Fifteen-year-old Leif Holman of Melville, Montana uses crutches to help him walk, but that doesn’t get in the way of his love for the outdoors. The high school freshman has a type of cerebral palsy that makes it difficult for him to move some muscles in his legs, a major challenge to any hunter who has to track over thick snow and rough terrain. For Holman however, it is just another obstacle to be overcome.
Thankfully, the teen has a loving family and friends who make his active lifestyle all that more fulfilling. So far Holman successfully harvested deer, elk, bighorn sheep, black bears and, as of late last month, he can now add mountain lion to that list.
It was a school day with an unusually exciting twist. According to the Billings Gazette, Holman had finished his classes when his father picked him up and started talking excitedly about the tracks they had found. The Holmans and a family friend had been on the trail of one particular mountain lion for a while but had difficulty finding tracks before that day. While his father and another hunter went ahead of him, Holman hitched a ride with a friend to climb a steep hillside. When he got to the scene, the cougar had been already treed by his father’s hunting dogs. By all accounts Holman is an excellent shot, and he took the 76-pound mountain lion with a 7mm-08 rifle that was a present from his grandfather.
Upon closer inspection, the hunters realized that the cougar had a radio collar on it, and quickly reported in to the local Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks office. As it turns out, the animal had been on a 500-mile trek from South Dakota.
Wildlife biologist Justin Paugh was as confused as the Holmans when he received the tracking collar. As far as he knew, nobody in south central Montana was running any tracking projects. When he called regional and state agencies, they could only guess at where it came from. Finally, Paugh placed a call to the collar manufacturer and discovered the device was involved in a study by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks in conjunction with South Dakota University.
The traveling cougar was first collared near Rapid City, roughly 500 miles from where it was eventually taken. Paugh said it was highly unusual for a mature female to make such a journey.
Holman, elated over his recent accomplishment, is planning on bagging even bigger game. His parents couldn’t be prouder.
“If it wasn’t for Leif, we wouldn’t eat,” his mother said. “He gets our meat.”
Images of Holman and the cougar have yet to be released.