So, my family and I went to Daytona Beach, Fla for a Christmas vacation.  We were sitting on the beach at the resort bar having a drink when my brother Carl asks, 'have you heard the mountain lion story yet?'  I said 'no, what's that all about.' Then he started off on a story that had the hair on the back of my neck standing up.

Earlier this year, my sons and I had escaped for a day of pheasant hunting in Lyman County.  My brother farms just south of I-90 in the Kennebec, SD area.  So yes we have access to some great hunting.  We had been out, and to be honest we didn't have much luck that day.  Due to the wet fall season, there were still a ton of crops out in the fields.

While we were out in the food plot south of the 'old place' I had noticed that a couple of the fence posts had been rubbed pretty hard by a deer. There was also pretty good sign that there was a pretty good sized deer in the area.  I took a pic of the posts and sent them to my brother.

I also 'either saw' or dreamed I saw a print of a big cat.  I mean, pretty good sized print!

Now, here's where it gets fuzzy for me.  Any of you that hunt often, know that sometimes you see things that 'don't register at the time.' Maybe you say something to someone in your hunting party, maybe you don't.  I thought at the time, I had mentioned it to one of my sons that sure looks like a big cat print.  Two of my sons don't remember me saying that.  I'm anxious to check with my oldest son Jake. Cause I kind of think I saw a big print that day.

Longs story short...we didn't have much luck pheasant hunting that day.

Fast forward to this past week.

Seems Carl had a guy that wanted to do some bow hunting on his land.  His name is John Bender.  Bender had been bow hunting a few miles to the east and had spotted a buck with his spotting scope to the west.  He called my brother and set up in an old cattle shed for a deer blind.  It was that first 'sit' that he spotted a mountain lion.

He was unable to get a shot with his bow that evening.  Here's where it gets good. Bender had a buddy living in the Black Hills who works as a game warden.  His friend asked, did you shoot it?  Bender said, no the season isn't on.  His friend said, outside of the fire zone of the Black Hills, if you have a license you can shoot a mountain lion year round.

Bender loaded up and headed to Pierre to fill out the form, write a check for $25 bucks and back he came to the food plot with license and was ready to hunt some lion!  In Lyman County!

So Bender settled in. The only blind he used was an old cattle shed.  Days went by.  He'd head out before down and sit till noon.  Finally on the 4th day he had breakthrough. The cat came out December 29th and he was able to get a shot with a rifle.

There was sign of a good hit in the snow, but it was getting dark so decided to come back and track. Well, it started to snow, so they gave us their search for the evening.   That's when Bender called his friend from Sturgis again and he told Bender, I'll take tomorrow off and come out to help you track him in the morning.

His friend showed up at about 1am and at first daylight they were out on place ready to pick up a trail.

Long story short...they picked up the trail and were able to recover the cat!

Sometimes you wonder what you really saw when you are out hunting. Sometimes I think you see things that don't register at the time but come back to you later.

I know I saw some nice deer rubs and tracks along the west edge of that section.  I don't know if I did actually see the prints of this big cat that day, but kind of think I did.

Here's what makes this story so cool to me.  The shed he sat in?  I've sat in it waiting for deer.

We had walked that same food plot about a month before.  The plot was so thick you couldn't see a hunting dog 10 yards in front of you.

Kind of makes you wonder what you might have walked by!

Any way you look at it, it's another South Dakota mountain lion story.  This time a little closer to 'my hometown,' than I ever would have expected.

Pic from John Bender

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Carl will most likely be taking in hunters again for some great pheasant hunting in 2014.  If you would like to get hold of him, let me know!