Birthday Lion Hunt with My (JJ) Dad
I’ve been sitting full draw shaking and with my heart pounding out of my chest about to make a shot on a buck before but here I am walking up to the tree with a one hundred thirty pound lion staring down at me and all I’m experiencing is a weird silence of selective hearing and a view that was almost like tunnel vision. As weird as it was I guess will take it as a good thing. Watching the film of the hunt now, I realize it was sort of a chaotic scene, the four hounds running around yowling and jumping up on me knocking me down, my dad and our guide all trying to talk to me at once, all the while I’m freezing cause the temperature in the shade was unbelievably cold. But honestly I didn’t hear the hounds, I only heard my guide, Jim Lyons, when he suggested to move up the hill to get a better angle and brace my feet against a tree, when he asked which arrow I wanted from my quiver and when he told me where to aim on the lion.
Looking up twenty five feet up in the air you start thinking “How in the heck was I supposed to practice this shot?!” I’ve shot my bow until I’m blue in the face and never once had to take a shot this far up in the air. The week working up to the hunt I shot at Red Rock Archery with Gabe and Clyde and still how do you prepare for a beautifully dangerous creature and having to bring your bow up to a twenty five degree angle above you? I love my bow and had faith in it and myself that I could put it where it wanted. As I knocked my arrow, the guide’s youngest hound Tiny Tim was jumping up on me and in the snow I started sliding down the hill. With all the dogs around I was trying not to stick them with my broad head. I dug my foot down in the snow so it was supported against the tree to my right; I confirmed the placement of where to put my arrow with Jim and took a deep breath. Coming back to full draw, I just kept letting my bow travel up and up and up until I had the lion in my sites. Everything and everyone around me seemed to hold their breath; the cat didn’t make a sound the entire time. I released and hit exactly where I was wanting. As soon as the arrow hit, the cat jumped and no joke did what the only way to describe it as “flying squirreled” out of the tree. Arms, legs, everything sprawled out and in slow motion to me, landed a few feet away from me and took two huge bounds away from the tree with the hounds on her heels and collapsed fifteen feet away before the dogs could touch her. Making a shot like that helped spare the dogs from having to run up on a wounded, pissed off cat and possibly getting themselves killed. Jim thanked me for taking a perfect vital shot, he had lost dogs the previous year and for two of his hounds on this hunt, this was their first lion.
Walking over to her, with the dogs all around her, the biggest smile went across my face. For the last couple months, I had been praying about being able to have an opportunity at a lion and to let my arrow fly straight if I got that opportunity. I had been dreaming and thinking about the lion non-stop, I had taken the certification course this summer to prepare for this winter. Everything had fallen into place and I am greatly appreciative of it. After showing the lion to the guide and the landowner, Randy, they recognized the footprints of a lion that had been eating their livestock, eating their deer and sitting on the porches of the houses as the female I had taken. We discovered her top canines had been broken off in half and she had crack that ran vertically into the roof of her mouth, our theory and the DOW’s theory is that she got too brave and got kicked in the mouth by one of the landowner’s horses. Randy was very grateful to have that lion taken, she was getting too comfortable on his land. I had an amazing experience and I loved every minute of the hunt and being able to share it with my dad was the icing on the cake.