On my last hunt I participated in a race. The odd part of the situation was that I was not aware of the competition until the morning of the hunt. I felt the same way as I did on the rare occasion of college when I arrived at class to find an exam waiting for me, the exam that I failed to remember to study for.
Snow had fallen the previous evening. It was the type of snowfall that trackers dream of. There was only about an inch of snow on the ground and the consistency and texture was perfect to reveal all the pad detail one could want to see. There would be no nasty powdery snow to backfill a track leaving a little detective work to confirm a creature’s identity. The snow had stopped falling around midnight and any tracks found would only be six or so hours old come daylight. I knew this would be a great opportunity to find fresh lion tracks. This situation made me so hopeful I even had a little pre-hunt jitters and discovered difficulty in falling asleep the evening before the hunt. I felt like I had just finally become unconscious when the alarm clock interrupted my slumber.
Breakfast and coffee in hand I fired up the suburban and headed for the mountains. I decided to spend some time driving a different mountain road than I normally travel. Although this particular road has more traffic on it the road winds through nearly constant national forest. There are also several other roads that branch off of it which offer many more miles of good territory for tracks. As I began checking these roads I noticed there were several sets of tire tracks that always seemed to go where I wanted to go. I further saw there was evidence that the vehicle would stop and human foot prints could be seen next to where an animal had crossed the road. I did not want to admit it, I even came up with a few wild explanations, but I knew it was another hunter doing exactly what I was, looking for lion tracks. My guess at the time was that it was hounds men. I continued checking roads dreaming that perhaps the other lion hunters had not been this way. Sadly my dreams were dashed when I turned a corner and found both hound and human tracks leading away from a vehicle and up a rocky slope. I had lost the race; they had found the lion tracks first. I had left town early, but evidently not early enough. It was hard not to be disappointed or even a little jealous. I had to remind myself this is the nature of being a lion caller. I am attempting to hunt lions the most difficult way possible. If I simply wanted to kill a lion I could have accomplished this a long time and several thousands of dollars ago. A guided lion hunt with dogs could have been purchased easily with all the time and money I have invested in this undertaking. However my lion quest is not about a kill. It is about meeting the lion on his level, hunting the most extreme hunter with only my skills and not the aid of canines or guides.
|Bobcat crossing a stream|
|End of the Journey|