WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The story, the myth, that does not die

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The story, the myth, that does not die


“Teen Hunter Kills Mountain Lion” read the headline on the article in the New York Outdoor News.

It did not happen in New York, though, it took place in Iowa.

It seems that a 17-year old was hunting deer about a half-mile west of the town of Akron when he encountered the mountain lion. According to the article, the lion is believed to be the sixth killed in Iowa in recent history. Five previous kills were reported to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The DNR says there were three “confirmed” mountain lion sightings in Iowa in 2017. They are not listed as furbearers and have no protected status in Iowa.

Here we go again! I’ve received about a half dozen reports of mountain lion sightings in the past couple of years. And the killing of that mountain lion that traveled all the way from South Dakota to Connecticut to get itself killed on one of our many highways in about a week within our borders doesn’t turn off the believers, and believe me, they are many.

Over the years, I have received quite a few reports of mountain lions here in Connecticut. The first ones came to me when I was a green-as-grass newbie outdoor communicator and, I have to admit, the guy did hook me. I finally got I touch with him and he went on to tell me that there was a small population of mountain lions here in Connecticut and he knew where they called home.

He said he would not reveal their location because folks would flock to the area and scare them off. I figured that source to be a hoax, just like so many that I still receive to this day. Most of the reported mountain lion sightings turn out to be bobcats.

I was shooting my bow at an archery range in Prospect one evening and the talk turned to mountain lions. One of the bowhunters on the range said, “There was a dead mountain lion hit by a vehicle the other afternoon over on Route 8.”

I asked him for a little more information or a photo and he said, “I could not get a photo because they (the DEEP) had it covered with a tarp.”

When I asked him why they would cover the dead mountain lion with a tarp, he explained, “The DEEP has released mountain lions back into Connecticut. They have done this to help take down the deer population. Also, they don’t want anyone to know about the imported mountain lions.”

I had to choke back a laugh at the answer, but the guy had it on good authority from someone he knew in the DEEP. Of course, when I asked him for a name he said he could not reveal the source of the information. As for the DEEP importing mountain lions to take out the deer with the hunting seasons we have would be akin to a NASCAR race without motors in the vehicles.

I have had close, personal friends come to me with accounts of mountain lion sightings here in Connecticut and the air sometimes gets pretty heavy because of my not believing their accounts. Actually, it is NOT that I disbelieve that they saw SOMETHING, just that the SOMETHING was not a mountain lion.

Many times in the instant a wild critter is sighted, the mind tries to categorize what it was and the sighting was so fleet, definite confirmation is not possible.

Many years ago, in the Village of South Meriden, it was said that one or some of the gang had seen a mountain lion run across the “Dump Road” that ran alongside the airport and the then city dump. This was down in the area of the old Bartlett sawmill, making the sighting even more credible.

The next feline sighting — and this one was confirmed a few times — was a bobcat up on the Godek Farm. One night I saw the bobcat and, knowing what I know about them now, it was rather small, but it was a bobcat.

After a while, the talk of a mountain lion simply disappeared.

In my many years in the outdoors I have heard a mountain lion scream (for want of a better word) one time in Utah while on an elk hunt. It was as eerie as all hell.

And then Edna and I “thought” we heard one up in the Maine mountains near the Canadian border. While we were unable to confirm it as such, we were told about a couple of recent sightings by reliable sources. One was a float plane bringing some sports into Hardscrabble Lodge up in the Jackman area. The pilot pointed out a mountain lion laying on a ledge in the mountains. When they turned around for another look, the big cat simply walked off into the undercover.

One of the guides at the lodge also ran a bear baiting/hunting business up on the Maine border with Canada. He named all of the various bear stands so the sports could not get them mixed up. One evening one of the sports was acting a bit edgy and the guide asked him what was up even though he thought he knew the answer.

The hunter finally told the guide that he thought he saw a mountain lion and the guide assured him that he probably did. He asked the hunter, “What’s the name of your stand?” The hunter replied, “Catamount!” The guide then told the hunter that is another name for mountain lion and that is why that stand got its name.

Here’s a couple of facts. The mountain lion does not migrate, but sometimes moves great distances looking for new territory. Mountain lions have huge appetites and, when searching for food, they may cover 10 to 20 miles. Deer are a favorite of the mountain lion (oh, that’s why the DEEP imports them) and a mountain lion needs one to three deer a week.

So, let’s put a bit of common sense here to work. We already know that the only “CONFIRMED” mountain lion killed in Connecticut was the one that traveled all the way from South Dakota to get here and then only lasted a couple of days before getting whacked while crossing a Connecticut highway.

This brings up another piece of common sense. On our Connecticut highways, because traffic is so heavy, we have “confirmed kills” of deer, coyotes, fisher cats, bo cats, fox, black bear, and moose, yet until the Dakota cat crossed a Connecticut highway there was never a “confirmed” mountain lion fatality on any of our highways.

If there were any eastern cougars running around, I guarantee you that more than the Dakota cat would have met their end on our busy Connecticut highways. It pains me something awful to be the one that has to tell you that the eastern cougar (a.k.a. mountain lion) here in Connecticut is EXTINCT!

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.