I remember the first time I hunted a mountain lion. I had just gotten out of the United States Navy and moved back home to Meeker, Colo. The thought of hunting a mountain lion had always spiked my curiosity but I wasn’t sure it was something I would truly enjoy.
My father in-law has hunted lions for years; probably more years than I’ve been alive. Out of the blue, one day he asked me if I wanted to go on a hunt because he had a mountain lion on the ranch killing elk calves. I figured, “why not?” I had a couple days off, and I could at least get some snowmobiling in.
After four days of riding sleds and running the property lines we were anxious to find a track. We came across a dead elk and a fresh track. We loaded up the dogs and headed to the track. We let a couple of our seasoned walker hounds out and they immediately proceeded to bury their noses in the snow. The chase was on! There isn’t a more exhilarating feeling than hearing a hound hot on a lion track in a deep dark canyon in Northwest Colorado.
We headed up the mountain after the dogs. My heart was pounding, mostly from the 1000-foot climb up to the tree. Hearing their barks echoing off the canyon walls we were right on their trail. They were barking treed.
We arrived to find a beautiful 150 pound tom in the tree, staring down at us like an evening snack. His stare seemed to go right through us. He wasn’t intimidated by us at all. I never have had so much trouble drawing my bow back in my life, I was shaking like a leaf.
I had never seen a pack of dogs so loyal to one man. They live to run through the snow after cats and to make their owner happy. After that I had to have hounds for myself. I quickly acquired some hounds and began the adventure. It’s not an easy training process, or hunt by any means, but it’s so worth it when you get on a fresh track with excited hounds. Now I anxiously await mountain lion season with my family, friends and prepared hounds.
Lion hunting, in my opinion, is the premier big game hunt. If you have a love for the outdoors, and enjoy watching dogs work, this is for you. Of course being in shape never hurt anyone either. If you find yourself under a lion someday, you’ll quickly find it hard to achieve that adrenaline rush anywhere else. Happy hunting!
Oran Rundberg lives in Meeker, Colo., with his wife Amy and their three children: Elijah, Dylan and Ellianne. Photos courtesy of Oran Rundberg.