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Where to Look For North American Mountain Lions – The Perfect Year-Round Hunt
(posted July - 2014)
 
By Mike Bodenchuk, North American Editor

Editor's Note: In many western states, a mountain lion hunt is the best antidote to draw disappointment. North American Editor Mike Bodenchuk conducted post-graduate research on mountain lions in New Mexico and ran his own pack of hounds for more than 26 years, so he knows the species well. When he returned recently from a "Mountain Lion Summit" with fresh information on the status of these elusive animals across the hemisphere, we asked him to give us some insight on where to go and some outfitters to consider. This month, we'll cover the more southerly areas which offer, essentially, year-round hunting. Next month, we'll bring you the states and provinces where hunting is generally more snow-dependent. Enjoy!

Puma concolor goes by many names: puma (in Spanish), cougar, panther, painter, catamount . . . and more. In our database (75 articles and nearly 150 hunting reports, the vast majority positive), they are "lion, mountain." But I grew up in New Mexico and started hunting "lions" there way back in the 70s, shortly after they gained game animal status. Although this may offend some Old Africa Hands, I'll use "lion" for the duration of this overview.

The lion is arguably North America's most secretive game animal. In California, they are rarely seen, even though surrounded by literally millions of people. Lions occur in huntable numbers in 15 western states, but restrictions on hunting eliminate meaningful opportunities in several of them. California, for example, has protected lions completely, going so far as dismissing a recent game department director after he went to Idaho and legally hunted a lion there. It is not illegal for a California resident to hunt lions elsewhere, but they may not bring their trophy home with them! Both Oregon and Washington have outlawed the use of hounds for lion hunting, and while they still sell lion tags (and kill a surprising number of lions), the majority of lions are taken incidental to another hunt. South Dakota opened lion hunting to residents-only in 2005 and has never allowed the use of dogs, yet they kill a number of lions every winter. A few hunters there have started targeting lions with predator calls. North Dakota also allows hunting only by residents and has a small hunting quota. Nebraska opened lion hunting in 2014, but their quota of only two lions per season makes outfitted hunting there impractical. So while lion populations are expanding, meaningful hunting opportunities are limited to the core Rocky Mountain/Great Basin/Southwestern states and the Canadian provinces, where outfitters with hounds are available to visiting hunters. Here's part one of a detailed look at lion hunts as of 2014. Next month we'll look at opportunities farther north......


  


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