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Treeing a Mountain Lion

with Lynn Worwood


I only keep about three or four mountain lion dogs. When I started hunting mountain lions back in the 80s, we didn’t have many lions to hunt. Sometimes we might go two weekends without ever seeing a lion, so we didn’t tree many lions. In the early 90s, we usually could catch one or maybe two lions in a weekend. But now in Utah we can cut a mountain lion track just about every day we go out hunting. If you hunt two days on a weekend, treeing two lions isn’t unusual.

I am often asked, “How far do you usually have to walk from where you park your 4-wheeler to reach the spot where the cat is treed?” 

We may only have to walk the length of a city block, or we may have to travel a mile, depending on where the cat is treed. Cats are funny, and mountain lion hunting can be both easy and hard. I have been on hunts where a mountain lion will stay in a tree for 10 hours. I have also been on hunts where the lion will be in the tree, jump out of that tree, run to another tree and jump out of that tree. The only way we can stop that hunt is to try to get to the dog as quickly as we can, sneak in, grab the dog’s collar and lead the dog away from the tree. Mountain lions have small lungs, so they can only run for the length of a city block or two, but the hounds are bred for endurance. So, when a cat goes up a tree and catches its breath, there’s a good chance he will jump out of that tree and run to another one. The dog will follow.

Sometimes I will get in the tree with the cat and touch it, and sometimes I lift the tail up to see if the animal is male or female. I have no problem grabbing a mountain lion by the tail. The hunt really gets exciting when you grab a mountain lion by the tail. Usually the cat will spin around and try and get hold of you. So, the best way to grab a mountain lion’s tail is to grab his tail when the tail is hanging over the edge of a limb. Then if he spins around, he can’t reach you.

I did have a friend, Tom Aagard, who got three claws in his head when he was trying to grab a mountain lion’s tail. Luckily, the lion didn’t pull him in and try to bite him. The cat just put three claws in the side of his head and held him there. I will never forget the look on the cat’s face. As we watched my friend, he slid his hand under the lion’s foot, pushed each claw out of his head and then put the lion’s paw back up on the branch and climbed down out of the tree. Tom is a longtime mountain lion hunter and has had lion dogs longer than I have.

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