Mountain Lion Hunt

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58Hawken
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Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by 58Hawken »

The Jicarilla Apache Nation manages predators closely on the reservation to keep deer and elk numbers up to feed the people. I was able to draw a tag for this guided cat hunt.

This was my third opportunity. The first I completely passed up. A broker who sells discounted cancellation hunts called me a few years ago and asked if I could be ready in a couple weeks' time. I declined and regretted it as soon as I hung up. I wrestled with the idea of hunting a predator. I could rationalize it intellectually, but was struggling emotionally. I thought, "I get that it is needed but maybe I should leave that up to people who have the time and means to do it." Then I heard myself say, "Um, yeah, that's YOU, @$$hole."

I sent an email to the broker and told him to let me know if another opportunity came up. He called me back and offered to book it for a year out at the same price. Couldn't turn it down. That second opportunity ended up being a great 5 day 4-wheeling trip around canyons in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming. Only track was from a yearling kitten.

Surfing around, I came across a list of guides for the Jicarilla Reservation. Their regs noted that non-tribal members were required to employ native guides for all hunts. The guide list noted which were also houndsmen running dogs for lion and bear. I called a couple of guides and got some price info and set myself a savings and calendar goal.

We had a trip planned for South Africa to visit my wife's family this summer. I was working up a budget to see if I wanted to do another hunting safari while we were there. I couldn't make the cost worth the plains game I might be interested in. "For that price, I'd rather just hunt my lion here." Well, in that case...

I called the guide I got on best with and talked through some details, including weapon. For the Wyoming trip, I had worked up some .357 loads, given that we were likely to be up close. They were 13gr of IMR 4227 behind 158gr round nose lead casts. He noted any small rifle would suffice as the cats were very thin-skinned and had seen them taken with .22 magnums. I proposed a .32 muzzle-loader I'd built and he thought it should be fine.

When it came to the draw, all but one were his client. Since I was only a 6 hour drive away, he told me if I could be on call for December, he'd call me as soon as they got snow and we could head out immediately. The guides work as the reservation's predator management, so they are intricately familiar with the animals' movements. "We've got a million acres and you'll be the only one hunting cats," he said.

I shied away from my .30-06 as I was concerned about what the exit wound would do to the hide. I harvested a small elk cow this season with it. The through and through broke a rib on the way out and didn't cause much hide damage, so I considered it as a possibility. Load on that is 180gr of soft point with 50gr of IMR 4350.

As it got closer to December, I watched the forecast to give myself as much advance planning as possible. Thanksgiving rolled around and the guide texted me that snow was coming. We talked by phone and he said there was snow and he could put his guides out to look for tracks if I could confirm I'd head down if they found something worth tracking. I said I'd pack while making my elk and bison roasts for the holiday meal. I was talking to my family about it at my brother's house with my phone in my hand and his text came through, "Call me". I called and he said things were looking good and to be ready, that it could be the middle of the night if they found something. We got home and rested for an hour or so and I got a text saying, "Found a tom". Threw my gear in the car and headed out.

I took all three weapons and figured I'd decide which to use on the way. I settled on the .30-06 since, though ballistic data said the .32 was on par with a .22mag, I hadn't had opportunity to crony it myself and confirm. I figured the .30-06 would zip him and do just fine. I'd have the .357 for backup if needed or if it was a very close shot to make it worth it.

Got there at 2AM and crashed at the Wild Horse hotel. Great place for the price. The guide woke me and we headed over to Fish and Game to get the tag printed. No small feat given it was early morning on a holiday. The spot we were going to hunt wasn't 10 minutes out of town. We had to get there quick though because the sun was going to melt the tracks and burn off the scent for the dogs.

The dogs lit out and chased the tom for a mile or so. We managed to get the truck within 1/2 a mile of where the tom treed. Hiking up the steep canyon trail the dogs left, I said to myself, "Almost like we're chasing something that is built to fly up this terrain. I am SO not hunting mountain goats or sheep!" I saw blood on the trail and the guide wagered it was one of the dog's and not the cat's. He didn't have a guess on whether it was tangling with the cat or got snared on some brush.

It was surreal to see him in the tree. He looked right at us with an aloof air of, "Tsk, now what the hell do YOU want?" I walked around the tree to find someplace stable to shoot from. No good tree limbs to rest on, so I settled back against the hill to get a good sight picture. I got the go ahead from the guide to load my rifle and waited while another guide leashed the dogs to keep them out of the way.

I lined up my shot and called "Ready" for a go-ahead to shoot. The guide called "Ready" and I fired. Popped him through both lungs and he sprang into the air. He caught himself on the tree and hung onto the trunk. I lined up a second shot and the guide told me to wait. The cat barely took a single breath from when he caught himself and fell out of the tree, DRT. The dogs charged after the him and actually pulled their handler over.

We walked over to where he fell and confirmed he was indeed gone. I said my prayer for him and we headed down. A kid's tobaggan made a pretty handy cart to slide the cat back down to the truck.

On skinning him out, the exit wound wasn't bigger than a half dollar coin. Drove home through a white-out over the pass back into Colorado. Dropped him off with my taxidermist and we had good long talk swapping stories. He said the exit hole would be no problem. The skull is being beetle cleaned since it has so many more nooks and crannies than the deer or elk that he just boils. I opted for him to remove the claws for jewelry and gifts since they wouldn't be of any use in the rug mounted on a wall. I declined to get reflective eyes since my youngest daughter gets creeped out enough as it is by my skull mounts.

I took the meat to my regular processor. I probably could have done it myself, but with such a valuable kill, it was worth it to me to have the pros do it. I asked them to keep the leg bones whole for decorating and to bone, roll, and tie the roasts. I'm thinking some sort of stuffed roasts would be good. Forewent any chops and just have the loins being pulled. Ribs are to be cut like pork ribs. Trim is being made into bratwurst.

YouTube of the kill below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPvaml_ ... e=youtu.be






IMG_3355_small.jpg

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SpaceRanger42
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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by SpaceRanger42 »

You do realize that there are a lot of members of this forum and of this club who are going to think you are major douche for posing with your kill like this right?
Never smile too big, the gods may mistake it for hubris.
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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by YankeeTarheel »

Listen to SpaceRanger42...
""If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." -- LBJ

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by K9s »

"...keep the leg bones whole for decorating"?

Yeah, not a fan here.

Maybe post an introduction in the New Members section so this doesn't seem like a copy/pasted blog post.
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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by lurker »

guide to lead you in, dogs to tree your victim. i won't be watching your video. how did you find us? what brings you here?
Last edited by lurker on Thu Dec 05, 2019 11:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

58Hawken
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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by 58Hawken »

K9s wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:46 pm
"...keep the leg bones whole for decorating"?

Yeah, not a fan here.
Part of my "use every part of the animal" approach. It was either that or let the processor cut them down into dog bones. I've got a lot of artist friends who already asked me about the skull. I want to keep it plain, but I think there are decorative ways to use the leg bones to appropriately honor the animal and the hunt.

It's actually entertaining when I have to clarify with processors to distinguish "dog bones" and "soup bones" since I make stock out of both of them. Always tell them to save any excess fat from the trim for tallow for soap and candles, too.
Last edited by 58Hawken on Thu Dec 05, 2019 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by 58Hawken »

lurker wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 11:06 pm
how did you find us? what brings you here?
I was a member for years but lost my old account and email associated with it, etc. I think it was actually my wife who found the forum originally when I finally got her to take up shooting.

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by K9s »

Wow. Second long lost member this week!
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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by 58Hawken »

SpaceRanger42 wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:56 pm
You do realize that there are a lot of members of this forum and of this club who are going to think you are major douche for posing with your kill like this right?
Meh. A lot of people think I'm a douche from hunting at all, much less a predator, much less posing for pictures. A lot of people will think I'm a douche for considering using a handgun or for spending so much time working up loads that I probably didn't need to. Lot of people who will consider me a douche for giving thought to damage to the hide from an exit wound. A lot of people will consider me a douche for even considering a small caliber muzzle loader. A lot of people will think I'm a douche for using a "high power rifle". A lot of people will think I'm a douche for being comfortable with a quick kill from a double lung shot rather than risking a heart or brain shot. Lot of people will think I'm a douche for making something so pedestrian like bratwurst out of the trim. <shrug>

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

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you came here and posted a lengthy description of your guided hunt for your first post. so many other things you could have started with. yeah, i think you're a douche. we get them here now and again. meh.
Last edited by lurker on Thu Dec 05, 2019 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by K9s »

Don't sugarcoat it, Lurker. So diplomatic!

:roflmao:
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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by 58Hawken »

lurker wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 11:37 pm
you came here and posted a lengthy description of your guided hunt for your first post.
Such posts were well-received when I was here last. I've even directed folks looking for more information. If the culture has changed, noted.
i think you're a douche. we get them here now and again. meh.
You're entitled to your opinion. :)

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by lurker »

i smelled something rotten in the first sentence. if mr 58 had spent a couple of minutes here he'd know the reaction this post would get. and he did. so he dove all the way down to the bottom of the forum listing and put in a lengthy post including the bloody details and all the right words about his prayer and how he uses the whole cat(with video). he could have said something about economic disparity or the racial inequality or corruption in government or .... but no, straight to the bottom. douche. and now, he's hovering, watching for the response, and oh so cool, and tolerant. douche AND troll.

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

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lurker wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 11:48 pm
i smelled something rotten in the first sentence. if mr 58 had spent a couple of minutes here he'd know the reaction this post would get. and he did. so he dove all the way down to the bottom of the forum listing and put in a lengthy post including the bloody details and all the right words about his prayer and how he uses the whole cat(with video). he could have said something about economic disparity or the racial inequality or corruption in government or .... but no, straight to the bottom. douche. and now, he's hovering, watching for the response, and oh so cool, and tolerant. douche AND troll.
Lurker.... your a sweet talking devil. :coffee:
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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

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lurker wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 11:48 pm
he could have said something about economic disparity or the racial inequality or corruption in government
I didn't want to jump right up on that soap box, but sure we could do that. When talking about this hunt I had a friend sneer at me, "Why don't the natives there just raise their own meat instead of having to use predator management so they can hunt deer and elk?" Well, Karen, the last time someone told them that was when the corrupt government stuck them on the crappiest, unarable land they could find and then criticize them for not being able to farm. And ranching STILL requires predator management. A friend of a friend made some remarks that got back to me about how the indigenous population should "find other ways to make a living". I've crossed paths with this woman and holy schnikies is she the epitome of White Privilege. She's basically a professional traveler flittering about talking smack about the cultures she encounters. Spends quite a bit of time in outdoors activities which is where our circles of friends crossed over.

Whenever I'm hunting or volunteering on a reservation, it grinds my gears all to hell when people like her make judgments about how native people should be living. No, Karen, there actually aren't "other ways of making a living" just hanging out on the reservation. And no, you don't get to dictate how they manage their wildlife just because you find it "icky". It's always eye opening for me when I hear the locals refer to double-wide trailers as "nice houses". People talking about corruption in government and water in Flint, Michigan whereas a lot of the reservations have not had secure water sources for generations.

It's actually why I had little problem paying this guide his full fee versus waiting for a discount from "white" guides. With the wide gap of economic disparity, on a reservation versus off it, I was happy to contribute to supporting this guide's self-employment. Any of the charitable donations I make to supporting economic developmwnt have to pass through this and that organization before I can see it help someone. At least this way, I was putting the money directly into the hands of the person using it to work and employ the other guides.

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by SpaceRanger42 »

I am with you, Lurker.
Never smile too big, the gods may mistake it for hubris.
Yes, I haz a moose. :D

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by spara »

Thank you! I'm not a hunter but I enjoyed the story.

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by YankeeTarheel »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_status

Nationally, Mountain Lions are rated as "Least Concern" in the Endangered Species classification, one step more abundant than "Near Threatened". But in parts of nation, especially the East, the species is now extinct. Correspondingly, and possibly consequentially, the deer population has exploded--there are now more deer in NJ than there were at the time of the Revolutionary War.

I understand "Varmint Control" and appreciate that every part of the animal will be used that can be used. But the pure joy in killing frankly disgusts me. That second shot you didn't take might well have reduced the cat's suffering in his final moments. Yes, we kill for food, and yes, you'll eat the cat (not sure how that tastes), but it's clear you enjoy the killing. Why else would you want to go to South Africa to kill a lion there? You wouldn't be able to utilize it the way you can here.

I'm not against killing animals for food. I am not against hunting, even the joy in discovery, tracking, understanding the animal's movement, skill vs instinct, though none of that's my thing. I just don't understand pleasure in killing. And ESPECIALLY pleasure in killing an animal that is not abundant, but rare.

When I saw your picture and your big grin, all I could think of was Uday and Qusay Trump, proudly holding up a dead leopard they shot, now considered critically endangered. Remember this is the LIBERAL Gun Club so the Trumps are anathema.
""If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." -- LBJ

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

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YankeeTarheel wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:17 pm
I understand "Varmint Control" and appreciate that every part of the animal will be used that can be used. But the pure joy in killing frankly disgusts me.
That word "joy" or "enjoyment" has really given me a lot to ponder. For this season and planning this hunt in particular. I was fortunate enough to draw every tag I put in for this year. I'll have hunted every state from Canada to Mexico this year. Not necessarily successfully. (Heading to OK for boar next month.) And honestly, it is indeed emotionally taxing. That post-hunt adrenaline let down always strikes me. When I took last year's bison on the Assiniboine-Sioux reservation, it didn't hit me until after he was down and we'd brought in another truck with winch to load and haul him to the skin and gut area. I got back in the game manager's truck and WHOOMP, I just crashed. "Good hunt...that was...it was a good hunt...." was all I could barely say. My Wyoming guide mentioned that he'd often seen grown men full on weep at finally taking their first elk after decades.

I don't know the word for the mix of emotions that I get from hunting. Being part of that cycle of life and death is so divorced from anything in a mainstream supermarket. I recall showing an uncle pictures from a hunt and he asked if I felt any kind of guilt from it. I shook my head and honestly could not fathom why I would. I responded that I actually felt guilty anytime I pondered supermarket meat. Looking at those packages, knowing they came from gods know what mix of factory farmed miserable animals, I absolutely HATE anytime I resort to buying there.

Call me whatever name you'd like, (I'm sure Lurker will) but it's almost a "spiritual knowledge". Those moments when the reality of what is happening, your quarry comes within range and you're lining up your shot with bow or rifle, you're about to take a life to sustain your life, that you're putting your money where your mouth is about conservation, that you're likely giving the animal a better death than it would have being torn apart by a predator while still breathing or dying old and starving. That everything you've done all year, from scouting to tracking to range time to loading custom cartridges, is all coming together in that split second when you're doing something you can't take back. That you know it "needs to be done", for meat or conservation, but that you are the one doing it, you are taking responsibility for the death that sustains your life. I wouldn't call it "joy". Or "pleasure". "Fulfilling", maybe.

I used the word "surreal" in describe approaching this cat, but it is actually "superreal". In those intense moments, people always say, "It felt like a dream". For me, those moments are the most "real" I ever feel. Not just hunting, but any moment of extreme emotion engaging the amygdala. I caught myself singing to the cat as soon as we saw him. I know I was tearing up at one point, but can't recall if it was when I was getting into shooting position or when he fell from the tree.

For this year's bison on the same reservation as last year's, we approached the wounded bull and I was lining up a shot behind the ear to put him down. The game manager told me, "Careful, don't mess up your skull." I said, "I already have a skull mount, I just want him down." When he was down, I put my weapon away and started breaking out tools. "Do you want a picture?" I replied, "No, I got a good one last year. I'm good." He chuckled, and said, "Serious hunter. All about the meat." When we were approaching, I was surprised at the things coming out of my mouth to the bull in stream of consciousness. "Come on, baby. Go down. It's alright. We're okay. Let's go. Other side. It's okay, brother."

Once the animal was down, the game manager called in the local college who helps them with herd health monitoring to take tissue samples. They were negotiating with me for various organs since I technically now owned the animal. My daughters love the oysters and they asked if they could have just one. They couldn't take a sample, it was an all or nothing kind of deal. I consented and handed them one out of my cooler. I then smirked and thought, "I have literally given my left nut to support conservation on the reservations!"

It's worth noting some detail about their bison program. They are part of the Intertribal Buffalo Council that works with about 70 tribes to get bison returned to reservations. Their reservation has one of the largest herds and I'm a big fan of their program. They've recently built a quarantine facility and are actively working with Yellowstone and the ITBC to give them live animals from their culls rather than just meat. Half their herd is on one piece of land for use by tribal members with meat going into their schools and programs feeding the elderly. They sell hunts out of the other half to non-tribal members. The proceeds from that go to support managing both. I'll be the first to admit it is not true "hunting wild animals", but I do "enjoy" supporting the tribes efforts.
That second shot you didn't take might well have reduced the cat's suffering in his final moments.


That was my thought when I lined up the shot. But the experienced guides are there for a reason. I wasn't going to pretend to know better when they are employed by their tribe for their knowledge of what is best for a quick kill. Anything BUT a quick kill puts everyone's safety in danger including their dogs. I wasn't going to make my own decisions about how to run things on their land. Check out the video if you'd like. He only took maybe one more breath after my first shot before expiring.
Yes, we kill for food, and yes, you'll eat the cat (not sure how that tastes),
A cross between good pork and veal is what I've heard. I'll find out soon enough. Processor called and he's ready. Yay! Turnaround was much quicker now that we're past peak rifle season.
Why else would you want to go to South Africa to kill a lion there? You wouldn't be able to utilize it the way you can here.
I didn't say lion, I specifically said plains game. Blesbuck, springbok, wildebeest, impala, etc. Made some GOOD impala fajitas for my in-laws when I previously hunted there. I've no interest in hunting African lion. It's totally not worth the money. Cape Buffalo is on my bucket list, but not without insuring I get plenty of the meat for my family there. I know the meat doesn't go to waste, but it's a personal principle for me to eat as much of it myself as possible. South African conservation and the bloody factory farmed canned lion industry and endangered leopard are a WHOLE other topic.
And ESPECIALLY pleasure in killing an animal that is not abundant, but rare.
Mountain lions in that area are not "rare", as you noted. I specifically chose this hunt to support the game management and conservation done by the tribe for their food supply. Do I take pleasure in supporting that? Yeah, probably. But as you noted, it's the whole of the experience. Not the act of killing itself.
When I saw your picture and your big grin
I'm a goofy looking mofo. That's not my grin. That's my RBF. I've attached another pic that doesn't quite show my face, but more reflects my mood. I used the other as I'm not ashamed to show my face and is a better picture of the whole animal. My sister even ribbed me and asked if I was singing "Soft Kitty" to him.
Remember this is the LIBERAL Gun Club so the Trumps are anathema.
Yep, and Tinyhands' nemeses HRH Elizabeth and her grandsons are as big of hunters as the doofus twins. I believe it was Harry who had to break up with a girlfriend over the controversy that her father ran an African safari outfitter.
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Last edited by 58Hawken on Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

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Folks should breathe deep.

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by geno »

Inquisitor wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:59 pm
Folks should breathe deep.
+1, way too many trigger words being used. :coffee:
"its a goddamn impossible way of life"

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by YankeeTarheel »

But you did say
"For that price, I'd rather just hunt my lion here."
Perhaps I inferred incorrectly that you meant hunt a lion here...or there.

But another point is: Your existence is absolutely NOT dependent on whether that mountain lion lived or died and I find it absurd you make that claim. Certainly mine isn't.

Mountain Lions ARE classified as "Least Concern" generally and in some areas of the US, extinct.

Now I'm done here.
""If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." -- LBJ

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by Bisbee »

Well written account of your hunt 58Hawken. I’ve also appreciated the tone of your replies on this thread.

I was probably one of the first to read your story but refrained from posting a reply. Given a recent long (and well explored) thread about hunting versus some members’ values about life (the thread eventually went off the rails and was locked) I suspected this story was going to attract some heat.

But I myself didn’t know what to say at the time due to my own mixed feelings about hunting mountain lions (a protected species here in SE AZ) nor trophy hunting in general. I have no qualms about hunting for meat and can imagine the spiritual experience you describe during your hunt (I’ve experienced supra-real moments in my life as well).

I will continue to observe without passing judgement insofar as I wish the same courtesy be afforded me in my passion and skills with firearms by fellow Progressives who have no personal knowledge of guns.
"It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent." -Gandhi

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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by tonguengroover »

Way too much trash talk going on here by the usual person/s. If ya ain't got nuthin good to say.....

I hear mt. lion tastes like pork.

The only thing I don't like about hunting predators is trophy hunting them. I wouldn't personally. I despise people who go shoot coyotes just for the fun of it. I used to hunt, so if the native people want them thinned out on their tribal land so be it, none of my business.

I also commend you for puttin up with those few who gave you a hard time. I had too as well when I joined and shoot, all I did was say no to the pesty ones (same one) who insisted I show my location.
Last edited by tonguengroover on Fri Dec 06, 2019 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mountain Lion Hunt

Post by tonguengroover »

This reminds me of the story in AZ where the fish and game had a not so bright idea of locating Big Horn sheep in a mountain range. Trouble was there were like 40 lions there who ate half the sheep. So, F&G decided to cull 10 lions. That was a disaster IMO.
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