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huge bummer

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huge bummer

Postby Roosiebull » 04 23, 2017 •  [Post 1]

Thursday night my wife asked me what I was doing the next day, I told her "i'm going to get a quick limit of steelhead in the morning, then go kill a cougar in the evening" she laughed and said good luck.

at the river before daylight on Friday, and quickly went 4 for 7 by 8AM, got my first summer of the year (yum!) and killed a nice winter, go home and cut up the fish, had the collars and belly strips from the summer for a late breakfast...good morning, and good start to my impossible plan.

It was hot on Friday, first one of those this year, it was 68* at 3, so I waited until 4 to hit the woods. my plan was to go check a trail that lions use to cross a road, I have a trail cam on the down stream side along the river. I walked down there knowing last time I was there a few days ago, there were 2 cats that had crossed to that side. when I made it to the trail, there was a track, from the female, 2 days prior, so the Tom was still on my side most likely.

when they came over, the Tom was 2 days behind the female, so the time frame that day seemed like a coincidence, i'm going to stick to my plan, and go hunt the Tom.

I walked this mucky nasty, sloppy bottom about 3/4 of a mile to a timber ridge that the cats use a lot. I had a good place to call in there. as I walked up the ridge, I found a pretty fresh track, then a scrape, I was feeling good about this.

where I was calling is a cool spot, one of those perfect spots that gives me a vantage, plus gives the lion a comfortable route to the call, though in the dense timber, my vantage wasn't good, it was better than most spots I call. I crossed the little draw, and hid the call in the ferns on the ridge I expected a cat to come from, then crossed back and hunkered in by a rotten stump.

I started calling, first adult porcupine distress, it's a good, loud panicky sound...ran that for about 3 minutes and switched to whistles, after about 10 minutes I played a couple minutes of "wuff gruff" than adult cougar call (all rainshadow sounds) then back to whistles.

at about 20 minute mark I heard a small crash, then nothing, I kept looking, but quickly forgot about it...just another sound. At 25 minutes, I spot movement right above the call...Lion! it is about 10 ft from the call, slowly walking away from it, back up the steep ridge faced straight away from me, the cat was about 45 yds from me. it was in pretty thick salmon berry, I found it in my crosshairs and waited, when it got into the open, I put my crosshairs right behind the shoulder blades, center of back and shot.

the cat dumped, down and silent...I couldn't believe it! that was perfect, it worked out as good as it could!

the cat started rustling around in the bushes and growling, then fell down the hill a bit and hung up in the bushes...then it was up and trotting off...all I can think is NO WAY! I quickly chamber another round and try to thread another bullet through the trees as it was trotting off, and knew I missed that shot, the cat turned down hill towards a swamp and disappeared.

I was confident it didn't go far, I just put a 140 grain bullet at 2850fps through him, straight through the vitals, and likely put a big exit hole in the bottom of the chest.

I waited a half hour and walked over there. where he fell and was rolling around, I couldn't find any blood, so I decided to get on his trail, and it was easy to find where his tracks were. I followed them down to the hill, at the base of the hill, there is an old skid road...still no blood, I started walking down the skid road, nothing.

long story short, I looked for 2 hours that night, not a smear of blood...nothing, and they are near impossible to track with no blood. I went in first thing the next morning, found 2 tracks, that was it. I looked at every game trail both directions, then grid searched the whole area with my gps....nothing.

i'm sick about this, it's the second animal I have ever lost, and the first that I think died...I have no idea what went wrong, they bleed really good, and no blood anywhere, including on my pant legs completely baffles me. i'm going to set a cam in there tomorrow afternoon after sitting above that drainage for awhile looking and listening for birds, I would like to get closure in some form. a lot went right, but somehow the shot didn't, he shouldn't have made it anywhere with that shot, it was close, and I had a good steady shot.

regardless of what happened, I will never take that shot again, and i'm frustrated I didn't chamber another round right away, because I would have had another good, broadside shot, I just knew it was dead.

I have not been able to get my mind off of the scenario, and how things came to be (or didn't come to be)

I wish there was more to take away as a learning experience, I thought the shot angle was a done deal, though I should have chambered another round instinctively.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby wawhitey » 04 24, 2017 •  [Post 2]

Damn, same thing happened to a friend in nov 2015. He shot a deer, a lion jumped on his deer so he shot the lion. He said it dropped like it got hit by lightning, he was sure it was dead, then a few seconds later it came back to life and disappeared. We never did find it. Big draw so full of blowdowns and brush its all but impossible to navigate. A million hidey holes a cat couldve drug itself into to die, where the scavenger birds would never find it. Unfinished business is never good. The buck i shot 5 months ago and never found is still bothering me.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 04 24, 2017 •  [Post 3]

Very strange indeed. The no blood found is very odd. Wonder if the round touched an unseen branched and fragmented, only putting a shard into the cat that didn't exit?
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Roosiebull » 04 24, 2017 •  [Post 4]

WapitiTalk1 wrote:Very strange indeed. The no blood found is very odd. Wonder if the round touched an unseen branched and fragmented, only putting a shard into the cat that didn't exit?

something happened, i just don't know what. i do know bullets do weird things at close range sometimes, but still....so many hindsight things for me right now, things i could have done different, but at the time, i didn't question any of it, the shot wasn't rushed, i wasn't rattled in the least, cats are thin skinned and light boned...i would not have taken that shot on a bear, though i think 99 times out of 100 it would do the job.

i don't know if i got unlucky, and the bullet deflected, or if there was some unforeseen issue like you mentioned, there was lots of salmonberry around where the cat was, but i felt the bullets path was clear....i just don't know, i'm pretty bummed though.

i have put so much effort into that opportunity, and to mess up on the only easy part of that situation (the shot) makes me sick. i really hope i didn't sentence that cat to a long drawn out death, due to him being unable to hunt. we do have too many cats, but they are undeniably the coolest creature in our woods, and i don't want to be the cause of anything suffering.

i will keep you guys posted if i find anything.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Beendare » 04 24, 2017 •  [Post 5]

Its hard for me to get over stuff like that too. The no blood part is weird.

i've seen that happen too many times...now, I've learned my lesson, I keep shooting..... rifle or bow. I've had coyotes do that....one yote our guide in BC shot at 50 yds and blew his leg clean off right in the road, once that coyote got his wits he bailed off in the brush and we followed for 1/4 mile- gone!

My buddy shot a bull in Co U76 archery, I called right into his lap...layup 20 yd shot that was a little high....instead of running away...the bull ran right past us with my buddy just standing there watching ( I didn't want to shoot over him) I asked him why he didn't shoot again, "That bull is dead".....well the last time we saw that bull was on his track 1/2 mile away and he was 1/4 mile out in front of us...never did find him. I have seen way too many of these.....

I was hog hunting with a couple rifle guys a couple of weeks ago and one said he shot a hog many years go at 125yds with his 300 win mag that knocked the hog down. He was dashing over to it when it got up and started trotting away like nuthin happened. He made a lucky shot in the azz that slowed him for another killing shot. On autopsy, the first bullet mushroomed out in the thick shield and never penetrated the rib cage. Expanding bullet he will never use again and only uses penetrating partition bullets now.

I think if you hunt long enough, you will see some crazy stuff.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Wahpeton » 04 24, 2017 •  [Post 6]

That's the sort of thing that you'll replay in your mind for months and years to come.

I know I've hit replay in my mind on a couple lost animals that I can see every second of the lead up and the shot and my mind says "how did I not find that animal?"

Like you mentioned, you can only pray that the lion didn't suffer.

My thoughts are with you, it sucks.

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Re: huge bummer

Postby Roosiebull » 04 25, 2017 •  [Post 7]

Beendare wrote:Its hard for me to get over stuff like that too. The no blood part is weird.

i've seen that happen too many times...now, I've learned my lesson, I keep shooting..... rifle or bow. I've had coyotes do that....one yote our guide in BC shot at 50 yds and blew his leg clean off right in the road, once that coyote got his wits he bailed off in the brush and we followed for 1/4 mile- gone!

My buddy shot a bull in Co U76 archery, I called right into his lap...layup 20 yd shot that was a little high....instead of running away...the bull ran right past us with my buddy just standing there watching ( I didn't want to shoot over him) I asked him why he didn't shoot again, "That bull is dead".....well the last time we saw that bull was on his track 1/2 mile away and he was 1/4 mile out in front of us...never did find him. I have seen way too many of these.....

I was hog hunting with a couple rifle guys a couple of weeks ago and one said he shot a hog many years go at 125yds with his 300 win mag that knocked the hog down. He was dashing over to it when it got up and started trotting away like nuthin happened. He made a lucky shot in the azz that slowed him for another killing shot. On autopsy, the first bullet mushroomed out in the thick shield and never penetrated the rib cage. Expanding bullet he will never use again and only uses penetrating partition bullets now.

I think if you hunt long enough, you will see some crazy stuff.


yeah, I wish I had that one back, like I said, I would have had a second easy shot...instead, while that shot opportunity was fading away, I was working the action rather than shooting.

the shot angle I had, and the shot I took, there was no question it was a done deal....I should have known better.

I have had 2 coyotes like you describe, recovered both, one was this year, same rifle, and bullet, shot was maybe 5 yds, maybe 4? shot the coyote, bullet didn't enter the ribcage, shattered the shoulder and stopped, it didn't go far, but I did have to put another round in it. the other was a similar shot, but the leg stopped it, that one I had to follow through tangles of briars, vine maple, dog hair reprod and other brush, it made it to a little creek in the bottom, and crawled under a log...crazy how far that thing went, but it bled well the whole way. I cannot figure out why the cat didn't bleed at all, other than the entrance was in the top of his back, but there should have been blood left on the ferns and tall saw grass it went through...no sign of any scavenger birds yesterday, I sat above that bottom yesterday with a great vantage, then walked the bottom out again...I don't get it.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 04 25, 2017 •  [Post 8]

Just another one to add to list of "what in the heck happened".... I headed back to MT to hunt with my younger brother out of Kalispel quite a few years back. I was still actively in the Army and I could hunt MT as a resident even though stationed in WA. I didn't have a rifle at the time so I borrowed a REM 700 7MM REM MAG from an Army buddy and off I went to MT. Brother was working during the week so I went out a couple of times solo before the weekend. First day out, I stopped at an open spot up in the sticks and put a target out about 100 yards and shot the 7MM maybe three times. It was hitting a few inches high at 100 yards and I had a pretty decent group so good to go, right? Hunted the next day (FRI) and no luck. SAT found Justin and I heading towards Libby to a few spots I had got into both elk and deer before. After walking in on a long, high, gated road and hunting a 1/2 day with my brother, we returned to the truck and were heading down the mountain road to hit another spot I knew about for an afternoon/evening hunt. Out my window, maybe 70 yards above the road, here come several cows with a raghorn bull in tow! Of course I stepped out of the truck and got off the road before I shot :D to be legal. BOOM "dead elk" I said to my brother who's jaw was hanging low as I/we just filled his freezer with an elk above the road, less than 100 yards. I didn't see the elk drop but "knew" he was dead from my shot placement and chip shot distance (wasn't beyond 65-70 yards). After a few minutes, we grabbed our packs with game bags, field dressing gear, and headed up the cut bank. No elk...and not a drop of blood anywhere in the few inches of snow. A guy came over the ridge after he'd heard the shot (he'd been on the small herd for quite a while) and jumped in to help find any sign of a hit.... nothing. We drove back down to the lowlands and I decided to stop in an opening with a backstop and shoot the rifle a few times. Well, it seems like the rifle was shooting "all over" the place to include hitting a target off and on. Called my dad that night and he said the optics in the scope were probably jacked up. After returning to WA, my buddy sent that scope back into Redfield and it seems like the reticle inside was loose and floated/moved every few shots. Not a good time on the mountain that day.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Roosiebull » 04 25, 2017 •  [Post 9]

yeah, I will be shooting my rifle again before I head back out to get the next 200 calling sets out of the way for another opportunity :?

I shot it about 3 weeks ago, and then, and every time prior, it has been shooting sub MOA and zeroed perfect at 100yds, and I even shot it really close in, just to see where it impacted, knowing shots could be close calling for lions. I bought the rifle this winter, just for that purpose.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Beendare » 04 25, 2017 •  [Post 10]

One thing making it worse with blood trails is when those animals are blasting out of there......I hate that. A lion especially....a buddy that had been charged by a cat while rattling deer in NM said they measured 22' between bounds in the snow. [yeah, he drilled it [rifle] 10' from his indian guide]

You would have to hit a cat pretty good to get a decent blood trail.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Swede » 04 25, 2017 •  [Post 11]

I put an broadhead right through a very large cat a few years ago. It went down too, and just like yours it got up again. I never found it. I hit a buck this past November. The shot looked good to my brother and me. We looked tow days for it and never found it. We tracked that buck for over 1/4 mile. It finally broke the arrow shaft off and that was the end of the story as far as I could tell. It happens. As you said "huge bummer". You never forget these hunts. Never.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby pointysticks » 04 27, 2017 •  [Post 12]

cats hide and die. even a house cat would try.

my buddy put an arrow into a cougar here in CA. at 17 feet. the cat was crawling straight to him. right into the chest and the arrow went full length. he said the scream and somersault will haunt him forever. he called fish and game, and they put the dogs out and followed that cat. they never found it since it went up a cliffside, full of cracks.

the ranger told my friend cats hide and die. who knew?
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Re: huge bummer

Postby pointysticks » 04 27, 2017 •  [Post 13]

saddest part of the story? if my wife asked me what i was doing the next day, my answer is more likely.."yardwork or going to work" :D
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Roosiebull » 04 27, 2017 •  [Post 14]

yeah, that is certainly a possibility, coyotes do that too....from what I have seen with cats is they bleed a bunch with their thin hide, and short hair...I don't know how there wasn't any blood. i'm wondering if the bullet didn't deflect off of a vertebrae and exit in the backstrap (shot angle was the same as if you were in a tree stand shooting straight down) i'm going back to watch and listen here in a bit, and i'm going to set up 2 cams on the same tree, so I can get both angles of any cat that walks by, this tom hangs out in this area quite a bit, and the trail I am putting the cams on always has his scrapes on it.

shot my rifle last night, it's dead on, so it wasn't a weapon issue.

hope I can update this story soon some how.

I ranged it the other night, the shot was 37 yds.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Wahpeton » 04 27, 2017 •  [Post 15]

Eats at a guy to know what happened.

I commend you for trying to get to the bottom of it!
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Roosiebull » 04 27, 2017 •  [Post 16]

well, I got closure, noticed a couple buzzards circling low, and dove back into the swamp, after going in quick mud up to my crotch a couple times, and getting all cut up from saw grass, I found it. the shot was exactly as I thought, the bullet didn't exit, I was 11 feet from my gps track line, it had crossed a bunch of water, and the main creek, and was half way under a log. pretty bummed it was wasted, but I got the head to check in, measured it, and it's tagged....not a perfect outcome by far, but better than nothing, and took plenty away from this hunt.

this is what I was dealing with tracking....with zero blood.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Wahpeton » 04 27, 2017 •  [Post 17]

Nice to at least know what in the world happened, should sleep better!
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Re: huge bummer

Postby OregonTK » 04 28, 2017 •  [Post 18]

You did all you could to find it Mike, most the guys would have taken one look and shrugged their shoulders. Hope you get a tom here soon!
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Re: huge bummer

Postby pointysticks » 04 28, 2017 •  [Post 19]

how far did it get from the point of impact?
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Roosiebull » 04 28, 2017 •  [Post 20]

pointysticks wrote:how far did it get from the point of impact?

120-150 yds
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Re: huge bummer

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 04 28, 2017 •  [Post 21]

Nice hound dog work Mike. Glad you found it and was able to figure out what happened.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Beendare » 05 02, 2017 •  [Post 22]

Call me old fashioned...but I love happy endings- good find Roosie
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Grousewit » 05 07, 2017 •  [Post 23]

What caliber gun did u use? And what bullet? 140gr @ 2850 could be 260 or 7-08 and at 37 yds cannot believe did not pass thru a big cat.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Roosiebull » 05 07, 2017 •  [Post 24]

Kimber Hunter in 7mm 08, 140gr federal fusion....I have always had good luck with federal fusion on game, and that rifle really likes it.

when I get some time, and brass, i'm going to load up some partitions, and also want to try 120 barnes....if either of those shoot well, I will go that route, hoping the 120gr barnes shoot well...perfect lion and blacktail bullet @ 3000ish fps.

i'm surprised too...I wouldn't have taken that shot angle if there was any doubt...you live, you learn.

it looked like I hit one of the "wings" of a vertebrae, and being that close, the bullet probably splattered quite a bit, that's all I can figure. the entrance wound was pretty big, so it looks like there was radical bullet expansion fast. that is the reason I quit shooting hornady sst's, every rifle I have owned has liked them, but I have had poor penetration with them (still killed well in the couple situations I experienced that) and I have had them make a mess on close shots, I hate unnecessary meat loss.

i'm still relatively new to rifle hunting, bought my first on in 2010...lots to learn still, always trying to piece it together.

the next cat will go more smoothly....now I just need to create another opportunity. did one stand yesterday evening, but the wind was ripping, that doesn't help. cold calling lions isn't an activity for the easily discouraged :mrgreen:
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Wahpeton » 05 10, 2017 •  [Post 25]

If you can find a Nosler Partition that shoots good in your rifle, i would look really hard at that. Great Bullet!

It's a bullet that's hunting accurate at reasonable ranges and seals the deal on game.

I shoot 160 grain nosler partitions in all my 270 Winchester rifles and they perform well....HEAVY IS GOOD. They aren't as accurate as a ballistic tip bullet, but it's the difference between 1.5" group at 100 yards and 2.0" at 100 yards. I'm not a newfangled "long range" shooter and probably never will be. They are plenty accurate for what I consider an ethical rifle shot.

Just my 2 cents.
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Re: huge bummer

Postby Roosiebull » 05 10, 2017 •  [Post 26]

Wahpeton wrote:If you can find a Nosler Partition that shoots good in your rifle, i would look really hard at that. Great Bullet!

It's a bullet that's hunting accurate at reasonable ranges and seals the deal on game.

I shoot 160 grain nosler partitions in all my 270 Winchester rifles and they perform well....HEAVY IS GOOD. They aren't as accurate as a ballistic tip bullet, but it's the difference between 1.5" group at 100 yards and 2.0" at 100 yards. I'm not a newfangled "long range" shooter and probably never will be. They are plenty accurate for what I consider an ethical rifle shot.

Just my 2 cents.

I agree completely, I also really like partitions, but monolithic bullets aren't a bad option. I know 2"@100 yds is completely acceptable hunting accuracy, but I will not kid myself, I know the rifle has potential, I don't think I could settle with that, when it shoots factory ammo twice as good...I know it's not very practical thinking, but I know myself.

I bet 140 gr partitions will shoot well, I will see shortly. I like 160gr partitions in my 7 mag
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