Visit the BBX shop to get your Bad Boys Xtreme t-shirt. Limited Quantities!
We are very proud to partner with Bear Archery, Trophy Ridge Rocket Broadheads and for our first season WildTV. We work hard for this sponsorship important since we tried some Bear bows 2 years ago, we knew that this company had the products that could meet our demands for EXTREME hunting!
Here are some retailers Bear the Abitibi region:
For the second consecutive year, Bad Boys Xtreme will be sponsored by Carbon Express & Gorilla.
Visit the Gorilla for more information on the new harness G20 and G30: www.gorillatreestands.com
Carbon Express Maxima offer the new Red in caliber 250 and 350 with its double spine area to improve shooting accuracy with broadheads: www.carbonexpressarrows.com
We have been dreaming of this cougar hunting trip for a long time, and planning it for the last 2 years. Usual preparations: adequate clothing, hunting make-up, etc. There is, however, an additional element: let me explain. This hunt will occur in the mountains at high altitude ( 4 000 to 11 600 feet), we will have to run in thick snow with our heavy clothes, backpacks, bows and cameras. People tell us that physically, it will be our toughest hunt yet. Hunters that have made the trip confirm that they got back physically exhausted, emaciated with chapped legs, crying from exertion. So, we do everything in our power to stay in shape. Running, skiing, jogging and our newest discovery: cross fit. We are leaving for Colorado at the top of our shape.
Very early on the morning of January 6th, we finally take off!!! We are beside ourselves!!! The road will be long. In a straight line we would drive 3800 km. But we have to go through Colorado to get to the ATA show where we have planned meetings with sponsors and also with Wild TV’s broadcaster. We will therefore be driving 4000 km to get to our destination.
Late that night, we found a very dirty hotel. So dirty we found hair in the tub so Karine renamed it the 3 hair hotel in reference to its 3 stars!!!
Monday, January 7th
We happily proceed with our route. At around 11:00, I decide to study a bit but my laptop is almost out of charge so I plug it in the auxiliary jack. As I am plugging my adaptor, a light appears in the dashboard: a car with a padlock. Weird. The adaptor doesn’t work so I decide to postpone my studies until later. We stop to fill up the tank and nothing works when Sylvain turns on the ignition. No sign of life. Nothing! We are a bit worried. We try again and again but to no avail. My boyfriend calls the mechanics at Amos Mazda. After looking into it, the mechanics give us a few leads, but none of them work. We try for about an hour then conclude that we have to call a tow truck. We can feel nervousness build amongst the group, we do not want to be late for our meetings with our sponsors. The tow truck takes forever to get to us because we are in the middle of nowhere, lost in a tiny village. It finally arrives and now, we have to wait for the mechanics to find the problem. I’m looking at them through a window. They look totally discouraged: nothing works. Not a good sign!!! After a while, the chief mechanic comes to see us. They found the problem and fixed it!!! This whole adventure cost us 3 ½ hours. I had planned on working out before our first ATA show but instead, express shower and getting ready in a flash. We meet up with our friend Andrew Strow(bear hunt/Illinois), have dinner with him and reminiscing about good memories. We take it easy the first night, keeping it all for later.
Tuesday, January 8th
Quick breakfast and off to that famous Show. We visit every single stand without skipping one, on the lookout for any new products that could be of interest for our future excursions.
At night, we go on Fourth Street. That’s where it’s happening! Music is blasting and there is a party atmosphere!! It’s rather promising!! We get glimpse of a lot stars from Wild TV, Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel. At the restaurant, we are sitting right behind Mike Strandlund, Bowhunting World’s chief editor, with who we had good time.
Before dinner, we stop in a pub. Karine spent her whole day star hunting to have her picture taken with them. She shares her treasures with us, one especially with “Pig Man”. Sylvain looks at the picture more closely and starts laughing his head off telling Karine that the man on the picture is not “Pig Man”. She had had her picture taken with a total stranger thinking he was a star. Everybody starts laughing. Imagine Karine’s face! We were also imagining the guys’ reaction when she approached them to have her picture taken with them without knowing why. AH!AH!AH!
After a delicious dinner, we head out to the Hard Rock Café for Carbon Express’ private party where we are introduced to notorious people from the hunting world, of which “Pig Man”, the real one, who suggests a trade: a bear hunt against a boar hunt in Texas. He is a very colorful character, living up to his reputation.
It’s party time. We go to a bar where Martine dances until the wee hours of the morning, the guys drink beer and Karine does both.
Wednesday, January 9th
We meet up with our friend John Dean Greeve, we are happy to see him again. Dean is a hunting broker and he set us up with our guides for our cougar hunt in Colorado. Dean is a perfectionist and he likes his customers and friends, in our case, to be overly satisfied and he puts everything in motion to insure it. He guides and books hunts all over the world.
We have a very busy morning. For the BadBoys, it is a fateful moment. We complete our trade-off with “Pig Man”.We also started negotiations with a very reputable bows company. The future contents of that agreement are to remain confidential for the time being. It’s a very beneficial morning for us.
Although everybody is enjoying themselves, discovering new products and meeting stars, it is time for us to hit the road and to proceed to Colorado for our long awaited cougar hunt. The 2000 km drive will take us 2 days. The guys take turns at the wheel.
Thursday, January 10th
We laughed the whole day. Dean Greeve, our guide and friend, climbed aboard and had set his mind on entertaining us. I don’t want to blow all the punches here, but we never collected so many bloopers in our lives.
At lunchtime, we get together with our friend Hilly, one of Arrowhead’s owner, whom we have met turkey hunting in Kansas. We are happy to see him again, he is so friendly. While eating, Dean and Hilly make us an extraordinary proposition. If all goes well during the cougar hunt, Mario P. and I will have the chance to redeem ourselves for our unsuccessful turkey hunt of April 2012. A very generous offer. I let myself dream… If everything goes well. I will only dream about it and you will understand while reading the next pages that the cougars occupied all of our time.
At around midnight, we are all sleeping in the van while Sylvain is driving. We awake in a snap. We are in Colorado’s Rockies, we are travelling down the highest mountain and it spreads on many kilometers. Sylvain brakes to slow down our descent and we are shaken by the banging. We are afraid the brakes might have died or that we have a blow-out. We are a tiny bit nervous. What is stressing, is the fact that we are just beginning driving down the hill. The worst is yet to come. Sylvain switches to the right lane and puts on the flashers. To our greatest relief, we reach the bottom of the slope. We stop at a gas station and the guys have a walk-around the van to realize that the tires are fine. The brakes are the culprit. Karine has cold sweats and doesn’t want to go on. The guys suggest she keeps her eyes shut which does not make her feel better in the least. Because of Dean’s contacts, we get an appointment with a mechanic the morning after at 8. At 3 in the morning, we finally reach the hotel where we enjoy a hot shower and the comfort of our pillows.
Friday, January 11th
We wake up and drive to the mechanic’s for our appointment. While the guys go take their test for their cougar hunting permit, Martine, Karine and I stay behind at the garage. They succeed with great ease and meanwhile, we get the mechanic’s verdict: the brakes are cooked. He has to change all 4. We are happy that the end result won’t be too painful. We are lucky in our misfortune. We then go to the grocery store. It takes us a while. We have to think of everything: from toilet paper to cheese for breakfast. Our cabins will be located 2 hours away from the nearest town so we need to foresee not to run out of anything. We fill 4 carts to the hilt. The bill: $927 for 7 people for 8 days. A shortage of anything would be disastrous.
Mario, Sylvain and I are starting to feel the effect of the altitude, we have trouble breathing. I feel like if my head and lungs were squeezed in a vise, I’m crushed. I am most comfortable sitting down. On top of all else, we have nosebleed. I am hoping that this discomfort won’t affect our hunting performances. I am truly wondering what it will be like when we get to the very top of the mountain. We are only at 6000 feet, what will it feel like at 11 500 feet?
We start the ascent towards the top. While driving, we appreciate our good fortune to be living such a tremendous experience. A lot of people would love to trade places with us, we are really privileged. Before us, we can see wapitis and mule deer, what a sight!!! The landscape is really breathtaking.
Dean had warned us about the cabins’ state. A very nice couple just bought the property and everything has to be renovated. We have to leave the water running so that it doesn’t freeze the plumbing. We get 2 cabins, Karine picks first. Bad luck for her, their unit doesn’t have an operating toilet. Mario, Martine, Sylvain and I share a cabin while Dean, Mario and Karine, the other. Space is very limited. We settle in as best as we can.
Even though James Zeldenthuis, one of the owners of NeedleRock Outfitter, is absent, we have a short meeting with Benjamin Harris, the second owner. He describes briefly the usual routine. The guides leave at around 2 in the morning on the lookout for trails. The hunters must be ready at the break of day and wait for the guides drinking coffee. Once they find fresh trails, they come and get us. They take us as close as possible to the trails first by pick-up truck then either by ski-doo or quad and we walk the rest of the way. Dogs wearing integrated GPS collars are then let loose. Those collars are necessary for our guides to be able to locate the dogs at all times. The dogs will guide us to a tree climbing cougar since cougars have a morbid fear of dogs. That will leave us plenty of time to set up the cameras and for the hunter to prepare himself.
Another important fact is then brought up. While perched in the tree, the cougar establishes visual contact with one individual at the base of the tree. If the cougar is shot but not killed, it will climb down the tree and go for the person it had the visual contact with. It will try to harm that person. Knowledgeable of that behavior, our guides will pay particular attention to the cougars’ demeanor.
So, who will hunt first? Without any hesitation, Sylvain gives up his turn. Now hear this, Mario and Mario toss a coin… Mario wins! He is thrilled. Mario Pelchat that is. This Mario situation is getting quite confusing! We go to bed enjoying the warmth of our sleeping bags since it is -30 outside. The excitement associated with the greatness of the events to come makes it very hard to sleep.
Wednesday, January 12th
We get up way before the sun does and we are told to wait for the guides. They left at 2 in the morning to find fresh trails. We hurry as much as possible not knowing when the guides will be back to get us. At around noon, we all get in the pick-up truck to go find fresh tracks with no success. However, Ben the head-guide, informs us on cougars behavior. This animal is a loner and it causes ranches a lot of damage. They kill horses without remorse which represents a great loss for the local economy. They also kill over 50 wapitis a year which is detrimental towards the nearby outfitters since it rapidly decreases the cattle. They also attack “Bighorn Sheep” which are a very rare species.
After this brief lecture, we return to the outfitter and little time later the guides inform us that they found cougar tracks. They launch the dogs on the cougar’s trail. Mario will be filmed by Martine and Sylvain.
We are euphoric! The members of the team heading out are running in all directions to complete the final preparations.
From 11 to 4, they ran after the dogs with no results. At 4, the guides spot the cat in a tree. They are hopeful to get there before nightfall and finish the hunt. They are faced with a small problem: there is not enough room on the snowmobiles. Mario decides to leave alone with the 2 guides, Dean and JT, leaving the 2 cameramen behind. Justin, a friend of the group, is tagging along to live the experience and figure out if he would like to be a guide. At that moment, he is not quite sure of the experience he will live. Believe me, he will be pushing himself above his limits.
Martine and Sylvain supply Mario with all the clothes and food they have available and head back to the cabin.
It was totally out of the question for Mario to leave without cameras. He has to take a second backpack for the camera equipment, his being already packed with the usual hunting gear: pocketknife, bottled water, flashlight, etc. The second bag weighs over 45 lbs.
They jump on the snowmobile and ride 5 km. They then walk for a good hour trying to locate the dogs. Because of the Siberian cold, the GPSs freeze and the dogs are left to themselves. To ensure the batteries for the cameras wouldn’t freeze, Mario took the precaution to hide them inside his coat. The guides do the same with the GPS. Since their guiding tools are temporarily non-functional, the sun is setting, they lose all landmarks, our group of adventurers gets lost. The guides start to panic. Mario keeps his head straight. They continue climbing for a half hour before the GPSs kick in again. The priority was lying in finding the dogs at any cost. At that moment Mario regrets his decision and thinks to himself: “We’re in deep shit”. To top it all off, it is becoming clear that the hunt is over for the day, the sun having set. After a few hours, exhaustion suddenly strikes. They climb 3 mountains of 800 feet each to get to the final altitude of 11 600 feet.
Since they don’t hear them bark, the guides are afraid that the dogs might be dead, attacked by cougars. The stress increases. I have to specify that these dogs are not only valued for their aptitudes and intelligence but they are animals that, because of their specific training as odor tracker, cost $7 000 each.
Along the way, they spot very fresh cougar tracks. JT declares to Mario with freighted eyes: “I really don’t like it”. Again, the anxiety climbs.
After walking 5 hours, Mario sees shimmering eyes in the darkness. He found the dogs!!! Wow!!! What a relief! They are bundled up at the feet of a tree, frozen and trembling from exhaustion, so drained they don’t even bark at the sight of their master.
After a brief caucus, the group members decide that it is too dangerous to go on due to the ravines and even though the sky is clear and starry, it is still very dark and somebody could trip and hurt themselves or even worse. In all events, they will be on location to pursue the trail in the morning.
This expedition that was supposed to last about 2 hours is turning into something completely different, way longer and loaded with unforeseen elements.
Dean allocates tasks and after trying to light the fire 5 times with result, he gave up and Mario took over. Dean hands were too frozen, Mario succeeds. They collect wood for the fire and while looking they found a dead wapiti, devoured by a cougar. The only parts left of the poor animal are its legs. The guides know that it’s another cougar roaming in the area. It makes anxiety rise another step. They squeeze by the fire, maybe a bit too much, one of the guides burn his boots. Mario doesn’t escape the flames and burn his socks. The group chatters around the fire and every hour they remove their boots to eliminate humidity. Every time, steam evaporates from their feet. Dean splits the snacks that Martine and Sylvain had supplied Mario with. It isn’t fancy, but they appreciate every little bit.
The guides tell Mario that they have never encountered a bow hunter, any hunter for that matter, that would have agreed to such an expedition. It’s a first for them. They find him very reckless. Also, they don’t recollect such intense coldness. In the wee hours of the morning, fatigue catches up with them and they lay down as best as they can: some directly on the ground, others, luckier, on the stump of a tree. When they are facing the fire, their backs freeze and when their backs are to the fire, theirs faces freeze so they rotate every 10 minutes, back-front-back-front. At 3 in the morning, the temperature drops drastically.
Finally, the sun shows it face. Mario is prancing, he is anxious to leave but preparations seem to take forever. One of the guides cuts off one of the wapiti’s legs and throws it in the fire to thaw it, kill bacteria and burn the hair then feeds it to the famished dogs. Dean does not want to leave right away because they have to go by sight and not by smell. Because of the cold, the smell is altered, absent even. They have to wait for the sun to be up high to reflect any tracks they might detect. They leave at around 10 o’clock. They have neither food nor water. They hydrate by sucking snow.
After 3 hours of tracking, Dean and Justin decide they are going back to civilization arguing that this cougar is too old and too intelligent, it’s not worth the time and effort. Mario and JT don’t lose faith and continue without food or water. They are both exhausted and frozen. They climb mountains and when the sun starts setting, they too decide to backtrack, disappointed to not even have seen this cougar that made them dream. Martine, Sylvain and I are waiting for him in the pick-up truck. We are also disappointed to see him come back with all his arrows. After Mario recounts his compelling story, Sylvain tells him that in his day he had seen mountain goats, wapitis and coyotes. He even filmed a baby cougar at the top of a huge mountain that he climbed. Mario retorts that in all his hours of walking he didn’t catch glimpse of a groundhog. We start laughing, nevertheless. Would you believe me if I told you that Mario went to bed at 7 that night and never woke up before the alarm went off?
We shower and as Karine, Dean and Mario M. don’t have water in their cabin, they come to ours to clean themselves. We should have enjoyed it more because it was to be the last one of the trip.
Sunday, January 13th
Ben, the head guide, advises Mario M. and Karine that since they are leaving for Crawford, which is 4 hours away, they have to leave at 4 in the morning. They are ready on time but the guide waits for them in his truck infront of the wrong cabin. Once that settled, they start driving.
Once in Crawford, James, the other owner, calls on the CB to tell them to come and join him on the snowmobile: he found cougar tracks. After an hour of travelling they finally meet up with him. They let the dogs loose in the wood. They are speeding in the direction of a very steep canyon. Those abrupt hills are very impressive for people like me who come from flatland paradise. Nevertheless, even our guides thought it was too hazardous. Karine and Mario convince the guides to proceed anyway. The guides hesitate and fold. Glory’s conquest vanquish reason.
James gets there in 30 minutes. For the rest of the group, it was a bit longer: it took them 2 hours. At first, the terrain was a bit flatter and then they get to the canyon. Karine is discouraged when she understand what lies ahead. JT ties a rope around her and pulls while Mario pushes her from behind. Midway, Karine is panic stricken. Karine is crying loud sobs, she is anticipating the descent on their way back and, to make matters worse, she is seized by vertigo. The guys finally calm her down and they get to where the cougar is perched in a tree.
The animal is positioned in such a way, it’s impossible for us to determine if it’s a male or a female. JT figures that the only way to know for sure is to move the cougar so he will climb up the tree. He undertakes his ascent up to 15m. Since the guide did not have his weapon with him, Mario grabs his bow just in case something goes wrong. JT is very close to the cougar. He touches the cougar with a stick. The cougar gets angry and roars. It wants to claw JT, tries to hit him with its paw but misses. JT suddenly becomes livid and rapidly climbs down the tree uncontrollably. The good thing is, they now know for a certainty that the cougar is not a milking mother.
They look for the best spot. Karine installs her camera, Mario is ready to shoot. He only has a 4 inch circumference window on the cougar which is facing him. Mario stretches and shoots perfectly hitting his prey straight to the heart, lungs and liver. The cougar leaps on all fours, ready to claw. It lands in the canyon, a hundred feet below. Death is instantaneous.
Unaware of all this and thinking he has missed his target. He swears! He starts running after the cougar, ready to shoot another arrow leaving Karine behind. JT and James precede him. Karine is afraid. Before it got shot, she had an eye contact with the cougar and now she’s scared it will come back for her. She starts screaming:”Don’t leave me alone!!! Don’t leave me alone!!!” But the guys are otherwise busy and don’t hear her. In the end, there will have been more freight than hurt.
Getting to the cougar, Mario realizes he hit his prey with perfection. He is rightfully, very proud of his accomplishment.
Mario and Karine savour the moment briefly taking pictures. They now have to bring the cougar back down. Not foreseeing any other solutions, James takes the animal and throws it down the ravine.
The rest of the group takes another path to join up with him to Karine’s greatest relief. They head towards James’s house to skin and full mount the animal as a souvenir of memorable moment.
When we got up and tried to was our teeth there was no water! It froze! Somebody had forgotten to leave the water running. We don’t know who brushed their teeth last before going to bed! We are all upset! The owner spends the whole day trying to unfreeze the pipes. But the harsh cold makes it impossible. We learn that we are living through temperature records. It was 20 years ago when they last got such low temperature.
As Karine arrives at the cabin that night, she lets us know that she was the last one to brush her teeth the night before. A silence falls and everybody stares at her with disenchantment. As they are calling for cold weather for the duration of our stay, the owner won’t be able to reestablish the water flow. We’ll have to wash ourselves in the sink and we’ll have to figure out something for the dishes, the toilet is inoperative.
Monday, January 14th
The day before, Ben had advised us that since Mario M. had gotten his cougar, there would be 2 hunting teams. If the guides find trails, both Mario P. and Sylvain will be allowed to hunt. We get up early but nothing happens. It was a very long day so we figure that tomorrow, we will get up a bit later, take our time to get ready and have a big breakfast.
As we get up, we can already feel the piercing cold. It’s -35 C. Martine is alone in our cabin while the rest of the group is having breakfast in the other cabin. All of a sudden, she hears Ben driving up in his pick-up with Thunderstruck blasting. It is custom to play that song whenever they feel that they have found a trail worthy letting the dogs loose. Believe me, every time they start that song people get goose bumps and excitement is at its peak. It creates quite the effect amongst the group. Martine comes barging into the cabin where we are eating screaming that the guides found tracks. A certain hysteria fills the room and without putting anything away, we just get up and rush to get dressed. We all gather in the pick-ups and Ben blasts the song again over the CB so that everyone can hear it and be notified. Sylvain is so concentrated on the hunt that he forgets his bow. Luckily, he realizes it before we leave so he rushes out of the truck and fetches it.
This hunt is one of the few where we can have so many camerawoman so we take advantage of it. After yesterday’s events, Karine decides to stay at the cabin. Mario will have Sylvain, Mario P., Martine and I will film every one of his gestures.
The tracks were spotted 45 minutes away from the cabins. They release the dogs and we follow them by truck. Ben keeps up with the, a real mountain goat this one! Ben has his CB on him and keeps us up to date all developments. He’ll run 24.64 km today in the mountains at high altitude. He impressed us all. The difficulty of the day is the harsh cold: the dogs can barely smell. The smell remains really low in the snow and hardly makes it to the surface, it is truly minimized. It lessens our chances of success. Ben runs behind the dogs and when the dogs loose the tracks, Ben runs in circles until he finds it again. The other difficulty we are facing is the fact that our cougar is intelligent. It has experience: it has been tracked before and it learned from its previous situations. Its strategy is to climb up trees, climb down, travel in circles to confuse the dogs and it’s working. It jumps from bolder to bolder to avoid leaving a trail, it demonstrates the same kind of behavior Mario’s cougar showed during 28 hours. On top of it, its tracks are identical.
Bad luck strikes, Ben calls us to let us know that the dogs fell into a ravine. He calls for help. Dean doesn’t want us to go. The guys want to go anyway, I don’t want to stay behind. Martine asks me:”Are you going?” and I answered:”You bet I’m going!” So then she declared:”If you’re going, I’m going!” So we go despite Dean’s interdictions, we rebel!!! We have to climb up a mountain then down. We then catch glimpse of the poor dogs caught in the ravine 350 feet below. Ben went down helped by Matt who is tying the animals to bring them up. Once again, Ben impresses us with his courage and agility, he will stop at nothing this man!!!
The other tracking team is comprised of Dustin and JT. They call us to let us know that they have a cougar in a tree. Unfortunately, the tree is on private property and even if Ben has an agreement with the owners, he wants to validate with them before he sends Mario and his troop in. The owner will be excessively happy to let us hunt this cougar down. His cattle has suffered a lot from cougar attacks. Unfortunately he was not home and out of respect for the owner, Ben doesn’t want us to go on his land. We are all disappointed to be so close to our goal but unable to achieve it.
A few mountains away, a twist develops. Ben lets us know that the dogs made the cougar the dogs had been tracking for 24.64 km climbed a tree. We rush over there with excitement. We consider ourselves lucky to live all the adventure as a group. Matt advises us to be moderate in our movements because the cougar could get scared and jump down from the tree. We carefully make our way to the tree where the cougar is perched. What a sight! It’s really an incredible animal! While we get set up, it stares at us. Mario P. analyses the situation to figure the best location to position himself. Martine is right behind him. Sylvain, Mario M. and I place ourselves so as to covers different angles. Mario P. takes his time, he even stretches 4 times. Once everybody is in position, he shoots from de front. He stretches again while the cougar falls from the tree. He doesn’t time to shoot again. Matt rushes in pursuit of the cat followed closely by Mario M., Dean and I’m not far behind. We don’t see any blood. Mario P. is still optimistic but all hope vanishes 300 m further when we realize that there is almost no blood. The trails demonstrate that the cougar walks on tree trunks, jumps from one bolder to the next with agility not associated to a dying animal.
I see Mario P. and ask him to comment for the camera. I see despair in his eyes. He is disappointed but mostly upset about his bad shot. He suddenly appears very religious insulting all the saints he can think of. He disappears and goes ask Matt what he should do. Matt must ask Ben what the plan is. Mario P. wants to pursue his cougar, he isn’t ready to let go. Matt explains that if the cougar is not mortally hit, it will continue his way, hide behind boulders or climb in a tree to attack his pursuers. It can backtrack and kill his attackers. Matt knows perfectly well that if he releases the dogs, they will be in danger with that wounded cougar. Mario P. decides that while Ben and Matt think about what to do, he will go after his cougar. Matt cautions Mario P. to be very careful if he sees tracks along boulders, to walk further and if they disappear suddenly, to look up the trees.
Sylvain meets up with us and we try to catch up with Mario P. . Then, Matt gets a message from JT et Dustin saying that they found a cougar and that we have to hurry to get to them to do Sylvain’s hunt. The teams have to split. Sylvain runs towards Ben’s pick-up where Martine stayed. I ask him to slow down because I can’t keep up. Because of my bad reaction to altitude, when I get to the truck, my suit and jacket are drenched. I am so hot that my other coat, which is my third layer is also humid despite the -35.
Meanwhile, Mario P. tracks the cougar alone for a 1 ½ mile and he is met by Dean, Matt and Mario M.. Time is of the essence, the sun will set shortly. They walk across mountains and ravines, of which one was as deep as 100 feet. Le cougar let itself slide down that ravine. It keeps the same pattern climbing trees and looping to confuse the dogs. Finally, out of breath, the group rejoins the dogs which have made the cougar climb in a tree. It is 30 feet up in the air. This time, Mario M. is the only cameraman. Mario P. figures the best location to position himself. Matt retrieves the dogs and Mario P. shoots perfectly hitting the cougar straight in the heart, lungs and spine. No more needed for the cougar to fall to the ground. Mario P. has no doubt this time about the precision of his shot!!!
Mario P. shot 10 minutes before our hunting day was to end. He considers himself extremely privileged to be living such a moment. They hurry to take some picture at dusk, the sun having set. The guides want to skin the animal on the spot but Mario P. refuses. He wants to take pictures with the gang. They backtrack to where they had started. Despite the weight of the cougar, Mario P. is light-hearted. He can’t wait to meet up with his girlfriend and gang.
Walking towards us, he apologizes to Matt for his lousy first shot. Matt reassures him by telling him that last year, many hunters did the same, whether they used bows or guns.
It is a consensus: the guides believe without a doubt their theory that Mario P.’s cougar is the same one he tracked for 28 hours a few days ago.
Sylvain and I were told that it was too late for us to go hunt the other cougar, so we waited for Mario P.’s return in the truck with Martine.
When we saw Mario P. walk towards us, thumb up and grinning from ear to ear, we knew that he had succeeded! What a memorable moment! We shake his hand and congratulate him! We were happy for our friend and proud of his accomplishment.
We take the direction of the cabins immortalize this moment in pictures. Mario P. is always pleased with the photographic results but he hates the session. To top it all off, it is so cold outside that his hands and ears are frozen, which doesn’t brighten the session up.
Once we are done with the pictures, he leaves with the guides to go skin his catch to be able to do a full mount. He gets there with a full bottle of Black Cove that he shares with everybody to celebrate. The guides are so appreciative that after 15 minutes, the bottle is empty. It says a lot!!!
Wednesday, January 15th
Only one hunting day left and it’s Sylvain’s turn. I don’t know if the altitude effect is lessening, but that day, I’m in tip top shape and prancing, I cannot wait to get some action. After breakfast, we drink a few coffees waiting for the guides who can arrive at any moment. We risk starting preparing the night’s dinner before when we come back late, nobody feels like cooking. Mario P. goes back to bed while Dean entertains us with magic tricks. At around 10, Ben walks in smiling. Since he doesn’t smile often, it’s a good sign. He tells us that they found 5 tracks and that we will follow the biggest one. I’m no longer listening, I rush back to my cabin waking Mario P. up on my way. Ben explains to the others that not everybody can come since we are going on private property. Karine, Mario M. and Martine must stay at the cabin. They are terribly disappointed. We have 4 guides with us: Matt, Ben, James and Dean. Dean and I will film. Mario P. will take pictures. My boyfriend is a nervous wreck because it’s finally his turn.
We hop in the trucks, Ben blast our alarm song on the radio. Nobody talks but everybody smiles, our pupils are dilated our hearts are racing: we know what to expect. It feels like the music is filling us with an indescribable amplified energy. Everybody shutters. This song goes into a crescendo that increases our energy as we get closer to the cougar.
The guides take us to the tracks, put the GPS collars on the dogs and release them. The guide who follows the dogs switch from one day to the next not to tire themselves: today it’s James’s turn to run. According to Ben, he’s the best. Mountains or not, ravines or not, he runs as fast as the dogs. Nothing stops him. He has the shape of an army guy. After seeing him in action, I can confirm that he is a machine.
We get closer to the dogs and James tells us over the radio transmitter that the cougar climbed in a tree and then, a few moments later that it came down. This scenario will repeat itself twice before he finally asks us to join him. We are on top of a mountain and the cougar is 1.5 km lower. As all the boulders are unstable, I trip 5 times and the guys catch me. I wonder if that explains why they don’t give me anything to carry. Not even the empty backpack that will be used to carry our cougar. I know that I am clumsy, it is often a cause of laughter, but I find it a pity not to be able to help my gang in moments like this. At the end of this trip, I will have only 2-3 bruises.
We met up with James and the dogs and we try to follow them. We are almost at the feet of the tree when I see the cougar get down the tree at such a speed that I barely have time to film it. We encourage Sylvain to continue. Sylvain, who usually has an extraordinary cardiovascular capacity, is short of breath this morning. He suspects he can’t breathe adequately because he’s nervous. For my part, I truly believe that it’s the result of last night’s drinking bout….
We proceed another 1500 feet and we catch sight of the cougar perched in a tree 20 feet above ground. We start setting up, Sylvain puts down his quiver that is strapped on his back. He cannot find a good angle so we change location. We go down 20 feet which gives the impression that the cougar is much higher, it’s impressive. Sylvain wants to set his arrow when he realizes that he forgot his quiver at the first location which gives the cougar plenty of time to get down again. I am not disappointed because my angle wasn’t all that good. My boyfriend apologizes to the group and it is not long before we hear the dogs bark again. We pick up the backpack and move on.
The cougar picked a tree 2000 feet away. It’s starting to feel like a leisure walk!!! This time it’s perched in a gaunt tree with barely any branches which gives us great picture opportunities and a wonderful shooting window for my boyfriend.
Sylvain chooses a spot that suits him, grabs his bow, asks me if I am zoomed in adequately on the cougar, I tell him everything is perfect, he stretches and shoots the animal straight in the lungs. Perfect shot!!! The cougar flips through the branches and falls to the ground, dead. It wasn’t yet to the ground that James and Matt were at its side. The dogs too. My boyfriend lets out a scream of joy, elation takes hold of everyone.
To make things even better, the scenery lying before us is breathtaking and will do wonders for a photo session. We couldn’t ask for more. The pictures are astonishing.
James, Matt and Ben then undertake skinning the cougar. Dean is carrying the backpack and when he has his back to us, the guys put a big rock in it. Oh boy! I feel like laughing so badly but I keep it to myself not to ruin the guys’ joke.
We start climbing the mountain, Dean is in sweat and has trouble keeping up. The others are ways ahead and laugh. When we get to the trucks, Dean is half dead. He puts the bag in one pick-up and jumps into the other. We head back to the cabins. Ben, Mario P., Sylvain and I drive in the truck where Dean put down the skin. We pretend to follow them then we let them take the lead. When they are out of sight, we stop and remove the rock from the bag. Dean will learn about the guys’ joke only when he reads these lines. Hopefully he too will have a good laugh when he finds out.
We are anxious to get back to the cabins and share the details of our advantage with the gang. We had promised a party if Sylvain killed. I can’t wait to see the guys taste the “snuff”, it’s chewing tobacco that you put between your gum and your mouth. The guides use it all the time but apparently, the first time you taste it, you become dizzy and might feel sick to your stomach. The guys had made a deal with Ben: if the hunt was successful, they were to snuff.
We invite ourselves over at the owners, very friendly people. We bring alcohol and food. There is even some cougar that the guys prepared. We are well received and the food is exquisite. We are curious to taste cougar meat which, in the end looks and tastes like pork. I notice that the alcohol is greatly appreciated: it took 15 minutes to empty the last bottle of Black Cove. Thank God we had brought wine. But to be honest, at that point I don’t think the guides were too picky about what they drank. Some will regret their excesses in the morning but for the time being, everybody is enjoying themselves.
The subject of the hour, before the state of advanced drunkenness of some, is the coldness records. According to the owners’ sources, such cold for such a long period of time has never been seen.
We had forgotten about the snuff deal when Sylvain brings it all back by saying: “This afternoon Ben took his snuff……..&%!?” Oooops! Sylvain betrayed himself, everybody is now reminded of the deal they made. No other choice, the guys have to put the snuff in their mouths and we all laugh. Rumors are true: the first time you snuff you get dizzy and nauseated. Their faces cannot hide their repulsion, it’s hilarious!!!
We have a great evening that ends at dawn and that concludes our stay amongst these wonderful people. The owners are nice and devoted as for the guides, they are by far the hardest working people we have ever encountered. They get up at 2-3 in the morning, they scramble for us all day, they never quit and go to bed only when everything is done. We will use them again. They also guide mule deer and wapiti hunts.
Thursday, January 16th
We pack up our stuff and go have breakfast in MontRose, which is 2 hours away. We enjoy the fresh coffee before going to register our catches. They don’t proceed like in Quebec. The agent measures the thickness of the skin and the siza of the testicles or teats, she takes a skin culture and she pulls out one tooth for analysis. Animal control is taken very seriously in Colorado, we should take example.
We fear crossing customs because the laws regulating taking a dead cougar out of the country are pretty vague. Of course, our fears are confirmed and they pull us over. The customs officers are very nice and they want to see our cougar skins. While waiting, we see a dog with his master-custom officer. It smells everybody who’s being controlled. It stops at a young man who looks suspicious. He is asked if the white vehicle is his and he confirms. He is then mirandized, handcuffed and taken to a cell. Everybody is startled by the incident. We finally leave without our skins or meat but knowledgeable about how to get the proper permits to come back and claim what is ours.
The drive back is uneventful and goes smoothly. The 4000 km back are calmer than the drive to Colorado. Everybody is exhausted! It leaves us all the time to contemplate our 2013 hunts: bison, bear, deer, moose, mule deer, mountain goat, grizzly, etc. We are always on the lookout for an exceptional adventure.
It feels good to go back home and see the kids.
If you have any questions, comments or would like to have information on the outfitter we went to, don’t hesitate to write to us directly on the site we will be more than happy to reply. Until the next exciting trip!!!