SCI member Brent Jacobsen has climbed both Mount Rainier and Mount McKinley and says his Colorado mountain lion hunt challenged him more than either of those physical feats. Jacobsen hunted in Game Management Unit 33 on Horse Mountain, located in Western Colorado near the town of Rifle. He hunted with Scott Summers of Canyon Rim Outfitters and took an excellent tom that scores 12 3/16 in the SCI Record Book.
He rates the difficulty of the hiking here as a 10 (for most difficult) yet was able to complete his hunt in one day. “I was lucky,” he says. “We cut tracks the very first day, some hunters go four or five days without seeing a track.” When asked about the difficulty of the terrain, he says, “This is very rugged, beautiful country, but it was one of the most physically demanding hunts I have done.”
He hunted at elevations of 5,800 feet in 25 degrees and with blowing snow. He says the outfitter uses either a truck or snowmobiles, riding along the roads and trails looking for lion spoor. When a track is found they check the size to ensure the lion is likely a large, older tom; then they turn the dogs loose. Jacobsen says he, the outfitter and his son followed the dogs on foot, running in thigh-high snow at times over rough terrain that hid the occasional deadfall or hole. They followed up high ridges and then down into canyons. The cat treed several times but would then jump from its perch and continue running. “We had to catch up as quickly as possible because we knew the cat would only stay in that tree so long before jumping again,” he says.
While mountain climbing is tough work, he says, but it is at a generally relaxed pace on established trails that wind up the mountain sides. This hunt was a nonstop, chaotic race over rugged rimrock country. Ridges were steep and icy, and more than once, he slipped and slid down the ridge on his butt. “This is not slow and steady like mountain climbing, it is a pounding,” he says. Jacobsen warns hunters to expect having to run in these conditions for three to six miles after one cat. Because the country is so rugged, he says it is not possible to use snow mobiles or horses to follow the cat. “If you are not in good physical shape,” he says, “this is not the hunt for you.”
As for the outfitter, Jacobsen gives Summers a 9-star rating. He says the dogs he uses are excellent and that Summers and his son are excellent handlers. While Summers is “not long for words,” Jacobsen says he answered all of his questions before the hunt and made it clear the experience would be challenging.
This is a snow-dependent hunt, meaning Summers relies on snowfall to find fresh lion tracks and his dogs are “cold-nosed” hounds. Hunters can expect snow in this area from December through February, although hunting is available from November through March. Summers hunts private and public land, such as BLM land, for which he has use permits. The hunting licenses for this hunt are available over-the-counter. Hunters interested in this hunt should be aware that they must complete an online mountain lion identification course before they can purchase a hunting license.
Summers charges $6,000 for a five-day mountain lion hunt and $7,800 for a combo lion and bobcat hunt. Anyone interested in hunting with Canyon Rim Outfitters can contact them at 970-930-0065 or [email protected]. Or check out their website at www.canyonrimoutfitters.com.–Barbara Crown