These photos of a massive mountain lion have circulated the web for months over email, forums, and social media. Rumors suggested it was killed in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho and who knows how many hunters have claimed by now that it was taken by a "buddy of a friend."
But the truth is that the cougar was taken by Rob Klein (right) in December on a hunt with Fraser Valley Outfitters in west-central Alberta. "I put the picture on my Facebook page and from there it just kind of went viral," Klein says. "The cat's been taken in 13 states by 25 different guys … I had a guy arguing with me on one of the sites saying 'No, you didn't shoot that cat, it was shot by a buddy of mine.'"
The viral nature of the photos is understandable, because the cat looks, well, enormous. For reference, Klein stands 6 feet tall and weighs 260 pounds. Klein says the lion weighed more than 200 pounds and has an official Boone & Crockett score of 15 4/16 inches (the world record cat scored 16 4/16 inches).
But for all the excitement surrounding the photos, Klein actually had pretty typical mountain lion hunt. They had located a big tom that the guides knew was in the area, boxed it in, and then tracked it in the snow. The guide was hesitant to cut his dogs loose at first because there were so many wolves in the area. When wolves hear hounds baying, they'll charge in and try to kill the dogs.
When they thought they had gained enough ground on the cat, they cut three hounds loose and the chase was on. After about 30 minutes, the dogs had the tom treed at the bottom of a huge creek gully. It took Klein and the guides about an hour to hike through the snow and over scattered deadfalls down to the cat.
"It was a nightmare of a place to get into, it wasn't pretty that's for sure," he says. From there, a single shot from Klein's .270 short mag. brought the mountain lion down.
"That was the first cat I've ever harvested," Klein says. "I've chased elk, mule deer, and bears, but this was by far the most exciting hunt I've ever been on. Prior to the hunt I thought that you just walk in on the cat and shoot him and it's all yippee kaya ... but these don't cats just sit in trees. There's the possibility that they'll jump trees, come down and fight the dogs, hunters have even been stalked on some occasions."
Maybe the most interesting fact from Klein's hunt is that they first cut the big cat's track just outside of a semi-suburban area.
"In the country where we first cut the track, kids could have been out there waiting for the school bus," Klein said.
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