Arizona "Dry Ground" Mountain Lion Hunt

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If you enjoy doing things the hard way, there is no Lion hunt like a Dry Ground Mountain Lion Hunt in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico or Utah's High Deserts.  Your appreciation for what dry ground hounds can do is amazing.  You may not even see Lion Scat or Track.  Scent may seem undetectable without humidty, moisture or frost. The most impressive part for me is seeing the dogs change direction with no bearing of direction like you could get from a full or partial claw mark in the mud, sand or snow. As a guide or hunter, you may have nothing to identify to tell them which way to go.

Kenny Haught in Yarnell, Arizona is a fantastic Lion Guide.  I purchased an outing with him at the Arizona Deer Association Banquet Auction.  He knows his country and has a great understanding and knows how to read Lion habitat and sign in the High Desert extremely well.  His horses are extremely well trained and sure footed.  The dogs are bred based on instincts and behavior.  There may be a few pure breeds mixed into the group, but his Hounds are HOUNDS.

The cat I am writing about had just killed and gorged on a skunk.  Once stumbling accross the kill, the race was on.  This area of High Desert had no trees for a Lion to perch into and was some very intense barbaric terrain.  As pictured, the dogs cornered the Lion on a rock bluff.  When the dogs got too close, the Tom got some very good whacks in with his claws.  Several of the dogs had blood on their snouts from being scratched.

The best part of this hunt going down the way it did was the way I had to shoot the cat with my Remington Model 700, .22-250.  We could not get in closer than 125 to 150 yards and had to shoot the cat from a sniper like position.  The caliber of this gun was perfect for a tiny entrance hole and zero exit wound.

Packing the cat out was a unique experience in itself.  Like I said earlier, it had just ate a skunk and it smelled just like one.  I had to straddle the Lion across the front of my saddle ride a long way with it.  My clothes had to be washed several times to get the stench out of it.

Kenny is fantastic company and any hunter can learn a lot with him.  You'll typically ride in rough terrain on horseback for 2 or 3 days and see some of the most beautiful country Arizona has to offer.  I look forward to a hunt he has planned for my wife in the next few weeks.

You can see some footage of this hunt on my YouTube page by searching regionalaz mountain lion arizona dry ground.  Enjoy the pictures.


Deer Slayer's picture

Congratulations on a very

Congratulations on a very nice looking mountain lion. I really enjoyed your story, and you had some very nice pictures there. Do you always hunt mountain lions with dogs? How easy is it for a mountain lion to double back and then hunt you? This sounds like it would be an exciting hunt to try some day.

hunter25's picture

I love to see these reports

I love to see these reports on the different types of lion hunts. Hunting on dry ground is a totally different situation. Dogs that can follow in that kind of terrain and conditions are truly exceptional animals. On the lion hunt I went on here in Colorado if we didn't have snow we were done. The guide was constantly fearful the lion would cross an open snowless area and the hounds would lose the scent.

Everything worked out for the best and I took a really nice lion that just made the Boone & Crockett awards book.

I'm doubtful I will get to hunt them in this manner again because of the normal hunt costs and there are so many other things I want to try. Btw I got my hunt for 500 bucks total cost through a friend of my dads.

Congratulations on a very exciting hunt with a great ending.

ManOfTheFall's picture

That sounded like an awesome

That sounded like an awesome hunt. You have some great pics to go with an excellent story. It sure sounds like big cat hunting would be alot of fun. I will definitely have to check out your youtube video. Good luck to your wife on her hunt.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Nice cat!  Looks liek the

Nice cat!  Looks liek the dogs got some battle scars.  That's okay, chicks dig them....


AlpineClimber's picture

Several dogs took a beating on that hunt.

Its hard enough on the dogs to hunt in the desert with all the different types of Cactus.  You spend a good part of the day getting on and off the horses pulling cactus out of their paws.  Most of them limp around on 3 legs a good part of the time. 

On this particular hunt, there was nowhere to tree the Cat.  He got some majors swipes in on the dogs and they were pretty beaten up.  You'll notice how the cat has his back to the canyon.  He was considering jumping over the dogs for a getaway.  I enjoyed taking a sniper shot at him like this much more than threading a needle up a tree.

GooseHunter Jr's picture

Looks like a great

Looks like a great the pictures.  I have always want to try big cat hunting and we have some here in Colorado, just a matter of finding that right place where they wanna be on a regular basis.

Critter's picture

That's a nice cat.  The

That's a nice cat.  The pictures of him and the country look a lot like the area that I hunt for javelina except that you don't need horses and can drive a truck to within a 1/2 mile of just about any spot.  The last couple of years the ranchers in the area have had cat hunters down there to thin out the cat population some since they were starting to prey on the calfs that were born in the spring. 

It is interesting in the coloration of the cat itself.  A lot lighter coat of fur for the desert heat. 

numbnutz's picture

Thats a good looking cat,

Thats a good looking cat, Congrats to you. I hope to get my first cat here sometime soon. We have a ton of them here in oregon, the down side is we cant use dogs or bait. since they changed the law here back in 96 our bear and cat populations have exploded. I had a buddy get attacked by a cat in the same area I hunt in eastern oregon. he was attacked about 1 mile from where i camp. I know there are a lot of them over there, its just a matter of finding them. again congrats on your fine trophy.

Topgun 30-06's picture

that's a hunt that I've been

that's a hunt that I've been wanting to do for many eyars just for the fun of it, rather than to shoot one.  I was planning on accompanying a film crew and a couple fellows for an episode of Drop Zone TV out in Montana last month and the plans were cancelled by the crew a couple weeks before it was to take place.  it's looking like it is going to be rescheduled for next winter and I hope my schedule will allow me to tag along and experience the howling of the hounds on a hot one!!!

jaybe's picture

Wow! Great Hunt!

That really does sound like a great hunt to go on!

When you said it had just eaten a skunk, I was waiting to hear how that panned out. I was also looking for the clothespin on your nose in the pictures, but didn't see it.  :>)

You didn't say how large it was, but it sure looks like a pretty big one!

I have read that mountain lion is delicious; did you try it by any chance? Most people wouldn't consider eating a cat - especially one that just ate a skunk - but if you ever get the chance, give it a try - you might really like it.

Thanks for your story and good pictures; they give us a better idea of the type of terrain you were hunting and just how good those hounds were to follow the scent over those rocks.


AlpineClimber's picture

Thats a relatively young cat.

You can tell by all the white spots underneath that he was young.  Lions shot in Arizona have to be brought to Game & Fish for evaluation and have a molar pulled.  They aged him at 4 years old.  You can see my video for that hunt on youtube.