Written by Janet Juroch – BCC Staff
*NOTE: The favorite thing a hunter loves to do is tell their story of the hunt. It does not matter if they get something or not, it is always a tale worth telling over and over. The excitement of an Idaho hunt was something to write home about for these men, Grant Hamel and Dan Hutson, both from Maryland/Virginia areas, and Lee Cermak of Garden Valley. As interviewed them, the hunting adrenaline was palatable even though it was the day after. I can only imagine how many times they told their story when they got back to work. Here is their story……
Coming all the way from Virginia and Maryland, two guys came to hunt big game with their good friend in Garden Valley. Lee Cermak has a home in the Scriver Creek area and opens it up to his friends, Grant Hamel and Dan Hutson for a couple of weeks of hunting. Though the visitors get a non-resident Sportsman hunting tag which allows for hunting several game types but they are only allowed one kill. These hunters primarily go for the elk or deer. It never crossed their mind to find themselves hunting for a different animal.
Hutson has hunted locally with Cermak for eight years but this was the first year for Hamel to come here. These hunters were not even aware of a mountain lion being spotted in Castle Mountain and Terrace Lakes areas, though it was all over social media. What was a normal early morning hunt turned into finding an unexpected predator that was causing much fear in many locals.
Hamel saw some movement. “I saw a long tail and I’d seen a face of a mountain lion”, Hamel recalls. “I was looking down at him, maybe about 50 yards, watching him paw at a pile of leaves.” It is common for a mountain lion to cover its food source so they can come back to it later.
The hunters all recall feeling the adrenaline because in watching Hamel, they knew he had something in his sight as he pulled up his rifle. Hutson could not see what it was and he said, “I actually thought it would be a bear instead.” Mountain lions are not common in their neck of the woods on the east coast. Hamel took his shot. Once he check on the animal he said, “I went on down and the closer I got the more I realized how big this animal actually was.”
The task of recovering the mountain lion was another adventure for these out of state hunters. Cermak was able to bring a couple of his horses to go down the drainage in rough terrain. The horses had never done this before. The added possibility of a horse spooking because of the smell of a dead animal on their back was something they had to watch.
Everything went well and the hunters from back east went home with a good story to tell. Hamel plans to do a full body taxidermy of the cat. They learned that this male cat was possibly eight or nine years old and weighed about 140 pounds, according to Dino’s Taxidermy. A tooth extraction was sent away in order to get a confirmed age.
This mountain lion has been spotted recently but they are very elusive creatures. About a year ago, a news report of a mountain lion taking a dog in the Scriver area. The dog was in the mouth of the mountain lion and the owner scared the cat. Luckily the dog was dropped with minimal injuries and survived.
Another local resident claimed recently lost her pet dog from injuries that they first thought it was possibly a coyote. The vet indicated the injuries looked more like a mountain lion. With other pets that turn up missing, it is possible the mountain lion has terrorized the area for a while. Now residents can breathe a sigh of relief until the next time another mountain lion is spotted.