2022 Hunting Adventures Recap

December – I was down with my back issues, but I went back to Utah on the last day of the season and got a doe antelope. It is pancake flat, so I was able to manage. Although the snow was great the first couple weeks of the month, I couldn’t lion hunt because I couldn’t hike in any type of terrain.

A buddy of mine had drawn the nonresident hound permit. He’d hunted with me the prior season (permit good for calendar year) working a new dog of his. We’d treed and released two females, but no shootable males. I told him I would come, but it could end in a situation where I simply could not go where the dogs go, and he’d have to round them up. He was ok with this.

We found a female track about a mile from the truck. The dogs took it straight up and into some rocky stuff and came up caught. Dang it. I was hoping for a little easier terrain. Thankfully, the cat wasn’t ledged out, but in a cedar. We took some photos, and I hobbled down the mountain. We took a day off, and tried again with his girlfriend in tow. We found a track that was older, but runnable. I opted not to turn loose, however.

The day after Christmas, I took my buddy, G lion hunting. Looking for tracks, we ran into a fellow houndsmen I’d run with before. He was sitting on a nice tom track. I asked if I could turn a dog into the race. He said I could turn them all in, as he had one old dog, and one very young pup and the track was going straight into a south facing, dirt-covered hill. We cut the hounds loose at first light. They came up treed in about a mile. We hiked in with high expectations, but were greeted with a tree with a female lion and three sub-adults. We took some photos. My old dog, Spike, had only made about half of the race, and came up treed on the gps. He was too far away to hear, but he wasn’t moving.

Now Spike is a good dog, and a dog I trust, but he is 12. He was either treed, or had just plain gassed out. He isn’t a dick-around dog, so I knew that wasn’t an option. Usually when he gasses out, he back trails back to where we turned loose. But again, maybe he found a nice spot to lay down, realized he is an old boy and needed some rest….or maybe he had the tom treed.

The plan was for me to walk to Spike, and the others would head down and take a short hike up a canyon on the backside of the mountain to see where the hounds had gotten off the tom track. I headed to Spike, and when I crested the summit, I could hear him faintly. Spike squeals on the track, but long-bawls at the tree. He had something caught because it was the long-bawl. Again, he doesn’t screw off. If he sounds the long-bawl, something’s caught. He sounded worn out and hoarse, like he was 12 years old and on his own.

I figured it was the tom, but when I got into the tree, it was an isolated cedar, and I couldn’t see a big tom in it from the distance. Then, while walking to the tree, I found the tom track and the track the dogs had veered off of. The tom track was uncovered.

Hmmm…so maybe it’s a bobcat…and damn it I didn’t even bring a gun today. So I walked into the tree and he was face-barking a raccoon. The both looked mad, but Spike looked madder.

I pulled Spike off the coon, and headed down to the road. I had no reception so I couldn’t tell the others that I’d found the tom track.

I walked and found the trucks and let them know we had to get back up there and turn in on the tom track again.

“What was Spike’s deal?” they said.

“Oh, yeah. Haha. He caught a coon,” I said. And I showed them my video.

We headed back up the mountain. I left Spike in the truck, however, because he was gassed out. I walked the pack into the tom track and they took off. In the coming hours, we had to help twice, but eventually they came up treed in an area with cliffs, caves and cedars. Crap. I hate caves and cliffs. The dogs get hurt and it sucks.

They had the cat in kind of a weird cliff/cave spot. There was a neat hole in the rocks, and they were in the hole, but the cat was above them. When we got there, the lion bailed and headed into the old-growth pines and came up treed. It happened quickly, and no one got a good gauge on the size of the cat.

When we got down to the final tree, we got a good look at the cat, it was apparent he was nice, but not big. He was probably between 130-140 pounds, but my friend who’d found the track didn’t want him.

We left him to get bigger. We headed back to the truck having treed five lions and a raccoon, and no dogs got hurt….a pretty good day on the mountain.
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So, that was my 2022...my 2024 New Year's resolution was to finish this. I'm hoping to have my 2023 recap completed before 2026.
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