© 2019 Copyright by P. K. H. Groth, Denver, Colorado, USA All rights reserved - See contact page for for permission to republish article excerpts.
Educational Hunt Stories - F
Elk Hunter for Lion Breakfast? In 2017, I was unnerved at predawn. I leave my Coleman lantern mantle glowing on cold nights to circulate air and prevent frost buildup on the tent ceiling. At 5:20 AM I eased up in my sleeping bag and turned up the lantern flame in preparation to go out to “heed nature” before dressing. An immediate super loud snarl warped into a scream. That mountain lion had not just fortuitously been walking by at the moment. It must have been bedded down ten to fifteen feet outside my door waiting for me to again predawn- emerge? I yelled back at it - and gave it ten minutes to leave before I headed to the latrine pole. (Yes, I listened carefully while sitting there.) I went to camp after noon to see what had occurred. The snow had burned off outside my tent, so there were neither tracks nor indication of a bed. The snowy treeline was a different story. Multiple fresh lion tracks wove in and out of the trees for several hundred yards. The photo shows a 4.5-5-inch track. Over the next few days, I intercepted more fresh lion tracks during my hunt prowling. The “hunter grapevine” disclosed that another single hunter five miles away also had a lion enter his camp. Additional evidence of puma presence was that not one deer nor deer tracks were observed, a highly unusual occurrence. In addition, the elk population in the immediate area was near zero. I contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife carnivore expert Dr. Ken Logan for his opinion of what had happened. He has studied pumas for nearly four decades. He said that lions carefully observe their surroundings, including humans. During his radio collar banding research, the lions would observe him taking notes, looking for habitat data, or walking. He usually could not directly see the elusive lions, but the radio collar signals told him exactly where they were, close by keeping track of him. His studies in the Uncomphagre area disclosed that about 50% of lion prey was elk, which in the West is preferred above deer. Eastern lions have to resort to white tail deer. Note: It is my observation that lions like to sleep with their heads on rocks and logs, as in this photo. I believe this prevents grass from annoyingly brushing whiskers, and may aid in sensing low frequency sounds while they snooze. We concluded that my lion interaction resulted from lion curiosity. The lion(s) were stalking the predawn tree line for game. A lion got curious about my yellow tent glowing from the Coleman lantern mantle. It lingered to figure out the situation. The blast of light startled the lion, which roared back in defense. Dr. Logan said that there were only about thirty fatal lion attacks and a similar number of nonfatal attacks in the last 120 years of records. His assurance that I am much more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a lion is accepted, but I will be much more careful when I walk to my stand in the dark predawn. There might be another hunter lurking.
© 2016 -2017 Copyright by P. K. H. Groth, Denver, Colorado, USA All rights reserved - See contact page for for permission to republish article excerpts.
Elk Hunter for Lion Breakfast? In 2017, I was unnerved at predawn. I leave my Coleman lantern mantle glowing on cold nights to circulate air and prevent frost buildup on the tent ceiling. At 5:20 AM I eased up in my sleeping bag and turned up the lantern flame in preparation to go out to “heed nature” before dressing. An immediate super loud snarl warped into a scream. That mountain lion had not just fortuitously been walking by at the moment. It must have been bedded down ten to fifteen feet outside my door waiting for me to again predawn-emerge? I yelled back at it - and gave it ten minutes to leave before I headed to the latrine pole. (Yes, I listened carefully while sitting there.) I went to camp after noon to see what had occurred. The snow had burned off outside my tent, so there were neither tracks nor indication of a bed. The snowy treeline was a different story. Multiple fresh lion tracks wove in and out of the trees for several hundred yards. The photo shows a 4.5-5-inch track. Over the next few days, I intercepted more fresh lion tracks during my hunt prowling. The “hunter grapevine” disclosed that another single hunter five miles away also had a lion enter his camp. Additional evidence of puma presence was that not one deer nor deer tracks were observed, a highly unusual occurrence. In addition, the elk population in the immediate area was near zero. I contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife carnivore expert Dr. Ken Logan for his opinion of what had happened. He has studied pumas for nearly four decades. He said that lions carefully observe their surroundings, including humans. During his radio collar banding research, the lions would observe him taking notes, looking for habitat data, or walking. He usually could not directly see the elusive lions, but the radio collar signals told him exactly where they were, close by keeping track of him. His studies in the Uncomphagre area disclosed that about 50% of lion prey was elk, which in the West is preferred above deer. Eastern lions have to resort to white tail deer. Note: It is my observation that lions like to sleep with their heads on rocks and logs, as in this photo. I believe this prevents grass from annoyingly brushing whiskers, and may aid in sensing low frequency sounds while they snooze. We concluded that my lion interaction resulted from lion curiosity. The lion(s) were stalking the predawn tree line for game. A lion got curious about my yellow tent glowing from the Coleman lantern mantle. It lingered to figure out the situation. The blast of light startled the lion, which roared back in defense. Dr. Logan said that there were only about thirty fatal lion attacks and a similar number of nonfatal attacks in the last 120 years of records. His assurance that I am much more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a lion is accepted, but I will be much more careful when I walk to my stand in the dark predawn. There might be another hunter lurking.
Hunting Stories - F