Call them puma, cougar, or mountain lion, the result is the same: one huge predatory animal that’s mostly nocturnal and very difficult to hunt. Some would say nearly impossible without dogs. Chasing cougars can be feast or famine since the big cats often travel extensively and are equipped with large paws to handle deep snow better than many of its prey species. Weather plays a huge factor in its ability to survive. Too little snow and the dogs don’t trail well; too much and getting to cat country becomes impossible. Jerry Neal does a great job of capturing bowhunter Mindy Paulek’s story in this excellent article about her quest for a huge cat, which includes numerous photographs on the Colorado Outdoors Online website. Thrill to the chase:
Calling mountain lions “elusive” is a radical understatement. It’s as if the ultra-secretive cats are equipped with cloaking devices that allow them to remain nearly invisible in their surroundings, while leaving behind only vague clues of their presence. In fact, relatively few people will ever catch a glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild, and most are perfectly happy to keep it that way. But, for bowhunter Mindy Paulek, seeing mountain lions became an almost routine experience. However, finding and harvesting the “right” mountain lion turned into a monumental challenge for the archer — one spanning three years and hundreds of miles in Colorado’s back-country. Fortunately, challenges are nothing new for Paulek. The 30-year-old Durango resident has amassed an impressive hunting resume, harvesting bears, deer, elk, wild hogs and bobcats – all with her Mathews compound bow. She’s also bagged kudu, bushbuck, springbok, wildebeest and jackals on African safaris. But three years ago, Paulek set her sights closer to home on the one animal that had eluded her: a tom cougar.
“I think this was probably the most time-consuming and intense hunt I’ve ever been on,” explained Paulek.