Mountain lion, puma, catamount, panther. These are just a few of the many names given to the largest species of small cat. But the name most commonly known for this mysterious and beautiful creature is cougar. These cats are, with the exception of humans, the mammal with the largest range in the Western Hemisphere, stretching from northern British Columbia to Argentina. Even with this wide distribution, most people, including those who live near areas with the densest cougar populations, will never see one outside of a zoo.
The mystery, beauty, and elusiveness of the cougar contribute to thrill and challenge of hunting of these cats. Although it is possible, successful cougar hunts without the assistance of an experienced guide are as rare as the animal themselves.
Although taste and touch are two senses that would rarely be used in cougar hunting, each of the other three senses become absolutely critical to success.
- Hearing - Because they are so stealthy, tracking a cougar by sound would be nearly impossible. However, using sound to attract the cat is very important. There are a number of sounds that can be imitated during cougar hunts to attract the prey. These will include the groaning sound of both a female cougar in estrous or a male cat looking for her. Other sounds are snarls, whistles, and purrs that would imitate a rival cougar invading the home range. Most effective is the sound of wounded or scared animals. Very few predators can resist the sound of an easy meal. One sound that will not be heard from cougars is a roar as that is what separates small cats from large cats. Small cats can purr, large cats can roar.
- Sight - The second step in a cougar hunt is to look for signs of cougar activity. This can range from looking for and identifying cougar tracks, scat, recent kill and other common markings. Once these are found and determined to be fresh enough to indicate a cat in the near vicinity, the third sense becomes the most important.
- Smell - As human beings have such a weak sense of smell, this does not seem important in the hunt. But in cougar hunting, smell is critical when trained hounds are used to find the scent and track the cat. Once they locate and tree a cougar, the dogs will indicate this through howling, and the hunter can make their way to the location of the quarry.
While all of the hunting tactics sound routine and easy enough when read, the intelligence and stealth of the cougar makes these hunts anything but easy. Typical successful cougar hunts take from seven to ten days and rely heavily on knowledgeable guides. Hiring such a guide is the fourth important sense...common sense.
Look into cougar hunting packages to find out more.