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How to Prepare for a Cougar Hunting Trip
Cougars are solitary, nocturnal cats that mainly populate the western part of the United States. They hunt and live alone, with distinct territories for hunting and living. These cats mostly hunt larger game, like elk and deer, and can change their territory limits to follow herds in the winter. Despite being lone creatures, cougars are excellent hunters that can kill prey six times their own weight.
Cougar hunts provide a challenging and enriching hunting experience for avid big-game hunters. As stealthy creatures that can easily blend into their environments, they’re hard to spot if you don’t know how to find them, making capturing cougars a considerable accomplishment for hunters.
Before your next hunt, plan your trip to maximize your results while ensuring your safety.
10 Tips to Prepare for a Mountain Lion Hunt
When planning a cougar hunting expedition, it’s important to thoroughly prepare yourself to ensure the safety of yourself and any hunting companions and to increase your chances of a successful hunt.
1. Research State Requirements
As you plan your hunt, carefully research and consider state requirements and restrictions for hunting. Each state has its own unique rules for licensing, collecting, and keeping trophies. If you want a specific hunting experience, be sure that you find a state that meets your expectations.
All states have different seasons for hunting mountain lions. While some states have no seasonal restrictions or are open during specific times of the year, others go by harvest quota. For example, Oregon allows mountain lion hunting all year, but the season closes after hunters meet their annual quota.
2. Consider Investing in a Guide or Outfitter
Especially if you’ve never hunted cougars before, getting a guide or outfitter to accompany and lead you along your hunt can be beneficial. These professionals are very knowledgeable about their game, so they’ll know how to best track and capture mountain lions. Overall, they can recommend the best gear, locations, and general hunting strategies.
Many guides offer a wide variety of hunting experiences, like solo or group trips, and the option to hunt with dogs. With an outfitter, you can customize your hunt to meet your wants so that you can get the most out of the experience.
3. Bring Hunting Dogs
Taking trained hunting dogs can be a great way to locate and trap a mountain lion on a hunt. Cougars can be difficult to track because of their solitary and quiet nature, even for the most experienced hunters. Bringing a set of hunting dogs can help you easily pick up on their scent and lead you right to the lion. Further, dogs can ease the capturing process by cornering the big cat in a tree or on a cliff so you can get a good shot at them — as well as give you time to inspect the cat to ensure it’s what you want.
4. Plan the Hunt for the Winter
While winter might be a difficult time to track other game, it can be the ideal time to hunt cougars. Snowfall makes it easier to find and see paw tracks and differentiate between them and other animals. Plus, low populations of elk and deer cause mountain lions to shift their territories so that they can find food, allowing you to find them based on current prey routes.
5. Track Cougar Routes Beforehand
Mountain lions can provide a challenging hunt, but there are ways to lessen the difficulty through deliberate planning. Once you determine the state and area in which you want to hunt, you can start analyzing that area to find a cougar while hunting.
It’s always smart to stake out your hunting area beforehand, so use that time to set up trail cameras. By monitoring cameras, you can determine areas where and when mountain lions travel so you can plan your trip and route.
Monitoring patterns of popular prey can help determine where you can likely find mountain lions. Cougars leave their meals out for later, so tracking where they store their meals can help assess their territory range.
6. Invest in a Good Predator Call
During your mountain lion hunts, you can draw out the big cats with a predator call. Investing in a good call can help increase your chances of attracting a cougar when you use them. Before taking a call on your hunt, be sure to research the best methods to use a call so you’re prepared.
7. Acquire the Right Gear
Before embarking on your cougar hunts, determine what you’ll need for your specific trip. Think about how long you’ll be gone, weather patterns, and certain materials. Depending on your hunting method, you can capture a cougar with a rifle, bow, or handgun. Bows, for example, are excellent choices for hunting with dogs since they allow you to get close, accurate shots on the cougar.
8. Study Signs of Aggression
Cougar attacks are very rare. However, mountain lions will resort to desperate measures to protect themselves when threatened or injured, making it essential to learn the signs of an aggressive and desperate big cat before beginning your hunt. Some signs of an aggressive cat can include:
- Low or flat ears
- Twitching tail
9. Know How to Recognize Tracks
Like all animals, cougars have distinct paw patterns. Learning their paw patterns can help you recognize and differentiate their prints from other animal prints. Cougar paws have a very specific m-shaped pad and a heel that has three lobes in it. When they walk, they overlap their back prints with their front ones to result in only one set of tracks, and their claws retract when they walk, so there will be no claw marks on their prints.
10. Find a Hunting Buddy
Whether you travel with a friend or a professional outfitter, choose a buddy to accompany you on your hunt to practice the best mountain lion hunting safety. A buddy can help pick out signs of a cougar you might miss and aid you in capturing your lion. When calling, you can sit back-to-back to best spot an approaching cat.
Insure Your Next Hunting Trip With XINSURANCE
Hunting cougars can be a rewarding experience. As hard-to-find large game, many hunters seek out these big cats to challenge themselves and test their hunting skills. While you hunt, there are many tips and tricks that you can implement to best protect yourself and hunting companions while searching for mountain lions.
For your next hunt, invest in cougar hunting insurance with XINSURANCE. Hunting insurance can protect you from potential dangers and liabilities accompanying hunting to give you a better hunting experience. At XINSURANCE, we can offer unique insurance plans that provide you with optimal coverage. Contact XINSURANCE today about hunting liability insurance!
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