Trailing a female lion in heat.

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Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby Chris Todd » Fri May 11, 2012 3:43 pm

This past week I was working an area trying to catch a big tom lion. But instead of getting after him I ended up trailing a female 3 out of 4 days. I ended up finnally catching her in a hole in a large rock pile the last day. The thing that made this female so interesting is that the hounds struck her in the same spot each day. And at this spot there were all kinds of scatches from this tom I was trying to catch. I had trailed females before that I thought were trying to find a tom to breed them. But this female made it real obvious. She was following this toms travel routes all over the country. The only reason the hounds didnt catch her sooner is that she would just out travel them. Every day I was trailing her past noon, when it would get to hot for the dogs to travel any more. The thing about this lions track is that dogs could trail her like they were looking at her. Hour after hour. The main reason for me posting this little story is to ask guys if they have had similar experiences. And if you think that a female in heat like this leaves that much more scent. Makingit that much easier for a tom to find her,and hounds to trail her. In 35-years of lion hunting here in Arizona, I have only seen females act this way a handful of times.
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby Brent Sinclair » Fri May 11, 2012 8:51 pm

I've had it happen several times.
I think scent play a huge factor in whos who and where each lion territory boundry is.
I do breeding females put off way more scent than other lions.
If a female is in heat and a tom is with her chances are you'll end up with the female treed more times than you will the tom...at least that has been my experience.
However, last winter I found a female track and saw where she had rolled around in the snow so I figured she was in heat by the way she acted...I kept checking the area everyday for 3 days and no other tracks other than hers till day 4, then I found a good tom headed into the area.
On day 5 I walked the tom track as the wind was over 50 mph so the only time we could find it was in the timber .
Following the tom track I found where the female had returned to what looked like the remains of a 40 lb kitten, it had been eaten with only the tail and a small amount of hair remaining , I assume killed by this tom I was following .. that tom went right to the same location where the female was with the dead kitten?
I turned out on the tom and was not real hopeful to get him treed before the female, they were traveling together and if we treed the female I could sort through things if we did and get the hounds back on the tom .
Several times we came across where the tom had bred the female,rolling around in the snow....4 hours later when we got to the tree, we had the tom..
I think because they were side by side we just got lucky and they treed him.
On most other hunts the female is sitting in the tree and the day is pretty much gone with the tom makin a get away as it is too late in the day to go on his track.
That tom knew the female was in heat as his track never viered at all over the 2 miles I walked it right to where she was with that dead kitten.
DID HE KILL THE KITTEN KNOWING THE FEMALE WOULD COME BACK IN TO ESTRUS?
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby Chris Todd » Sat May 12, 2012 1:02 am

Brent thats some good info. I am always interested in learning more about lions,even after 35-years. I got after a female one day in the snow that trailed a tom a good 8-miles before the hounds caught up to her. She was right on his scratches at every turn. All the scratches I saw where made before the snow,but she stuck right on his track mile after mile. At times on this track I would think that I had to be trailing a small tom. Only after the hounds treed her was I sure. I came back the next day and treed the tom. The hounds struck his track not over a mile from where they treed the female.
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby Mike Leonard » Sat May 12, 2012 11:10 am

Great thread Chris!

I have observed this quite a few times over the years and just like you I usually end up treeing the female first. I have watched those females follow those scrape lines when hunting a tom and they will pee on them and freshen them up and those dogs will leave there like their tails are on fire. Now I have observed those females in the fresh snow also making mock scrapes actually just using front paws to peal back a tom's old scrape and if you don't look close you will swear that tom is traveling with her or has been there again.

This is just another reason why old Dale Lee said to hunt lions in a country that doesn't have communication lines ( scapes) is just a crap shoot but if you know them travel routes and scrapes and if you are patient you will get a lion if there are still around. they may be pretty solitary a lot of the time but trust me they communicate and check on the local gossip.
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby Brent Sinclair » Sat May 12, 2012 12:55 pm

Mike
That word patient, I believe is the key.
Seeing what the collar project showed for movement up here I know now I made alot of miles that were just turning wheels...and yet I covered ground on foot trying to catch a tom and should have saved my time as he was miles ahead.


Some of the fellas up in this area might remember a fella named Benny McBee..
I was sitting in camp beside a fire drinkin a cup of coffee along the Canol Road in the Yukon one June evening on our way into sheep camp on the Keele River, NWT.
A truck pulled into where we had the horses and camp and a fella came over and sat down , never introduced himself but I knew who he was from stories I had heard in the past.
He fit the discription and there was no misteakin him.
No one had a hat like Benny.
In short time he figured out who I was and that was all he needed to start into story telling about killin lions and runnin hounds...before long Benny was on all fours, coffee cup still in hand imitating his one ol dog treein a lion....he was bawlin and puttin his hands on a big tree like an ol vetran lion hound, I can still see it and have to laugh.
Benny was somewhat of a haywire individual and hard on hounds, but would keep after a lion till he killed it...that could be weeks but he would rarely give up from what I was told.
He told me never kill a female, she WILL at some point in time come into heat and show you where that big Ol tom is at by coaxing him into her territory.
Just keep her in your sights and you'll get the tom.
She'll make scrapes , fallow her travel route and rub on every tree she thinks will help intice a tom to come callin on her.
I was still wet behind the ears and lion huntin was new to me so I was willing to listen and believe anything another lion hunter told me.
Haywire as he was, that bit of advice has cost many tom lions their hide.
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby Mike Leonard » Sat May 12, 2012 2:42 pm

Brent,

Love that story and bet he was a character. LOL! Haywire maybe but lots of old boys that spent the bulk of their time in the lonely hills were considered haywire in faact the Dean of all lion hunters Ben Lilly was considered to be insane by many. These fellows however thru observance and trial and error without the aid of modern technology or mechanized mobilization were extreemly terminal hunters.

I just wish more hunters and when I say more hunters I don't just mean the novice hunters but I categorize any and all Outfitters included would see the error of their ways when they kill female lions. Oh it's just one female and I really need to cash this hunters check to buy new tires or such. well you may get new tires this year but you will wear them out next year trying to find a lion to trail because when you kill a mature female you are impacting a minumum of 3 lions and usually several more on top of that and you also lose your tom magnet. I really don't think most lion hunters understand how far a tom lion travels. Oh sure you may say he went 10- miles in a single night but that is not what I am talking about if he gets a notion and they always get a notion when they are adults and trophy sized they will just pack up and quit the country. Oh sure they are likley to come back thru but when? No real theory that works becasue every lion is different but if comes thru and the girls have left the beach trust me he will kiss your hunting territory good bye for a long time and maybe ever. If you are satisfied to kill a few females and sub adult toms you can get by for a year or two if you are in good lion habitat but the day of reckoning will come and you will have a pond that is fished out. If you have 2 or 3 other hunters in the same area doing the same thing it expidites the process. I know some hunters who have hunted for many years and have never taken any true trophy sized tom lions off a real lion hunt. Oh once in awhile they drive enough miles on fresh snow and lightning will strike but anybody can catch those kind.


In our state female mortality is very high not only because of sport hunting but also depredation kills. Most of these depredation kills are never recorded regardless of what you are led to beleive. so here you already have a lot of females killed and stock killers must be dealt with regardless of the gender but you add up a bunch of females killed for sport on top of that and your tires are really going to get wore out trying to find a trophy lion.
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby slowandeasy » Sat May 12, 2012 3:24 pm

mike, i think what ya said is 100% correct. but i don't think you will ever get it through the thick sculls of those that still think they are going to get rich off hounds and wild game. but i guess it never hurts to point out the truth. take care!
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby hunt14 » Sat May 12, 2012 5:17 pm

Good thread guys! I have learned a thing or two by reading it. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby Shorty » Sat May 12, 2012 6:30 pm

Absolutely Hunt14. It's treads like this that I just like to shut up and read. Sometimes I read them over again just to make sure I'm not missing something. Thanks Chris for starting this on. Keep it coming guys I'm all ears.
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby wanapasaki » Sat May 12, 2012 7:22 pm

she was keeping you away from her cubs lol
Get'em up there boys!
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby Chris Todd » Sat May 12, 2012 7:43 pm

Brent,Mike I like the stuff on saving females and how they attract toms. A few years ago I was scouting for a couple up coming hunts and treed a real nice tom close to camp. So my first hunter was due in camp in about a week. So I figuered I had a good spot to bring him. Well my client was a tough going son of a gun from Texas that was in his early 80s. We hunted 6-days and had trailed alot on this tom but hadnt caught him. On the seventh day we treed a nice female lion. My client wanted to kill her, and after looking her over good to make sure she wasnt nursing kittens I told him to go ahead and take her.
Now in this area this tom had scratches under every tree before we killed this female. As far as I could tell the area around camp was as far west as he was coming. He was spending alot of his time around a couple big mountains to the east of us about 5-6 miles. Well anyway my next hunter came in and there was no new sign of this tom around camp. It was like he knew we had killed this female. I know that is not possible. What I think happened was one of two things. He either came through and could not find any sign of this female. Or he had bred the female and started using other parts of his territory. But either way I do believe the female that we killed was the reason he spent so much time in this area to begin with.
I didnt get this second hunter a lion. But the next guy that came got this nice tom. What we did was move camp to the east around the two large mountains he seem to like.
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby Brent Sinclair » Sat May 12, 2012 9:37 pm

Chris
Mike said it pretty well earlier...if the girls left the beach I'm sure that sand has little interest if your lookin for a date so your not hangin around long, most likely your off to find out where they got to.
If you think about it, a lions not alot different than a human in many ways.
When you got girls on your mind you'll drive miles to get to town for the weekend if thats where you think the action is.
But, if the rancher next door has a good lookin daughter and you know shes home and you've crossed paths before, your likely to save that long drive and saddle up then ride across the river to see what shes up to.
If you get there and she's headed into town herself or has a boyfriend that showed up and they've gone somewhere while you were puttin in a couple long weeks calvin cows, chances are your going to look somewhere else and maybe forget about that girl on the neighorin ranch for awhile...
At some point later on you may decide to see if she dumped that knuckle head she was courtin and saddle up again next time the thought enters your mind and take a ride across the creek again to see if she's home again.

Your tom had no idea you killed that female but it sure didn't take him long figurin out one of two things...that female had moved out to somewhere new for awhile, the reason he did not show is he may have found another female himself.
Your tom came back to see if she had returned.....the thing to remember is sometimes that won't happen though.
The tom gets killed or like Mike said just fallows his nose and finds a beach with more girls and is happy to stay with them.
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby Chris Todd » Sun May 13, 2012 1:19 am

Ill bore you guys with one more story of how a female lion can help you catch that big tom. This hunt took place a good dozen years ago. I had a client, and once again we were hunting country that I had seen a lot of tom sign in. It was the third day of a 10-day hunt and we struck a track early in the morning. I coudnt find a track, but I had a lot of confidence in the pack I was hunting. They trailed over a couple good size mountains, and down a long canyon to a good hiking trail. Well we came in behind the hounds on this trail I could see a female track, and we were on the right end of it. It was only the third day of the hunt, and I didnt want my hunter killing a female lion. But I am always up for a good lion chase. So I let the hounds keep after her. They went down the trail for about a mile. Then turned off going south really moving. When we got to where they turned off the trail there was a big tom track. So things got a lot more interesting real fast. The hounds continued south, and went through a real bad canyon where we couldnt follow on horses. We went way around the head of this canyon. The hounds had topped out on a mesa that was nothing but dirt and a few rocks here and there. When the hounds hit the top of this mesa we were able to gain on them. As we came up behind them I was looking close for tracks. Well when I finally saw the tracks good there were now three lions walking side by side. Two toms and this female. Aways out on this mesa was a dry water hole. When these lions reached the burm on this water hole, the fight was on. The ground was tore up, and there was hair everywhere. Well it took the hounds just a minute, and they found a track leaving headed east. After about a mile the dogs jumped a big tom out of a set of bluffs. Me and the client were standing on the edge of this rim, and when the lion came up he almost ran over us with the hounds right on his heals. He didnt go far and treed. The thing about this tom is he didnt look like he had been in a fight at all. But I had that female to thank for getting a nice tom caught for my hunter.
And now that was a pretty good pack of hounds I was hunting with too. So I guess alot of credit should always go to them. The leader of this pack was Annie. She was a hairy little english blue type female. That had alot of Goswick blood in her. She was super smart, and could really move a lion track in tough conditions.
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby Mike Leonard » Sun May 13, 2012 12:22 pm

Chris old buddy that kind of stuff will never bore me and I felt like I was right there with you on that one. LOL!

We had an old female that grew up and raised kittens every two years right close to town. there was a scenic little red stone canyon that ran along there and before long with urban sprawl houses began to crop up in there and soon a new high school as well. But deer and water were close by so she just got more covert but her tracks were still to be found and no hunting pressure there. To the horror of the local soccer moms however a giant tom lion would show up in that area about once every 60-90 days to check on the old gal. His tracks struck terror in the hearts of the locals. Several times I was called to see if I could catch him and eliminate the hazard. He had an odd track and it was pretty recognizable. Everytime I would be some days behind him when called, and he never hung around long if she wasn't receptive. One day I got a little break and had a skiff of snow to help out. I got on my gray gelding turned the dogs loose and away we went. Well he struck out in a pretty straight line and by noon we had covered 15 miles and I was trotting and loping to keep up with the dogs. The tom was in that swinging long trot and I had been told long ago by Wiley Carroll of Nevada that if you get on one in that gait it will be a cold day in hell if you catch up with him. He was right this lion crossed the state line at an angle and was 18 miles as the crow flies from where we started and I got a feeling we were no closer to him than when we started. A friend from the other side said he routinely saw this tom's tracks in the high country near timberline another 35 miles further on. So when them toms light a shuck and leave you better hope the red gods are with you and you are on the short end of the track.

Will he ever return? Oh for sure if he lives but when???????
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Re: Trailing a female lion in heat.

Postby Brent Sinclair » Mon May 14, 2012 2:09 am

This thread beats hell outa readin FullCry....nothin boring about it.
Back a couple years ago I had some clients in Zimbabwe, we were doin a leopard hunt with hounds in the Save Conservency.
It was early April and pretty thick cover along the banks of the Turgwe River where we were going to hunt.
They had been finding alot of sign from big leopard in the area and these cats were killin game on a regular basis close to camp.
The plan was to consintrate on these specific toms.
They were also havin trouble gettin them to come to baits for clients that were huntin from blinds.
On day one we found the track of a good mature male that had crossed the drift and was headed to the river not far off the opposite bank from our camp.
It looked like the track was made sometime early in the night, Nico decided to put a couple of his hounds on it to see if we could catch up to it before the heat of the morning made it tough for the hounds to fallow.
They worked that track on hard pan and through rocks and thick scrub for the better part of the morning and it seemed we were no closer than when we had started.
At the river the track just disapeared and the hounds were makin circles to no avail.
I was more than impressed with those hounds as every critter in the jungle had walked over that leopard track during the night and they stayed focused and never moved off it.
By now it was close to 12 pm and it had gotten hot...we were mulling over what we should do next when Guy our PH said he would make a small circle to see if he and a couple of the trackers could figure out where the cat had gone....it wasn't 5 minutes and they jumped the big leopard, it took off and ran smack into Whittall, they were less than 30 feet apart Whittall and that leopard just stood there eye to eye with one and other in a deep stare...that cat let out a deep throated buurrrrrrrrr and vanished.
The hounds heard it and exploded into a rage....12 hounds were put on the big cat and within a minute or two it was treed...
There is an entire story of what happened after that cat was treed.
This next hunt is were the scent of trailing a female in heat can be proven .
Four days later we got a call from the other Land Cruiser that they had found a big track and wanted us to come runnin.
The cat had crossed and his track in the sand of the road was clear in the lights of the Cruiser, the sun was still an hour from comming up and that ment we had the drop on this big spotted feline.
Nico and Woodley, Rick's PH worked the track to see if they could figure out which directon it was headed after it crossed the road, Woodley said he had heard the leopard call down by the river but Nico did not want to put a hound down till they had the maze of tracks figured out.
About 15 minutes had passed and Nico told us to put Sammy and April on the track, these were Nico's two lead hounds and he used them to line out a track before putting the faster hounds in once the leopard was on the move.
The hounds moved the track slow at first , Nico and the trackers were fallowing trying to find tracks as well....the pace picked up a bit and the hounds all at once were gone.
The hounds moved the track up the slope and were just about to go over when Nico yelled to catch them before they got over the top.
I thought he was nuts, The hounds were on this big toms track and he wanted them caught...I walked over to ask what he was thinking and he pointed down to a track and said they are on a female...I scratched my head for a second as the hounds were on the tom track a 100 yards from this one we were lookin at.
Then I heard Rick, the client ask why is all this hair scattered all over right here....I walked to where Rick was standing on the road and you could see where that tom had bred the female...the road was all torn up.
Those hounds were trying to figure out the tom track until they crossed where that female had left after the tom had bred her.
Nico figured something was not right ,the hounds were making to many circles for following a male that was either traveling or hunting, the tom was looking for the female....he caught the hounds because he knew if they got on the female chances of catching the tom that day were slim to none as we would have had to go and try to get the hounds back and with a leopard that is alot different than with amountain lion.

A few weeks later we did get a female bayed up in a hole in a Kojpi, we were on a big male and the female crossed his track , she may have been in heat as they took to her like a magnet, we never did get that big tom that year.
So I am a believer or trailing a female in heat your going to end up with her treed eneven if the tom is with her.
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