My first cougar
Hey everyone, I filled my Washington State Grand Slam yesterday! For me that means all four species of big game for which over the counter tags can be purchased. I have taken several deer and elk over the last decade since moving to WA and got my first bear in August of 1997. This last hunting season was my best ever (April 1 2001 to March 31 2002). I got drawn for spring bear and shot a big boar on May 19th of 2001. He weighed about 375 based on his girth of 49”. Then I got a spike elk on opening day, which was October 27th here in the Blue Mountains of SE WA state. I could only shoot a spike. Then I was fortunate to be drawn for a late season whitetail doe tag and I shot her on Nov. 11th. And finally after many outings searching for the ghost of the woods I got my first cougar on February 10th 2002. God has really blessed me. I was up with a friend, hunting private property on which the landowner had been seeing cougars occasionally.
We got set up overlooking a canyon (in which was a 6x6 and a 7x7 bull elk) and started calling. My buddy Mike was doing the calling on this stand. After about 10-15 minutes he said, “I see a cat”. He was amped up with adrenaline. It was the first one he had seen in the wild. I had seen my first in August of 1999. Then I saw 4 in 2001 and then this one. I figured that since Mike was calling and he had seen it first that it would be his shot but he had forgotten his shooting sticks (the cougar was 350 yards out and it was windy) and he was experiencing a stout case of buck- or should we call that cat- fever. So he said that I should take the shot. I told him to keep calling and bring it in closer. It was really cool, when Mike stopped calling the cat stopped coming. It sat down on its haunches for a while. Then when Mike called it would come closer. When Mike really screamed on it the cat would come running. We decided to try to shoot it while it was still on the other side of the canyon, because if we let it reach the bottom we would not see it again until it was very close. Anyway I took a shot when it was 310 yards out. I am zeroed at 275 and thought that it had come closer (Mike ranged it at 350 when we first saw it and at 310 after I took the shots). I missed, probably a bit low. It jumped and stopped and I hit it with my second shot (Mike said he saw red mist and it sounded like a solid hit). I am shooting a 7mm Rem Mag with the blue 140 Barnes XBT at 3300 fps. Mike stayed put and I scrambled over there. I found blood and then started the search. It was very brushy (on the north slope) but I finally found it. It turned out to be a female. Weight was 86 pounds without the internals so probably about 100# live weight. She measured 75” from nose to tip of tail. She is a beautiful animal with a somewhat reddish coat. On the small side but I am very pleased with her and happy with my accomplishment. It is hard to tell how big a cat is at 310 yards, especially having only seen a few and most of those at very long range.
I encourage you who are keen to take a cougar to get out there and find where the deer and elk are bedding. Then do some calling. Be patient and keep at it. It can be fairly easy to get permission on private land as many landowners want to thin them out. Not all certainly (the neighbor to the property I was hunting has horses and thought it more likely that I would shoot one of their horses than that a cougar would get one of them apparently). The owners of the property I hunted said come back and get some more. I can get another tag and season ends on March 15th so we will give it a try again. Rufous.