While hunting mule deer in Utah with my son last month, I witnessed one of the rarest sights in the outdoors. As I glassed a deep canyon just at daybreak, a large cougar crossed the ridge and covered the 200 yards to the nearest trees in a flowing gait that was beautiful, yet powerful. Even at a distance, you could tell you were watching a killing machine. He was obviously returning late from his hunt, just when we were starting. In over 40 years of hunting I've seen only two cougars without the aid of dogs, and I spend more time in the field each year than most other hunters spend in 10 years. Although the lion was less than a half-mile ahead, I knew the chances of tagging him without dogs were almost non-existent. That is the primary reason why most of us seek out competent outfitters with trained hounds when we decide to hunt cougars. In fact, the quality of the pack is often the defining factor in the success of a cougar hunt. With that in mind, my report this month includes information on several outfitters who have proven track records for producing lions for their clients. Contact them now and you may be able to combine a hunt this winter with one of the many conventions scheduled out West.
The first outfitter is Mick Chapel of New Mexico Professional Big Game Hunting, who hunts cougars near his home in New Mexico. Last year, his nine clients killed six lions, two of which qualified for Boone and Crockett. Chapel says two of the unsuccessful clients left too early. The day they left, it started to snow and they left camp despite Chapel's suggestion to the contrary. Chapel says his next client arrived that afternoon and tagged his tom before he even unpacked. The largest tom ever taken by one of Chapel's clients scored 15 7/16 B & C points, and he says the norm is 14 8/16 points or better. He prefers that clients not kill females. He charges $2,500 for a 10-day hunt on a 1 x 1 basis. Accommodations are........(continued)