Here is a photo of a tom I took a few years back. I do not usually kill lions (hunters that I am guiding take the cats) but in this case, there were some extenuating circumstances.
My paying hunter and I began the day hunting an area where the ranch owner complained that a lion had recently killed a colt. We rode horseback for a few hours without finding any sign of the colt or a lion. About 2:00 PM, as we got close to the south boundary of the ranch, three of the hounds (Dee, Brownie, June) struck a cold track and began trailing leaving a young hound with us. The track was snowed in which made it impossible to tell how big the cat was or how old the track was. By the time we found a way to get the horses through the fence, the hounds were no longer within hearing. We rode for several hours trying to locate the dogs, riding to the rim of many of the small canyons in the area to see if we could hear them, but no luck. Also, the dogs had gotten out of range of the old locator collars that I had at that time. By this point I had pretty much decided that we would need to go back to the spot that we had last seen the dog tracks, follow them out, and locate them that way. Enroute back to the spot, the young hound that had stayed with us struck a fresh bobcat track and it took about an hour to get him called off the track and back with us. By this time it was getting close to dark and my tired hunter wanted to get back to his hotel room. We got back to the truck, loaded the horses and the young hound and drove the 10 miles back into town. I dropped the hunter off and agreed to let him get some much needed rest the next day as I thought the dogs would be too worn out to hunt again anyway.
I went home, took care of the horses, unhooked the horse trailer and headed back up the mountain to try again to find the dogs. I do everything I possibly can to keep from leaving the dogs out overnight when they are on the trail of game. I feel that if they have the drive and ambition to be out there hunting or treeing, I need to do my part by being out there with them. I looked for them until 2:00 am when I finally gave up for the night.
The next day my wife and two sons accompanied me back up the mountain to again try to locate the dogs. We checked all the roads that we could access for tracks, but for hours found no sign of them. Finally, in early afternoon, I found some dog tracks that had been made the prior afternoon. We followed the road south for several miles until my locator began to pick up a faint signal. To my amazement the dogs were all at one location and the one treeing switch was signaling that they were treed! We drove south for another mile or so until the signal pegged. After a short hike up the hill toward the dog's baying, I found myself under a big pinon tree with a big old tom glaring down at me. The dogs seemed to give me the old "Where the hell have you been?" look. By the way the ground was torn up under the tree and the way the base of the tree had been marked by the dogs, it was apparent that they had been at the tree since the prior afternoon. I was so proud of my dogs! Any dog that could tree a cat and remain at the tree for almost 24 hours are worth their weight in gold.
This was a special day because it was the first time my two sons had had the opportunity to see a real live lion. I brought them up to the tree and took a few pictures while they watched in awe. Again, I do not usually kill the cats I tree, but in this case, I could not let the dogs down after they had worked so hard to keep this guy in the tree. I posted my sons in a safe area, tied the dogs back and shot the cat in the chest with my .44 mag pistol. He slumped backward and fell out of the tree dead. After letting the dogs wool him around for a few minutes, we got the tired dogs back to the truck and gave them some much deserved food and water. There were ravenous!
I went back to the tree and back tracked the dogs to see how this had all come about. Fifty yards from the tree I found where the lion had killed a nice mule deer buck and saw where the dogs had trailed the lion to the kill and had actually jumped the lion off the kill. The cat did not run far before taking refuge in the tree as he had eaten most of the deer and could not run too far on a full belly.
I wondered how I would explain all this to my paying hunter when I returned that evening, but hoped he would understand. He did, and went on to kill a nice cat a day later.
This is my older son standing under the lion that Dee, Brownie and June had kept treed for almost 24 hours. The cat's skull measured 14 15/16 narrowly missing B&C but qualifying it for SCI. The cat weighed 170 pounds.
[This message has been edited by Bear Creek Adventures (edited 01-07-2001).]