The hunter stalks silently along a fog shrouded alpine meadow, each step taken brings her closer to the mule deer feeding at the edge of a small white bark pine thicket near the top of a rock covered ridge line. The deer has no idea that death stalks him as he crops the grasses covering the meadow, although the deer is vigilant, alternating between eating and scenting the clear mountain air for danger. The hunter is well versed in the ways of the deer and moves closer with practiced stealth. In a blur of tawny death the hunter strikes the deer with teeth and claws, death comes quickly to the deer and the majestic cougar takes a moment to survey the mountains she calls home, before dragging the carcass to a safer place to feed.
Rejuvenated by the meat provided by the deer's death, the cougar glides through the forest on powerful legs, ghosting across the terrain as only the cougar can. She leaps across a rushing creek with ease, startling a deer who is drinking from the clear waters edge. She has enough meat to feed her for the next week and doesn't even slow down as she rushes through the forest toward her young, her stomach full of fresh meat which will help her produce milk for her helpless cubs. She is suddenly blinded by lights and stands frozen in the beam produced by a spotlight. Before she can gather her wits to run, a bullet slices through her side ripping through hardened muscle and bone and slamming her to the ground. She summons her last strengths and crawls to the underbrush followed by the blinding light and stray bullets. The killers talk among themselves about the dangers of following a wounded lion into the brush and decide to leave and try for something less dangerous while on their drunken poaching spree.
At daylight I am walking along the old logging road with my faithful Australian shepherd dog. These morning walks rejuvenate me and make me feel at one with the natural world. Spring Bear season opens in three weeks and I am trying to build my stamina for the upcoming hunt.
Blood! Lots of blood in the road, the tracks tell the story of the carnage the night before at the hands of the Killers. I collect the rifle casings and memorise the tire tracks in case I get the chance to meet these men face to face sometime.. I follow the spore to the thicket and find her lying where she fell last night, her life blood darkens the ground and her eyes let me know her spirit has already began the Journey. I carry her deeper into the timber and bury her among the service berry and pine duff. I raise my arms to the sky and ask for the chance to catch up to the killers, to be given the chance to find the cubs I know will starve without their mother and offer one last prayer for the majestic cat who lays in the forest she once called home.
(I came across this lion years ago while living near Stevensville Montana.Though I would share the story...)
I spent seven days searching for the cubs and never found them, the so called hunters were finally caught after I told my story to the local warden, who promised to leave the cat where I buried her, and were each given fines and jail time. They were caught shooting deer and leaving them lay to rot. As a hunter, environmentalist and conservationist, I am constantly ashamed of the lack of ethics and blatant disregard for the animals we hunt. Like the Cat, Wolf, Bear and all other predators we must be vigilant of our role as a predator and only take what we need and to only hunt with honor and integrity. Our right to hunt is under constant threat by the animal rights groups, and activists. Not because they are right and we are wrong but because of the actions of a few killers without ethics or morals who give all hunters a bad rap, and cause those defending the wild ones to view us as enemies instead of allies in the fight for the continued survival of our heritage and that of our wild brothers and sisters. Hawk a/ho