long pause. No sound but the e-caller’s sporadic cougar whistles. Then, BLAM! He shot again. One shot is good. Two shots are usually bad, especially on a cougar stand. This time he called out to me, “It’s a cougar!” “Did you get him?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he replied as I scrambled around my big tree and up the hill.
Two and a half minutes into the stand he’d seen a cougar running toward us down the ridge. It paused looking downhill toward the calling sound, it was looking past him toward the e-caller. It started toward us again, moving fast in a low crouch. It passed behind a huge fir tree and he pulled up his rifle while the lion’s vision was blocked. When the cat came into view again he was looking at it through the scope.
It stopped and sat up on its haunches at 75-80 yards facing downhill toward him. He felt steady with the aim and shot at its chest. The lion did not move. It was an obvious miss. (After examining the bullet path, we figured that the first shot had hit the top of a wispy bush half way to the cat and deflected.) He cranked the bolt reflexively as one sound with the shot, took his time and shot at its chest again. This time the cat disappeared downhill to his left.
He ran up the hill toward where he’d seen the cat and found it slid against a down log where he put in an insurance finisher shot.
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RS4 RainShadow Call-in, NW Washington :
I received a sighting report, mid-day, December 5th. I was able to respond to it, and get on stand within 45 minutes. It was in a rural NW Washington State foothill neighborhood. I set up in a DNR clearcut and called into a stand of second growth. Limited area skirted by houses and roads. I set up in the shade of a root ball, and gave up the direction I came in from entirely.
I called for 5 minutes with JS rodent distress at mid volume, then 5 minutes with MO Baby Cottontail at full volume, then 5 minutes with RS Cougar Up at full volume, then was several minutes into RS Cougar CFPC when the large Female approached the caller from the timber, walking right down a well worn trail.
It stopped approximately 7 yards from the MAD Big Country, and looked at the caller then at me. (I was fidgeting around, running my video camera and trying to get behind the scope. It couldn't see me, it was looking into the sun, but it saw movement.) I was approximately 50 yards away.
Responding to a sighting report immediately, paid off! 1 shot fired, center chest, no tracking necessary, Cougar tagged.
Here's a url to video footage of this call-in!!!
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RS5 Customer drscott, Bear hunt changes to a memorable Cougar encounter, in SW New Mexico :
I was calling using a critter call making fawn bleat sounds, I was primarily targeting bears as I had gotten several pictures on my trail cams in the area. I had been calling for about 10 minutes and heard a lion vocalize about 200 yards below me.
The country I was calling was a mixture of Ponderosa pine and oak brush. I switched to using juvenile whistles on the hand call I had gotten from RainShadow. Within about 5 minutes I saw a lion working its way up the header towards me. It was just coming at a steady walk. It got within about 60 yards of me and laid down watching in my direction. It laid there for several minutes.
I didn't have a great shot as I could only see about the top quarter of the cat. I slowly positioned my gun and felt I would just wait till it stood. I was watching it through my scope and saw movement behind it. She had a kitten with her. As I watched she had another join her. I knew at this stage I wasn't going to shoot so I just settled down and watched.
She lay there for about 30 minutes never moving. The kittens moved under some brush and also stood without moving. She finally stood up and walked back the way she came, with the kittens following. One of the neatest things I have seen while in the hills.
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RS6 RainShadow Call-In, Arizona :
I was hunting the San Carlos Apache reservation in Arizona with guide Farrell Goode. He had been informed of a heifer kill on a ranch, and we had got ourselves as close to the area as we could in the blind. (We didn't know exactly where the kill was, and we didn't have birds to show us where to go.)
I had brought along some hand calls to give to Farrell, so we started out the stand with them. I blew about a minute on a cottontail distress. Then I blew about a minute on a jackrabbit distress. Then I started blowing on the RainShadow Sub Adult Whistle hand call. Immediately from across the draw we were set up in, we got an aggressive Male Territorial growl.
I switched to the WT, running the young whistle, and started glassing the far ridge (360 yards) to try to pick out the cat. Couldn't find it. About a minute into the WT whistles, the Mountain Lion gave another Male Territorial growl, this time from about 100 yards down the ridge. I don't know if we were busted, or what it didn't like, but as far as we could tell, that cat never came all the way in.
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RS7 Customer Testimonial, South Cascades, WA. :
I was running the call, so my son could just concentrate on watching. About four minutes into the set we both heard a branch break and something that sounded like the branch hitting the ground, a ways off to our right. The wind was blowing, so I didn't think too much about it. It was just a branch breaking out of a fir tree.
Then it ANSWERED the call! I thought "no way", I didn't just hear that. I slowly turned and looked over at my son and he had that surprised, "was that what I think it was?" look on his face.
Neither of us moved for about a minute or two, and I started lowering the volume on the call, trying to simulate a cat walking away. We heard it twice more on our right side, just over a little rise about 20 yards away. Then it went quiet.
My son started to slowly, slowly turn so he could get a better shot towards the right where the sound came from. We were absolutely ready! My heart was in my throat, and I wanted to do my "answer" whistle on my RS mouth call, but my mouth was drier than a popcorn fart.
We were both concentrating on the little rise, because we were positive that is where the cat was, and it was going to show any second. Another five minutes went by, and I looked at my son, and caught movement down the hill but way off to the left. Then a cat just appeared! It was almost like it just materialized. It was looking right at us, and we did a stare down for about a minute. It finally turned and started walking across toward where the call was, so my son started to turn back to to the left get a shot. The cat stopped and just stared at us for about 10 seconds, and although I hate to apply human emotions to animals.... That cat was looking at us with absolute evil distain! It was a look that I've only seen one time, and that was a bear up on Kodiak. It's ears were laid back and it just spun around a disappeared in the ferns.
From the time we last heard it vocalize until we first saw it, was probably a minute to a minute and a half. From the time we first heard it bark/whistle until the time it busted us and left was probably about 6 or 7 minutes. (So, 4-5 minutes of vocal response on the right, then it showed up on the left 90 seconds later.) I still don't think it was the same cat. The way the ground laid, we should've seen it cross below us. Plus I don't think it had time to get over there without running, in which case I know we would've seen it. I don't know what exactly happened for sure, if there was two cats or what.
Hindsight being 20/20, my son should've just swung left and popped it, but it looked like it was going to stare at us for a while, or continue across the hill. It was only about 20 yards away, and was a very large, very angry looking cat. We couldn't really tell how tall it was because the ferns were covering it from the bottom of the belly to the ground. It did have a huge (and once again, mean looking) head.
I was playing the RS Cougar Female Calls, but it responded with a very different call. It sounded like it was two calls mixed together, a whistle and a kind of bark at the same time. I don't know if when I started turning the volume down simulate the "cat" getting further away, that it may have took off and got around below us, I guess we were pretty focused on where we heard it the last time. Who knows.
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RS8 RainShadow Call-In, NW Washington:
Early in the season, must have been September. It was warm, no tracking snow anywhere. I chose a ridge in a regularly traveled area and pulled the truck over. My 15 y.o. nephew was hunting with me. He's a quick study, but was green as can be. He also had just learned that he needed glasses, but (of course) wasn't wearing them because they "felt funny."
We hiked up the ridge about 1/2 mile then set up on top, and down one side a little. I set him up about 15 yards off the side of the crown of the ridge with the Benelli, watching the crown and up from there. I sat about 10 yards below him watching the side of the ridge and down from there. I set the Minaska M1 at my level, but off to the uphill side about 30 yards. It was extremely thick.
I was playing a combination of distress and first edition RS Cougar Whistles, when at about 12 minutes into the stand, I heard very distinct footsteps at the top of the ridge. I was looking downhill primarily, so I had to crane my neck hard to the left and pivot my upper body at the same time to look up to the top of the ridge. I looked intently, and after about a full minute I picked out a back-lit, silhouetted shape of the top half of a round head with those little rounded ears, right on top of the ridge, about 30 yards.
I thought, "No way! That can't be!" I watched it for about 30 seconds, and almost decided to pick my Encore up and check it through the scope. Then I thought, "No, [my nephew] is right there, 20 yards from it, looking uphill. He'd have seen it if it was really..." I watched it for another 2 minutes or so, it never even flickered. Just a shape. Still as stone. "Nah! Must be my imagination." I turned back and watched my front for the rest of the stand.
Just as I was ending the stand, I looked back up behind me... and for the life of me couldn't find that half of a head again! I looked hard for several minutes and never found what I was looking at earlier. I found the bushes, trees and stumps I had marked all around it, but it was gone!
I went over to my nephew and said, "Did you hear something, right at about 12 minutes?" He said, "Yeah. Footsteps. Right over there." and he pointed right where I had seen the top half of the cat's head! I said, "Did you see anything?" he said, "No. But I'm not wearing my glasses." (AAAaaaaaarrrrrgh!!!!) "I said, "I think we just got BUSTED!"
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RS9 Customer Testimonial, South Central WA. :
We snowmobiled in about 25 miles or so on the road, until we found tracks. We parked the sleds, strapped on the snowshoes and walked for about a half hour or so, (until I started to sweat bad), and set up. (Actually, I got tired of my son whispering comments to me about my physical conditioning).
We set up with a good field of view, and started calling. I used your RS Cougar Female Calls, and then went to a fawn in distress. I waited about 8 minutes and went back to the RS Cougar Whistle. I just kept doing that sequence, varying the duration each cycle.
About 45 minutes into it we both saw a cat coming across the open area down by the creek bottom about 300 yards away. It was coming up the hill towards us, and we both thought it was a big bobcat until we got a good look at it's tail. It was probably about 40 to 60 lbs.
I turned the caller down, and muted it when it was still about 150 yards out. We waited to see what it would do, and if maybe it would "grow" the closer it got. It came on in slowly to about 30 yards before it stopped, stared, and just kind of wandered off. I don't think it saw us, or anything.
Called-in Sub Adult to RS Cougar Female Calls, and one of the RS Cougar Whistles. Cutting a hot track and following it up for a ways is the #1 technique. No Shot Fired, Passed up due to its age. (Legal to harvest in WA since it had grown out of its spots, and was old enough to kill deer and small elk. But this hunter showed restraint, and let this one have a pass.)
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RS10 Customer Slayer1, Hunting-Washington . com Western WA:
The news was saying lowland snow for that morning. Perfect time to get out to do some calling. I was walking into a area I hunt just waiting to run onto some fresh bobcat tracks with this new snow. After a few miles, and after passing on some night before coyote tracks, I stumbled onto fresh lion tracks.
He headed up the mountain after a brief time on the road. Lucky for me a old road headed up the same mountain. So I hiked up about 1/2 mile until I came to the top and found a decent spot to set up.
I set the foxpro out about 20 yds in front of me and got comfortable on top of a old stump. I remember wishing I had a treestand to get up even higher to get a better view but the stump would have to do.
Not to long ago I listened to Brian Downs' Predator Hunting Talkcast, with guest Mark Healey. He talked about using different distress sounds and lion vocals to try to "trigger" a response from a cat. So I started with DSG cottontail for a few minutes and then to blacktail fawn distress for a few, then lightning jack, and finally some RS juvenile cougar whistles. (First Edition. Slayer1 doesn't remember which whistles he used because he re-labled all of them on his foxpro.)
After 2 rounds of that and I see the brown back of a lion moving into position about ten yards from the call. I swung up my AR and found his head sticking out under a young pine. Put the crosshairs on him and let him have it. He jumped out to the edge of the road and took off away from me. I let him have it three more times as he ran away before he went down. I wasn't planning on letting him get away!
He was a young 1 1/2 year old tom and weighed around 110#.
Truly a unforgettable experience.
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RS11 Customer LY, NE Arizona:
For me, my son, and a friend, we were rookies calling lions for the first time. We were hunting on the Navajo Reservation in northeast Arizona. In a known deer wintering area, located in the sagebrush flats, with juniper and pinion trees.
Before we began E-calling with a rabbit distress, the three of us positioned ourselves about eight to ten yards apart. Our first calling sequence lasted two to three minutes; we then paused for five minutes and called again for another two to three minutes. This calling session lasted about twenty minutes.
We stopped calling and after waiting for ten or fifteen seconds, we heard a response. I responded back, RS handcall whistle, and the cat responded again. We figured the cat may have been 150 to 200 yards away from us. No visual contact was made and we were unable to find tracks.
For the first time to be out calling for lions, we were excited that we got a response. Don’t know if we were busted by the cat. I’d like to mention, before our stand, we walked onto two separate deer kills made by two cats. The two kills had the same two cat tracks located around the carcasses.
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RS12 Gramps - SE Washington...
Disappointing as it was, I am trying to look at it as a teachable moment....for me and maybe others too.
I have hunted cougars off and on for over 20 years and have been fortunate to see 15 in the wild. It is always exciting, but at my age I don't always remember that I have made this mistake before....and I think that is what happened.
A few weeks ago I went to a place that I have hunted before looking for tracks as there was a new skiff of snow. A friend and a buddy had been up to this area a couple days before and followed some cougar tracks to an Elk kill. I did not find any tracks on this trip, but went back a few days later and found tracks along the main road. It looked like 2 or 3 sets of tracks. About 1/2 mile from the main road on a closed off old logging road I found where 3 cougars had bedded down for awhile.
It had been foggy and below freezing for a week or more and everything was covered with frozen frost....except for the tracks and the beds.....they looked very fresh. This was a really poor place to try to call because of very limited visibility, but I tried it anyway. All I could think of was 6 eyeballs watching my every move. I gave up after about 40 minutes when I got cold.
I went back a couple days later with a plan to walk in from a different direction and call near an area where the property owner had cleared some small trees and brush leaving just the bigger trees. This would provide good visibility. About 20 feet from the pickup, I noticed fresh tracks and where a cougar had urinated on a small...12" or so..tree. It was bright yellow on the snow. I was feeling like today was gonna be a good day.
I found my spot and set up. I set the caller about 30 yards out from where I was gonna sit and waited for about 15 minutes and started to call with a deer in distress, a female cougar sound and some magpies. I sometimes count the sounds as they play from the caller. This was the first time I had used a female cougar sound and I was counting the sounds and on the next loop there was an extra sound.
This is where I may have made my first mistake or two.
I was sitting against a tree trying to just look without turning my head much at all. At about the 30 minute mark suddenly there is a cougar sitting down at the edge of the brush looking at me. It came out at the worst possible place.....directly in front of me with the caller and the source of the sound in a direct line and between the cat and me.
As was the case the last time, my heart rate jumped and I realized I was not positioned to shoot. I usually call sitting down on the ground with my knees up and my rifle on my knees. Not so this time.....my legs were out flat. I managed to raise one leg and was going to move the other one and the rifle at the same time when the cat decided to move on.
I also did not have on my face netting. This and the movement may have been my undoing. It was about 65 yards from my location to the cat. I think the beds I saw were a female and two nearly adult offspring based on the tracks. None of the tracks were very big.
When I got back to the rig, I was gonna take a picture of the urine in the snow and it was all frosted over and was barely visible. The temp that morning had been 10 above. The bright yellow I saw that morning could have been 10 minutes to and hour old.....not much more.
RS13: DoubleCK - Arizona
After sitting between 150 to 180 hours in the last three years on "Lion Calling Stands," it happened yesterday morning. I have called in five Mountain Lions that I know of, but this morning was my first shot opportunity.
Persistence Pays I guess. But some call it "Just Plain Stubborn!" (-:
Picked up my 2017 AZ Lion Tag this afternoon. Happy New Year!
A friend and I had gone into this area a few days prior to look for Desert Big Horn Sheep. We found them. Eleven Rams with the largest being a dandy Full Curl. Dan got some great pictures that day. Figured Lions eat Sheep so I tried a Stand without result.
Thursday Karen and I went to the Taxidermist over in West Phoenix to pick up a Grey Fox mount that he had finished. Of course I had a long visit there about what would happen if I ever did bag a Mountain Lion. He was freaked when I texted him a "Dead Lion" picture the very next morning. LOL
That afternoon a couple of (Snowbird Pals) Montana and a Colorado Snowbird (Elk Hunters) here at the Resort decided we should to go back in where we had seen the Rams and we would make a Lion Stand. I warned them that it would be long, boring and that their ears would be bleeding long before we could quit.
We headed out the back gate of the RV Resort at daylight. In a half hour we had the UTVs well hidden and we hiked the backside trail along a ridge and through a saddle where we could setup and see for miles. They each took positions in the rocks near the top of the ridge. I dropped down down to a spot where I had three good shooting lanes thru the Mesquite and Cholla. I placed the Revolution to my left about 30 yards and fired 'er up.
After 35 minutes playing some excruciating, loud, ear splitting RainShadow Lion Sounds I figured I had these Elk Hunters laughing up their sleeves thinking I had scared every critter in a 5 mile radius to parts unknown. I switched out to a series of three of the most brutal, violent prey distress sounds Rick has to offer. All of the sudden there she was looking my direction 40 yards out right in front of my old 6mm propped solid in the sticks. She took an 87gr V-Max just below her throat (later found it just under the skin between her shoulder blades). She flopped some but never covered any ground. The three spotters placed up in the rocks never saw her even though they were equipped with good Binocs and constantly scanning. I believe that tells us something about calling these Apex Predators.
Couple of these SnowBirds are great Photographers so after a ridiculous amount of posing and clicking we slapped on the tag and packed her to the trail in the Otter Sled I keep on the UTV for just such a chore.
After working my way through a crowd of Snowbirds at the RV Resort I got cleaned up, headed to the G&F for the required dental work and made the Taxidermist and even the ASU / Stanford BB game.
Good Day spent with Good Folks!
R14 - Jeff - Western WA
Well yesterday (June) I decided to get out and play with some coyotes since the fawns are dropping and there are lots of coyotes in the area. I was planning on night hunting and since it was still early in the day I figured I would waste some time in another spot and just mess around for a while.
I hiked probably 500 yards off the main road and saw a nice stump to sit on. It was a 4 year old clear cut so it was growing up just enough for a small animal to sneak through. I set my caller about 60 yards out and started with the fox pro lightning jack. After a little while I decided to switch to ranting Redbird and let it play continuously.
24 minutes into my stand a cougar walks out into the open 30 yards from me, directly between me and my caller. Unfortunately it's out of season as I'm in Western WA. I struggled to reach my pack quietly to get my phone for pics. He was slowly circling the caller hunched to the ground with it's ears down staring towards the caller.
I switch to RS cougar whistle and the cougar had an immediate attitude change. After about 30 seconds it jumped on top of a stump and sat down. It looked around for a good 20 seconds and slithered off. It disappeared for a few minutes and I continued playing whistles and MR pair. Pretty soon I see the cougar again sitting about 90 yards away in the clear cut. Just sitting down with it's mouth open very relaxed. I continued to watch for a total of 45 minutes.
I paused the sound for a couple minutes and eventually he whistled back a handful of times. He eventually started moving towards the sound but I never saw him again. I put my caller remote in my pack as I was getting ready to leave. Then he lets out a loud whistle. I whistled with my mouth and to my surprise he whistled back twice and I got it on camera.
After a while of silence I got down off my stump, grabbed my call and slipped out of there trying not to spook him off. If it weren't for the RS calls I'm willing to bet I would never have seen him again. Once he thought there was another cat around he relaxed. He was hanging out in the open just resting.
Even though I couldn't shoot, it was the most memorable experiences I've had in the woods.
R15 - g bo - Utah
Followed many a track for sometimes miles and would find a decent location to set up for a good location to do a lion stand. As I found out lion stand set ups are very different from a typical coyote stand. I called two lions in, who came in behind me that I didn't see but only heard. When you hear a lion answer you I gotta tell you it does make your heart pump where you can hear your heart beat so loud you are afraid the lion will hear it too.
Most recently sat in 90*+ weather for many stands. Some days in the heat the flies were so bad I wore a mesh head net to keep them from crawling on my face. I had to keep them off my face cause you can not move to swat them off your face at all because any movement a cat will spot.
I had changed form cutting a track to sitting at areas where there was water. It was very hot in August. I had gone out and sat probably 5 stands. Found lion tracks around the area so I knew there was a chance. After nothing still came in I was woundering if I resembled Jim Carry in dumb and dumber. When he told Mary, after she said "...one in a million..."
"...so you say there is a chance!"
So finally the day it happened...
Got to a water hole about 2 pm and noticed an unusual amount of very fresh (multiple) lion tracks. I had Archery permits for both elk and deer. Since I have killed over 35 deer and 40 elk with my bow I decided to lay my bow down and focus on lions. I didn't want to be trying to juggle two weapons in case something showed up. This time was different because it had rained a little in the morning and there were several different fresh lion tracks around since it had rained. I was really excited.
Sat for several hours (didn't call any yet.) Finally, 7 deer showed up to water. They could smell cougar and seemed very nervous. They watered at the bottom of the water hole about 80 yards from me, then scurried away. About two hours later (about 20 minutes from dark) I saw what I thought was a lion down where the deer had watered. Put my gun up, looked through the scope. Wow! The heart jumped and missed a beat, after eight months there was a lion in my scope. It was drinking, I don't know how long it had been there, so I started to squeeze the trigger... and it walked into the trees to my right. I was devastated. It was gone and had disappeared.
As I sat there thinking I thought "DAH!" My call is sitting (buried in a bush) between me and where the lion appeared. I hit a distress call and almost immediately I saw another lion to the left of where the one had exited to the right, walking away though the dense trees.
I thought' "Well, I scared it away." I just sat there thinking of what to do next. (I Only had 10-15 minutes before complete darkness.)
So I started some constant lion whistles. About 5 minutes later a lion strolled/crawled in from my right at about 60 yards away. Put the gun up, lined everything up and pulled the trigger. As soon as I shot I realized there were two of them. The other was only 25 yards from me. They both ran to my right into the very thick trees.
I heard a bunch of rustling around over in the trees. Then everything went quite.
Wow! The crickets were chirping and that was all. I was sitting there in the almost total darkness thinking about the events of the past 15 minutes. Were there two lions here? Or four lions here? Was the one I shot dead? Was his buddy with him? What to do next?
I then realized all I had for a flashlight was my cell phone. GREAT! I sat for almost two more hours in the dark wondering what to do. I finally decided rather than track the lion with my phone flashlight I would walk clear around the area where the lions ran, get to my pickup about a half a mile away, then drive back up the road. I left my truck idling where the blood crossed the road. Got a good flashlight and walked into the thick trees with flashlight in hand and 9mm on my hip. I did have my hand on my sidearm as well. Had to crawl though some areas because the trees were so thick.
"This was lion country."
Found it about 75 yards later. Felt good to finally get it done.
Taxidermist said it weighed about 100-110 lbs, the summer coat makes it look different than it would in January. But I was extremely happy and satisfied.
RS16 - D. Goodwin - SD
I returned several times to the ridge where I had bumped a lion off his bed, attempting to call it in. I would wait a week between hunts, mainly due to my work schedule, but cautious about ruining my chance by over hunting the same area. Each hunt I’d hike in and find a suitable calling location, and started off with lion whistles followed by varying volume of lions courting, lasting at least an hour.
The first and second time I called, the lion vocalized after about 45 minutes, but was off in the distance. I recall the daylight was to blame for not calling longer, as it was at least a mile hike back to the truck.
On my third call set for this lion I got a whistle response after 30 minutes, this time I had more daylight, but to no avail, even after a few vocal responses, I didn’t get a visual.
Another day I hiked in, trying to locate a calling site that wouldn’t be such a hike out in the dark! I set out around 3 pm hiked in a few hundred yards down a valley toward where I bumped the lion weeks before. I found a great area, plenty of shooting lanes, and a good vantage point, but just as I went to place the call in the bottom of a ravine, some sport shooter fired off a few hundred rounds above my location on the top of the opposite ridge.
Since my new calling spot was a bust I decided to hike in and to the West of where I bumped the cat off his bed. I found a calling location on the side slope of a ridge that lead to a large canyon. I placed the call amidst a small thicket of trees and made myself a nice pine needles nest at the base of a large tree. The wind was gusting up to 40 MPH and I remember thinking it was a dumb idea to call with so much wind, and my spirits weren’t all that high after having to abandon my first attempted call site. In any case put on every layer of clothing I had in my pack, even had the thermal ski mask and a hood.
I began playing my call of choice, “RS Cougar Adult Whistle” followed by “Lions Courting”. I played the whistle for about 5 minutes loudly, pausing between wind gusts, and all the while scanning for movement. After 5 minutes I turned the volume down considerably, and changed to Lions Courting, adjusting the volume up and down matching the wind, but would turn it loud if the wind calmed for long enough.
At about 10 minutes a lion appeared 30 yards in front of me, walking towards the west, and behind the caller about 10 yards. At the moment I spotted him the call was muted, and he was just walking through, not crouched down at all. He walked behind a small thicket of shrubs, so I took advantage of this concealment to adjust my rifle on the shooting sticks. As the lion walked out from behind the thicket he walked right into my cross hairs! I squeezed off a round and sent the lion flipping into the air and flipped out of sight down a ridge below.
I quickly ran up and found his tracks. It looked like he tumbled about 50 feet down towards the bottom of the valley. Unfortunately there wasn’t any blood. I cautiously followed his tracks, feeling a little disappointed. I knew I hit the lion, the shot placement felt great, I even found a clump of hair on the ground where I shot him. I figure I shot him around 4:15 which left approximately an hour of daylight for tracking.
Luckily he was in the bottom of a deep valley that still had enough snow to keep on his tracks, but unfortunately, it was so overgrown and thick walking after his tracks was nearly impossible! About 50 yards in I found the first sign of blood, good arterial spray and dark blood spots. After about 45 minutes I’d covered maybe 200 yards. I decided it wasn’t safe or smart to keep pressing the lion, so I turned around and hiked back to the truck.
The next morning my Dad and 3 friends meet around first light and we headed out for his last known track from the night before. We ended up catching his movement under a fallen pine tree, as he walked out of the thick cover I took another shot, this time perfectly placed on his vitals. After examining the lion my first shot was a little low and only skimmed his chest and took out his front left elbow. As a sportsman, I’m not one to brag about making an animal suffer overnight, but maybe my experience will helpful for future lion hunters. By leaving the lion overnight, he had a good chance of bleeding out, by taking 4 guys in with to track (help drag him out) may have made the lion less likely to stay hidden and was way safer!
I believe I’ve called in this cat at least 3 other times, where he vocalized to me, but didn’t come into view. My 2016 season consisted of hunting more than 20 days, calling for 29 hours and 10 minutes, and hiking on foot for over 30 miles.
The Lion was a 1 ½ year old male lion weighing in at 114 pounds.
R17 - Jeff - Western WA (See RS14, above!)
Cougar down! I busted my ass this year and with the lack of snow its been very tough and very boring. But I've been plugging away every chance I get. After Driving fresh snow all morning, calling in some coyotes, cutting some bobcat tracks, I decided to search exclusively for Cougars. I drove to a second area...
Less than a 1/4 mile off the pavement I stumbled across a set of cougar tracks. They looked small and had pointy toes like a female. The snow was melting off that section of road and it made it hard to tell which way it went. I made my best judgement and decided it was more likely to have gone south which was a big tall timber flat that has a tall ridge running parallel to the road on the other side of the flat. I looked on my gps and found a road that runs along the top of the Ridge.
Turns out it was a nice little overgrown grade. I geared up and walked that whole road to the end and never found tracks. I figured if it did stay on that side of the road it would either have crossed there or walked the flat around the end of the Ridge. I was in somewhat thick younger timber (20 years or so) that was recently thinned by hand.
It was difficult deciding where to set up because there was no good spot downhill or sidehilled. I had to sit uphill which I know is usually a fundamental mistake for cougar calling. I had my back against a tree and a small stump off my left leg. I had my gun propped on the side of the stump and my caller was 20 yards away off slightly to my left. I hid the caller against a stump behind a piece of bark and stuck the external speaker under a log and covered it with snow.
I started out blaring calf elk distress at full volume and kept switching it up to cottontail, blacktail distress and anything loud and terrible sounding. Including raccoon fight. (I very rarely will do that) I wanted to draw massive attention to my area. Then after 5-10 minutes I switch to RS whistles, female whistle and wufftalk.
I looked at my caller and saw i was at the 23 minute mark and I thought to myself "just be patient, this may take a couple hours so don't move and stay awake". I was prepared to spend a minimum of two hours calling.
Literally one minute later I see a large dark figure move out of the corner of my eye (I was facing the Sun, which I also rarely do) I didn't even have to look before I knew exactly what it was. It was behind a couple trees so I pulled up my gun. It walks out slowly and presents me a perfect broadside shot to the boiler room. It was only 20 yards or less from me. I drilled it with my .300wsm and it flopped around then dropped 10 feet from where it was hit.
It was an interesting pack to the truck. I called my dad to help. We have bruises and sore muscles and even my pickup got a whole bunch of scratches and a couple dents in an attempt to make the pack a little easier. We got it field dressed and loaded up 2 hours before dark so we couldn't complain about anything.
It was an absolutely incredible experience. I will be getting a full body mount and I cannot wait to eat the meat.
It was definitely neither small... nor a female!
RS-18 - Paul - Oregon
March of 2018. We had gotten some late snow storms, and I was on the hunt for fresh tracks. A friend of mine told me that he was out driving around and had cut a cat track, but they did not go after it or call. He gave me the location of the track and I went out the next day.
It had snowed overnight and I was unable to find the track. I had walked about a four mile loop and decided to cold call a canyon I thought might be where it went.
The wind was picking up and probably gusting up to 15 mph. I usually won’t call in the wind, but I was out there anyway and gave it a try.
I set the foxpro in a small pine tree at the bottom of the canyon, and went up the hill about 50 yards away. I had just purchased the rain-shadow hand call and listened to all of Steve’s seminars on the cd. I put the OR09 and M09 calls on the foxpro, and was excited to use them.
Elk were in the area and I started with elk calves in distress for around 3 minutes. I then blew the hand call a few times and used OR09 for about a minute. Over the next half hour I continued with distress calls followed by a pause then cougar whistles.
At around 35 minutes, with a jackrabbit distress call going, a cougar just appeared in the bottom of the canyon. It came from the side I did not expect it to. I was not hidden from it at all. As I moved for the shot, it caught my movement and was staring right at me.
I rushed my shot and missed.
The cat took three huge bounds and disappeared into a patch of trees.
I quickly moved across the canyon and went above where the cat had gone. The brush was clear further up in the canyon so I kept working up as fast as I could go. I saw the cat crossing back over to the other side about 200 yards ahead of me. I was amazed I got a second chance and took my time and got a rest. When the cat slowed to a walk, I took a shot and hit it, but didn’t know how well. It ran into some rocky brush and back down the canyon.
I crossed over and got confirmed blood in the track and followed it. After about a quarter mile, it was laid up under a juniper tree and I got a kill shot in.
The cougar was around 150# male. I was super lucky after I blew the call-in shot.
RS-19 - Dave - Western WA
On Dec. 25 2018 my wife and I walked into one of our favorite predator hunting spots, some private timber land in western Washington. We have one spot that has produced a number of coyotes and a couple bobcat. My wife climbed up to her normal vantage point and I dropped down into a low thick area.
I did my normal set, 3 howls, wait, a short distress, wait, longer distress, wait and then finish up with some pup distress. Nothing came in.
A few weeks earlier we had seen a sub adult cougar in the area so for some reason I decided to call out a couple cougar whistle with the call I got from Rainshadow. Right away I heard a bird chirp in the distance, then my brain caught up, that was no bird, that was a cougar. Having never been in this situation I was unsure of how to play it, I decided to slow play it.
After a couple minutes I whistled 4 or 5 times , the cougar responded but closer. At this point my wife had figured out what was going on and repositioned herself slightly for a shot. I continued to whistle and the cougar continued to reply moving closer. The last whistle I heard was about a 100 yards away in some thick reprod at the edge of an open area. The cougar went silent.
A couple minutes later we heard some bird going crazy a couple hundred yards out and we concluded the cat left. Still super exciting.
We came to the conclusion the the cougar had seen my wife, her location was a little exposed to the direction the cat came in. She now makes sure that she has good cover in all directions before we start any set. If we're calling an area with a high probability of cougars I now always end my set with cougar whistles.
RS20 - D. Goodwin - South Dakota
My 2019 went out with a Bang!!
With only an inch of fresh snow I departed my house around 4am December 31st. After driving over 100 miles I finally found huge day old tracks crossing a forest service road shortly after daybreak.
Since they were old I decided to backtrack him & see where he came from. This lead me to a large canyon with big rocks on the southern face. That afternoon I snuck in about 1/2 mile around a bend in the creek, below the cliffs and setup my FoxPro in some thick fallen timber.
I started with RS Live Whistles, 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off. After about 15 minutes I played 5 minutes of Agitated feeding followed by 5 minutes of silence, just about as I was going to turn on the volume I heard some rocks move far to my right way up on the cliff.
It could have been anything, so I dismisses it and started to start playing another 5 minutes of RS agitated feeding.
A few minutes later a lion appeared gently walking down a steep embankment on the side of the rock face, heading towards my FoxPro. As she walked behind a tree I adjusted my sights and waited for her to walk into the crosshairs.
Bang! (Happy New Year!)
This is my 3rd Lion Harvested in the Black Hills of South Dakota, my second called in with Rain Shadow recordings.
She officially weighed in at 102 pound, and was estimated to be a 6 year old female.
R21 - Shakyshot - NW Washington
My Dad, Coach, and I got up the mountain early, and caught some semi snowed in tracks right at the snow line. So we hiked off the road about half a mile below the tracks, down the South facing slope where there was no snow at all.
We got set up in the old growth timber, about 200 yards up above an old clear-cut. I was set up about 15 feet from Coach, and my Dad was down below us. Coach told me that if he saw a cougar he'd do a quiet little whistle to get my attention. (He had filled his cougar tag just 4 days before.)
So we started calling with some distress hand calls, then transitioned into distress calls from the electronic call.
We were about 12 minutes into calling, and just started playing three different RainShadow cougar vocals, when the birds and squirrels started going crazy up on the mountain above us. They seemed to get closer and closer but still a little ways off when Coach did his light whistle. It was about 18 minutes into the stand.
When I heard his first whistle I thought, "No way! No way did he call in two cougars in the same week with his brand new call!" Then he whistled again, and I was like. "Okay, its legit!"
I scanned over towards him... didn't see anything. But there was a large tree he had his back on that was blocking a lot of my view of what he could see. I thought the cougar must've been behind the tree Coach was leaning back against.
So I got up and slowly sneaked over behind the tree. I was just about to pop out and look beyond the tree, when I looked up the mountain, and 25 yards up the mountain there was a cougar staring right at me! He was quartering towards me, and I could just see his front half. So I pulled up, aimed at that close shoulder, steadied, and fired. The cougar whipped around and jumped at the same time, down the mountain, about 20 yards in one leap.
"That was crazy!" I thought! So close, seeing the cats black muzzle.
Feeling really good about the shot, we all immediately went to search for blood. We went to where I believed he stood, and found nothing. No blood, no hair, absolutely nothing. The thought of missing a cougar at 25 yards, or less, was inconceivable to me! I hadn't missed all year, shooting a bear and a deer, each at 300 plus yards.
With no blood, hair, or snow to work with, we started tracking the cougar in the old growth, which was extremely difficult. Trying to follow his bounds that were about every 15 feet or so.
After 20 minutes of looking for blood where I hit him, and finding nothing, and then another hour of tracking him, with no luck finding blood, we finally found a clear track in the mud of the bank above an old skitter trail at the top of the clear cut. We decided to grab a little lunch, after checking for blood in the thicker brush along the road. Still no blood.
After a 20 minute lunch we started into the thick clear cut. This wasn't just any brushy clear cut, this was a thinned cut, so there were deadfalls everywhere. We get down about 20 yards off the skitter trail, and this cat jumps out 6 feet from me! I almost stepped on him! He jumped over some brush and dove under a big thicket of downed trees. We looked and looked and tried to force him out. With no luck... we thought he may have slipped away in the salal.
We checked where he had been lying down, and found a little blood. Finally I got confirmation that I hit him.
We decided to let him sit a little longer, so we gave him about an hour, as we went and got the car.
After getting the car, we got back to where we last saw him, and I stuck my face down into the thicket where I saw him disappear. There he was! Down buried under the salal and deadfalls! It took about 3 hours to track him 250 yards, and he traveled it in about 20 seconds.
I was elated to take such a beautiful cat! It only took 1 shot, and I barley missed his close sholder and hit about half an inch outside his sternum into the far sholder, and out the back of his armpit. Felt so good to finally kill my first Cougar after hunting them for a number of years.
Here is a Youtube video from the Coach! It covers after the shot all the way to the recovery...
"Coach" in this story is the infamous rookie Lion caller who appears in O33 below! (One day he'll experience the thrill of 30 dry stands in a row, but he can't expect to get to that level right away!)
"Dad" in this story is a very experienced Lion caller, and Friend, who has done extremely well over the years calling the big cats! I've learned a lot collaborating with him, and I've been able to test a lot of RainShadow products through him. This guy hunts HARD! Good to know some guys like that!
"Shakyshot" is a college kid who has spent scores of hours on his butt in the snow with "Dad" listening to RainShadow sounds echoing through the woods... but hadn't popped a cap at a lion... until now!
RS22 - Central Oregon
Thick Fir/pine forest with some meadows at about 5600 ft elevation
88 pound male by himself
Fresh snow meant that I had to get up in the woods. Two hours before daylight I was parked in my spot. Hadn't seen any cat tracks on the way up but lots of deer and coyote prints in the dusting of snow.
When it got light I loaded up my pack and rifle and started down the side road no one had driven. I hadn't gone 200 feet when I saw fresh cougar prints in the snow. I followed them up the hill and then came to a nice meadow. Forty minutes of calling gave me nothing but hypothermia. The wind was nasty (25+ MPH) and I figured nothing could hear me. I walked further up and cut the tracks again. Followed them for about 1.5 miles. He liked the timbered ridge line and avoided the openings. Tree to tree to tree, avoiding nearly all openings. No wonder I never see them.
Finally, I found where he hadn't crossed a skidder trail. I set up my call about 40 yards away from where I was gonna sit. First time using an electronic caller for cats. I then started walking back to my chosen hiding spot and accidentally hit my remote which made my FoxBang go off. Pup in distress sounds filled the air and I was almost cursing as I ran to the cluster of jackfir I was going to hide in. I muted the dang call, blew on my RainShadow cat whistle twice in quick succession then immediately went full volume fawn in distress on the CS24C. All within 10 seconds. Absolutely the dumbest and most rushed sound sequence I've ever done in the woods haha.
I quickly sat on my foam pad, put my rifle up on my knees and looked left and right without moving my head. I was cursing myself for the stupid sounds I had just made up. Not five seconds later I looked over under a dark tree and I thought "no way".
I knew exactly what it was. The white of the inner ear and the white on the chin gave him away. He was already laying flat, crouched 3-5 yards from the call and staring straight at it. With a small swing of the rifle, he was in my scope. I held it right on his shoulder and shot. When you shoot enough, you know when it all went well. I stood up and got my empty 25-06 brass out of the snow.
Snow showed that cat just rolled over dead at the shot. He was fully under the drip line of a 10 inch diameter white fir, which is typical of how he walked the entire time I tracked him. The side hill he was on was thick fir and pine. He had not crossed the skidder trail because there was a meadow on the other side of the road.
If it hadn't been for the lessening of the snow, I would have never seen him crouched there. The snow helped immensely. I've used hand calls for 20+ years and never really worried about calling in a cat close. I know I've called in a few and never seen them. Last year one came in and sat down 30 yards behind me. They're ghosts! But had never thought one would ever take less than 30 seconds to be at the source of the sound.
I've been obsessed with calling cats for about 15 years and learn new things every trip. This trip taught me:
Be aggressive in hustling to get ahead of fresh tracks.
High wind speed doesn't really matter if you're close enough. At least you're in the woods instead of sitting at home complaining or daydreaming.
When you've got fresh snow, get out every chance you get.
I think the accidental 15-20 second combination of loud, aggressive sounds was frustrating in the moment. Maybe there's something good about the scenario it played? Coyote pup, cat whistle, and then a fawn in that short time seems absurd. But it definitely sparked this cat's interest.
I've followed them in the snow before and they always seem to like the ridges or steep side hills in the forest.
I almost brought my 223 since it's lighter. Glad I carried my 25-06 with 85 grain Ballistic Tips since I hit the front shoulder. It did not exit. Amazing how thick their bones are for their size!
Disable FoxBang if you're chasing cats and are clumsy like I am.
Hide as good and thoroughly as you possibly can when setting up. I was fully underneath the branches of one tree and has a scrubby jackpine in front of me as well. Absolutely could not be seen except for my barrel sticking out.
Wear gloves and a face mask. I prefer the 1/2 type that doesn't go over your head so you can use it was a neck warmer.
This is my second cat and both of them were when calling. Mental exercises of "if this happens, I'll do this" is one of the most important and responsible things a hunter can do.
I usually sit in my setups for about 20-30 minutes. That's important for cold calling. But I won't be sitting so long when following tracks unless I know I'm ahead of them.
Cougar meat is delicious in a Dutch oven or slow cooker.
Time to get my second tag, even if I only have 2.5 weeks left to use it. You just never know when you'll find one!
And RainShadow's knives are awesome for skinning your mountain lion!
Thank you for making this depository of stories. I read through all of them last week for about the 5th time.
RS23 - Lee - Washington State
Wanted to let you know that after receiving your reply on Saturday, I decided to head out on my own Sunday. Ended up with a successful call-in on my first set, just never saw the cat. I ran the cottontail distress for about 20 minutes as I saw a bunch of rabbit tracks on my way in. Paused for a couple of minutes, then hit the RS female lion call. During the second pause I had a lion call back about five times. My call was between me and the cat, so at first I actually thought I had bumped the call and was trying to turn it off. That's when I realized the call was, in fact, still muted. I gave it another 45 minutes, did not get any other responses, and never saw the lion. I looked for tracks, but the call came from across a creek I didn't want to cross and be soaking wet for the hike out. Maybe the lion thought the same thing? Who knows? Anyway, still an awesome experience. It's a lot different when you're on your own without a hunting partner!
RS 24 - Dave - South Dakota
My 4th Lion
On the 3rd morning of the 2023 South Dakota Mountain Lion season, December 28th, I parked at a forest service gate around 6:30AM, an hour before shooting time. I unloaded my E-Bike in the dark & took off on a two track trail headed towards my spot, about 1 1/2 miles into the woods.
I parked my bike about 100 yards from where I planned to setup, and snuck into my spot. I setup in the same spot as I did when I got my lion in 2014. I sat against the same tree and put the FoxPro near the same log. My spot is on the upper side of a large draw, kind of a plateau with a large drainage leading into a big valley below. What makes it a great spot is the line of sight is limited so a lion would have to come over the rim. It also has a good position to sit overlooking the FoxPro with good shooting lanes.
I began calling at 7:00AM, with two minutes of loud Lion Whistles (M09). A few minutes after I paused the call, I heard a bird off in the distance that sounded like a lion whistle. Not thinking much of it I decided to switch calls over to the Rain Shadow Calm feeding sound and let it play for 5 minutes. Then I heard the bird again, so I switched back to a whistle that sounded similar, just to prove to myself it wasn’t a lion. After a minute or two I paused, and the bird replied again, even louder and at a faster cadence. I was sure it was a bird so I changed to another whistle (OR09) for maybe 30 seconds, and the bird also changed its whistle. That’s when I hit pause, and sat there motionless just scanning with my eyes. After a few minutes or seconds I can’t remember, I caught movement… the Lion was about 30 yards away when I scanned to my right, all I saw was her take a step and sit down. She was behind some thick trees but I could make out her head and shoulder. I don’t know why but my heart was beating out of my chest! I took a few seconds to get my breathing under control and as she was turning head head back and forth scanning for where the whistle came from, I waited until she was looking away to put the remote down and transitioned my hands to my rifle. Right then she stood up and started walking towards me. She didn’t see me, I just happened to be in the direction she was walking. She was already too close for hunting with a scope, and closing the distance so I took a shot, not a great shot but it hit her! She jumped up and as she was running towards me I shot again, this time she changed direction and disappeared down the draw. I can’t remember standing up, but at that moment I realized I was standing up as I watched her tumbling away. I could hear some rustling of leaves and then it stopped. I waited 10-15 minutes before approaching her, she only made it 25 yards!
She weighed in at 80 pounds, approximately 2 year old female.
This was my 4th set (1 hour calling sets) of the season, and took all of 18 minutes to call her in! But it’s the result of years of searching for good spots, getting in early, not making noise, and sitting motionless. As we drug her out we found her tracks in some spotty snow, she walked out of the draw headed straight towards me, had she caught movement I wouldn’t have ever seen her.
Huge thanks to my Brother, Tim and nephew Hunter for helping drag it out and take pictures!
Hands down, Lion hunting on foot is the most rewarding hunt in North America!
RS25 - Jeff in WA
I had just returned from vacation... I got home at 6:30 PM and I left to go bear hunting at 7:30PM, so my wife wasn't real impressed with me. I felt guilty so I stayed home the next morning and figured I could maybe sneak out around noon. I was at home twiddling my thumbs, getting my bow ready for next weeks opener elk season. I just finished a late breakfast and was sitting at the table when my phone got a notification for a trail camera pic. It was a Cougar. Not just A cougar. The cougar. It was a big tom I've been getting pics and videos of for the last couple months. The first time I saw him he was following a female around sniffing. I figure she was going into heat at that time. When I saw this pic I realized the season is open. I yelled to my wife I had to go. I showed her the pic and I ran to the garage and threw my hunting clothes on as fast as I could, grabbed my rifle and my caller and jumped in my wrangler. I usually hunt out of my cherokee so all my gear lives in it during the season. The wrangler was blocking it though. I threw the bare minimum in the front seat and hammered down. Normally it's a 15-20 minute drive to this spot. I must've made it in 12. I was half a mile away and I was notified of another picture. It was the cat, still wandering around in the road. I knew the odds were in my favor.
I parked in my usual spot. This is western washington and I'm in active timber farm land. This road is a gated dead end road only ¼ mile long. It's near a river and has thick reprod on the right side (young trees about 15-20 feet tall). It has thick underbrush. The left side is slightly younger but open reprod with lots of blackberry bushes and cascara trees. About half way down the road on the left side is a patch of RMZ (timber in wetlands that was left standing when it was logged). The animals use this RMZ as a main path to and from the river.
I walked in there just enough I could see down the straight stretch. I glassed around briefly then picked out a spot to put my call. On the left side of the road there is a grassy field with no trees about 30x30 yards. it was used as some sort of turn around spot or something years ago. there is an island of super dense blackberry bushes about the same size bordering the edge of the field and the road. There is a stump in the ditch line lightly covered in black berry brush right on the edge where the brush meets the field. I put my call between the stump and the blackberry bushes. I moved back 30 yards and hid on the left side of the road behind some grass. This way I could see the right edge of the road. At the time I thought he was to my right. I started calling with rabbit distress. I just did some light calling. nothing too loud and crazy. Just about 45 seconds of some squealing. Then I paused for 20 seconds or so and played about 10 seconds of cougar whistles. Then I switched to distress for a little longer. While I'm calling I notice a notification for another trail cam pic. No cameras are on the right side of the road so I knew it was on the left. I no longer felt comfortable with where I was sitting. I was worried the cat would walk the left ditch line. The stump my call was on was directly blocking the entire ditch line. (300 yard straight stretch). I look at the picture and confirm it's on the left side. Right as I decide I want to move I hear the cat whistle back to me. I hear 4 or 5 different chirps within a few seconds from this cat. I figured he was 100 yards out or so and to my left. So now I'm real uncomfortable and I stand up to move to the opposite side of the road. It is not something I have ever done during a stand and at the time I felt like I was violating one of the most basic rules, but it worked out. Being right handed does not work well for sitting on the right ditch line but I made it work. I was behind a stump so if it walked out in front of me I would be fairly hidden. My left side is completely exposed. I also didn't have time to look for my face mask so I had my hood on. I zipped it over my mouth and pulled my hat down low and try to keep my face hidden behind my gun. Well after less than a minute of calling with a couple other cougar vocals, this cat just strolls out on the corner of the field to my slight left. Just 35 yards away. His body was straight on to me walking my direction but his head was turned to his left looking right towards the caller. He couldn't see the caller because it was around the corner a few feet, which is part of the strategy. You want them to have to keep looking for the sound otherwise if they see where the sound is coming from they will hang up and you probably won't see it.
I slowly move my gun to the left. The cat hears or sees this movement and looks directly at me, feeling as if it was making eye contact. It only looked at me for a fraction of a second then turned back to the call. It was a quick glance but I remember it clearly. In that fraction of a second I thought I was busted and would have to take a hail mary shot. Fortunately he was fixated on the call which was still running whistles. My scope was on 12X and I'm 35 yards away. I saw his face very clearly and had my crosshairs between the shoulders, frontal. I took what felt like a minute but in all reality it was maybe 5 seconds, to just admire this cat. The desire to kill it wasn't as strong as when I killed my first cat. I wanted to enjoy watching it before killing it. It must have been about 5 seconds and it was like someone was tapping me on the shoulder saying "hey man, it's not going to be here much longer. Take the shot or watch it get away". Needless to say I took the shot.
It dove straight in to the blackberry brush about 50 feet. I could hear it growling and see the brush moving. I walked over next to the brush and just relaxed and took it in for a while. I called my wife to bring me the game cart and a machete. My brother in law and his 5 year old boy were on the way, My wife took a bit to get stuff loaded up but she was bringing everything including my 4 year old daughter. After waiting about 10 minutes since he moved last I took a stick and blazed a small path to see the cat. I could see just enough to reach my phone in and snapped a pic of his face. After everyone showed up I opened up a nice path and we carried him out. We took some pics, loaded it on the cart and took him home to weigh it. It weighed 156lbs
O1 Okanagan, NW Washington :
My favorite calling stand combined a lion, my son and my father-in-law in a hunt so unlikely it was a gift.
Our first stand of the second season we tried for cougars, my son and I picked a saddle in a deer wintering area from a topo map and decided to make our first stand there. My wife encouraged us to take her father who would love it. My son picked up his 80 year old grandpa before daylight. He showed us his ancient belt knife he’d sharpened for a cougar. He had started me calling critters and taught me most of what I know about calling. With three of us together I considered it a practice stand to start the year rather than serious lion calling. We set up in a frozen swamp.
I started calling with my old Weems, watching the back door. My son was a few feet away, a bit higher so he could look over the rest of the swamp. A couple of times Grandpa leaned over and whispered to ask if I’d heard something, etc. I knew it was a lost cause then.
But about a half hour into the stand, I sensed my son move. He seemed to be looking at something through his scope but didn’t shoot so I finally relaxed. Just then, "Bang!"
“Bobcat?” I asked in a whisper. “It was a cougar,” he said. My watch showed we’d been on stand 32 minutes. It loped into the far end of the swamp angling toward thick timber and brush within 40 yards of us. My son knew he couldn’t see the cat if it got in the cover so he shot when it paused at 125 yards.
He ran across the frozen swamp ahead of us. When he war whooped we knew he’d hit a lion. Blood flecks and hair marked the hit but only scarce tracks in patchy snow hinted where the cat had entered the heavy old growth forest. From there it took 15 minutes of slow circling to find the lion stretched out on the moss carpet 50 yards farther. They are an exceptionally pretty animal. This one was a six year old female and weighed 88 lbs.
What a prize to pack out to the road. Having 3 generations along made it all the better. And Grandpa got to use his knife.
Map study and known deer movements, cold calling with a hand call, Cougar Tagged!
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O2 RainShadow Call-In NW Washington :
I had driven approximately 30 miles of snowy NW Washington USFS roads and seen NOTHING. As I backtracked my way home, I cut a Mountain Lion track in my own tire tracks from 3 hours earlier. I followed it around hills and ridges until I couldn't cut it again, and decided where it had to have gone. (Probably a 30% chance of being correct.)
I geared up and hiked up the ridge opposite of the last noted tracks. When I reached the top, I followed the ridge until I found an area that provided a little bit of visibility. Not much, but some, broken by trees, and occasional brush, 15 yards wide and probably 60 yards long. I set the WT caller up in the downhill end of the opening, and climbed to the uphill end and set up.
I called with a combination of distress, female vocals, distress, male vocals, distress, and then young whistles for approximately 15 minutes. It was during the series of whistles that I heard a distinct male cougar bark/huff/wheeze from directly behind me. I hackled up but maintained my stealth mode, surprisingly.
I got turned around and changed hands with my rifle so I could point it to my rear. Very stressful, but I continued my vigil and changed sounds quite a few times for the next hour, but never saw anything.
At the end of the stand, I got up and discovered, in the fresh snow, that the Lion had come to within 22 yards of my rear, then veered to the right and circled around me and the opening I was set up to watch. It stayed in the cover the whole way. It was circling around to my right while I was turning around to my rear. From the tracks it appeared as if it never stopped walking.
Again, hot tracks, going in where it might have been going after circling a ridge. No shots fired, but the Cougar Call-in was confirmed via tracks and a vocal response.
Here are the tracks of the cat when I found it on the road out, it had sat for awhile looking down the road!
Here's a video of me interviewed about this encounter!!!
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O3 Central Oregon, NWPHA member Baltz526:
I was hunting the edge of the timber, within 1/2 mile of the open sage/bitterbrush desert. Several groups of deer were using the area as a bedding area. I set up in a lava rock channel with great visual coverage and only my head was not hidden. I had a head net on to break up my face.
The mouth call I was using is an old green plastic jackrabbit distress call. I was attempting to make the sound that I heard a mule deer doe make many years ago, as it was being killed by a cougar. It is a loud 5-15 second long call that ends in mid scream.
I made this call then waited and watched about 3 minutes then repeated and waited about 3 minutes. As I made the call the third time I caught movement along a little rim about 250yds out. I got ready and when the cat got to about 100yds and cleared the sagebrush for a shot, I shot right into the hollow of its throat. The bullet hit just right of the throat and skirted the outside of the ribs under the cats front left shoulder.
I waited for the cougar to die, but he did not as the bullet never entered the chest cavity. After a few minutes of the cat not dying, he started to get up. By then I was standing about 15yds away. I put another bullet through both lungs and heart. The cat jumped up and ran about 80yds and I hit him again. The bullet hit the spine and rolled the cat.
Cat was checked in at bend ODFW at a weight of 114lb with no guts and all blood shot meat removed from first shot. Estimated live weight was around 150lbs and it was a 9yr old male.
Calling above a deer wintering area is an EXCELLENT cold-calling strategy. Hand called, deer in the throes of death sound. Cougar tagged.
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O4 RainShadow Call-In, NW Washington :
Brand fresh snow at dawn, clear and sunny. Cut some tracks in the FS road heading up the ridge. Very steep, heavily timbered country.
Geared up and followed the tracks up the ridge. They cut to the left, towards the main mountain range. I continued straight up to the top of the ridge, watching for the tracks to cross back to the right. They did, just before the top of the ridge. I continued on, and the tracks crossed back the the left at the top of the ridge. Then just past the top of the ridge, they crossed back to the left again. Less that 3 hour old tracks had been all over that ridge!
I didn't know for sure what to do, but since more tracks headed down the ridge than up the ridge, I just sat down and set-up looking down the ridge.
I let the area settle down for a few minutes then started in. I played one or two whistles on the WT, then about 30 seconds of cottontail distress, then went back to the whistles. I immediately heard a hollow hooting sound from up the ridge. I thought it was a raven way, way up the mountain. But in about 30 seconds I realized that the hooting sound was getting louder and it was answering ever single whistle.
I thought, "UhOh! It's behind me and I'm going to see it in a second here!" Sure enough, before I could do anything about it, I saw it coming through the timber. I kinda gauged when I thought it would be going through a low spot, and I wheeled my gun around to weak hand pointing to my rear. It didn't work. The cat saw me and froze. I lost it, like it disappeared. Poof! I tucked into the rifle and looked through the scope.... there it was, staring right at me!
I was busted, so I took a shot for the nose. Missed, went through the whiskers, off the jaw, and into the shoulder. Mortally wounded, I tracked it down over the next hour and finished it with another shot to the lungs, 1/4 mile from the truck.
Again, hot tracks. Called in with Whistles and Distress, under 2 minutes vocal response. Cougar tagged.
Here's a video of me telling this story!!!
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O5 Customer Story (pre-RS Cougar products.) Western WA Camping trip turns to a Cougar hunt :
We walked up an old grade from our family camping spot towards a clear cut that just been put in. Our dogs were out in front of the group (as always.) The next thing we know the dogs just loose it. A fellow camper, the only one on a bike, takes a couple quick peddles ahead, and see's the back half of a cougar jumping into the bushes.
We headed back to camp, and a friend and I decided we'd try to call the cat back.
We got our gear and guns and walked past where we had our first encounter, just out side the clear cut into the bigger timber. We found a spot where log had fallen perfect for us to hide behind and look two different directions.
I had with me a Carlton Calls, Critter Gitter. It's an open reed call, very basic but I could do higher pitch rabbit/fawn distress calls or I could do lower pitch doe distress calls. I decided I was going to use a doe distress for this set up.
After about 25-30 min's of calling I hear my friend whisper. "Ben.... Ben.... It's right there!" I'm looking all over. Down on the road. all over. I whisper "Where?" He says "Right there!" and points in the timber. I asked him how far. He says "20 yards. It's looking right at me". I'm looking all over for this cat, and I still can't see it. Finally he says, "Scoot over here". So I slowly crawled over next to him. He says, "Look right between those two tree's right there." and points. I'm still not seeing this cat. He tells me to scoot over even closer. Now I'm sitting in his lap. He tells me to look in the same place. Now I could see the face of this cougar looking at me from 20 yards.
I pulled the '06 up and looked at it through the scope. I put the cross hairs right on the cat's face. I whispered for Justin to plug his ears. As soon as I seen him plug his ears out the corner of my eye I shot. That cat literally went 6 feet in the air. Did a complete 180 and took off on a dead run. We spent the next few minutes trying to compose ourselves. We looked all over for blood. Nothing. We went back to camp to recruit a posse for recovery. Six of us spent the next 2 hours looking all over. We never found a single piece of hair, blood, nothing.
Sighting that turns a camping trip into an impromptu Cougar Stand ends with a clean miss!
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O6 Okanagan, missed opportunity, NW Washington :
My son and I and cut a fresh cougar track in a canyon where an inch of new snow was sticking in shady patches. We couldn’t tell where the cougar left the road but we thought it went up hill so set up to call it down. First mistake.
Son hid 50 yards above me where he could cover the most likely places the cat would come from. I hid between some deadfalls not far above the road and called with my Weems All Call. I didn’t take a rifle. After 55 minutes of our planned hour, I decided to stand up and scan around with binoculars since only my head would stick up when I stood, in camo net.
When I quit calling and went up to him he said an odd thing had happened five minutes before we quit. A large animal had walked almost carelessly up through the salal just over a low ridge from him, with squirrels chattering at it all the way up. Hmmmm… (My hearing is going and I’d barely heard one squirrel.)
Down on the road 40 yards below where I’d sat we found a fresh cougar track in the snow, made since we’d gone up to call. It crossed the road and went up the hill in line with the low ridge my son had heard the critter go up. There was no snow on the slope to track it further but the direction it was going would have allowed it to peek at me over the low ridge covered in salal, about 25 yards to my right. Apparently it came in, watched me till I stood up, slunk back in the salal and went on uphill past him but just out of his sight over the ridge. I don’t think the cat ever knew he was there.
We don’t get many chances at cougars and I hate it when we blow a good one.
They always come in from uphill . . . except the rare times when they come in from downhill! Confirmed with movement noise and tracks, no shot.
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O7 RainShadow Call-In, NW Washington :
Good tracking snow, but I had almost exhausted all my local roads without cutting a track. Finally, about 2 miles from the end of the road, I cut a fresh Mountain Lion.
I geared up and followed it through the thick timber along a steep, major alpine ridge, for about a mile until the timber finally thinned down a little and the ridge started to round. I figured it was good enough, so I set up. I set the call right in the trail and climbed about 25 yards above the trail and hid under a tree.
I called on the WT for 30 min with various distress, then 15 min with bobcat baby distress, then about 20 min with Female Cougar Calls. Then I switched to the whistles. At the first whistle the Lion called back to me from about 100 yards. It was a matching whistle followed by a "Gurgle" growl.
5 minutes later it was in. 35 yards from me. I had it in the scope, but I could only see it's front toes and it's nose and whiskers. It saw the caller sitting in the trail where I'd placed it, and it stopped. One step short of giving me a shot. I watched it through the scope for over 3 minutes. It was head bobbing, looking here and there, trying to figure out what to do. I was trying to imagine a hole in the timber to shoot through, but couldn't do it. I decided to move my upper body to the left to possibly open up a shooting lane, even an inch! Nothing... except my camo hood caught on a big fir branch, and moved it with a pop and a shudder. The cat stepped back, I got a flash of eyeball, then it whirled around and slithered silently away.
I was so shaken up I couldn't hang in more than another 15 minutes or so, then I gave up!
Following a hot track into the steep and deep pays off again! Called in with a long distress series, then Female vocal, and Sub adult whistles. Confirmed with a vocal response and 3 minutes in the scope.
(I had a cell phone pic of the tracks where it stood behind the timber and scrub,
but I didn't have connectivity with that phone, so I never got it on a computer.)
Here's a video story of this call-in!
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O8 Hunting-Washington Member HangFire's Nephew, NE Washington :
My nephew about 10 years ago was getting him self in condition for a coming army reserve activity and he was running several miles, partly through the timber. While running through the timber he jumped a white tail fawn, it ran into the woods a short distance from him. The brush started moving and he heard the fawn cry and a cougar jumped up on a tree or stump with the fawn.
My nephew turned and ran down the hill, he said after having ran several miles, he had no trouble jumping the barb wire fence at the bottom of the hill.
A couple weeks or so later after getting back from the reserves he went near the same area with his rifle and a call. I don't know what brand of call he was using, I know he had a Critter call and I believe a Circe. He got situated and started calling. He heard very shortly something walking, he could then see the bottom half of a cougar at I believe about 50 yards.
He shot and he heard the cat run off. He couldn't find any blood or hair and assumed he missed. Opening day of deer season a few days later he went back into the same area and found a dead cougar secluded in some brush. The weather had been cool and the hide was still ok for a rug. I would estimate a 100 pound or more cat.
To the best of my knowledge he was blowing distress calls as he would for a coyote. I think that was his first year of using a predator call.
Known area, cold calling, but a known area results in a shot fired, and recovered trophy a few days later. Cougar Tagged.
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O9 Hunting-Washington Member AnnieOakLeaf, Elk Opener turns into an Archery Cougar Stand!
Opening day, I walked up an old grade to my elk stand about 4pm. About 6pm I heard a weird noise... Thought it was a deer but had never heard the noise before just like a snort hiss. About five minutes later there was a scream . The sound was coming from the ridge above me and about 70 yards to my left. The next scream was closer...and I knew it wasn't a deer. It had to be a cougar. Now sounding about 30 yards away. I nocked an arrow and stood up.
I didn't want to be walking out with a cat sneaking around, so I took defensive measures and decided to switch to a Cougar hunt! I brought the back of my hand to my lips and squeaked out a rabbit squeal for about a 5 second session. The cat let a blood curdling scream... I squealed again... silence for about 3 minutes. Then, from the top of the trail my stand is on came a loud "MEOW."
OMG I thought. No one said they do that!!! The cat was now about ten yards from me, and out of sight. I watched for movement.... Finally she walked down my trail and into the stand of trees just 5 yards below me. My 20 yard pin wouldn't do, I had to be sure of a hit so I drew back and brought the nock of the arrow up to my eye and looked down the shaft. As soon as the cat stepped clear of the trees I released the arrow!
The cat crouched as if to jump towards me but the arrow struck it right between the shoulder blades ! Two backwards summer salts, then it leapt away. I saw my arrow fletches sticking out its back ....WOW was I excited!
I sat down and listened for a few minutes! After an hour I tracked it but lost the trail so I went back to camp.
On the way back the cats tracks were in my tracks on the old grade.
My husband returned to camp way after dark, and we decided to wait, and track the cat in the morning.
The next day we retrieved the cat with the use of our Primos blood trailing light.
The cat was 6'2"
Take that, fellers! This great young lady takes a "HAND" called Cougar with a Bow!!! Cougar Tagged!
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O10 RainShadow Call-In, NW Washington :
No snow, there had been 3 weeks earlier, a lot! But now it was all gone. I was at about 4000 feet with bare ground in the timber. I hiked up the side of a ridge, to the top, about 1/2 mile from a rugged mountain, mostly 500ft cliffs and other huge rock outcroppings. This was a known crossing for Cougar and lots of other game.
I set-up and called with the WT for at least 20 minutes, using several distress sounds, the Sub Adult whistles, and then finally switching to the male communicative huff/barks.
A few minutes into them I heard a familiar vocal response from 200 yards above me. It was the whistle ending in the Gurgle. A minute later I heard it again, from the same area. I monkeyed with the sounds and watched 'til my eyes ached for another 40 min. Then I made this video clip with my little point and shoot camera...
...Then I called for another 40 minutes. Never saw anything. I don't know if it had come in, I missed it and it was leaving, or if it called first then came in and I never saw it, or if it called from above and never came in. But I never saw it.
Sure wish I had my new RS sounds on that stand. I think the WT sounds may have been too aggressive for that cat.
Exciting/Discouraging. Cold call in a known crossing area, confirmed by vocal responses.
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O11 NPHA Member JimAinAZ :
I started out running a Coyote Stand in the higher pines, and called nothing but a Mule Deer doe. I had muted the call and was ready to quit when, in the distance, I could hear something that sounded to me like an African lion "huff" I'd heard on TV. I figured it was worth some more effort on my part, so over the next several minutes I offered up a variety of different sounds that included prey distress and coyote vocalizations. I have some lion vocalizations on my caller but didn't use any of them fearing I might send the wrong message.
I wasn't hearing anything anymore, and had decided to end the stand after a few minutes of silence. Just as I was taking my last look around a lion magically appeared about 10 feet from the call. I believe the words "Oh my God" passed my lips and then instinct took over. Thru the magnifier on my AR I watched as he stretched out his neck to reach up and sniff the caller and squeezed off the shot. It was a good frontal chest hit and the lion jumped about 6 feet into the air and hit the ground running back toward the canyon. At about 90 yards he offered a good broadside opportunity and I hit him again thru the lungs. He rolled over a log and I couldn't see him anymore.
I thought about sitting for a few minutes, then remembered how he just appeared and decided I didn't want him just disappearing so I stood up, shouldered my rifle and advanced toward the last place I had seen him. I got to where I could see him stretched out over the top of the log and his chest was still. Took a few more steps and still no movement and finally got close enough to poke him in the eye with my rifle barrel, no reaction. It was at this point that I started shaking and my breathing became erratic.
At check in, the AZGFD biologist aged him at 18-19 months and described him as a transient. Even though he was young, he's still my best trophy to date and that includes any of the stuff I have hanging on my walls. I hope everybody gets an opportunity to feel the rush of having a lion show up on a stand some day. It's a feeling I know I'll never forget.
Coyote stand turns into a Lion stand when a vocal response is heard. Tactics applied immediately, and it paid off! Cougar tagged.
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O12 Elks in Colorado, Hand Called into his lap!
I worked my way into some real rocky and thick covered canyon country. About two years ago I went on a hike up this canyon and found lion sign. I decided to try for a lion.
Second stand of the day, I was going to call the Pinion and Junipers, and the big rocks. I set up in a little narrow steep canyon. It was pretty thick covered with Pinions and junipers. The canyon I chose to call ran from east to west was maybe 150 yards wide and was about 100 yards deep and man was it steep. I set up on the north side. I could see the other side real well and down my right hand side for about 200 yards. My left hand side was a different story. In the thick cover I could only see about 20 yards. I hoped that something from that direction would go high or low around me. The wind was variable in direction but constant at approximately 5 mph.
I started calling like I always do. I was using a sceery rabbit distress. I called often, in short little bursts.
About 15 minutes into the stand I was half way through a breath in the call when I caught movement in the corner of my eye. I turned slowly to see what it was, expecting a bob cat. I was extremely surprised when it turned out to be a lion, and real close! It took me just a split second to get the gun around, but it seemed like for ever. I can still clearly see the big cat all crouched up plotting its next move. Its tail slowly flicking behind and its cold yellow eyes fixed on me.
I swung the gun up and found the center of its chest. Bang, the cat leaped 6 plus feet straight up and hit the ground with a thud. It was dead before ever reached the ground. Needless to say I was real shook up. The next 15 minutes I was Shaking and managed to walk in several small circles around where I was sitting not really sure what to do. Man was I freaked out.
After I calmed down I got the courage to approach the lion. The shot hit right at the top of the chest white patch and went through the throat and into the spine. I also managed to step off where I was and where the cat was when I shot. I got in 8 paces, which is just too close!
At this Call-In, Elks was a first time Cougar caller, but a very experienced predator hunter, and Colorado big game hunter. He did everything right, set-up in a known Lion area, and was able to make it happen when the big cat materialized breathing down his neck! Lion Tagged.
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O13 BearManRic, of RR Game Calls, and his first called Cougar story:
My first cougar call-in was in 1993. Back then my favorite call was the Haydel Government Cottontail. I had seen several cougar in the road that year.
I hunted a gated road right close to the Olympic National Park. I went in to a 4 way intersection on the closed road. I parked my mountain bike and walked the grade to the left till I came to a long straightaway. I knew a grade to the right was about 50 yards ahead of me. I got settled in with my back to a small tree.
As soon as I started calling, a cougar start chirping very close on the other side of the road. It was well under a 100 yards. I kept calling but at lower volume. It only chirped a few more times. At around 40 minutes it glided across the road, too quick to shoot, and into the scrub on my side of the road. A 6 year old clear cut. Heavy brush.
It was a slender, average sized cougar. A younger one I think.
I started calling again, and went for another 15 minutes or so... nothing. Then I got nervous. There was a elk trail there where I was expecting to see a cougar ready to pounce on me. So I gave it up and backed out of there.
Rick lost this Cougar in the "Dog Hair." If you've never seen "re-prod" in the Pacific Northwest, you might not understand! There's a reason they call it "Dog Hair!" (You're very, very lucky to see 5 yards into it, it's so thick.) Call-in confirmed with vocal responses and a sighting, but no shot.
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O14 Okanagan, Calling the Washington State snow country :
My son and I found a recent cougar track angling across a logging road in patchy snow. We drove and hiked to set up ahead of its line of travel. We placed our boom box in a frozen swamp and sat a few yards on opposite sides of it. I poked the start button on the CD player and moved to my hiding spot. The CD was a recording of me blowing a Weems All Call.
14 minutes after we started calling my son saw a large animal move at the edge of the swamp about 60 yards from him. It was about 45 degrees from where he was looking and it moved behind a bush before he could focus on it.
50 minutes into the calling stand, two ravens were flying over and when they got above the spot where he’d seen movement earlier, they started diving at something behind a bush and squawking at it. Whatever it was moved away with the ravens hassling it all the way, and one squirrel after another picked up the scolding as it moved off through the timber.
At 65 minutes we quit calling, exchanged info and walked straight to the bush where my son had seen movement and the ravens had focused.
Tracks in the snow told the story. A cougar had walked to a four foot wide opening at the edge of the swamp where it stopped and looked toward the call sound. My son was sitting in a direct line between the lion and the caller. When he moved his head slightly to look at the lion, it jumped sideways behind a bush and lay down. It left a full body print in the snow where it lay for 36 minutes and watched him, till the ravens started hassling it and it walked off into the timber.
So many little points of this story are typical of only cats!
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O15 Dave Tatum, Platte SD ( http://www.huntingwithdave.com/index.html) South Dakota:
I have called in 3 that we know of.
I had one come up to 18 yards and laid down behind me, but I was unaware until I walked out and read the tracks. He had cut my tracks at 50 yards and walked in my boot prints to 18 yards and laid down. It made me feel like a big rat! The funny thing is, it was the very first stand, the very first time, that I specifically targeted a lion, and boy did it leave a lasting impression! I think it is very neat that they seem to frequently end up behind you. The sign of a true predator... and a stealthy one at that!
I saw one and never got a shot. I had finished calling and walked over to a rock ledge very close to where I was sitting and a lion came jumping out from below me on the rock ledge. I was unable to get my rifle to my shoulder and get a shot before the lion disappeared. A bad judgment call on my part to get up and leave as soon as I did. I think that in a few minutes he would have been in sight, I should have been more persistent and set longer.
The third one same as the first, we cut his tracks when we were walking out.
Thanks for the great stories, Dave!
O16 Hunting Washington Member Big 10 Gauge, Central Washington State:
An old hunting buddy came up to the place earlier this week and wanted me to call in a bear for him so we took off in my jeep up to the start of a old skid road that lead up to a 8 yr old clear-cut on a step hill.
I decided to take my bow since he carried his 300 win mag in case of a elk or nice buck showed up. Once we reached the clear-cut both of us sat down and started to watch for any activity. About two minutes into this I thought I heard a cow elk talking so I pulled out my diaphragm call and gave a couple of cow calls but no response. I thought maybe I just mistook some bird call for a elk. After about thirty more minutes of sitting at the lower edge of the clear-cut and not seeing much it was time to move into a calling spot for bears.
After walking further up the skid road I just happened to look up the road and a cougar walks across the road and into the brush about 60 feet ahead of us. I tell my buddy and we go up to where it crossed and start scanning the hillside, my buddy spots it on the hillside about 70 yrds away and points it out to me, the cat was going thru the fairly thick brush but could catch a glimpse of it every now and again.
We started talking about what a great surprise that was when all of a sudden about 15 feet behind us a cougar comes out of the brush and scrambles across a old log in the road, I give chase to try to tree it but I guess the cat figured I was a 204 lb weakling and so wasn’t intimated in the least .
After cleaning ourselves up a bit after that encounter we figured that the 1st cat I saw had crossed the road and was crouched down in the thick brush just off the road all the time we were standing there.
I remembered that the Foxpro had some cougar sounds on it so we set up to try to call in one of the cats. The call ended up exactly 51 yrds from where we decided to sit but at a somewhat steep downward angle. I couldn’t find a better spot without exposing ourselves in the clear-cut. I found a sound called a cougar whistle so I played it once (realizing that was what I had mistook earlier for a cow elk) and also got a immediate answer from 2 different locations on the hillside where we glimpsed the one earlier going thru the brush. So now we had three cougars in the area that we knew of.
I used the cougar whistle several times over a twenty minute period and got responses back that were closer each time. After about the thirty five minute mark using the whistle wasn’t getting a response and I was wondering if they might be near the call but just crouched down and watching, kinda like what a bobcat does. I tried a sound called cougar in heat, immediately a cat came screaming and growling out of the road it’s ears laid back and was eyeing my Foxpro like “what the heck is this”? The cat was so intent on the Foxpro I stood up and pulled back, put the 50 yrd pin right behind its shoulder and watched the arrow as it sailed 1 inch over it’s back.
We called some more but nothing else came in. I went and retrieved my arrow and let my bud give me a hard kick in the ass. When we finally settled down I told him that I really didn’t mind that much about missing since bringing home a cougar would have only been a small part of a overall great experience! He was in total agreement. I think I'm now hooked on calling cats, and may have found this winter’s sport!
Big10 is a very experience hunter and predator caller. He set up right and responded to a surprise opportunity as good as anyone else could have. Some really good insights are hidden in this account. Especially how he got the cat to show itself when it was already in, but hiding, by playing an aggressive sound (heat.) So Close!
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O17 FoxPro Forum Member Sean Fulton ( www.fultonphoto.com ) South Dakota:I had been watching this area for a few years and had known it to have a lot of cougar activity, especially after hunters start pushing the cats around. I had a scouting camera up in it for most of the month of Dec. and got some great pics of a gorgeous collared lion right around Christmas.
Earlier in the year I had decided that I wanted to call in this area and hung a tree stand. The cover in the area is so thick that I ended up using a chainsaw to cut several shooting lanes out up to 50-60 yards, but made sure that my stand was still concealed.
For the first six days of the season I had focused on a different lion that I had located on opening day. I had found a kill that it had dragged across the road. I set up on this kill first with a tree stand and then with a blind. I tried calling a couple times and also tried just sitting on the kill a couple times. I had several sets of tracks coming in and around the kill but seemed to always come in at night. I have several pics of the lion feeding on the kill too but they were all at night too. The kill ended up being cashed and the lion seemed to have left the area so I changed my plan of attack to other areas and stands.
I woke up early on Jan 7th got ready and jumped in the pickup to head out for my morning set before going out to check my trapline. The wind was blowing pretty hard and the temps were in the low 20's so decided to go to the stand that I had set up earlier in the year.
I tiptoed through the crunchy sunbaked snow on the way into my stand trying to make as little noise as possible. I placed my E-caller in a thick downed tree, right below and about six yards from my tree stand. I climbed into my stand and after tying myself in and getting situated, double checked all of my yardages while I waited for enough light to start calling. I started calling with a distress sound and switched it to a similar but different one about a minute later. I hadn't been calling but 2-3 minutes and there it was, a cougar, she was quickly moving through the thick timber and stopped in one of my shooting lanes. It sat on its haunches at 40 yards and stared in the direction of the caller for a minute or so. Then she started to move towards my right and creep in closer. I made sure to draw my bow while she was moving and not looking towards me. As she stepped into a a shooting lane at 30 yards she stopped quartering a little towards me. I placed the pin just behind her shoulder, steadied the shot and let it fly. I hit my target and she jumped straight up in the air. She slowly walked out of sight and I texted a couple buddies and one of them said they would come back me up as I tracked it.
Knowing better than to go directly after an animal I found my arrow and saw that there was a good blood trail showing in the snow so I decided to go back to my pickup and wait for my buddy to come help. When he showed up he was pretty excited and wanted to go look for it right away. I told him that we needed to wait a little longer. Reluctantly agreeing we waited.
We soon got on the track and worked our way closer to the cat. The brush in the draw was getting really thick. About eighty yards from where I had shot it we caught movement to our right and the cat took off through the brush. I started to become afraid that we were going to end up chasing it through the brush for a couple miles. We pressed further and saw that the cat only went a couple yards and was not doing so well. I found a small hole through the thick brush and shot it again. This quickly finished her and there she was. My first cougar with a bow and I did it without dogs. I was STOKED! We took some great photos and after checking it in at the Game & Fish I found out that it is the first cougar ever shot with a bow in the state of South Dakota since the reopening of the mountain lions seasons six years ago.
She was an 80lb 6' 3yr old healthy female with a gorgeous coat and beautiful face.
Sean and I talked a few times about strategy, and the current Mountain Lion situation in SD a week or so before he took this cat. As you can tell from his narrative, he's a meticulous and hard driving hunter who earned his trophy! Way to go, Sean!
O18: CW North Dakota
Sept 2013 I had guys working for me in the ND badlands and on separate occasions they each saw a lion in the same general area. I had been trying to get a lion for several years and figured this would be a good spot to start.
I had not used my FP much, and had it sitting just in front of me so I could get it should I need to. I had started with deer in distress and then switched to lion vocals, ending with lion in heat.
I had sat for 45 min and decided to try a new spot. I got up and grabbed my FP. I turned to go back to my truck and looked straight into the eyes of a lion standing 15- 20 yards away. The lion just stared at me and did not move at all. I pulled up and shot him straight on with a TC encore in 280 Rem. He piled up within a few yards.
I sure had the shakes after the shot wondering how long he was standing behind me. This lion weighed 131 lbs and had been collared south of Malta MT. This lion had traveled 235 straight line miles to ND!
I went on to see two other lions that season, not by calling though. One let me walk within 50 yards of it before it ran. I am anxious to see how this season goes. It makes a person a little nervous calling knowing how sneaky they are and that they don't seem to have much fear of you.
CW sent me some interesting stuff on this collared cat...
Heading describes this photo.
Map is not real clear here, but this is the meanderings of the cat for a couple weeks before CW shot it.
Some interesting information on cats, including this one that CW killed.
Thanks "CW" for this great story and information!!!
O19: Dead Battery!!! Washington Hunter "Jasnt"
I found some fresh lion tracks today. I followed what I could till I found an area where I could call and still kinda see( everything was super thick and steep!) I found a good spot to hide and pull out my e caller..............dead! Won't even turn on. So I pull out couple hand calls and try to tuck in the brush a little more and start with fawn distress pausing every 30 sec or so to listen. After a bit I hear a whistle about 150 yards up the hill, Then another one about 200 yards to my right. They talk back and forth a a few times with the second one getting a little closer. Then I do another set and I hear one last whistle so I do it back best I can with my voice. All quiet! After a few mins I hear this gargley cough sound just fifty yards away. I scan the area with just my eyes but just couldn't see in that area(thick firs) I sat there for a long time still as death but after a while I heard something leaving.
Charge your batteries!!!
Great stand and great encounter! Hand calling is SO tough, because THEY WILL SEE YOU!!!
O20: Treekiller - WA...
A friend and I used fawn in distress calls with his FoxPro 2 winters ago. I'd been shed hunting in mid February and found numerous lion tracks in mud and snow, and eventually a fresh kill. We went in at mid morning and set up in the area. He had a view below and up the ridge, and I had a view below and down the ridge. We were 25-30 yards apart and I had a doug fir against my back with thick brush behind me.
After about 40 minutes I noticed something brown move down the ridge, and at first glance I thought it was a deer since doe's often respond to fawn in distress calls. After maybe 10 seconds of watching I saw the long tail flick, and immediately knew it was a lion. I only had to move my rifle a few inches to have it lined up and the scope to my eye. My friend started the call again and the lion moved about 5 yards and cleared the brush giving me a shot. He was a 5 yr old 170 # tom. The heaviest pack I hauled out of the woods!
O21: Okanagan - BC... Cougar growled at me
A cougar growled at me one evening when I picked up the e-caller and decoy after an hour on a calling stand.
I had hiked a couple of hundred yards from a logging road, up a steep bank to gain a backdoor access to a quarter mile wide basin. It is a shallow bowl set into a huge mountainside, tilted with the low western edge dropping off in a steep bank to a road below. The basin itself is clearcut with big timber all around. It is an exceptionally rough clearcut, extra bad for walking, and was made worse by two inches of soapy slick coastal snow barely at freezing temps.
I placed the electronic call and decoy on a flat spot beside a line of thick brush and logging debris that marked a small stream coursing down through the middle of the basin. Then I backed off 75 yards to a line of Christmas trees on the south rim of the bowl and sat facing north, looking over the bowl. The brush along the stream ditch gave a cat cover near the e-caller, but snow patches all around it gave me hope that I would see any cougar before it reached the cover.
After an hour it was too dark to see a cougar anywhere except on the more open snow patches, all of which were peppered with stumps and brush. I got up and walked carefully down the rough slick ground to pick up the e-caller. When I was a step from the call and starting to bend down to pick it up, a cat snarled to my right, less than 40 feet from me. The sound came from the brushy stream ditch where a pile of logging debris 8 feet high was grown up in brush as well. The sound startled me and I straightened, not yet registering what it was, and then it snarled again, louder.
Yep, that sound prompts adrenaline rush and skin spikes.
It was more snarl than growl. It started with a medium loud owl-like hoo that morphed seamlessly without any stop in the sound into a classic cat snarl that got louder and drawn out a bit. It sounded like a deeper version of an alley cat threatening a rival that he was looking at. The second time it was all snarl, kind of growly at the end.
My guess is that the cat, a cougar, had sneaked close to the e-caller without me seeing it and was sitting there watching it unaware that a man was looking on from 75 yards away. When I got up and approached, the cat watched until I started to pick it up. Then he voiced his displeasure, probably because he considered the call and decoy his prey and he did not like anyone taking it away from him.
I tried to see him of course to no avail. If the footing had not been so bad I would have circled to look for tracks in the snow with a flashlight, but at my age it was not worth the effort.
O22: Stevens County, WA Slagiatt
After getting word that most northeast Washington units would be closing for cougar after December 31st, a friend and I decided to try to call one in on the 30th.
There is an area where deer winter in some big timber down low, and move into private land to eat cattle feed at night. A big draw with a moderate amount of timber and brush runs up from the deer wintering area. I have seen 3 cougars here in the past few years, but failed to get a shot at any of them. In the snow cougar tracks are abundant in the area.
We hiked in the longer, steeper way in order to approach the draw from the south side, which offers the best view to see animals moving through the brush. There was about a foot of snow on the ground. We passed two different sets of cougar tracks on the way up to our calling location.
After about a 3 hour hike we reached the spot. My friend set up on the ridge where he would have a birds eye view of anything coming in to my calling. I dropped down into the draw and found a big fir tree that I could hide under and call. The odds of me getting a shot were poor due to having poor visibility from my hiding place, but I felt the most important thing was for me to be hidden so that a cat would have to approach pretty close before it could bust me, giving the shooter an opportunity.
I started calling with a closed reed rabbit distress, pretty steadily, but not too aggressively. I kept my movement to a bare minimum, and scanned the little bit of brush I could see through the small openings in the fir limbs, ready to shoot if the opportunity came up. After about 30 minutes of calling, right at noon, I heard a rifle shot from my friends position. Having not seen what he shot at I kept calling. My guess was that, after 30 minutes, odds were if he shot something it would have been a lion or bobcat, rather than a coyote.
I kept calling for a few minutes, wondering what happened, when I heard my hunting partner whistle. He hollered down that he had shot a lion and it ran into the brush. Not knowing how well he hit it, he wanted to stay on the ridge ready to shoot again in case I pushed it out.
The blood trail wasn't good, but I jumped the cat out of its bed not 50 yards from where it was shot. I knew if it bedded down that quick it was hit hard, so I pulled out and we waited about 45 minutes, watching to make sure it didn't sneak out.
We both went down after that and found the cat dead not 20 feet from where I jumped it. It was a beautiful healthy female, about 110 lbs. Our one and only cougar hunt of the season was a real success.
O23 & 24 Ken/Cheney Wa.O23 - I was hunting the west side of the Pend d' Oreille river in Washington state, during the muzzle loader elk and deer seasons. I brought my call with me to do some calling when the elk and deer hunting seemed "slow". I was really more focused on calling in a bear than a cougar. The day I saw this cougar I had hunted deer and elk hard all day, done some calling, and no luck in either department.
I returned to my camper which was parked on an old skid/log road. This skid road, and a power-line road meet in a "V", kind of, and I was camped at the top of the "V". I had taken off my pack, and pistol belt inside the camper, my rifle was outside. I sat down to rest in a lawn-chair, in front of my truck, and was having a drink and just cooling off. There was a fairly steep, brushy hill behind me, and a small patch of woods, maybe 100 yards at best between the skid road and the power line road.
To my left, and uphill, I heard a tremendous crashing in the brush. As someone was running cows in the area, I thought sure it was a cow or calf getting tangled up in the brush. I could hear thumping and hooves. I expected a cow to come out of the brush and onto the skid road, but it then got very silent. About three minutes later an extremely huge, grey colored cougar stepped into the road about 25 yards from me. He turned away from me and began walking down the road, stopped and looked at me, but as I was sitting in a chair I don't think he recognized me as a human. This is the biggest cat I've ever seen, in any picture. His tail looked twenty feet long. And he was grey. He didn't look very heavy-bodied, more on the lean side, but giant and long.
After he dropped out of sight, the road went down hill from me, I grabbed my pistol belt (keep my rifle ammo on my pistol belt) and rifle, hurried over to the power line road, and went down it in the same direction as the cougar as fast and as quietly as I could, until I come to where the hill had been logged a few years ago and was still pretty clear, hoping to get a shot at him.
I didn't see him, so I hunted my way back up the skid road to my truck/camper, and did not see him. When I got back, I grabbed my call and went down to where the hill is somewhat clear again, and sat down and started calling with the fawn in distress. After 25 minutes I broke my 40 minute rule, and said to myself: "this is dumb, that cat surely saw me and is long gone". About ten minutes into calling, I did hear something to my left, but decided it was a squirrel or bird. So I turned off the call and waited five minutes. I stood up, and looked around a bit. I took one step forward, and the bushes to my left, about 15 yards away absolutely exploded, like ten guys were shaking them, and this big grey cat leaps out, across the skid road, and up the bushy hill. I was right on the line between where it had been logged, and where it was bushy, lots of trees, and thick.
Threw my rifle up to my shoulder, but he was gone. Then he breaks cover to my right, and starts running up a game trail that goes up the hill, where it's fairly clear. Tried to get the sights on him, but he was running and zigging and zagging, and going in and out of bushes. So, no cigar, and I've been beating myself up over it ever since. I think he was within minutes of walking onto the road and up to the call. Should have waited for 40 minutes no matter what.
O24 A couple of weeks or so after seeing the big grey cat, I went up North to the other, or East side of the Pend d' Oreille river to hunt turkey on the last day of early fall turkey season, October 31st. But I took my call to do some calling also.
I normally hunt almost exclusively with flintlocks, but that day I took my Savage 24V over-under combination gun, with a .30-30 barrel over a 20 gauge shot barrel. That way if I called something in, I'd have a rifle, and if I saw a turkey I'd have a shotgun. Also, when calling I can load the shotgun barrel with a slug and have a quick back up shot. (which I forgot to do) About mid-day I stopped to call at the bottom of an old clear cut where I often see plenty of bear sign and cougar tracks. In fact this area that I hunt is pretty much crawling with cougar, judging by the tracks when it snows, or the old log roads get muddy.
I used both the cotton tail and jack rabbit calls, and again was really more focused on a bear. About 25 minutes into the calling, I added the jackrabbit to the cottontail, and at that moment a nice three year old tom cougar stepped out of the ferns and into a clear area where my call was under some weeds and grass. He began approaching the call, I decided he was big enough, and hit him with the .30-30. He was 30 yards away, and dropped instantly. Then it looked like he was going to crawl forward, so I hit him again with another .30-30 round. Both were good shots and hit within about five inches of each other. Both shots through the lungs.
I never got the shakes or anything like that, but I sure was excited. That single-shot sure reloaded it's self fast. And I'll admit I was very "careful" when I approached him and made sure he was dead. I've never eaten cougar before, but it's true, best meat ever!
O25 - Eric - Western Washington
Because I am hunting in low land logging country in Thurston County there isn’t much opportunity for hunting in snow, so I have been calling blind .
I finally connected last Sunday. I was hunting behind a locked gate on my bike. The wind was calm so the plan was to work my way along calling every mile or so. I was hunting in 25 year old timber. I had a large Tom come into a fawn in distress call about 7 minutes in.
When I first saw the cat it was walking broad side. I immediately shut the call off, and it stopped, facing me, about 40 yards away .All I could see was part of his head through the ferns. After a minute or more I turned the call back on for about 2 seconds . The cat came closer and stopped again as soon as the call quit. Now I can see all of the head and some of the body. My heart was pounding! The fear of having it get away was unlike anything I have experienced!
As I tried to keep my composure, I was evaluating anything that could deflect the shot. After what seemed like another couple of minutes I turned the call on again for about a second the cat took a couple of steps down hill and stopped. Now I could see the entire body facing me. I committed to the shot... I brought the rifle up and put the cross hairs at the base of the tail. I kept coming down till I got to the top of the head and shot. I hit it in the fore head at 34 yards and it went straight down.
I estimate the cats weight to be about 140 pounds . The hide measured a little over 8 feet nose to tail without stretching it.
Edit: Great story to demonstrate how cats like the sound playing in order to move! Not universal, but VERY typical!
O-26 - Elkslayer - Hunting-Washington.Com, NE Washington State
This was the 9th set this year where I specifically targeted cougars. Generally I like to cut a fresh track and follow it for a mile or so then set up and call rather than just cold calling, but I've tried them all.
I've included a photo of the area that we killed this cat at and did my best at marking it up so you can see how things played out.
Last Friday at about noon I was driving north on the county road on the left side of the picture. All the property on the right is timber company and you can see that the road loops around and comes back out on the south end. Just before the north entrance I cut a set of tracks crossing the county road and going into the timber company property. I then drove the loop and found that the cougar had not exited that small are between the loop and the county road. My boy got out of school early that day so I returned home and waited for him. This place is only about a mile from my house.
About an hour later we returned to track the cat and set up for a call session. I dropped him off on the county road where the tracks were, about 50yds before the north entrance to the property and told him I would pull in the north entrance and park the truck and then meet up with him. As soon as I got out of the truck he was hollering at me that he'd found lots of tracks and even a bed where it had been laying. I met up with him and sure enough there was a very used bed along with tracks from several different days coming and going. There was also a very fresh set of tracks where the cat had just jumped up out of the bed and took off. We started following the tracks to the east and it became very obvious that the cat was very aware that we were following it. The snow had a crust on top so staying quiet was impossible, you could see where the cat would stop and turn around to watch his back trail and then take off running again. We tracked it a short distance down to where it crossed the road and I figured that it would be a lost cause to attempt calling it in since it knew it was being pursued. We walked back to the truck and scratched it off as a loss.
Tuesday night, 4 days later, at about 9pm I drove by and noticed a fresh set of tracks crossing the road again. This cat was back, I believe it must've had a kill on the other side of the county road and that's why he was using that bed so much.
The next morning we pulled in the south entrance about 30 minutes after day light. We snuck in as quietly as possible with the crusty snow and set up to call, I figured we were within 3-400yds of where he had been bedding. You can't really tell from the photo but there is a small ridge that runs from about the middle of where the cat was bedded to where my boy was setting. I placed him in the best position for a shot and told him that the cat would most likely come right down the ridge and try and get above the call. This would literally put the cat right in his lap. I generally like to set back about 50-60yds if possible but due to the location and the brush we didn't have much other choice for 2 shooters. I set the call up on the backside of a small brush pile to his right so that the cat could not see it unless it came all the way in. I then went and set down below the call so that I could cover the north side and the top of the ridge.
I turned the call on full volume using whitetail fawn distress and settled in. For those of you that are familiar with the FoxPro remote, it has a call timer on it. This cat literally came in within 5 minutes! I never saw him until right as my boy shot him. The only reason I saw him then is because he jumped straight up when he hit him. That was his last jump as he was dead as soon as he hit the ground. The cat had came straight down the ridge towards my son and turned broadside at 25yds to go to the call. There was a small brush pile about 6ft across and it must have blocked his view of the cat coming in as he never saw it until it was right there. He said he caught movement of its tail sticking out the backside of the brush pile. He then brought his gun up and as it stepped out he shot it right in the neck. It was a young male about 80-100lbs.
I wanted to post Elkslayer's whole story here, because it's a GREAT representation of knowing the area, knowing the pattern, and knowing how to approach and set up without disturbing the cat. It was there, they went in unnoticed, set up like prey, let the cat have the advantage, and there it was. Great teaching chronicle here!
O-27 - PhotoHunter- CaliforniaI live on a few acres right at the tree line in the eastern Sierras... prime cat country. I'm into photography and it's illegal to hunt cougars here. I'm just getting into trying to call them in for a photo op. I live by a creek/canyon coming down from higher elevations, and right where the creek comes out of the trees and into the flat valley, I have a couple trail cameras. I went down to check a camera on a Sunday afternoon, and noticed a ton of bird activity just out in the open field beyond the tree line, near my camera. I went over to investigate and found a bunch of magpies feasting on what looked like a very fresh deer kill... half buried in pine needles and leaves, abdomen all eaten out...textbook lion kill. I got pretty excited and checked that camera... it had come in right past the camera and made the kill in the middle of the night. I had 80 or so pictures of it coming and going back and forth past the camera to get water from the creek throughout the night/morning. The kill was maybe 50 feet from the camera, but out of view of the camera.
I only had a couple hours of daylight left, so I set up a trail camera on a tripod at the kill, looked around a bit for the cat, knowing it was probably somewhere nearby... that was exciting but uneventful. I set up in full ghille suit camo and sat about 30 yards from the kill with my camera and waited until it was way too dark to take any pictures, and called it a night. An hour or so later the trail cam started getting this footage:
I got up before dawn and went back out and set up with my camera...waited until an hour or so after sunup, and didn't have any luck. Checked that trail cam and found the footage above, and knew I had a 2 day pattern of it coming in well after dark, so my only chance of seeing it was to try to call it in.
I decided the best way to get it to show itself was to try to convince it that another cat was in the area, so that evening I went out and put my call pretty close to the kill, and set myself up in heavy cover in the trees on the "woods" side of the fence line (the fence basically runs right along the treeline, and the kill was just into the open area on the other side of the fence.) I set up so I could see the creek crossing it had been using based on the trail cam pictures, hoping for a killer photo op of it crossing the creek. The kill was just on the other side of the fence off to my left, but just out of my line of sight.
I dialed up "Mountain Lion Whistle" on the Foxpro at full volume and let one rip. No answer. I waited 2 minutes or so between calls, but kept with the same mountain lion whistle call. I was scanning the whole area with my eyes, keeping my eyes on that creek crossing and the trees along the fence.
I didn't get my money shot, but right about the 25 minute mark it appeared in the heavy cover along the fence. I have no idea how it crossed the creek or where, but it materialized out of nowhere just like everyone says they do on my side of the creek, working the fence line towards the kill. I managed to stay still in my excitement and it didn't spot me at all.
At this point it was almost too dark for the camera... really pushing the limits of the camera. It was also in super heavy cover and was almost impossible to get the camera to focus through all the branches and stuff. I had to dial the shutter speed way down and rely on the image stabilization of my lens, which was probably working overtime because you know I was shaking. The pics aren't great at all, but the experience was amazing. I was expecting it to come close and check out the scene to make sure there wasn't another cat, but it was pretty clear that it came in to get that kill and take it away from another cat. It didn't waste any time jumping the fence (super cool to watch... like gravity didn't apply)
It grabbed its kill and tried to drag it back through the (barbed wire) fence
It was struggling with the deer getting caught up in the barbed wire when it started hearing my camera clicking (I'd guess I was between 50 and 60 feet away). It dropped the deer and looked around, trying to find the source of the noise.
I don't think it ever identified me as a human (I was dripping with leafy suit camo, with the camera wrapped in a mossy gun wrap) but at that point it knew something was up in that direction. It tried for another few seconds to get the deer through the fence, but then changed tactics and went back through the fence and dragged the deer down the fence line on the side of the fence it was originally on. As soon as it was out of sight with heavy cover between us, I moved down towards the creek in hopes of getting a shot of it dragging the deer across the creek further downstream, but I don't think it did... so I knew roughly where it had gone but it was getting pretty dark and I had no desire to surprise it. After a couple minutes I left the area in the other direction. Absolutely awesome experience. Hopefully next time I'll get that "money shot."
Really cool story!
O-28 - Paul - Oregon
Spring of 2015. My friend and I were out looking for elk sheds and spotted two cougars on our drive in. We broke the number one rule and did not have a rifle with us for the day. We watched the pair just disappear in the hills. I was determined to come back and try calling.
Calling coyotes has always been a hobby of mine, so I figured I would try for a big cat. That night I read all I could find on the internet about strategy and came across the rain-shadow site.
I returned to the location in the dark the next morning and parked a couple miles out so I would not scare them out again. It was very open desert country in Eastern Oregon so I wanted to approach the stand in the dark. I walked in to a location where we saw a group of deer feeding the previous day and set the foxpro in some brush in the bottom of a draw.
The call sequence started with lightning jack and I mixed in some cougar whistles. After about half an hour, I was bored and figured it wouldn’t happen, so I started throwing about every rabbit distress call I had out there and mixed in whistles with it. At around 45 minutes I spotted a female at about 100 yards from the call running straight in. She just appeared out of nowhere. (I incorrectly figured I would be able to see one coming for a quarter mile in the open country!)
The cougar slowed at about 20 yards from the call and stopped. This was about 70 yards from me, and I was in the gun, ready for the shot. I hit high in the back and the cat whirled to run. I was shook up bad but still managed to get a follow up shot into the animal.
First big cat a 110 lb female.
O-29 - Paul Oregon
December of 2015. Because of my first success I was confident calling cougars worked, and decided to try a canyon I had always seen big cat tracks while elk hunting.
I again went in the dark, with enough time to walk in to my set, and get ready by first light. I was cold calling the area, which definitely is not ideal, but I had consistently seen tracks here in the past and was hoping my timing was right. (As a side note, I cold call a lot without success, but you have to be persistent.)
So I set up and started calling with fawn in distress on the foxpro, at first shooting light. I was in a mohagany patch, with a fir canyon below me. The opening was only about 30 yards long and I set up side hill with a rock at my back. I expected the cat to come from up the canyon.
Coyotes were sounding off in the distance and I expected that is probably what I would call in.
About every 5 minutes I would pause the distress call and throw on two or three cougar whistles. Right around 30 minutes, with waning jack playing, I saw movement below me and thought it was probably one of the coyotes coming. I was going to hold strong and not shoot a coyote, but I got ready anyway.
The cougar popped into the opening from below me and was going directly for the call. I was ready and because I was only about 15 yards away, I took a moving shot.
The cat instantly lept in the air and landed in about a ten foot tall mahogany just down the hill. It scrambled out and down the hill. I was confident I had hit it well, but it did not seem the least bit slowed. I had two follow up shots as it went down the hill, but was not confident in those.
I followed it down to thick brush finding blood along the way. It was here I decided to give it some time. After 15 minutes I went through the brush and into the next clearing where the cat was lying dead near the bottom of the draw.
At check in with ODFW the male cat weighed in at 165#s. I got lucky with a cold call in a known hotspot.
O-30 - Paul - Oregon
April of 2017. Again we were out looking for elk sheds in the spring, and my dad came back to the ranger telling us he had jumped a cougar in a mahogany stand. He had a 45 pistol with him, but it was there and gone so fast he did not shoot. I was convinced to get the call and come back in the morning. My dad wanted to come along and I was hoping he could get a cougar.
We drove in to the base of the ridge in the dark. We had a good hike up the hill to get where I wanted to set up. I scoured google earth the night before and thought I knew where the cat would go. We made it to a small clearing in the mahogany with a big rock pile above us and a fir stand running along the north side of the ridge.
I put the call in a bush at the edge of the clearing and we were about 40 yards downhill from it. I started with the foxpro cougar whistles for about a minute. This is longer than I wanted, but I think my batteries in the remote were low and it took some time to shut it off. The foxpro cougar whistles do not sound right to me, but have worked on my other cats, so I went with it. Next I switched to a jackrabbit distress (I can’t remember which one) and it had only played for about 10 minutes when I spotted movement from above us.
I looked over to my right and my dad was looking into the fir stand at our right side. I could not get his attention and didn’t want to move or make any sound. I got into my gun when the cat went through a little low spot and it came to a stop at the edge of the opening. I had a great shot and took it.
The cat went instantly backwards and laid there. It then rolled up and began running to the left. I have found that cougars have an amazing spark to them and can be hit very well and still run up to 100 yards before dying. My dad insisted on only bringing in a shotgun with buckshot, so it worked in our favor here. He was able to get a follow up shot in and the cat rolled at about 60 yards out.
It was a young male and weighed in at 115 lbs at check in.
O31- Stevens County, WA Slagiatt
On December 5th I went up to my favorite deer hunting area to try to call in a lion. I had made around 8 attempts to call one since I finished deer hunting for the year, and so far I had only managed to get 1 coyote. (This area has plenty of lion activity, and they really raise hell on the deer herd.)
I got up to the area before daylight and parked my truck by a creek, a little under a half mile from where I intended to do my first calling session of the day.
I waited until there was enough light to hike up there without my headlamp. There was a few inches of old snow on the ground, and heavy fog that morning. I debated whether I should pack my scoped .243 or my open sight marlin .357, as I had both in my truck. I ended up going with the .243, and when the lion showed up I regretted that decision, wishing I had brought the gun with iron sights.
I found a little clump of small trees to sit up against that would break up my outline, while providing me with a reasonably good field of view in the direction I expected the action to come from. I've seen a lot of lion activity on my trail cameras in this area, and found numerous tracks and a few deer kills. I was near the point of a finger of standing timber coming up from a creek bottom, with open clearcut behind me. I thought that a cat wouldn't want to come through the open area, so it would be more or less forced to approach the way I wanted it to.
Calling with a closed reed fawn call, making "lost fawn calling for mom" type bleats, I tried to pick apart any movement through the fog and vegetation, while holding perfectly still.
Apparently my eyes aren't all that sharp, because 23 minutes in I see some sort of slow, weird movement on the other side of a clump of brush just 4 or 5 yards away, moving toward me from the edge of the timber, not exactly where I expected a response to come from. It crept in right on the edge of my peripheral vision. If I had been sitting just a little differently, facing a few more degrees to my left, I would not have seen the cat coming at all.
At first I couldn't tell what I was looking at, just that something was extremely close, on the other side of the bush, stalking me. It was moving so agonizingly slow, that I knew it had to be either a lion or a bobcat to be creeping in that fashion, as opposed to a coyote or a wolf. Then I saw its face through the brush and I knew I had a lion.
It blows my mind it was able to get that close before I noticed it. A little too close for comfort really. And it didn't make a whisper of noise on the crunchy old snow.
Even turned all the way down to 2x magnification, I had a hard time finding her in the scope... especially with the bush in the way. All I could think was that it was going to run when I pointed my gun at it. I had a moment of stress over the fact that I was having a hard time getting her in the scope, so the second I had fur in my crosshairs... I shot! I dont really remember the conscious decision to shoot. My gun just went off! I shot again as she was loping off, and then she was gone. It all just happened so suddenly it didnt even feel real!
I waited about 15 minutes before taking up the blood trail. It was not far at all, I would say not much more than 50 yards. The first shot had been more than adequate.
While getting back to my truck I noticed very fresh lion tracks everywhere out in the open cut, and on the logging road running through it. One set appeared to be from a pretty big cat, so I guess there was also a big tom near by.
In the end it just came down to 2 things. The cat just happened to be near by, and it had an empty stomach, so when I started ringing the dinner bell, it was coming.
O32 - Okanagan - Coastal Washington State
After we got the elk loaded in vehicles, the meat packers changed out of wet clothes while I took off to town in my slower Zuki. Two miles down the windy, brush walled logging road I came on cougar tracks in the snow that hadn't been there 45 minutes before. Two cougars, a med large and med, had been walking toward me on the road. Tracks showed that they had heard me coming, shuffled a bit and stepped off into brush on the uphill side just before I came around a nearby bend. Rain was mushing out tracks so that they looked old within minutes, yet their tracks where they left the road were as fresh as mine. Hmmm...
I had an electronic call buried somewhere in my vehicle, and an open reed hand call around my neck, as always when outdoors.
To act quickly, I merged into a bush across the road from where they went uphill, and hand called. I watched under the trees uphill as much as the brush allowed, especially watching a dark shadowed ledge above me. I've called cougars back to peek at me from the edge of the road in similar situations, but not this time. I decided to call till the other men arrived, which was 8-10 minutes later. Nothing showed. It was so brushy I probably would not have seen them if they sneaked back, and they may have never left but been watching me the whole time.
Editor's Note: I have also jumped a Cougar out of the road while driving slow. I had seen enough pics taken by people who had done the same, hopped out, and photographed the cat, that I hopped out with the gun and searched diligently through the trees for a kitty looking back at me. No such luck, but it's something that I know they do, so don't overlook the situation! Calling them back? I dunno. But they watch. They're cats. They're curious!
O33 - Coach - North Cascades WA
Here's a Youtube of the whole story! Started after the shot, but the storyteller goes back and covers the whole scenario.
Warning: Call-in took place over a trickling stream of snow melt... if you need to pee, you might do that before you watch!
Great call-in ! This customer is 1 for 1 on Cougar stands! Seriously! Experienced hunter, but.... Brand new customer, Brand new E-Caller, First time focusing on Lions!
Speaking of Luck, The cat committed and bolted in to TT Caterwaul, Tony Tebbe's sound, after listening to lots of distress, most of the RainShadow sounds, and even a coyote howl. (Of course, by "luck" I mean, luck of the draw... TT Caterwaul is a great sequence! Awesome product, Tony!)
A couple things about this story that came to my mind:
- Cold Call, longer response, Lots of constant loud sound.
- Very likely that the Cat had come in and was stealthing around, until Caterwaul put it over the top and it had to come in. Tony's sound is a little aggressive, kind of a bad attitude. Not a screaming heat sound, but slightly grumpy. (The same voice at RS WuffTalk, but Wuff is lazy, almost sleepy.)
- The cat didn't like that the sounds were coming from some thing on the ground, and got nervous... but it didn't bolt. Imagine a coyote in the same scenario! Poof! Sit tight! You'll get a better shot! Great Job, Coach!
- Was a healthy mature female. Females are territorial with each other. A coyote howl, the slightly aggressive attitude of the Predator University sound... Here she comes! Might be a wrinkle to hang on to there!
O34 - Lee - Washington State
While elk hunting during muzzleloader, my brother-in-law bugled in two cats. I wasn't with him, but he shared the story with me later on. He was walking an old logging road and let out a couple bugles. Fairly quickly, a cat came loping up the road. He said it took him a few seconds to realize what was happening, but he pulled up his muzzleloader and took a shot. He said he knew it was a clean miss as he rushed the shot. However, the spooky part was immediately after the shot, a different cat jumped out of the brush 15 feet from him and took off.
A few weeks later during modern deer season, my brother and I were walking a logging road in a canyon with a creek bottom on our left.
My brother asked, "Should we climb this low hill to look around?"
We were both tired, but I replied, "We should probably quit being lazy and do it."
I started walking to the rise on the right side of the road and the biggest cat I've ever seen jumped out of the drainage ditch 25 yards from us and loped up the road. I'll admit it: I froze. At first, I thought it was a deer... It was as big as a deer. However, it had no antlers. It didn't even register that I had a tag and could shoot until my brother started to unsling his rifle. I did the same, but I missed my chance... I hesitated too long.
After the sighting and hearing my brother-in-law's experience, we decided to invest in a FoxPro Fusion. We finally got a chance to get out and target the cats a few days before Christmas. We have absolutely zero experience, so when we discussed where to set up, I suggested that we don't know s***, so it might as well be as near the truck as possible so we don't have very far to drag the animal. He agreed and we set up in a small meadow an 1/8 of a mile from the truck at around 7:20 in the morning.
Earlier in the year, we found a dead rabbit that had been shredded, so we used the cottontail in distress. A couple minutes into the set, we had a crow and hawk come in--both were calling, circling, and searching for the source of the sound. About three minutes after that a cat came barreling in. I was the first to see the cat, and we had discussed that we would shoot first and not try to talk each other onto the target, but my brother was in a much better position for a quick shot as I would have had to turn my body and possibly alert the animal. I tapped him on the shoulder, pointed at the cat, and whispered, "Cougar."
He pulled up quickly and still didn't see it. However, the cat took one step into the opening (about 10 feet from the call) and he took him in the neck. The tom spun, ran about 50 yards, and died. Our first cougar hunt started at 7:20. Tom called in at 7:25. Timestamp on my photo of the cat was 7:29. It was the most exciting 9-minute hunt I've ever been on. I don't think it was the big tom we had seen earlier in the year--unless he had lost a ton of weight, but I still don't know enough to accurately say for sure.
O35 - Tyler
Two years ago, I hiked into an area that I'd found kills in before. Set up on the far end of a small meadow opposite some thick scrub trees. I turned on the "FoxPro Mountain Lion in Heat" call, and within about 15 seconds a 100 lb female mountain lion came barrelling out of the brush directly at me, ready to tear into whaterver was making those calls! ... Turned out she'd been munching on a kill, and I just happened to be fortunate with my timing. She also had some adolescents with her. I didn't realize it at the time, and never did see their tracks that day - so I don't think they were with her at the time. I put a trail camera up on her kill and got a bunch of pictures of them when they came in a few days later...
O36 - Lee - Washington State
My mother and father-in-law have a handful of cows that are beginning to calve and while retrieving a calf out of the field, my brother-in-law found signs of a fresh deer kill, drag, and cougar tracks. He followed it until the tracks went over the side of a steep hill into some thick vegetation. I wasn't able to get up there to try calling until four days later, so I wasn't sure if the cat would still be in the area.
Based off of what I've witnessed, read, and heard, we set up with a blow-down on our back and on the edge of a clearing looking down into the thick vegetation. I buried the call a few yards into the thicker stand of trees about 40 yards below where we were sitting. The plan was if the cat was still in the thick brush below, I hoped it would come up, circle around the call to come in from above, and we would have a nice broadside shot as it came in from above the call, but still concealed in the trees. It was a gamble because directly behind the call was very thick brush, and if the cougar decided to come straight in and up the hill, we would never see it. Turns out, it was worth the risk.
We set up how Steve/RainShadow does his cold stands just in case some coyotes or bobcats came in. I planned to do 20-25 minutes of alternating cottontail distress sounds and then work into cougar vocals. However, after just ten minutes we had 20 magpies and 3 crows screaming their heads off, circling, and landing in the trees above the call.
At minute 11 on the stand, I spotted the cougar circling right and below me. My plan had worked. It came up out of the thicker vegetation and once slightly above the call, it turned and started heading straight for it.
It stopped, and I didn't have a shot. I could only see its face and hindquarters. The vitals were blocked by a tree. Its head was still bobbing and I could tell that even though 15 yards from the call, it still hadn't located the source of the sound. This gave me hope as I figured it might move a few more paces to find the source. It did just that. I waited for it to stop and then squeezed off a shot. I hit it directly behind the shoulder. It jumped in the air and hunched, spun, and ran about 20 yards. I squeezed off another shot and missed, but right after my follow-up shot, the cougar dropped and thrashed. I waited about five minutes and then went down to find it dead where it had fallen.
Thanks again for your expertise. Tons of great information in those webinars.
O37 - Joe
I will get a write up from Joe to add to this, but here's a GREAT backcountry, hard core, predator adventure... ON VIDEO!!!
038 - Friend in Colville
This cougar dashed out in front of my wife, chasing a turkey, as she was leaving for town. She let me know, and I went out after it. I set the call up on the state land adjacent to our driveway and sat in a ladder stand overlooking it. Played fawn distress for 10 minutes and then switched to baby rabbit distress for another 10. Shut the call off and the sound of the cat walking through the clear cut drew my eyes. It took another 10-15 minutes of stalking the motion decoy before it presented a shot. I smacked it in the chest from 90 yards and it died where it took the bullet. 270 Win with a 150gr SST
O 39 - Mark, from RS22!
The weekend after Thanksgiving 2022, it was supposed to snow more in Central Oregon early Sunday morning. That didn’t happen, but I went because I had time.
I parked in the exact same spot that I shot a cat last December. Walking down the open road at first light, I saw deer, elk, and coyote tracks. There was about 2 inches of crusty snow and a half inch of new snow on top of the old snow. Only 1/4 mile from my truck, I set a decoy and electronic call out then called for 32 minutes. Nothing. I walked 1/3 mile more down the road and noticed that there was a set of cat tracks on top of the two truck tire tracks from the day before. The cat tracks looked fresh. The area was filled with thick fir and tamarack. Visibility was quite short in most areas.
I set my electronic caller and little skinny fur decoy up on the last spot I could see the tracks. I went back and sat on the side of the closed off road/skidder trail. For about 5 minutes I played a fawn in distress sound. I heard a stick pop and something coming down the hill to my right. About 5 or 10 seconds later I heard something close and moved only my eyeballs. Of course my call was 80 yards away but the cat came in from behind me and to the right. Being only 12 yards away but headed toward the call, I figured my best chance was to let it keep going that direction. Except it turned its head 90 degrees and looked at me. I knew then I had to act. I swung my rifle over, kind of looked through the scope, and shot. The lion jumped straight in the air and took off running up the hill. The snow revealed it ran about 100 yards before it expired. The 77 grain HPBT from a 223 Remington had gone straight through its heart.
Only about a 90 pound female adult but I was happy to have harvested my 3rd mountain lion.
Tracks are important. Find fresh tracks, your success rate is phenomenal.
I should go back to a bigger cartridge since it didn’t even get close to exiting.
Be quick and decisive. Another half second and that cat would’ve been gone.
Have fun while pursuing the most interesting critter in the woods.
The decoy was a worthwhile investment that might have distracted the cat for a moment.
If there are lots of cats in an area, walking and calling blindly sometimes works out well.