Though critics are out there, hunting mountain lions with hounds is the best way to fill a tag.
It’s early February and mountain lion seasons are in full swing across western states. Every fresh snow brings hunters a new opportunity to cut a hot track and stand a chance at actually finding a lion at the end of it.
Mountain lion hunting is not for the faint of heart and can take place in some of the most rugged country America has to offer, not to mention at a time of year when traveling those areas is difficult at best.
Watch this video of an archery mountain lion hunt from a hardcore hunter from Stuck N the Rut.
Mountain lion populations are growing in recent years, and most western states have sustainable populations for hunting.
A few states offer very long seasons on mountain lions, and others are very short. Arizona for example, runs a yearlong season and hunters have the opportunity to purchase multiple tags. Most of those states allow hunting with hounds, although a few western states like California don’t allow the use of dogs in most circumstances.
The use of hounds to hunt mountain lions can cause rancorous debate within, and from outside of, the hunting community. As a guy who has never hunted mountain lions with hounds, I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject. That being the case, hunting mountain lions with hounds appears to be the best approach for actually managing the mountain lion population. Here’s why.
For starters, the men and women who are actually hunting mountain lions with hounds do so because it is the best way to accomplish the job. Mountain lions are extremely reclusive animals and are very hard to spot. Although spot and stalking these animals is possible, the success rates are extremely low. If you think we ought to take realistic steps to managing our mountain lion populations, the use of hounds is the best way to do that. If you don’t think we need to manage their populations, you will probably disagree wholeheartedly with this entire article.
Secondly, it seems people who get turned off of hound hunting do so because the end shot does not seem very sporting. In fact if you read the comments of the Stuck N the Rut video, you’ll see the hunter affirm the shot is not the difficult part of the hunt. The difficulty lies in training the dogs and in the physical endurance it can take to reach a treed mountain lion. That stuff is not in the video because watching a guy walk six or seven miles through knee deep powder can get a little boring, and watching a dog in training for three years would turn into an awful long video.
While on the subject of the shot, it’s important to be honest that a treed mountain lion offers the opportunity to take well aimed shots at animals you are certain you want to harvest. Think about if everyone had to spot and stalk mountain lions. You’d more than likely get more 400 yard shots, shots at running targets, and shots at animals you haven’t positively identified as the animal you want, or need, to shoot. Anyone who hunts hopefully is looking for a quick and clean kill. Hunting mountain lions with hounds is the best way to ensure those types of kills.
Finally, and not to be overlooked is the fact that most states have allowed hound hunting since their inception. This history has encompassed periods of declining mountain lion populations and times of growing populations. Hounds were not responsible for the decline in the mountain lion population we saw our nation’s history, bounties were. Since bounties were lifted by many states, the resurgence of the mountain lion population has occurred alongside the constant use of hounds to hunt them. Hunting mountain lions with hounds does not jeopardize mountain lion populations, legislation, quotas, and season dates control the harvest.
Long gone are the days of extermination hunting practices. Hopefully through conservation education our youth will continue to accept the understanding all species have a place in our world, although that place is not in someone’s backyard or in a ranchers feedlot. Hunting mountain lions with hounds gives us the best chance to successfully manage our lion populations in a levelheaded manner.