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Old 11-14-2020, 12:42 AM
38splfan 38splfan is offline
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Default Cougar hunting caliber conundrum

Hey,

I am going on a cougar hunt with dogs in 2022 in northern Idaho. Guide says shot distances should be between 10-30 yards as cougars will be treed. Here’s my conundrum... I have two rifle choices to come along with me... one is my kimber Montana in 280ai... leupold 4.5-12x40 on it. I’ve hunted alaska twice with it, killed rams, deer, and bears. She’s my go to critter getter from mice to moose. It’s been used hard, ain’t pretty, but very effective and able to take a beating. My second choice is a darn close to unfired and almost flawless Winchester 94 30-30 from 1955. Seriously, barely a scratch on it no sling studs and completely virgin. For a <50 yard shot, is it worth bringing the 280, or should I make a great memory with the Winchester? Groups in the Winchester are tennis ball sized and poa at 50 yards with opensights. Let me know your thoughts and opinions.

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Old 11-14-2020, 01:02 AM
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Normally I would lean towards using what you know and trust best.
But in this case shooting a treed animal I think I like your thoughts and would go with the Winchester. Its not like your shooting a ram at 300 yards.

Myself my go to for cougar hunting was with 7 and 7ins.
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Old 11-14-2020, 01:03 AM
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Either gun will do the job. Like any gun put your first shot on the money.
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Old 11-14-2020, 01:11 AM
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The scope will be a liability @ that range, go w/ the .30-30.
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Old 11-14-2020, 01:25 AM
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I have been told by people who know such things that cats are not hard to kill but are hard to hit. A treed cat is not that hard to hit and I would think the scope would be a detriment at those ranges. I would go with the Winchester were I you.
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Old 11-14-2020, 02:15 AM
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Go with the 30/30. It’s plenty powerful and accurate enough and much easier to carry than a scoped rifle. A lot of people I know just carry a handgun - a .357 mag. will do nicely - because it’s even easier to carry and allows you to have both hands free.
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Old 11-14-2020, 02:23 AM
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A .357 Magnum would be my choice as a back up but if you can get tennis ball sized groups and it's good to go at 50 yards with the iron sights on that Winchester then that's the rifle that I'd carry. Cougars are thin skinned beasts and are apparently not that hard to kill. A couple of my favorite deer kills were done with a peep sighted Model 94 in .30-30 and another with a peep sighted Navy Arms Rossi M92 in .45 Colt. The shots were not exceedingly far and the guns and I did the job we were supposed to do. Yessir. Take that lever rifle!
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Old 11-14-2020, 03:43 AM
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Google the RLO Slip-on Slings. They have been mentioned in posts here before too I believe. Won’t have to modify you stock and still have a sling.
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Old 11-14-2020, 05:47 AM
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A mountain lion attacked a hunter in Canada, While another guy seen it he shot the big cat five times till it let go. Might not be hard to kill but you never know. It’s on the net.
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Old 11-14-2020, 09:38 AM
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Here is an excellent thread I remembered from a few years back.

Mountain Gun.............in the mountains
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Old 11-14-2020, 10:03 AM
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Personally since you mentioned it in detail, I wouldn’t take the mint no scratch 30/30 unless you get a good full scabbard. A rife can and will get scratched on horseback. John Wayne never worried about scratches on his lever gun. 😁 Even then I don’t think the 30/30 is the best caliber choice but better than the 280. Mountain lions are thin skinned animals and are not tough creatures at all. A handgun is usually used for portability and ease of use on horseback. I have seen lions taken with a 22 magnum revolver. As always placement is paramount so accuracy is very important. A long barreled revolver in 22mag, 32 mag, 38 spec, 357 mag, 41 mag and even 44 mag is popular. Use what you shoot best offhand, which is usually a 38 special for most. (And since you are a 38 special fan, I assume you have one lying around) A treed cat is not a difficult shot, as the ranges are short, as the guide told you. A pistol caliber lever gun would also be good if you are a horrible pistol shot but I think the 30/30 caliber is too much gun. Again most people don’t shoot a pistol well so you don’t want to wound the cat and it tears up your guide’s dogs. I remember reading somewhere of someone using an old M1 carbine for mountain lion. That sounds like a good lightweight setup as well. These type of “hunts” can be anti-climatic once the cat is treed. It is all about the chase. You have a infinite better chance of getting hurt falling off your horse than getting mauled by a lion on these types of horseback hunts. Once again, because most people are not skilled horse riders. Inexperience can get you hurt quicker than a mountain lion. 😎

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Old 11-14-2020, 11:10 AM
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I'll vote for use of your 30-30. That was always my "go to" caliber for whitetail deer in the brushy bottom lands of northern Missouri.

Of course, you may be "forced" into buying a lesser quality 30-30 lever so you don't ruin your Winchester. That may be prudent LOL.

You know ...... a Ruger 44 Carbine would do the trick too.

Regardless, you've got time. Shop around .... this is as good excuse as any!
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Old 11-14-2020, 11:22 AM
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I reckon it depends on your end goals for the 30/30. I use all my guns but an unfired, 1955 Winchester 94 would be a gun that I would be very selective of where I use it.
Riding horses, running up and down hills and climbing over big rocks aint one of them. Since you're not going anytime soon I would suggest trying to budget for a Marlin 1984 in a caliber of your choice. I have an 1894C in .357 that is an absolute pleasure to carry while slipping around in the woods.

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Old 11-14-2020, 11:53 AM
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30-30 with a peep sight.
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Old 11-14-2020, 12:16 PM
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I'd ask the guide what he thinks.

As mentioned above, I would use a handgun of some sort, or the handiest, easy to carry rifle that I could find. A Marlin lever gun in a pistol caliber or in 22lr would be perfect.
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Old 11-14-2020, 12:18 PM
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Ask the guide how many miles you should plan to be packing a rifle around with you. My guess would be 2-20 per day depending on how selective you are on cat size. Keep in mind that Northern Idaho will have snow (this year it started in mid October) and depending on your timing it could be deep snow. Then think about how much fun it will be packing a rifle all those miles for a single shot. Then take into account how big of hole you will be making in a hide. My vote would be a good revolver in a chest rig. Ask the guide for his thoughts.
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Old 11-14-2020, 12:20 PM
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I own a Colt Woodsman that was the primary gun of a gentleman who did predator control work for Colorado in the 1950’s.

I remember talking to him about the gun he used for shooting mountain lion, black bear and bobcats: it was the Woodsman! He used dogs and shot the animals when treed.

I was just getting into reading about guns and dangerous animals and was shocked he wouldn’t use something much, much larger! He assured me that the 22 pistol worked just fine.
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Old 11-14-2020, 12:36 PM
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You do not need a gun to bag a cougar.

Just go to the local bar, and buy the cougar a few drinks.
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Old 11-14-2020, 01:10 PM
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I am not a pro, but having treed a couple of cougars, here's my two cents worth...and it probably isn't even worth that much.

When it comes to guns when hunting mountain lions behind dogs, from what I've read and from the hunters I've talked to, most experienced cougar hunters seem to prefer a handgun to a rifle. It's easier to carry, especially in windfalls and thick brush. In my experience, where cats go, you can only take the horses or mules so far, then you'll have to tie them up and go the rest of the distance on foot, which is oftentimes pretty rough going. A handgun can be carried in a pack, in your saddle bags, or on your hip. As one cougar hunter said, "If you can hit a milk jug at 30 yards with your handgun, you can hit a treed cougar."

As a couple have already mentioned, a lot of cougar hunters carry a handgun in no more than a .22 caliber, loaded with hollow points, and shoot the treed cat in the lungs, killing it. Personally, I prefer a Ruger Single Six in .22 magnum...but that's just me. I notice that your forum name is "38splfan." If that's true, a .38 special is more than enough for a treed mountain lion.

I may be going against what your guide says, but a lot of cougar hunters won't shoot a cat in the head for a couple of reasons. First, you might ruin a record skull. And second, even with a head shot, the cat could come out of the tree with enough life left to kill one of the dogs that happens to be close.

Again, this might be going against what your guide says but, if you put a .38 special hollow-point into his lungs, he'll either hang in the tree until he wilts and falls dead, or he'll jump and run, filling his lungs with blood. In that case, he'll be dead before the dogs can reach him.

Now, just because I said this doesn't make it right. I'd go on the advice of your hunting guide. Again, just my two cents worth.
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Old 11-14-2020, 01:23 PM
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If your planning on keeping the pelt I'd go with a smaller caliber then you mentioned. Most treed animals aren't going anywhere so you have plenty of time to take a good shot. My thinking is a .22 mag. or even a .22 LR behind the ear would plenty enough.
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Old 11-14-2020, 02:05 PM
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What Mule Packer said. I shot one out my back door, 10 yds., with .38 spl. in the lungs. Nuff said.
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Old 11-14-2020, 02:06 PM
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If it were Me I would take the 30-30. I hunted lions with a g friend when I was working in CO Springs. He had dogs and horses and always wanted a handgun instead a rifle. This was early 70's and all I had was a 7 mag and a SBH. So I took the SBH. Never failed to anchor one. Have fun and good luck.
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Old 11-14-2020, 02:18 PM
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Folks in NM routinely use 357 and 44 carbines on cougar. They're not hard to kill once treed.
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Old 11-14-2020, 02:19 PM
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We had a hunting lease on a ranch in Central Cali. We had a lion problem and one night (after one horse was attacked), we heard the other horses all excited and my wife and I went out to see what was happening. A cougar had gotten between the horses and the gate to the much larger lower pasture. Wife had my S & W 15 and I had a Ruger 22 mag.

My dad had a buddy who had a Walker hound and ran lions and bobcat. He used a 22 Mag Ruger Single Six. His thought was, with a chest hit, the cougar would hang on until it was too weak to rip up the dogs.

Check with your guide and practice with his recommendation!

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Old 11-14-2020, 02:30 PM
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I’ve treed a few cats with my friends that go all the time and most cats are under 10yrds. I would forget the scope and use a small caliber like a .243 To lesson the damage to the pelt.



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Old 11-14-2020, 02:49 PM
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Hey,

My guide recommended a 270 or similar. I’ve talked to a few people who say that’s way over kill for a cat. The guide also said I could use his 30-30. So he figures 30-30 is plenty. I do have a 686 no dash and a 657 no dash that I could take but from what you guys are saying, the 280 is going to be too much. From what he has said to me, we will be using trucks, snow machines, or possibly atv to get into the general area then let the dogs do their thing. Depending on how far, more atv/snow machine action and a hike in to the treed cat. I’m leaning to the 30-30 not only for nostalgia purposes but also because I want to keep the hide, and I predict the 280 would have an explosive effect. I shoot 160 accubond out of it at about 2950fps. It anchors anything I’ve shot with it, including a 375lb southern Oregon bear. Now to throw another wrinkle into this... maybe my cz 527 in 7.63x39? My buddy coming along is taking his great grandfather’s Winchester 71 in 348, with some very downloaded rounds we are working on. Talk about nostalgia!!!
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Old 11-14-2020, 02:50 PM
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zoom in on the hound on the right in the front. He is saying “kitty stop climbing these hill!”

He is what I would look like assuming I made up that incline!!!
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Old 11-14-2020, 02:51 PM
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Me personally, I use iron sights for 100yds or less.. Makes it a LOT easier and more accurate to "Snap Shoot" a target if needed at 50yds or less! I've never done that type of shot while hunting but there is a Ton of empty cans that have met their end when I was shooting like that both with my .22LR Glenfield and the .308 Remington Woodsmaster I owned that had a Weaver Flip mount with a Bushnell scope!

Lot's of people told me that the scope would lose center from being flipped back and forth but it never happened as she was always "On" when I used the scope! I guess the scope was made on a Wednesday!!

I'd take that 94 Winchester with a revolver in a vertical shoulder rig for backup in a Heartbeat for close in hunting like that!!
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Old 11-14-2020, 03:42 PM
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Had a friend I accompanied on his first wild hog hunt. As we left camp, a nice "trophy" boar ran about 50 yards in front of us (a trot not a full out run). He couldn't find it in his scope which was set at 9x instead of 3x. He then missed another shot because he hadn't loaded his rifle before leaving camp. Both hogs had 2"+ tusks. Then, he had the gall to complain that, out of six hogs shot that day, his was under 200 lbs. and 2" tusks!

Hint: BE PREPARED.
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Old 11-14-2020, 03:42 PM
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I really enjoyed cougar hunting in my youth....
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Old 11-14-2020, 03:49 PM
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Perfect job for your Winchester 30-30.
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Old 11-14-2020, 05:38 PM
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No location posted but if I was concerned about the finish of a nearly new 30-30 I would look for another even in these times. It will cost less than airfare to Spokane from most places.
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Old 11-14-2020, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6518John View Post
zoom in on the hound on the right in the front. He is saying “kitty stop climbing these hill!”

He is what I would look like assuming I made up that incline!!!

It was a 1200' climb straight up to get to the cat,we were all pretty tired.


pictures were taken and the cat was left to be a cat.


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Old 11-14-2020, 08:22 PM
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Good for you to leave the cat.
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Old 11-14-2020, 09:16 PM
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The Winchester for sure - 10 - 30 yards, 50 yards - whatever does not require a bolt action scoped rifle. My bucket list cougar hunt will be with a handgun.
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Old 11-14-2020, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idahogun View Post
I’ve treed a few cats with my friends that go all the time and most cats are under 10yrds. I would forget the scope and use a small caliber like a .243 To lesson the damage to the pelt.


Somebody explain to me how that is "hunting", please.
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Old 11-14-2020, 09:27 PM
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I found large lion tracks a couple hundred yards from the cabin yesterday. My pup has been spotted turning tail on a moose that stood it's ground and also when two larger dogs approached, then ran home. I'm pretty sure he would avoid a big kitty if possible, but those things are sneaky. A determined cat could probably catch a border collie without a big head start. So, Marlin 30-30 loaded by the door. There's my answer.
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Old 11-14-2020, 10:35 PM
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Open sights and 30-30 simple enough...
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Old 11-14-2020, 10:49 PM
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I'd take the 94, make a memory with a classic rifle. It's just "appropriate" for your intended purpose. To me, the .280AI is not. If you're worried about scratches on the nice 94, get a scabbard that will accommodate it and carry it slung on your back till you need it. I have followed the dogs chasing bear and lion in New Mexico, although I was never the shooter, just along for the "fun." I always just carried a sixgun.
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Old 11-14-2020, 11:35 PM
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I took my son on a cat hunt in Northern ID with Clark Fork Outfitters and while he wanted to use his Ruger 41 mag there was not a good shot for the revolver as high as the cat was up the tree. He used a Remington model 7 in 7mm-08 and it died as soon as it hit the ground.
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Old 11-15-2020, 12:09 AM
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Quote:
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Somebody explain to me how that is "hunting", please.
FWIW, Warren check out my post "Dogs I Have Known" over in the Lounge.. It might explain a bit...
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Old 11-15-2020, 01:04 AM
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The smallest gun I hunt with for large dangerous game is a marlin 444 brush gun. No dogs, I’m not built for running nor speed.
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Old 11-15-2020, 12:54 PM
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When I was doing my thesis on bears, I worked with a DFG warden. During the two years, he had several cougar calls, mostly killing dogs (a sighting usually resulted in the cougar getting away before he got there). He said he usually drew a mental line and if the cougar crossed it, he shot hit (12 gauge). He told me he responded on one where a cougar killed a Rottie. He said the cougar made a jump up to a second story balcony with the Rot in his mouth!

Police stories, like hunting and war stories are exempt from perjury laws by legislation!

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Old 11-15-2020, 01:10 PM
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I would go with the Winchester. The scope has too much magnification for such close shots.
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Old 11-15-2020, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbrbrb6 View Post
it died as soon as it hit the ground.
It's always best to have them die BEFORE they have a chance to hit the ground...
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Old 11-15-2020, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Collects View Post
You do not need a gun to bag a cougar.

Just go to the local bar, and buy the cougar a few drinks.
And keep your car keys handy for an early exit in the AM.
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Old 11-15-2020, 08:48 PM
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Quote:
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Hey,

My guide recommended a 270 or similar. I’ve talked to a few people who say that’s way over kill for a cat. The guide also said I could use his 30-30. So he figures 30-30 is plenty. I do have a 686 no dash and a 657 no dash that I could take but from what you guys are saying, the 280 is going to be too much. From what he has said to me, we will be using trucks, snow machines, or possibly atv to get into the general area then let the dogs do their thing. Depending on how far, more atv/snow machine action and a hike in to the treed cat. I’m leaning to the 30-30 not only for nostalgia purposes but also because I want to keep the hide, and I predict the 280 would have an explosive effect. I shoot 160 accubond out of it at about 2950fps. It anchors anything I’ve shot with it, including a 375lb southern Oregon bear. Now to throw another wrinkle into this... maybe my cz 527 in 7.63x39? My buddy coming along is taking his great grandfather’s Winchester 71 in 348, with some very downloaded rounds we are working on. Talk about nostalgia!!!
Although a 22lr in a handgun works just fine on treed cougar, I’d use whatever the guide recommends. He knows about the conditions you’ll encounter hunting with him. Ultimately, he’ll let you use whatever you want because a pro will be there to clean up after you.

Unlike some of the folks here, I wouldn’t worry that the 280 with 160 accubond would ruin a pelt: mountain lion are pretty light bodied animals. You’re unlikely to get great expansion and irreparable pelt damage with it.

I’ve killed a number of Texas whitetails with a 130 gr 270 without much pelt damage. Those Texas whitetails rarely go 150 pounds (neither do mountain lion) and are pretty lightly built too.

Last edited by Rpg; 11-15-2020 at 08:49 PM.
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Old 11-16-2020, 12:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huntsman22 View Post
It's always best to have them die BEFORE they have a chance to hit the ground...
I agree and that is why we had all three dogs tied up and back before he shot. Sure didn't want them to get in a wreck if it hit the ground wounded.
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Old 11-16-2020, 07:32 AM
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Reading these posts I remembered of an article on Guns&Ammo wittten by Craig Boddington exactly about this issue, treed cats. In it he was using a TC Contender in .45-70. I guess this GA issue is from the mid 80´s.

Regards, Ray
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Old 11-16-2020, 11:25 AM
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I'm not offering any advice on the topic as I have no first hand knowledge of the subject, but my grandfather told us younguns' of his adventures on cougar hunts out west back in his younger days. He said once the dogs treed them he always dispatched them with his S&W model 10 in .38 Special. He said most of the guys on the hunt used .22LR rifles so as to go easy on the pelts, and one always carried a side by side 12 gauge with 00 buckshot in case they "accidently" got one cornered.
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