If you are looking for a bit of good news about a huntable animal, consider the mountain lion, or cougar. Populations of these animals are exploding throughout the West. Every outfitter I talked with in preparation for this column said they had never seen as many cougars in their respective areas as there are now. In fact, there are so many cougars in some areas they have become important threats to other animals, especially bighorn sheep and mule deer. That aside, one of the big reasons to consider a hunt for these animals is the excitement it provides. Cougar hunts typically take place behind dogs and the chase, often as not, turns into a "hell-bent-for-leather" experience in some of the most breathtaking country in North America. Not surprisingly, the high cat populations we are enjoying right now have inspired new outfitters to enter the cougar hunting business. Some of them are good; some aren't. The key ingredient is good dogs. Without them, your chances of taking a cougar are extremely remote. What follows are mini-profiles of three cougar outfitters that I know to be good. Why not call one of them for a hunt this year?
Chris Loncarich lives in western Colorado and hunts both Utah and Colorado. One of the areas he hunts is the Book Cliffs, which span the Utah/Colorado border. The advantage to hunting this area is it allows clients to take a cougar in Colorado and then move into Utah for a second one. The possible disadvantage is the possibility that a cougar jumped in one state will flee into the other state, possibly making it necessary for the client to have a permit for both states whether he wants to hunt two cats or not. For those interested in hunting only one state, Loncarich focuses on Glade Park, where the crossover is not a problem.
Loncarich has been hunting cougars for 20 years, and says populations have never been higher. Last year he produced six cougars for seven clients, including one that qualified for B & C. Warm and wet weather was a major........(continued)