View Full Version : New Mexico Mountain Lion

Rich Lucibella
December 15, 2001, 12:19 PM
If y'all ever get the chance to hunt one of these cats, do so. The air is awful thin up there for sea level blood. It's cold and vertical. But the prize is well worth it.

December 15, 2001, 12:48 PM
I fired a couple of shots at one that was charging my friend while we were hunting and I agree they are impressive animals,and dangerous.How close where you to him,tell me the story

December 17, 2001, 12:23 AM
Bwana Rich,

I think you need a burly lad like myself to be your personal gunbearer. Gimme an address, and I'll send my resume. I'll even wear a funny hat like that if need be.


December 17, 2001, 02:09 AM
Nice cat, did you use hounds, call it in, or just spot and stalk? One day I'm gonna be successful and get one too. Or at least I keep saying that...

Rich Lucibella
December 17, 2001, 08:45 AM
We got lucky on this hunt. My Pack Boots had not arrived by the time i left and, despite a full day in Santa Fe prior to the hunt, I failed to come up with a pair except from WalMart. I'm not certain what was more uncomfortable: the seams on the cheap WM boots or the lack of insulation in my hiking boots. In any case, a long trek would have been painful.

Our guide, Richard Ley, hit on fresh tracks day three. They were so fresh, in fact, that we'd jumped the cat off a kill. The dogs were set loose and treed the animal within about 800 yards of the road.

When we caught up, the cat was about 20 yards up. I carried the 500 Linebaugh with Ashley Dot sights in a Lou Alessi Crossdraw holster and the DRC Custom 45-70.

Due to the fact that the dogs kept breaking free of their tethers and the cat looked like it might bolt, Richard called for a spine shot thru the throat. This requires that I kneel basically under the animal. The shooting was barely marginal, I'm afraid to say. The short hike at high altitude, the vertical shooting angle and dumb lack of practice with the 500 Linebaugh all took there toll.

First shot was a complete miss! Follow up went 2" left of center and the cat dropped, catching the trunk and hanging. Third shot was taken as it swung on the tree and blew through the top of the shoulder. The cat dropped and bolted uphill.

The best shot was a 30 yard running TX Heart shot that, again, went left of center (by only an inch). Unfortunately, the hard cast 400+ grainer blew clean thru and exited in front of the left rear leg, without impacting bone.

The cat made it to another tree about 100 yards off. When we hustled up, it was lying on its side and, apparently, expiring. (Head kept lolling and eyes kept closing.) This is when it gets dangerous. If the cat rolled out of the tree, almost dead, the dogs would go for it and, chances are, it would take a couple of them (or us) out.

I put a 430 grain 45-70 through the chest and the cat dropped. Then it got up and started running! Again! It made it about 50 yards before dropping.

It's a perfect 125lb Tom. Teeth are pristine; coat is unmarred except for 6 entry/exits of various sizes! Thank God for Taxidermists!

All in all, the hunt was successful. But, as I said, the shooting was not very good. Next time.....PRACTICE!

Kirk Keller
December 17, 2001, 10:52 AM
What part of NM were you in? I'm a NM native and would love to know where you bagged this beauty. I usually hunt the Jic and areas around Lindrith.

Rich Lucibella
December 17, 2001, 01:43 PM
We were about 40 miles outside of Santa Fe in Pecos. National Forest area.

December 17, 2001, 07:50 PM
Thats a pretty big gun to be shooting a cat with.

Covert Mission
December 17, 2001, 08:01 PM
coat is unmarred except for 6 entry/exits of various sizes!

Can you say "swiss cheese"? ;)

Next time take your .357 or .41/.44 mag (or even a 10mm Glock)... will work beautifully on a thin-skinned cougar at 20yds, and you won't flinch.

Rich Lucibella
December 17, 2001, 09:12 PM
I pride myself on being about the most recoil-insensitive man on the planet. This comes only second to my pride in honest reporting of my shooting. Fact of the matter is that I didn't flinch....I clean missed! :(

The 10mm Delta Elite was in the truck. Yup, it'd done the job, too. But I've never believed you could kill game too quickly....or too dead. Hides should be the taxidermist's problem; not the hunter's. ;)

Covert Mission
December 17, 2001, 09:43 PM
Yer a good sport, Rich L.

I confess that some of my rifle shots this year weren't the greatest... though they were at 250 yards +- (maybe it's the +- part... estimating range, that's the problem!). :D

Jeff, CA
December 18, 2001, 04:03 PM
Being a NM native myself, I feel I must set the record straight: the air there is perfect. YOUR air is too thick, humid and heavy.

And it's not "cold", it's "crisp".


December 19, 2001, 06:33 AM
Thanks for the story Rich - makes me want to get back up in the hill chasin after that "hound music!" :D

I'd bet you would have laughed before this hunt at anyone that would have said you would cleanly miss a full grown lion who was sitting there just looking at you at the range of 20 yards. Such is the Odyssey! Congrats again.

December 19, 2001, 11:57 PM
What'd I tell ya great time huh?
Well it was an experience to remember anyway. Hey looking forward to hunting hogs with ya real soon! In any case I'm going to take the liberty of putting our web address up if any of you guys & gals want to book this year mention the firing line and recieve 10% off on your lion hunt. Just tell Ricard (Ley) that Greg told you that's the deal.

Mention Rich missing his first shot and receive a sample O genuine Lion hound scat yours at no additional fee.

Great lion hunting with one of the countries most experienced cat hunters. (ok so he needs to work on his people skills):) :)
But we sure can get them cats eh!!


December 20, 2001, 12:11 AM
Oh and just to set the record straight on Riches shooting.

I saw Rich shoot a coyote in low light running full bore right up the old hinney. I watched him shoot a nice hog grave yard dead from a semi-moving vehical. A whole bunch of jack rabbits several prarrie dogs and a rock or two all in one day with his open sighted 45-70 and I've got to tell you boys Luchi don't flinch.

I shot both of his .50's (BMG & Linebaugh) :eek: His .45-70 with some kind of astronaumical hot ammunition his.416 and even his light rifle a .338 that weighs about 2lbs or something. Do we see a trend here? The boy likes big stuff he shoots it alot and he's damn good with all of it.

Rich since your so modest I just though I'd do a little braging for you.;)

Rich Lucibella
December 20, 2001, 08:55 AM
Hey Greg-
I apologize. I really should have given Richard the plug he deserves:
Richard Ley is a hunter's hunter...he reminds one of days when Men were Men and Giants Walked the Earth. Other than being rather monosyllabic in responding to dumb questions, his "people skills" are just fine. He knows the mountains up there and is as patient as Job. He's also tough as nails.

Guiding in the mountains is more than just looking for track....we were mostly in the truck on snow and ice covered trails, often with sheer drops on one side. Just negotiating the trail and knowing where you can and can't go is one helluva feat.

Finally, there's the dogs. I've only hunted with dogs twice before, but I can't imagine better efficiency than I saw from Richards canines. I intend to hunt with him again next year....bear. (But I'll practice!)

[Borrowing a line from Joni Mitchell):
"Last time I saw Richard".....he had just finished skinning that cat on his kitchen floor and was packing the meat into the freezer for next week's dinner. I seriously doubt he bothers to cook it!

As for Greg's observation of my shooting: He's also seen me miss a frontal shot on a stationary hog, the size of a CJ7, at 20 paces...I then dropped the rifle and stared at it as that piggie sauntered off with a snort! Good days; Bad days....Good shoots; Bad Shoots. My only goal: get a little better every season.

Check Richard out at http://www.huntingwesternusa.com Don't let the Deliverance banjo music scare you....unless Greg's along for the ride! In that case: Be Afraid....Be Very Afraid! :D

December 20, 2001, 01:56 PM

A wonderful hunt and a wonderful trophy. Thanks for sharing.

Happy holidays -- Roy

December 20, 2001, 03:50 PM
Nice Kitty Rich.. very nice.

I've never been one for hunting predators, but wow is that a great trophy.

December 21, 2001, 09:21 PM
No need to worry they sent me to sensitivity classes I've learned to always ask before I touch now. But my banjo playing has really improved since our last outting.;)

December 23, 2001, 07:50 AM
Can someone here tell me whats so diffucult about shooting that big cat 30 feet up in a tree?

Is this something to be considered as "sporting"?

No Flame intended, but i've seen coyotes hunted with dogs, and considered those that do pretty lame.

I've always looked at hunting as something that requires effort, i already have a huge advantage with the hi-powered rifle i use. Spotting & stalking are part of the game, if not, just ain't worth the time or effort.


Rich Lucibella
December 23, 2001, 08:49 AM
Good question...one that I asked myself often before I started hunting. Other than common garden variety deer, hogs, etc most of us simply do not have the knowledge to track a specific game animal over miles of varied terrain.

In fact, let's face it...any time we use a guide, we're really not the "hunter"....we're the shooter. I find nothing wrong with this, so long as I continue to learn a bit of field craft with each outing and so long as I keep it in perspective. I daresay that anyone who goes to Africa and uses a PH to track, spot and identify targets has a lot of gall claiming himself to be a great "hunter".

When it comes to predators, our practical options are limited to baiting and blinds, calling or dogs. (If you ever decide to hunt lion or leopard in Africa, I assure you you'll be baiting...hardly the same as stalking Buff, but that's the way it is.) In this case we used dogs and the skill in training them is every bit as impressive as tracking personally. Again, I didn't train the dogs, so I'm just the shooter. But it's no less impressive to watch them work. (Ever hunted quail with dogs? It's an absolute amazing thing to watch them work.)

As for personal effort, I'd invite you to spend a day with Richard Ley. Get up there at 8,000 plus feet and start chasing those dogs up sheer cliffs with full pack and weapon in 17 degree temps. Believe me, it's work.

Finally, we have the bigger picture. When we crossed and identified the fresh tracks (without dogs), we found we'd jumped the lion off a two day old deer kill. There was about 100 yards of blood leading up to the kill...the deer went down hard. Now that's no justification for shooting the cat, but it does remind us that the Circle is a pretty violent and natural one. To step into it for a few days causes me no conscience problems. The fact that the meat is not wasted makes it even more palatable. (pardon the pun)

I'm not particularly impressed with my shoot on this one, but I am impressed with that cat. The work involved was certainly greater than sitting in a deer blind.

Point Blank
December 23, 2001, 09:02 AM
Well said:p . Like it takes great skill to sit in a deer blind looking over a corn field waiting on Rudolph, put the cross on him while he is chewing his cud, and squeeze the trigger!!:rolleyes:

December 23, 2001, 09:25 AM
Take it easy...

Don't worry too much about the cats, there are plenty of them.
A pro is not gonna' hunt out his glory hole and put himself outta business. Rich is indeed, completing the circle and it's really not done often enough to hurt the environment. The thing here is that there are many folks that still live off the land and paying for the opportunity to hunt with these guys is great for the people that actually live in the mountains. Since 911, there has been a huge drop in the local economies up here and a hunter coming in to share the game is certainly welcome. We have a responsibility to the game as well...the deer population is running high. That's why these areas are sustaining the big cats. Plenty of food. If the hunters don't come in and take the game, the predators will eventually get plenty fat and numerous. While there's nothing wrong with that...at all, it can be a bit crowded at times. We certainly don't want anyone to come in and start "regulating" the game for its' own good. I'd much prefer to see hunters take some and leave the rest, to self-regulate themselves and the herds...

Congratulations on the hunt and finding a good hunter to guide you. It certainly is better for everyone that a pro is involved with this kind of game. It doesn't take many "incidents" with humans getting hurt, before someone steps in to take "care" of us...

December 23, 2001, 10:48 AM
Mr. Lucibella, thank you for taking the time to respond to my remarks about your hunting trip.

Excuse me if my remarks seemed disparaging, that was not my intent sir. After reading my post later i see that it could have been construed in that manner. Also, i've never hunted deer and have no desire to.

I don't think i could shoot such an animal, but to be in those mountains and see and feel nature at that level would be an awesome deal!!

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to you and your family, & thanks for having the greatest firearms site on the internet!


Rich Lucibella
December 24, 2001, 09:36 AM
No harm; no foul. I didn't see your comments as disparaging at all. Fact is, as I said, yours is the same thought process I've had. We just came to different decisions. All that's required at that point is to respect each others' choice...which I think we do.

Merry Christmas-

Art Eatman
December 24, 2001, 11:54 AM
The thing to always keep in mind is that we as mostly "sport" hunters can only hunt if there is a surplus of game animals. Here, I'm using the term "surplus" to mean that the total population is greater than needed for species survival. It can also be used with respect to the carrying capacity of the land.

An Audubon Society birder can get a huge thrill from just seeing one of a few remaining members of an endangered species. The hunter has a far more difficult responsibility, in that he must ensure species survival so that the surplus exists.

Without assigning any moral value, remember that the hunter and the gardener are do-it-yourselfers in acquiring food. Otherwise, we're just hiring others to do our scut work for us. Food is food is food: How it's acquired is an individual matter.

And a Ho, ho, ho! to all,

:), Art

cuerno de chivo
December 24, 2001, 01:00 PM
"No Flame intended, but i've seen coyotes hunted with dogs, and considered those that do pretty lame. "

I think that it's neater than hell myself and consider opponents to it lame.

December 24, 2001, 03:49 PM
We have had guys that've hunted sheep all over the world tell us that hunting bear or lion off of dogs was the most physically challeneging thing they've ever done. Many times we'll hunt all day and get so far from the trucks or the horses that we'll have to siwash out for the night with just what you've got with you. Dog hunting is not as it seems and I'd invite any disbelievers to try it before they cast judgement on this unique and difficult form of hunting.
I've heard many statements as to the negatives of dog hunting before a hunt. I've yet to have had anyone scoff at it after a few days in the field with a pack of hounds.

Byron Quick
January 1, 2002, 10:19 AM
Reckon it depends on where you have your deer stand. I've often heard that deer don't look up...the deer look right at you in the stand where I hunt. I've watched deer move past my stand through a broomsage field 70 yards in front of me...see them fine through the binoculars. Take the binoculars away and...what deer?

There's a buck that walks by me every year several times...five minutes before legal time. Leaves his sheds in front of my stand in February. I personally don't find the scoped rifle to be that much of an advantage. Where I hunt it's more of an equalizer.

Art Eatman
January 1, 2002, 01:37 PM
"The way I do it is the only way to do it!" is a common human trait. It holds in hunting as well as in music, politics or religion.


January 2, 2002, 11:32 AM
We were about 40 miles outside of Santa Fe in Pecos. National Forest area. Ah Pecos! Absolutely my favorite backpacking location, bar none. Others come close, but I LOVE the Pecos Wilderness. I have been to both the Pecos Wilderness and Philmont Scout Ranch (same basic mountain range) and I had no idea you could hunt there. I always thought the National Forrest was a protected area. No? Done a little fly-fishing in some of the streams and that was nice, but to think they have hunting as well! Wow, another reason to go back. As soon as I can get an Appalachian Trail under my belt I will.

Rich Lucibella
January 2, 2002, 01:52 PM
To my knowledge all National Forest is available for hunting...it's the National (and State) Parks that tend to be taboo.

January 2, 2002, 04:07 PM
So the distinction is “Parks” vs. “Forrest”? I had no idea there was any difference between them. Been in both of them many times and never picked up on it; don’t I feel sheepish.