4 Year Endeavor


I DID IT!!! To all the individuals that stood behind me and gave me a helping hand rather than telling me I can’t do this or that, my father included. I am different … I’m not one to whine and cry over things that might be tough for me to do but not impossible. I have been battling MS for five years since last October and I am a very driven individual – Limitations are what you make of them - I am as stubborn as they come! The only time I quit at doing something I respect and love is when I have to quit breathing to give up!

For a few years, I have been trying to get a cat, “The Rocky Mountains' Most Elite Predator.” So, I called a good friend of mine, Thad, that has dogs mentioning that I’m off this weekend and we should go chase a cat. He said,"Yea, lets go!" The next morning I wake up at 2 a.m. raring to go! It’s 19 degrees outside so I assume down southwest about three hours away it has to be approaching negative temps! I stop by Walmart before leaving town since they are the only ones open to grab some things for the day’s adventure! My dad and I hit the highway, ready to go. Being my fourth year hunting lions, I am kind of skeptical because of the extremely warm weather this last week.

We arrive at our hunting spot a little before 6 a.m. There are seven of us but only Taylor and me have lion tags. We split up between two trucks and head our separate ways and end up about two miles apart - as the crow flies – with a bunch of nooks and canyons in-between. The snow is all gone except on the north slopes, otherwise, mud and dirt. This is going to be tough but I can’t harvest anything sitting on the couch. We drive down the main road with one of Thad’s dogs leading the way in front of the truck hoping he’ll key in on something -- Nothing but a bobcat track and some old lion tracks. We make a u-turn on the main road to head up and try a new road. But, only after about 100 yards we see Preston coming down the road flashing his lights. I think to myself, “That’s a good sign!” We pull up to him and he says, “Follow me!” “That’s promising.” We arrive at the spot where Taylor and Jerry are standing, seeing them looking over the ledge.

By now it is about 7:30 a.m.; it’s still pretty brisk but heating up. I tell myself, “Man that is a nasty looking hole full of ledges and little nooks.” Well, lions don’t live in easy country! I get out and start looking at the tracks. They were nothing special; about the size of a small chew can. I mention this in the midst of all the excitement and my dad was like, “Yea, right, this thing is bigger than Dallas.” He was standing behind me about 20 feet. I start to smile and walk over. Dang! This thing is huge! This set of tracks was about the size of a large can of chicken. My heart starts pounding and thoughts start running through my head. We assume the little tracks were from a female, which was being followed by a big Tom. They both crossed the road sometime early this morning. Granted, the road had been traveled on by traffic since then, but the tracks were on top of the fresh layer of frost from this morning.

Bull

Those dogs picked up the scent - they started going nuts. So, we start collaring up the dogs with GPS collars and lead collars. We take two of the best dogs over to the tracks to start them off and let them go – Let the race begin! We let the other three dogs go to follow the lead dogs. All standing on the edge watching them, I tell myself, “Dang, those dogs can fly; up that hill and on the other side.” Thinking to myself, those dogs kind of remind me of myself: When you have a passion, why stop even if it means charging in head first after a giant.

Once they are out of sight, we start watching on the GPS. Dang, they haven’t been gone for more than 15 minutes and they’re already two miles away. When they cut north away from the canyon, Ty says that’s a good thing because there’s a road up there. Ty and Preston start cutting across the canyon – dang, those boys can move! We hit the road the GPS is showing; they are in front of us and to the left. We get going down the road and start listening for the dogs. Our jackets start coming off, but not getting too anxious to start covering ground yet. The dogs are still moving around but in a 20-yard square.

Bull

Finally, the GPS says “Treed!” We drive up the road a bit and bail, grabbing our cameras, water and sunglasses. They are about one mile down the hill. Taylor, Jerry and Preston’s daughter take off and get way ahead of me. That’s totally fine with me; I walk slow but steady. As I get closer, I hear people talking and, of course, the dogs are going nuts. I get there and everybody is cheering in a “hell yea!” kind of demeanor. I look up in the biggest ponderosa around and see him. Dang … what a Stud! I go into a serious focus kinda stage. After all, I am going to harvest this stud with my .357 mag pistol, which I call “Matilda.” He is almost at the very top of that giant pondo. At about 25-ish yards, cameras come out. I yell, “You guys ready?” I take a deep breath - Boom! The big tom climbs a couple of limbs and then plummets to the ground. My four year endeavor over ... I Did It!