Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Big Horn Posse Big Game Hounds

Home | Big Horn Posse Hounds | Cougar Info and Education | Articles | Videos

Articles

Articles I have written for Full Cry magazine

A Lesson for Lola

With only two more days open for bobcat here in the Big Horns I decided to take the "Posse" up to the mountain to see if we would cut a track. The weather has been extremely warm here for this time of year, 50’s-60’s and all the snow that is on the mountain is on top. I decided I wasn’t going to free cast the dogs on dry ground today so I went up to where there was snow. All the forest service roads were only open to snow machines so I parked my truck off the highway at Black Mountain road. I free cast Sandy and put Red and Lola on a double leash and started walking down the snow machine trail. I knew this road was excellent bobcat habitat and I have always found bobcat tracks here in the early season when I could get in there with my truck. This was the first time I have ever walked this road looking for tracks. It was not bad walking in the snow machine tracks, but we hadn’t had any fresh snow in over a week so it was a bit crusty here and there. The wind must have blown up here in the days before as I could not find a single fresh track. Even the snow-shoe hare tracks were old and blown in. I came across a few day old moose tracks here and there and some squirrel, but no bobcat tracks. I decided to keep going cause it was still early and the dogs and I had energy to burn. I walked about two miles as the crow flies and still did not find a single bobcat track. I was ready to call it quits and turn around when Sandy went to the side of the road and put her nose in a track. I pulled her back and tried to keep Red and Lola back so I could examine the track closer. It was about a two inch bobcat track that looked to be about a day old. Not fresh like I had wanted, but it was all I had found and the dogs were eager to try to work it out. I turned all three dogs loose and there they went trailing the track up a hill to a rock pile. I stood back and let the dogs work around the rocks. Most of the snow was melted off in places and I knew it would be difficult for the dogs to line it out, but I just let them go. After about thirty minutes of this I noticed the dogs were no longer around so I headed up to the top of the rock pile. Sure as day they had found where that cat had left out of there and was on his track. I noticed young Lola was trying to work the track too fast. A couple weeks ago she had been on a cougar jumped off a fresh kill. That was a fast race and now she was getting too wound up over this old bobcat track and needed to slow down. Red and Sandy were a ways up ahead so I called Lola over to me and snapped a leash on her. I pointed to the track and clucked her on it. She would stick her nose in and get excited. She wanted to go. I pulled her back and clucked her on it again. Walking down the track I kept clucking her on it until she was sticking her nose in every track. Once she started to take the time to work it out slowly I let her off the leash. The dogs had been trailing this bobcat in over knee deep snow for over and hour and it was tough going on me. I had a hard time trying to keep up with the hounds as I didn’t have snow-shoes and breaking though the deep snow was getting tiresome. I had to keep going cause the dogs were way ahead and I had to get to them. I knew that since the bobcat track was from the morning before that it might take all day before they actually do jump it. My dogs don’t open up when they cold trail bobcats so I had to stay on their tracks to know where they were. I followed their tracks for along time and was amazed they were still on that old bobcat in these conditions. I could not go everywhere the cat and them had gone, over logs, rocks, under trees, ect. I like tracking and I love cold trailing, but if you have ever tracked a bobcat you find they go in the most unusual places. I finally caught up to the hounds when they slowed down again to work the track out in a bunch of timber. I immediately made the decision to grab the dogs while I had the chance and quit. I don’t know if it was the long hike in the deep snow, not eating, or coming down with a cold, but I started feeling pretty rotten. I leashed up the dogs despite their protest to keep hammering away at that track, and headed out. I said to them, yes I talk to my dogs, " None of you even opened up on this track so I know we will not be jumping him anytime soon. You did a good job." I praised them to let them know they did what I wanted them to do and now it was time to go. I believe that if I expect 100% out of my hounds I have to give 100% back and today I just wasn’t feeling 100%. We headed back out of there and I was feeling worse and worse as I walked. Sandy would bump my leg with her head from time to time as she is very protective of me and knew I wasn’t feeling my best. We finally made it back to the truck about two and a half hours later. I loaded the dogs and started down the mountain. It took all I had not to fall asleep as I was exhausted and had a massive headache. We made it home safe and sound and I fell asleep for three hours. When I woke up I looked at the map to see how far we walked and I didn’t realize that we had covered so much country. It was about 6 miles round trip as the crow flies. I am disappointed I wasn’t able to let the dogs work the track out to the end and finally tree that bobcat, but I am so proud of year old Lola. She stayed right on that bobcat track never wavering through snow-shoe hare, deer, and squirrel tracks. This was the only time I didn’t video tape my hounds trailing and really wish I had. Lola learned a good lesson that day, to take her time and slow down on the colder tracks even in the snow. Some people think that the only way to make a hound is to get on the freshest track and have that hound make the tree and shoot the cat down. That is not true. A hound that can work out an old track whether they actually jump it and tree it learns just as much if not more. This was Lola’s second bobcat, the first was a hot track on dry ground and she jumped that one herself. Lola has been on quite a few lions and even started two on her own. I have never shot a lion down to Lola and she still runs and trees better than most hounds twice her age. I think challenging hounds to take tracks that seem impossible to take really educates hounds not only to really work the track, but it teaches them just how a bobcat or lion travels and how to stick with it to the end no matter what the condition or terrain.

The Re-making of a Lion Hound

When I got Sandy I had been looking for a female Redbone hound for quite sometime. I got a phone call one night from a local houndsmen offering me a year and a half old Redbone female that had been on a few lion. He said that the person who had her could only keep one of his young hounds and was giving Sandy away. I told him I would take her and try her out. That night he brought her to me. I had no idea what she was like, just what he had told me. He made her sound great, like most people trying to get rid of unwanted hounds. I figured she was worth a chance. When I first saw Sandy I thought she was a beautiful young dog. She was built small, about 45 pounds, athletic, and very dark red in color. I put her on a caged coon and she fired on it. She had a beautiful loud bawl mouth, one you could hear a canyon away. I was really pleased with the hound I had acquired that night. After spending some time with her I decided to take her out coon hunting. Sandy didn’t go out too far and came back every few minutes. I figured that she had never been coon hunting and didn’t want to hunt at night. This was no big deal to me as I am not much for coon hunting. She was a lion hound and that is why I took her. Little did I know that I had my work cut out for me to make her a lion hound. I knew Sandy had it in her to be a great hound. You could see it in her eyes she had the desire to hunt. I figured she had just never run anything on her own. Now most people would have not wasted time with a hound like this. You hear of people culling hounds that will not run their own game by a year old. I couldn’t do that with Sandy. I knew there was something there in her that was good, I just had to figure out how to get it out of her. One thing I did noticed right away is that she did not like or trust men. Since her previous owner was a man I figured something had happened to her to be this way. Never the less I kept working with her every day. I would take her and my Black and Tan pup Daisy and my other Redbone pup Lola up to the mountains looking for lion tracks. I figured since Sandy had been on a few lion she would know how to run a lion track. I was sadly disappointed when I would never get a lion treed, but I never gave up and kept trying. I trapped countless wild cats for her to run and tree and she started showing real interest and would tree harder and harder with every cat I put her on. She proved she would make one heck of a tree hound. I just needed to get her trailing better. That also came with time and tons of game in front of her. She really started improving. Spring came around and I ran into money troubles. I decided to advertise a couple of my hounds on my website for sale. A few weeks later I got a call from a guy in Kansas looking for young started hounds to run lion, bobcat, coon, and bear. He said he wanted to buy my dogs and would be at my house the next day. I didn’t believe him. The next morning true to his word he was at my front door ready to buy my hounds. He wanted all three hounds, Sandy, Daisy, and Lola. I told him he could buy Daisy or Lola or both pups but not Sandy. He tried to convince me to sell her also, but I kept telling him she was not for sale and wouldn’t work for him anyway. He left with Daisy and Lola. It didn’t hit me until that night that I may have made a big mistake selling my two up and coming pups, but what’s done is done and there was no going back. I still had Sandy. I found out later that it was a blessing in disguise. Without the other two dogs around I got to spend a lot more one on one time with Sandy. She developed a sense of independence since I was hunting her alone. She improved tremendously on trailing game both coon and running cats. I guess all she needed was to do it herself without other dogs to rely on. I soon was looking to get another dog and ended up getting a 5 month old female Bluetick pup ‘PR’ Big Horn Posse Blue Peppermint. Pepper didn’t show much interest in hunting, wouldn’t look at a caged coon or cat. I wasn’t too worried as I knew some young hounds won’t until they are ready. Only time would tell if she wanted to hunt. Sandy was going on 3 yrs old and Pepper was 10 months when I realized Sandy was going to make it as a hound. I was walking out of my house one morning and looked out and saw a wild cat walking across the pasture in the distance. I immediately went to the kennel and turned Sandy and Pepper loose. I told Sandy to "hunt em up" and she made her way down the pasture working with her nose to the ground. Pepper not knowing what to do just ran behind. It wasn’t but a few minutes later Sandy had that wild cat in a tree and was treeing hard. Pepper who finally figured out what was going on made it to the tree and hammered on it too. I left them there treeing to see how long they would stay treed. 6 hours later they were still treeing. I knew Sandy had made it. Since I had sold Daisy and Lola I needed to make a new pack of lion hounds. I decided to breed Sandy in the Summer of 2003 to a buddy in Utah’s Redbone male (also Lola’s sire) and I would keep a female pup. Another buddy in Utah gave me a seasoned male lion hound named Red to hunt when Sandy had her pups. I continued to hunt her until right before she had her pups. She seemed to hunt even better and with more desire than ever before. She whelped a litter of 10 pups 9 males and 1 female October 9, 2003. I kept the female and named her Big Horn Posse Red Lola after my first Lola. Sandy was an excellent mother and all 10 of her pups were big and healthy. About 6 weeks later I decided to start hunting her again. She had more desire and drive to hunt than ever. She was soon back in shape and kept up with Red and Pepper. December 11, 2003 her pups were now 10 weeks old when I found a lion track and put her and Red down on it. This was going to prove what kind of lion hound I had in Sandy. She and Red both worked that track out and bayed that lion up on a rock pile. Sandy was the only one I heard as her loud bawl mouth drowns Red’s out. She pushed that lion off of that rock pile and her and Red continued to run it into the Wilderness where they once again bayed the Tom up on another rock pile. Sandy once again pushed that fighting Tom off of the rock pile and she and Red treed it about 20 yards away. Sandy was treeing hard on the lion. He bailed out of the tree and Red and Sandy bayed him up beneath a rock ledge.  Walking out back to the truck was really tough on us all. Darkness had fallen and my son Charles was walking Red out on a leash and I had Sandy and Pepper, the Bluetick pup, on a double leash. This proved to be tough going as the Pepper kept going the opposite of Sandy and getting caught in the thick timber. I lost my patience and decided to let Sandy go as she usually will stay with me. After about 5 minutes Pepper was still wrapping herself up in the trees so I turned her loose also. By the time we made it back to the truck neither Sandy or Pepper was with us. I tried to locate them on the Tracker and could only locate Pepper. I called to them and waited. Trying to get into them would be difficult in the Big Horns at night. I decided to go home and get Sandy and Pepper the next morning. I figured they would be right where the truck was parked. The next morning we arrived and Sandy and Pepper were not where I had the truck parked. We walked back to the cougar tree, still no sign of Sandy or Pepper. On the way back to the truck I checked my Tracker and could only get a reading on Pepper. I was getting worried. Then I heard Sandy’s unmistakable loud bawl. She sounded bayed up again. I called for her but she never came to me. I checked the Tracker again and still no Sandy. I knew it was her I could hear, but I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get a reading. I searched way into the night but still could not find the dogs. I still only had a reading on Pepper. At this point I figured they were over a mile away from where I had let them off the leash the night before. I had a feeling that Sandy had found and run another lion. The cougar from the day before had fresh wounds from a recent fight with another Tom. I figured she probably found his track out there in the dark and that is why I heard her bayed up. On the third day a friend and I went back in looking for them and we followed the signal on Pepper’s collar to a rock pile. I still had no reading on Sandy. Pepper and Sandy were both there, but Sandy came out limping. I immediately put the puzzle together. Sandy had run that second Tom and had him bayed up on the ground, fought him and ran him again over the last 3 days. I looked her over and she was injured on her right shoulder where the lion had swatted her pretty good. She must have curled up in the rocks and waited for me to come get her as she was to sore to walk out on her own. I later found out that another houndsmen treed that lion not even 100 yards from where I found Sandy that same day. I also found out the reason I wasn’t getting a reading on her collar was because I accidentally programmed Red’s collar into her slot on my Tracker. I brought Sandy home and called the vet. I took her in the next morning and they told me that all the tissue under the skin was torn away from the muscle where the lion had swatted her and she had some puncture wounds from the lion biting her on her back. They surgically tacked the skin back to the muscle, but Sandy would not be able to hunt for a few weeks or more. It ended up being a month and a half before the vet gave me the green light to start hunting her again. I was really worried that the incident with the lion would ruin her from hunting. I started her off slow, using her to train Lola on caged cats. She ran and treed and fought those wild cats with even more determination and desire. The fight with the lion didn’t shy her at all from hunting. Since then she continues to hunt lion and hunts better than ever. She got Lola who is now 6 months old running and treeing on her own. Sandy is proof that sometimes there is a diamond in the rough. If a hound is not started correctly it doesn’t mean the dog isn’t any good. I gave Sandy a chance that no one would have. I saw something in that dog’s eyes that told me she had what it took to be a lion hound and she has proven I was right. Sandy is from an excellent line of big game hounds called Piute Mountain Redbones and she is keeping that line going with her pups sired by ‘PR’ Ingram’s Rockin’ Red Ike. Her pups are proving to be outstanding also with hearts as big as Sandy’s and tons of drive. Sandy is now one of the best hounds I have ever owned. She continues to amaze me every time I take her hunting. She has proved to be a super trail, hard tree, and locate hound. She has passed these excellent qualities on to her pups. I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to have Sandy.

The One

Every once in awhile a houndsmen will come across that dog that is the one. The one that hunts just a little harder for you, the one that knows you as well as you know her, the one that is not just your hunting partner, but your pal. The bond between human and dog that no one can ever comprehend unless you have experienced it. I was fortunate enough to have the one early on in fact she was my very first Redbone. Those of you that read my article last year "The Re-making of a Lion Hound" know what dog I am talking about, Big Horn Posse Red Sandy. I got Sandy as a yearling and despite all the trying and difficult times I have experienced in the last 4 years, I never once even thought to sell her even when I had to sell the rest of my pack. Sandy was special, no one would ever understand Sandy the way I did and no one understood me as Sandy did. She was my rock through the tough times, my best buddy through the good times. She was one of my two lead dogs on cougar, my only coonhound, and was really showing a lot of interest on bear. When you heard Sandy open up you knew you were going to walk into game in the tree. She was the most honest of all dogs. When another dog was on a trash run you knew it cause it was Sandy who would come back and tell you! She was truly as honest as they come. She was the best mother and pup trainer. Even when her pups were fully grown she would jump right in and get them outta trouble when they needed it. Sandy had a rough start early on in life, but she showed me she was a diamond in the rough. She proved it time and time again to me and to other's who witnessed her hunt. I knew the day would come when Sandy would no longer be with me and I knew that day would crush me like nothing else. That day came way to soon. Sandy was just 5 years old when she passed July 21, 2005. Sandy left behind a legacy, her 21 month old pups Lola, Sully, Dan, and Jed are just 4 of the 10 from her first litter. Now this 3 week old litter of 7 with Big Horn Posse Lil Red Sandy amoung them. Sandy was the last line bred breeding female of the original Piute Mountain Redbone line. I have crossed into this line to keep the bloodline going, but when you lose the last of a direct line it is like losing a piece of history. I am completely crushed, but I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. I didn't quite understand the reasoning behind this, but am begining to now that I have had time to soak it all in. Sandy was indeed The One, but in being that I was not able to bond and see the greatness in her daughter Lola. I believe in breeding only quaility hounds that produce even better than the parents. Since Sandy has passed and I have to raise her pups and have enlisted Lola to help me with this. Lola cannot feed the pups, but she cleans them and plays ever so gently with them. Lola has proved herself on lion and bobcat this last season. She is not Sandy but the more time we spend together taking care of these pups the more I see Sandy in her. Funny how I have never seen that before. I will always miss Sandy and she is resting in the perfect spot under a rimrock cliff between 3 young pine trees not far from where a resident tom has left his mark.

Strange Summer

Wow, what a summer this has been. Even though I didn’t spend my summer camped on the mountain as usual, I still had quite an interesting summer. I made it a point to get up on the mountain as much as possible with the dogs. Quite a few times I had some unusual incidents happen to me. Here are brief versions of what happened. I am not usually scared of anything, but the fear I felt the evening of June 30th was the worst fear I have ever experienced. Usually this time of year I spend my time camped up on the mountain with my hounds. This year I had to stay home cause Sandy had her pups and I am also taking care of my buddy's hounds while he is in Alaska working for the summer. Since I live at the base of the mountain I have just been walking up Tongue River Canyon to get the dogs and I exercise. I usually go early in the morning and walk up to Sheep Creek which is 2 1/2 miles up or the Box Canyon which is 3 miles up as the crow flies. Well last week as I was walking up to Sheep Creek my son's pup Ozzy decided to flush a grouse. While I was scolding him I saw two guys up the trail from me less than 100 yards, then heard a shot and saw the smoke from their black powder pistol. I don't know what they were shooting at but I was ticked off that they were shooting so close to me and my hounds. Nothing in this area is open to hunt right now so they had no reason to be firing the weapon. I gathered the dogs and kept heading up the trail passing the guys as they were heading down it. They were a rough looking bunch and I didn't get a good feeling about them. I finished my hike and headed home. About three days later I was back up in the canyon with just Sandy and Lola. Again I saw those guys. This time they were heading up the trail. I still thought it strange that they would be going in and out of there with no real purpose. You can tell when someone is hiking or jogging up the canyon and when someone just doesn't belong. On my way back down I decided to write their plate number off their car down "just in case!" The next day we had a series of thunder showers come through and it left me inside most the day. At about 6 PM the weather broke and I decided I could make it the two hours up and down the canyon with the dogs. As I was heading up the trail the two guys were heading out. They had spent the night on the mountain which I thought was strange as they had no overnight gear with them just their pistol. Now the way I hunt is different than most. I free cast my dogs when I am going into an area. They go out and look for cat sign usually around the rims and ledges. If they do not find anything the usually check back every 30 to 45 min. When I leave an area I tell my dogs to get back and they walk directly behind me. I usually do not leash them as they know to stay behind me while walking out. My dogs also are not man trailers the only person they have ever trailed is me when we get separated so the following made absolutely no sense to me at all. After I had passed the guys walking out all four of my hounds took off ahead of me. That was no big deal as I thought they were off in search of cat sign. Sandy couldn't keep up with the other hounds anymore due to her increasingly large belly, so she waddled back to me a few minutes later. I was so glad she did. I continued to head up the canyon and noticed my other three hounds were still on the trail and were running the guys back trail. I thought that to be the strangest thing ever. I called out for them but they didn't come. I continued heading up and they were still on the trail. I figured they were going to lead me to what exactly these guys were doing up in the canyon. I initially thought they might be bear poachers and that is why the dogs were so fired up. As I came to Sheep Creek I looked across the creek and saw the scariest man I have ever seen. He was ragged, dirty and gaunt with teeth missing. I could smell him from across the creek. He looked like one of the strung out homeless people you see in the big cities. I didn't want to pass him and I didn't have my pistol with me, but had to get to my other three dogs so I made my way across the log to the other side of the creek. I was so happy Sandy my most loyal and protective hound was with me. She hackled up at the man watching his every move. I didn't know what to do and he was giving Sandy and I a strange look so I decided to just say something. I asked him if he had seen the other three dogs. He said they were half way to the top of Sheep Creek. He asked what kind of dogs they were and I just replied lion hounds and quickly turned and walked up the trail hoping I could catch up the Posse. I was a bit freaked out knowing that the strange guy was between me and my only way off the mountain. I decided to try to call my buddy Leonard to let him know where I was and what was going on. My cell phone NEVER has service in the canyon, but I thought I better try. I dialed his number and it was actually ringing! Now I was just hoping Leonard would answer. He did and I filled him in. I told him if he didn't hear from me by 8:30pm to come looking for me. I hung up the phone and noticed three red dogs with noses to the ground going across the meadow. I started yelling for them to come and they did. I thought about following them to where they were trailing, but decided not to be a detective today and get out of there now that I had them with me. I snapped a leash on Red and Lola for good measure and quickly started heading down the trail. Not far after I crossed Sheep Creek I again saw the man ahead of me. I didn't know if I should just stay behind at a safe distance or just get passed him and haul ass. I decided I could out run him so I finally got to where he was and politely said excuse me. He stepped off to the right and I tried to pass. I had to forcefully pull Red and Lola around him as they didn't want to be near him. Sandy who was not leashed took a wide birth and young Ozzy who loves everyone just stopped and would not go anywhere near the guy. Ozzy was eyeing the guy with mistrust and I could tell he was at the verge of barking. I called for him until he took an even wider birth around the guy. I started heading down the trail at a fast walk. The guy was saying something to me, but I didn't make out what. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. As I crested the hill and started to head down I cinched up the 20 pound day pack I had on and started running with Red and Lola in tow and Sandy and Ozzy right behind. I hike a lot and can walk for miles and miles on the mountain with no rest, but I am not a runner to say the least. I ran the 2.5 miles off that mountain with a bad knee, a 20 pound pack, and dogs in tow so fast it surprised me. I prayed I would not fall or my knee wouldn't blow out again. I made it down to the bottom just as the sky darkened and the thunder and rain began again. I quickly loaded the hounds in the box and got out of there. I couldn't believe I was not winded or my knee wasn't killing me. Amazing what an adrenaline rush of fear can do to you! I called the game warden to tell him about what was going on in the canyon and got his machine. I left a message. He called me back the next day and I filled him in on the two guys I had seen coming and going with the pistol and gave him there plate number. I told him about the really scary guy up there and how I thought he was living up in a cave somewhere above Sheep Creek. I told him about how strange my dogs were acting and how they ran the guys back trail. He told me that he would check it out and let me know. I told him I was not going back in the canyon alone again until he lets me know everything is okay. I never went back into the canyon and a few weeks later I ran into the game warden I was talking to him about some cougar sign I had found. Just as he was getting ready to leave he said by the way we went and checked out the guys in the canyon you told us about and one of them had expired up there. My mouth dropped. He said it was the ragged dirty one that scared me to death and my dogs wouldn't go near. He told me the guy was a manic depressant and he had been living up there in a cave. I asked, did you guys find him or did someone find him and report it. He said they found him twelve days after I had called about him being back there. I can't believe all of this. I have never had such things happen in my life. A week before I ran into him I had a dream my dogs found a dead body up in the canyon, but in my dream it was a cougar kill. Then when the dogs were man trailing that day I ran into the crazy man. Now finding out he was found dead up there. Makes a person wonder why things happen the way they do. I bet that guy probably might not have been found as soon as he was if the dogs didn't alert me to something being wrong and me reporting it to the warden. I feel bad they didn't find him alive as now I feel strange being the last person who saw him alive. I will never forget the look he gave me that sent a chill down my spine or the absolute utter fear I had of him. Deep down I feel bad for being afraid of him now he is as the warden said "Expired." I spent Fourth of July weekend on the mountain with the dogs. With my kids and friends gone all summer I really wasn’t in a celebritory mood and being on the mountain always lifts my spirits. I took Red, Lola, Ozzy, Charlie, and Sully up to get a little run in and I wanted to check a few areas for cougar sign.  After a few hours of walking looking for scratches and kills I hadn’t found anything so I loaded up the dogs and decided to take the long way home down Black Mountain Road. I am not a bear hunter, but have a dog or two that will rig a bear and I kind of get a kick out of them opening up on the rig. I put Big Red, Lola, and Ozzy up on top of the box just to see if there was any bear in the area. I made my way down the road taking my time as I was in no hurry to go home to an empty house. As I was driving I was glancing out the window looking for tracks on the road. Not far from Black Mountain Lookout I happened to look down and saw a BIG canine track. I backed up and stopped to look at it. I stepped out of the truck and got my camera and tape measure out of my day pack. Now, I am not a wolf track expert, but my Big Red dog has some big ol wolf like feet and this makes his look like a beagle! I snapped some photos with the measuring tape on the track. It measured 4 1/2" by 6" that is a big canine track. This was the second wolf track I have found in the Big Horns. The first one I found the summer of 2003 above Buffalo. I took photos of that one too and turned them in. I had seen a wolf the spring of 2004 above Tensleep. I did not get photographic proof of that one as he vanished as soon as I saw him. About two weeks later a wolf was killed off a sheep kill not too far from my sighting. I had to wait till Tuesday to take the photos into the Wyoming Game and Fish. I took them in and gave them the photos. They confirmed my photos were indeed made by a wolf and that they were going to send the photos off to the wolf expert with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. I received a call from him July 11. He also confirmed it to be a wolf and remembered the other photo I took in 2003. I told him about the wolf sighting in 2004 also. He told me that my photos were the best documented evidence he had seen, where most people just try to describe it without showing any documentation with photos or proof if actual size. We had a lengthy conversation and he gave me his number in case I see another wolf or find any evidence of them. I told him I spend so much time on the mountain I would be glad to get documentation of any sign I find. I know there is wolves here in the Big Horns and the only way to prove it is with documentation of proof. Most of you have read the article I wrote a few months ago on my ideas for Wolf Management here in Wyoming. I know the best way to get them delisted so we can manage them properly is to show any and all evidence that they have moved out of the "Safe Zone" of Yellowstone and into other areas of Wyoming. If anyone sees or finds what they think is a wolf or wolf sign, do not hesitate to get good clear photos. Make sure you show the actual size of the track by putting a tape measure or an object next to it. If you find what you think is a wolf kill or wolf scat, don’t hesitate to turn it in. It might not be a wolf, but you might never know unless you turn it in. The only way we can help manage the wolves is to monitor them and where they are. In continuance to the dangerously weird summer I had. From crazy guys in the canyon to wolf tracks. I think this was pretty close to icing on the cake. I decided I would go up high and walk a few ridges where I thought I might find some good cougar sign. I parked my truck and let Red, Lola and Ozzy out. We walked the first ridge and didn't find any cougar sign so we headed to the second ridge where there was a good predominate point. Surely there was a scratch or two here for me to document and let young Ozzy mess with. Just has I was getting down to the good part of the point where a cougar would likely mark what did I see a few feet away in front of me. A huge Western rattlesnake. He immediately coiled up and rattled, ready to strike. I immediately started backing away. Just as I was at a safe distance away I drew my .45 and was getting ready to shoot when young Ozzy came up behind me and walked right by the snake. I yelled at him to get back but the snake had already struck. Ozzy was startled by the snake and ran off barking. I thought for sure he was bit bad. Lola was still behind me so I snapped a lead on her. Red and Ozzy were off a safe distance away and I shot that snake four times. I left the snake for dead and went about snapping leashes on the dogs. I just wanted to get out of there and make sure Ozzy was okay. I had a good two hour walk back to the truck. I was worried Ozzy would start to swell up and get sick and I would end up having to pack that over grown eleven month old pup out of there. I was very cautious walking out of there cause the grass was pretty tall and I didn't want to have another run in with a rattler. The dogs and I made it back to the truck and Ozzy still seemed okay. He wasn't lethargic and there was no swelling. I still had about an hour and a half drive off the mountain. I loaded the dogs and began to head out of there. I was beginning to wonder if the snake missed Ozzy when it struck at him. It sure looked like it hit him and Ozzy did bark after the snake struck, but he seemed fine. I never did find a puncture wound either. I was beginning to relax a bit. I did think of what would have happened if the snake would have got me. I was so far away from anyone especially medical attention. No one knew where I was and there would have been no way I would have been able to walk those 2 hours back to the truck in 85 degree temp if that snake had bit me. I would have been the second body they would have found in the Big Horns. I am surprised that the rattle snake was even that high up. I didn't expect to see one up that high and now I will be a lot more cautious when looking for scratches. I am glad everything turned out well. Ozzy is fine and I decided I really need to find a hunting partner with all the strange stuff I am running into up there this summer. On a good note, Sandy had her pups July 1. She whelped a healthy litter of 3 females and 4 males. They have all been sold. I am keeping a female out of this litter whom I named Big Horn Posse Red Erin. I would like to say thanks to all of you who bought pups out of this litter. This will be Sandy’s last litter for awhile as she is one of my lead dogs and she will be hunted the next couple of years. I hope you enjoy your pups and get them hunting hard. I am also currently working on a book "Cougars of the Big Horn Mountians" This book will be based on the facts and findings I have documented from a houndspersons perspective. The subject matter will cover cougar facts, habitat, conservation, management, depredation, and hounds and hunting both past and present. I am still doing a ton of research for this book and want it to be one of the most informative factual books on cougars. I hope to have it completed by next summer. That is if can get my cougar studies done without running into crazy guys, wolves and snakes!

Ozzy’s First Cougar

At 5 am November 15, 2005 I loaded up Big Red and Ozzy in the dark to head up the mountain looking for cat tracks. Both Lola and Scarlett were in heat and I was hunting alone so I decided to leave the 4 month old pups Lil Sandy and Amber in the kennel also. Today was opening day of bobcat season and I was hopeful to find a track, any track whether it be a cougar or a bobcat. I had been cutting plenty of bobcat tracks the last couple months but could never run one till today. I had already run a few cougar in the previous weeks with Big Red and Lola and was looking forward to running a bobcat. I made it up to the road I usually check for tracks well before daybreak. It had snowed pretty good the day before so I stopped at the head of the road and chained up my truck in the dark. I really enjoy breaking trail on roads looking for tracks. I can check the roads quickly in the untouched snow with just low beams and the fog lights on my Dodge pickup. A cougar hunter who has cut enough tracks in their day can pick out a cat track on a road amongst elk, moose, deer, and snowshoe hare. My son has yet to figure it out, but he is getting better looking for patterns and size. I was disappointed that I did not find one measly cat track in the area where I had found so many in the weeks prior. That is how it goes sometimes. It had quit snowing about 10 pm the night before and it still was pretty early, to top it off the wind was blowing pretty good. I have noticed most the bobcats I have cut fresh are right after daybreak. I already had completed the loop and wasn’t going to back-track down the road to see if I could cut a fresh one, so I decided I would head back towards home and maybe walk a ridge I know cats travel a lot. Upon reaching the ridge the wind was blowing harder, stinging my face with its icy fury. I decided to just head down the mountain and maybe go hike in the canyon. It would be miserable to run a track today on top of the ridge not only for me but for the dogs with all the wind and blowing snow. I unchained the truck and started down the mountain. I was a bit depressed as I had such great luck finding tracks early on and the day bobcat season opened I hadn’t cut a single one. As I head down the face of the mountain I caught something out of the corner of my eye. Like I said earlier an experienced cat hunter can see a cat track even if they are not looking for one. It was on the side of a half bare hill. I knew it was something I needed to go take a second look at so I turned my truck around and headed back to it. I got out and took a better look at it. It was a small cougar track from the night before a bit blown in, but runable none the less. Since I was on the face of the mountain and could get out on my cell phone I decided to call a buddy to see if he would be interested in running it with me. I knew his dogs hadn’t been on a cougar yet this season and figured he wouldn’t pass up a track to run. I told him it wasn’t a big track, but it would be a good one for the dogs to run. He showed up about 10 am with his dogs and we turned loose on it. We had Red and Charlie the old veterans, 2 year old Sully who was out of my 2003 litter who had been on 19 or so lion the season before, and Ozzy. We listened as the hounds trailed up the ridge. We weren’t sure if they were going to take the track up over the ridge or down in the nasty drainage where I blew my knee out last spring. I was hoping they would find that cat laid up on the top of the ridge and jump it quickly so I did not have to go back into the drainage again. I was a little nervous as I didn’t have my knee brace cause someone had stolen it from the laundromat a couple days before. We continued to listen to the hounds until they were out of ear shot. I got out my Tracker and didn’t get a reading on them. They had gone up and over, not in the bad drainage but over the ridge where I was going to walk earlier. We decided to drive up and see if we could get a reading on them from where I had parked and took my chains off. I was getting a reading on them, but they were off around a point in the canyon. We continued to monitor the Tracker to see if they would come out from around the point. They were staying put so we decided it was time to go into them as they had to be treed. It was now about noon and we headed in towards the dogs side hilling below the ridge I was going to walk earlier that morning. We couldn’t hear the dogs, but knew the general direction of them by my Tracker. It was not easy going and there were a few spots that were a little hairy getting up and around. I had been this way before with my son Charles in October on the dry and knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get into the dogs. It was steep and rocky with a lot of brush to get around. As we made our way towards the point where we knew the dogs were treed we finally began to faintly hear them barking treed. That is the one sound that will get any houndsmens blood going. No matter how tired you are or how difficult the going is once you hear the dogs treeing it gets you moving a little faster. I took off ahead and made my way towards the tree. I could hear the dogs good and could make out the color of red through the trees. I tried to get in there quietly as they had the cougar in a low tree and then I slipped on some loose shale. The cougar locked eyes with me then bailed. The dogs went after the cougar again I called back to my buddy to let him know the cat had bailed and we had to head down the steep slope to the next tree. I quickly made my way down to the next tree making sure I gave wide birth so I could come up below the tree as not to spook the cat again and have it bail once more. I sat there a good distance away from the tree waiting for my buddy to catch up. I took out the video camera and was video taping the hounds treeing the cougar. Young Ozzy was under the tree sniffing around. He hadn’t figured out the whole tree thing yet. I sat and filmed the scene watching as Ozzy was trying to figure it all out. Ozzy who was a yearling now had never been under any kind of a tree. He had been on a couple caged coon and had ran and caught a couple wild cats on the ground, but never had treed anything. I knew he had it in him and would figure it out on his own. He knew what a cougar smelled like as I had worked him all summer on cougar scratches and old tracks. My buddy made it to me and I mentioned I wanted to get up there and help Ozzy out on the tree as he could smell the cougar, but hadn’t located him in the tree yet. My buddy said he would go up under the tree and help him out. As he made his way under the tree the cougar bailed again and the dogs were hot on his tail. I knew Ozzy saw him bail that time as I filmed the 4 dogs chasing the cougar yet again down the steep slope. I was soon far behind the dogs as I slipped and slid down the rocky slope towards the bottom. I was hoping they would get the cat up a taller tree so it wouldn’t bail yet again. I could hear Charlie barking treed and Red and Sully still trailing in. The cougar had bailed off a steep rim and it took Red and Sully a little longer to figure out how to get down the rim and find the track again. I made it into the tree and noticed Ozzy was at the tree with his sire Charlie. Charlie is a 10 year old hound and has put up probably over 200 cougar and bobcat. Ozzy was sniffing, barking, and treeing like a champ with his daddy. He had figured it out on his own what this was all about. He wanted that cougar bad. He was biting branches and doing all he could to try to get the cat. I always knew this dog had a ton of heart and drive, but he proved it to me with this first cougar tree. I brought out the video camera again and began filming him treeing. I wished my son Charles had been there for his young dog’s first cougar tree, but knew he would be happy watching the video of it all. After a few minutes Red and Sully had trailed in and my buddy caught up I managed to take a couple photos with my digital camera. The batteries were low so I was not able to get very many, but the ones I got show just how bad Ozzy wanted that cougar. It was now about 3 pm and walking out was going to be fun. After side hilling to the first tree then straight down to the next tree and finally ending up at the bottom for the third and final tree we only had one way out of the hole we were in, straight up. It took us about 3 1/2 hours to walk out of there and it seemed my knee was holding up just fine. We ended up walking out through the drainage I blew my knee out in and I was really nervous about it. When we were nearly back to my truck I decided to call my kids to let them know I would be home soon just to find out I had lost my cell phone somewhere out there on the mountain. I wasn’t too upset. Ozzy was on his first cougar and that is all that mattered to me. Ozzy proved he is the next generation of outstanding Big Horn Posse Big Game Hounds.

 

More articles will be added soon