View Full Version : Defense question: MOUNTAIN LIONS

January 3, 2012, 02:48 PM
This isn't exactly a hunting question, but bear with me, I'll try to make a long story short. My parents live in the mountains outside Boulder, CO, their 2 year old dog was recently killed and dragged off by what is believed to be a very large mountain lion.

My mom is pretty torn up about it, and despite my father insisting it's a bad idea (I agree) she is determined to follow to tracks into the wood to find at least the dog's collars, if not a body they can bury. I realize it's a bad idea, but she's not hearing it, if she's going to do it I'm going with her, armed.

My first thought it to pick up some Buffalo Bore 180gr hard-cast for my 2¼" .357mag revolver; it's quick out of the holster, DA, and will work all the way down to point-blank. So my question is simply this: will that stop a fully grown cougar?

The only larger option I have is a 12-gauge, 18" barrel and I have a box of 1oz slugs as well as a lot of 3½" 00B. I would rather not carry it through the woods, it's not drop-safe so I would need time and space to chamber a round and shoulder the weapon if I need it.

And just to be clear, we're not looking for the cougar, I'd die a happy man if I never saw one face to face again. The question is: do I have what I need to defend myself and my mother? I'm going to work on talking her out of it, but I wouldn't put it past her to just start walking one day, so if she really feels she has to do it, I would prefer to do it right.

January 3, 2012, 03:06 PM
We have a lot of mountain lions here (Black Hills). Had one put my wife's horse into a fence then chew on its neck for a while.

I don't worry about it though, if it happens it happens, so I just carry my pocket revolver around the place.

How ever, as in the incident you mentioned and I had to go to an area where a cat might still be chewing on my critters, and I had the time, I'd take a rifle.

Did that one time (turned out it was stray dogs killing one of my grandkid's goat) so I took a rifle. I really like my M1 and soft point bullets, its fast and accurate. I shoot it enough I have plenty of confidence in it.

January 3, 2012, 03:20 PM
Two winters ago I was house-sitting for my parents while they were out of town, at about 2am I stepped out for a smoke and beer on the patio. Absolutely silent night, full moon, the 4 inches of snow on the ground had been warmed in the sun and frozen at night, very crunchy and noisy. I finished my beer and crunched the can, which was answered with the hiss of a huge lion that had been circling me at 10 paces. I had no idea it was there until it announced itself, had it moved to pounce I can assure you there was literally no way I could have shouldered a weapon in that time. Seeing that silhouette circle me, head low, ready, was the single most terrifying thing I have ever seen, compounded later with the fact that I was oblivious and defenseless.

I tell that story to explain my apprehension about carrying a long gun into the woods, if I'm being stalked or charged I can't bet on having the necessary time or space to chamber, shoulder, and draw a bead on an aggressive cat. With the snubby my target will put itself in the kill-zone quickly enough. But if I can't rely on that caliber being effective I need to figure something else out. I don't have any real experience with rifles, and while I'd like an excuse to buy one, it's not something I'm familiar with enough to bank on for self defense.

January 3, 2012, 03:32 PM
Both guns will stop the mountain lion - if you get a shot off. Most mountain lions hunt from ambush, so the first thing you notice might be a heavy weight on your back. On the other hand, they are notoriously shy and avoid human contact, so maybe a boom box might be better.

Art Eatman
January 3, 2012, 03:50 PM
Yes, the pistol is plenty good. Your potential problem is skill in a high-stress situation.

If the lion's taking of the dog was more than a couple of days ago, odds are that he's moved on or is not hanging around in the near vicinity. A deer or elk? Yeah, a lion will hang around for up to a week to keep guard over his supper, but a dog wouldn't last long.

Lotsa luck in finding tracks, unless there's snow on the ground...

January 3, 2012, 04:06 PM
My Aunt and Uncle had the same thing happen a couple of years ago, only they went looking for the dog in their backyard after dark and found the lion eating the dog .....

My first thought it to pick up some Buffalo Bore 180gr hard-cast for my 2¼" .357mag revolver;

Cats are not all that tough..... expanding bullets designed for two legged predators would work just fine.

January 3, 2012, 05:41 PM
Boom box is not a bad idea, we used to be told to sing while walking to the bus stop for school in the morning.

Art Eatman-
It was night before last, there is a lot of snow on the ground with tracks, a visible blood trail and drag marks. Right now it's not really known how far it goes, I have to make a little drive to see it for myself.

I have some 158gr JSP that I've shot a lot before, now that I'm thinking about it I'd rather have something in the wheel that I'm familiar with.

As long as the caliber is up to it, then I won't worry. Thanks, everyone.

January 3, 2012, 06:23 PM
I would suggest you call a houndsman and have him catch the kitty, but I just remembered that the Colorado voters outlawed hunting with dogs! Nothing works better than wildlife management by balot box. Good luck. Take a rifle.

EDIT: I just looked it up, it is legal to hunt lions with hounds in CO! Call a houndsman and get the kitty!

January 3, 2012, 07:11 PM
They are THINSKINED a 22 mag.may kill it or 223

January 3, 2012, 07:11 PM
I am a huge 357 fan and a big fan of heavy non expanding bullets as you described. I have shot well over 100 head of big game and was a guide for 9 years. I am also a terminal ballistian with over 100 projectiles in my collection that I have recovered from dead animals. I tell my crendentials to make a point which is, you should never be too firmly entrenched in an idea or opinion that you cant change course. I read and studied a man with vastly greater experence than I, who shot over 100 black bears with handguns. His take was that non expanding heavy bullets while killing the bear, did so little immediate damage that the bears simply shrugged of its effects till they finally surcumb to blood loss. However when shot with midweight soft points they instantly stopped trying to get at the hunter and instead concentrated on their wounds. He did most of his bear hunting with a 44 magnum but I believe a lesson can be learned from his experence. A mountain lion weighs about 150# and sometimes far less. I believe in a 357 magnum a good 125 grain hollowpoint might be the best defense. Buffalo Bore has a load that propells a 125 grain Speer Gold Dot bullet at 1700 fps from a 6" barrel. I would think this would be devestating on a 150# cridder at close range. Just my 2 cents.

January 4, 2012, 11:49 PM
.357 should be fine. If you have time to buy 00 shot shells for the shotgun, do that.

Your mom might find the dog without incident.

I knew a guy who lived up Sunshine Canyon. His small dog was taken by a cat off of his porch. He actually found the dog the next day, quite dead, but uneaten. The cat wasn't near it. The DOW ranger who was searching with him explained that cats sometimes/often/(who knows?) consider dogs as threats to their territory and will kill them for that reason, not necessarily to eat.

Good luck with that. Sorry about your mom's dog.

January 5, 2012, 12:42 AM
The DOW ranger who was searching with him explained that cats sometimes/often/(who knows?) consider dogs as threats to their territory and will kill them for that reason, not necessarily to eat.

Top predators kill other top predators. Wolves kill coyote, Cougar kill bobcat and so on. Humans do the same. When it comes to a empty belly it's not a sport.

January 5, 2012, 02:44 AM
Kitties are very fragile creatures. Pretty much anything will take them down. You don't need to go above-and-beyond, by loading up the hard cast bullets and 12 ga slugs.

Keep it simple.

Kitties run from humans. The likelihood of that cat letting itself be found is about zero.

January 5, 2012, 10:14 AM
Is it a hammer shotgun? Can you borrow a pump or auto-loader?

Are you friends with a colleague that hunts have him come along?

Prefer that an extra 1.5 inches added to the 2.5 you already have, that give better velocity to the .357.

January 5, 2012, 10:47 AM
Reading this is got me on edge. We had a cougar on our hunting land the whole week of gun deer hunting (central Wisconsin!). One of the guys had a close encounter with it walking to his stand in the dark. Snarling and growling. He couldn't get in his blind fast enough! And we have wolves. Another guy got to his stand in the dark and got settled in and a wolf started howling 30-40 yards away!

And the story about the guy having a beer on the porch and the cat was stalking him blew me away.

When the others aren't hunting and I have to walk into the woods alone at 5:00 a.m. in the dark with a little flashlight in my hand, loaded backpack and rifle on my back I'm a nervous wreck. It's almost a mile through rolling hills oak woods and there are a million "ambush" points along the way.

January 5, 2012, 11:06 AM
.357 158gr. JHP will dispatch that cat, if you hit it.

January 5, 2012, 02:27 PM
When the others aren't hunting and I have to walk into the woods alone at 5:00 a.m. in the dark with a little flashlight in my hand, loaded backpack and rifle on my back I'm a nervous wreck. It's almost a mile through rolling hills oak woods and there are a million "ambush" points along the way.

You're more likely to be run over by a Moose, than stalked by a kitty.
Be prepared, but don't sweat it.

January 6, 2012, 06:15 AM
reply: hi. firstly, i would say relax, because you will probably never see him again. Beside, the cougar would probably see you a long time before you see him. But, for the choice of guns, i would bring both and my preference would be for the 12 gauge with 00 bucks!

good luck!

January 6, 2012, 11:34 PM
I read in One of the books by an Africa big game guide and hunter that the Model 12 12 ga. was the backup gun of choice. The backup gun is the one the guides used if the Client messed up and they needed to protect the customer.

Art Eatman
January 7, 2012, 10:43 AM
Drifting: You can hold back the trigger on a Model 12 and play slide-trombone and put out a lot of pellets in a hurry. The Rem 870 can easily be modified to operate in the same fashion. I watched John Satterwhite pump out seven rounds on clay birds: Hand-thrown, and he hit them all before they hit the ground. (Demo at the Steel Challenge, 1982.)

January 7, 2012, 10:56 AM
One of the great myths of Africa is to use a 12 ga with buckshot for wounded leopards. The fact is that sometimes the pellets won't penetrate the tough chect muscles ! Better to use slugs .But if you have just one projectile use your rifle as cats are more sensitive to the higher velocity !

The biggest mountain lion I've heard of was one taken in BC last year -weighed 220 lbs ! Most of course are much lighter .Last fall I did see a red deer that had escaped a lion attack .Limping, back torn up and the other deer were very nervous !!

January 7, 2012, 11:18 AM
Weld up a thin piece of sheet metal with 3 inch long spikes screwed into it, add more spike to a lobstertail neck guard, wear the whole thing like Gecko45 on your back, so if big kittie jumps on you he gets impaled. You will also hear porcupine jokes for years.

I keep my kittie small, like my 5 housecats.

January 12, 2012, 11:37 PM
i would go with the .357magnum its faster to point and shoot then chambering,shouldering,aiming, and firing.

id recommend sum Corban DPX rounds, a VERY effectince round especially in
a .357mag. the penetration is deep & the terminal ballistics is what you need
to put that mountain lion down ( if need be)

im a dog owner as well so i understand where you mother is coming from
id do the same

January 13, 2012, 01:28 AM
I'd take a 357 on hip and tote a rifle but chances or he's done moved on but if you did see him he'll probably be leaving out. It'd be fun to be throwing lead at him though.

January 13, 2012, 09:27 AM
357 should be more than sufficient

January 13, 2012, 03:03 PM

Irish B
January 15, 2012, 07:09 PM
The 180gr hard cast buffalo bore ammo is a bit much for lion. The average lion is around 60 lbs and honestly the average "huge" lion that killed the neighbor's St Bernard is usually around 130 lbs. Rarely in the wild do we ever see lions up past 150 lbs. When I'm worried about walking in known bear areas I carry the Buffalo bore hc's but if I know I'm going to be in a known lion area I carry 158 gr starfires in my 357. I want something that will expand fast in the case of a thin skinned lion. I've never felt undergunned for either situation. Honestly though there's two dangerous situations where you're going to face a cat. One is if it's actually trying to hunt you in which case it won't matter if you have a .22 or a .454 you'll probably never even have a chance to draw the weapon before the cat makes a fatal wound on you. The second is crossing a cat on the trail in which case it usually takes little more than your voice to scare them off. I've come across a cat three times in my life and each time I was without a side arm but never even needed one. The cat always ran like a kitten when I proceeded towards it. A normal healthy lion will never charge you head on like a bear does. Like they always say it's the cat you don't see that kills you.

January 16, 2012, 08:05 PM
I don't agree with the size of the lions you speak of. I personally saw a lion in AZ that weighed at least 220 pounds, if not 250, crossing the road in front of us just before dawn (and legal shooting light) while going up Mount Ord. There was a lion that hung out at a spot on the Verde river that had footprints as big as soup plates, I tried calling it numerous times with an electronic caller, but no luck. Of course I also saw a lot of smaller prints in the 14 years I hunted there, the average lion probably goes around 100-140 pounds but there are some really BIG ones out there. One weekend I went to San Francisco to visit some friends of my my then girlfriend, they took us to a park well within city limits, and I saw some humongous lion prints there. They did not believe me it was a lion, "must be somebody's dog" the city slicker sneered at me.

Art Eatman
January 16, 2012, 08:39 PM
In the FWIW department: I put my clenched fist down in a big male's paw print, and there was about an inch of clearance all the way around my fist. So, I guess the lion at maybe 130 pounds or in that ballpark had a paw about 5.5 to 6 inches wide.

January 16, 2012, 10:49 PM
I knew a guy from work who got a guide with dogs and shot an old one out of a tree (and actually thought he was a real hunter). In any case it weighed over 200 lbs. and most of it's teeth were gone. I saw the mount. It was huge and it made the record book. What it really weighed I can't say but it looked like it "could" weigh 200 lbs.

Art Eatman
January 17, 2012, 08:01 AM
The trouble with such stories is that a lion whose teeth are gone should be gaunt and emaciated, and way below normal in weight. (Happens to old deer, as well.)

Irish B
January 17, 2012, 05:22 PM
250 lbs is the size of the biggest fattest most rare lions. Maybe one in 5000 are above 200 lbs. Like I said everyone is positively sure the big lion they saw was well over 200 lbs when in reality it's usually not more than 150 at the most.

January 17, 2012, 05:38 PM
Biggest one I've ever personaly seen caught in Wyoming was 165 pounds.