March 26, 2013

My First Lion – Bryan Reed

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Aspen mountain lion

As many of you know, I have owned and trained hounds for the last six years. I originally got into hound hunting because I love to hunt, and I have always enjoyed watching/training bird dogs. I was also interested in harvesting a Mt Lion someday. It should have been just that easy, right?, just buy a trained lion dog or 2 and you are in business.  Boy was I Wrong!!!!!!!!

 

There are so many variables that come into play when hunting these amazing animals. When I first started it took me over 20 hunts going out and hunting to actually tree a Lion. That was almost a year and half. The only reason we treed one that fast was a friend of mine Seth Hales helped me out.  Most of these outings were spent in a unit that had a lot of Lions and harvesting them was not an option. That area is a limited entry unit so it was used for training us and the hounds. 2 of my closest friends were right there with me every step of the way. Chris had to unfortunately learn the hard way with me from trial and error, and Seth mentored me along the way.

 

My good Friend Seth Hales, taught me a lot about hound dogs and many other tricks of the trade. He also gave me a great puppy “Rodney” that I trained to be one of the most amazing dogs out there. Seth also gave me his best hound Belle about a year ago when he decided to get out of hounds. She is not only a great hunting hound but a great dog to just have around the house. We really like Belle.

 

My good friend Chris Meszaros helped me more than anyone else. He and I would go out and do pretty much everything wrong, finally after a few years of hard work we had the hounds trained good enough to catch a cat.  The last 2 years we have focused on hunting units that if we did everything right we could harvest a cat. For some people lion hunting is easy they go out, the dogs catch a cat, they shoot it and that’s it.

 

Well It was not easy for me. In fact, I would say that hunting MT lion in open harvest units is by far the most challenging hunt I have ever tried, hands down. I respect this animal so much. They are tough,  incredibly smart, and they live in some of the most rugged country in the world. I have hiked 10 miles in a day in the snow and never caught up to the cat before. I have been in snow so deep and soft it was not even possible to go any further, even snow shoes were not enough to keep you on top. I have been stuck, broke down, frost bitten, lost dogs, sunburned and flat out defeated so many times I have lost track of all the pain and discouragement. I really started to wonder if I was ever going to harvest a Mt Lion.

Bryan posing with lion and dogs

 

Last weekend it all came together. By far the most emotional and rewarding hunting day of my life. The Hounds, Rodney, Belle, and Mitch did what they were supposed to do. They had the lion treed 1.5 miles away after an amazing race that crossed snow and open hillsides in central Utah.  As my GPS tracking unit told Chris and I that the dogs were treed, I could not believe it. It set in we had a cat treed and it was in a unit we could harvest a cat. It was at the time I started to kind of fall apart. 6 years of effort and the moment of truth was about to unfold. I was so excited I actually was starting to feel a little sick and had not even laid eyes on the cat yet. When we arrived at the tree, I was as proud of my dogs as I have ever been. There it was, the amazing MT lion in all its glory perched 50 to 75 ft. straight up an Aspen tree glaring down at us.

 

I would like to thank my amazing wife Nancy for putting up with my long 6 year quest. She is so supportive of me and my crazy hunting habit and she truly loves our hound dogs.

And I really want to thanks Chris and Seth for the extra effort both of these 2 put in to help me along the way.

 

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