There's nothing like a good hunting story to put a chill up your spine and give you a little 'chicken skin,'  especially when it includes talk of a possible Mountain Lion or Wolf roaming South Dakota. Then, when you hear it was in 'Southeast South Dakota and your ears perk up a little more.

Tuesday evening I was thumbing through my Facebook feed when I saw that Rick Christopherson, from the Yankton area, had posted a blurb that included some photos. A guy named Shane Whitman who recently moved back to the area had posted that he noticed a pretty big footprint near Burbank, South Dakota. It was large enough that he took a couple of photos and shared them on his Facebook page. He wrote:

"To anyone in the Burbank area make sure your keeping an eye on your pets I found what I believe is some mountain lion tracks walking straight down to the lake entrance for 470 road."

Photo by Shane Whitman
Photo by Shane Whitman

He later updated his post:  I sent the pictures to the game warden in Yankton and he has confirmed they are mountain lion tracks and to stay alert. With the dog kennels being down there and all the feral cats it has almost an endless food source if it finds its way in the kennels so the game warden believes it will stay in the area until it for sure knows it can’t get into the kennels.

Whitman told me he initially wondered if it could be a large dog from the kennel who made the print. He checked with the Kennel Owner and they said all their dogs stay inside the fenced area.

Here's where the story, like most hunting stories, gets a little more interesting. Whitman thought it looked like a mountain lion track, the local conservation officer thought it 'could be a mountain lion track.' Whitman told me though, that several hunters, who hunt mountain lions, also saw the photos and believe it is a track left by a wolf.

I know, right! Kind of a cool story.

Whitman mentioned that he had 'caught wind' of what could be a 'pack of wolves' near the Elk Point area. If that 'is the case' it could be possible that the track is that of a wolf, instead of a mountain lion. (if you look up 'what a print looks like for both, you would see they are quite similar)

Yankton Police Dept/Dakota News Now
Yankton Police Dept/Dakota News Now

Here's where my 'adding machine' starts to whir. Officials recently made modifications making hunting Wolf possible in South Dakota and there were Facebook photos of a big cat roaming through a Yankton neighborhood this past summer.  Put that together with the fact that Elk Point and Burbank, South Dakota are right along the river and close to wooded areas and it could be possible.

That's the neat thing about footprints and people like Whitman, who are observant enough to notice them.  They tell stories. What the animal might be, and the direction it was headed. I'm guessing you would have to factor in the temperature as well. Warmer temperatures tend to make a big track, bigger sometimes. But still, it does capture the imagination.

OK. I think I've clarified enough to hit print. I've never written, could be, or might be so much in a story, but let's just say this. Something made a print near Burbank, South Dakota. We'll keep watching our Facebook feed, or waiting for a call from a hunting buddy to see if the story continues.

By the way, a few years ago, my son and I were hunting near Kennebec, South Dakota and I noticed a big print. I thought nothing of it till my brother Carl sent me a picture of a Mountain Lion a guy shot a couple of weeks later on the same property.

Nobody is saying it is, or isn't so, just to be on the lookout in the area. Especially if you have pets and such. I'd also like to thank Shane Whitman for sharing this on his Facebook page. Whitman was very diligent in making sure that my readers knew that it's what he saw and what he took a picture of and no more than that, for now.  Now we'll have to see if the 'maker' of that big print shows up.

What do you think?  Mountain Lion or Wolf?

I'd love to hear from you if you live in the Burbank, or Elk Point, South Dakota area and have anything you would like to add to this story.

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