This is a photo of a tom I got during the winter of 1992. This is probably the biggest lion I have ever gotten.
The story starts on a cold winter evening when I got a phone call from a local rancher who told me that a big lion had killed one of his cows and he wanted me to bring my dogs over to try to catch him. I did not really believe that a lion had killed the cow as this is very unusual, but went to the site early the next morning. As this was such short notice, I did not have a hunter that could come out, so I invited a close friend of mine to come with me. The next morning, as the rancher showed us the kill, it was evident that a lion had killed the cow as the carcass was covered with branches and debris; a telltale sign of a lion kill. There was no snow on the ground and it was impossible to know when the lion had been there last and which direction he had gone. We saddled up and released the four anxious hounds and rode in the direction that we thought the cat may have gone. For the first hour we got no interest or response from the dogs. About this point I lost track of three of the hounds and had only my best dog with me who's name was Dee. I tried calling the other dogs back, but they just would not come in.
We continued riding along the edge of a very deep canyon hoping to find the missing dogs when Dee let out a deep bawl telling us that a lion had been through there a few hours ago. We followed her along the edge for about an hour as she slowly cold trailed picking up the lions scent here and there. By this time I had pretty much given up on Dee treeing the cat and let her get out of my sight as she worked her way down to the edge of the cliff. Suddenly, Dee let out a yelp that I had never heard her make before or after that! Dean and I quickly tied our horses to some small cedar trees, pulled the .44 carbine from the scabbord and ran to where Dee was barking like she had seen the devil! When we arrived, it was a scene to behold. There, backed up to the edge of the cliff was the biggest lion I had ever seen! As Dee ran back and forth baying the lion, he would swat at her every time she got close. I yelled at Dean to shoot him quick before he killed my dog! He raised the .44 and fired and on impact, blood shot from the cat's mouth and he came running within 8 feet of us with Dee in hot pursuit! Obviously the cat was not mortally wounded and I was afraid for my dog. The chase went past us, back along the edge of the canyon, into the canyon, then to my amazement, Dee barked treed. Dean and I worked our way into the rough canyon as fast as we could. When we got to the tree, there was the huge cat in a tall pine tree. Dean quickly dispatched the cat and the excitement was over as quickly as it had started. We admired the cat for a half hour, then went up to try to find a way to get the horses into the canyon. At long last, we found a passage into the canyon and loaded (barely) the cat onto one of the horses. About this point it began snowing hard and we had a hard time finding the truck, finally at dark we broke out into the meadow that the truck was parked in and found the other three dogs comfortably laying in the dog box. We loaded up horses and dogs and relived the day's events over and over as we drove home through the six inches of fresh snow.
As you might guess, Dee was the best dog I have ever owned. She treed bear and lion alone on several occassions and I turned down lots of money for her. In 1995 she somehow got out of her pen and was poisoned. I buried her next to our house.
Also, as a sideline, this cat weighed 180 pounds, measured 8' 8" from nose to tail (skinned) and had a skull measurement of about 15 3/8". Dean was unable to enter this cat into the B&C book as the the first rifle shot broke the upper jaw of the cat which disqualified him from the book. Dean had his taxidermist do a full body mount on this cat and he sat in his livingroom until May of this year when Dean's house (and the lion) burned as a result of the Cerro Grande fire in Los Alamos, NM.
[This message has been edited by Bear Creek Adventures (edited 01-04-2001).]