Fifty-eight-year-old Rod Noah of Chattaroy, Washington has been buying mountain lion tags for years. He never expected he would be harvesting his first cougar this season, and he certainly did not expect to take two with one shot. According to The Spokesman-Review, Noah was hunting elk with Ben Hendrickson, 36, when the sportsmen inadvertently called in a pair of mountain lions. Noah had never even seen one before in the wild, much less taken a shot at one.
“I didn’t hesitate at the chance,” he told the Review.
After one of the cats disappeared into the foliage, Noah drew his bow and hit the other cougar right behind its front leg. The animal jerked and then broke for cover. It was when Noah and Hendrickson found what they presumed was their target’s carcass that they knew something had not gone according to plan.
“We look at the cat and the wound is right in the middle of his chest,” Noah explained. “I said, ‘That’s not right.’”
The two hunters clearly remembered the shot taking the cat broadside. Noah retraced the blood trail and found something that both surprised and worried him. Only a few feet away was another mountain lion with an arrow wound through its side. As it turns out, Noah’s shot had passed entirely through one cougar and struck the other directly behind it. Both were male and weighed around 100 pounds.
It made for a grand story, but Noah’s next thought was about the fact that he had only one cougar tag. The hunter could technically be cited for bagging one more mountain lion than he was legally allowed to, even though it was under unusual circumstances. Noah and Hendrickson decided to do the right thing and call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The officer who arrived, Severin Erickson, was equal parts impressed and understanding.
“I thought it was pretty cool what happened and that they called us. I allowed his hunting partner to use his tag on the other cougar so the animal wouldn’t be wasted,” Erickson told the Review.
Although no citation was given, Erickson still had to issue Noah a warning. Since he believed that the shot was an honest mistake and because the hunters were so prompt in reporting the incident, no further penalties were warranted.
It is unusual to see two male mountain lions together. Cougars are solitary creatures and typically only come together for mating, which can occur year-round. Otherwise, individual mountain lions will stick to their own territories. The territories of females may overlap, and in many instances these animals are found to be related to one another. Males, on the other hand, rarely interact with members of their own sex and jealously guard their territories against other males. Mountain lions without a territory, also known as transients, can wander long distances and often stray across human settlements. When a mountain lion dies, its territory is taken by a transient or a young cougar leaving home.
You can read OutdoorHub’s interview with Noah here.
Image courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police