Mine Shaft Mountain Lion Hunt

28 MAR 2010 On March 15th, 2010 veteran mountain lion hunter, Dean Hendrickson, and his dog team chased a 180 lb tom into an abandoned mine shaft in Colorado. The hounds refused to follow the huge cat into the mi...

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Here's the story.
About a month ago, I received a phone call from a ranch owner about two hours from my place. He was looking for a houndsman to run some lions. He stated that there hadn’t been any lions taken off his place for 3 or 4 years. The ranch was around 6 thousand acres but few roads, extremely steep and rocky terrain. He also mentioned that the last lion hunter that hunted there refused to come back because it was too rough and the lions were too mean! I immediately said I’d be down to look at it the following week. I looked at the ranch using Google Earth to try and get an idea of the existing roads and trails. A few days later, another houndsman buddy and I decide to head down to the ranch. Steve lives about a mile back in and I get a call from him. He’s got three tracks on his road, two females and one good Tom. He asked me what do you want to do? I said, I’m sure we’ll find a good track down at the ranch and we’re loaded up, let’s go to the ranch! We’ll get this guy another day. We got to the ranch around sunup, unloaded the quads and hadn’t gone two miles before we hit our first track. The track was a large Tom headed west. It had some snow in it from the previous day so we figured it was about 24 hours old . The dogs were off in a flash up over the first ridge. The dogs only went about a mile and a half before they lit up the canyon with their barks and baying. When we finally got there, the lion was up on a huge rock ledge and the dogs were right in his face. When we got close, the cat took one look at us and off he went. The dogs followed and treed him about a quarter mile away. Fortunately, he was headed back in the direction we had come from. This time when we got there, he was in a tree and again, took one look at us and took off. This time he went over a large hill and out of hearing. When we got to the top of the hill, we couldn’t hear any dogs for some time. We were stumped. What happened, they should be treed right below us. A short time later, we heard one dog so we headed that way. When we arrived, we found the lion had gone into an abandoned mine shaft. There weren’t too many tailings out front so I figured the shaft wasn’t too deep, maybe 10-15 yards long. The entrance was a bit caved in and only about 2 foot tall. When we looked inside, we could hear the lion in the back of the shaft growling and carrying on. We were worried about filming inside and using a flashlight to film with so a quick call to the DOW to make sure it was OK. Wish I would have taped that conversation! At first he thought we were miners that had found a lion in a mineshaft. After some more explanation, Bob verified with another guy at the office, told us we were crazy, and said he couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Another buddy was leaning down looking into the shaft when a large boulder rolled down the hill and smashed his knee into the ground. The knee swelled immediately and I was worried how we were going to get him out. The shaft was about three feet wide but was tall enough to stand up in once you got inside. There wasn’t much we could do if we wanted the cat so we had to go inside after him. Steve’s buddy wanted to shoot the cat with his bow but didn’t want any part of going into a mine shaft after one with his bow. That plan was quickly nixed and told Sean lets go get him! I told Sean not to worry about the cat, he wouldn’t be after us, he would only want to get out of there and run right past us. Not sure why I thought that, probably just as much hopeful thinking then anything else. We both had .44 revolvers so in we went. We sat near the entrance for a bit letting our eyes adjust before heading farther in. Fortunately there was enough light and you could see the shaft made a ninety degree turn to the left about 10 yards in. Sean and I headed in next to each other, eyes as big as saucers, listening to a very upset lion somewhere ahead of us. We convinced Steve to crawl inside with us with the video camera, no sense leaving him of the fun. We were about 5 feet from the left hand bend in the shaft when I noticed a shaft going straight down right at the bend. I figured the cat was down in that shaft so I took a few more steps and leaned forward to take a quick look down that shaft. I didn’t get far but immediately realized the lion was less then 5 feet to my left. He was not down in the shaft but backed up against the back wall of the mine just out of sight. He was sitting down, staring right at me. I backed up right away, knowing he was going to come through us now that he knew we were so close. Nothing happened. He was still carrying on with his low growl. Sean and I came up with our plan. A lot of thought went into this. It was going to be a six foot shot. Sean, you go back up there, lean around the bend and shoot him! OK said Sean! Really!? So off he goes, leans around the bend, BANG! ………..nothing happened. I expected one very upset cat to be coming around the bend but nothing, not even a growl. OK, he’s dead, lets go! So off we went, back to the bend. I peeked around the bend and was looking right in the face of the lion, again! OK, retreat again, plan B. Sean, you go back up there, lean around the bend and shoot him! Second shot, BANG, Sean runs back towards Steve and I at the entrance with one very large angry cat on his heals. The cat clears all of us by at least a foot and out he goes. I have a young dog tied up right outside the entrance and he goes crazy, I quickly crawl out the entrance and see the cat going up through the trees about 40 yards away. We kick the young dog loose and off he goes after the cat. The other four dogs are down the hill a ways so off Steve goes to let them go. Sean and I take off up the hill after the lion and dog. Half way up the hill, other dogs pass us by and out of hearing. When we get to the top, the dogs have the lion backed up to a 40 foot drop, the cats ears are pinned down on his head. Video camera going, I tell Sean to get down there about 10 yards away and kill him. Seans first shot hits the rocks in front of the cat, second shot is perfect and the cat falls over the cliff. We grab dogs to keep them from going over with the cat and head down to take a look at him. He has a large gash on his face from a bullet, probably Seans second shot in the mine which is what made him decide to leave. We skinned him out, boned out the meat and headed back to the quads. This took some time because our wounded friend’s knee was in bad shape. We took our time and all made it back before dark. A few days later, we head back down to the ranch. We find two Tom tracks. We didn’t get back to the house later that day till around 5 that afternoon. I get a call from Steve. The one dog he left behind that day was gone. Her chain was stretched tight with the collar still attached. A lion had come in and grabbed her while we were gone. Steve followed the drag mark about 200 yards down the hill and found his dog. The following day, Steve turned out a couple of his dogs and killed the lion. "


I hope you guys either stuffed this cat or ate'em!

Hunt Productions

That is a very cool story. Kinda makes a guy wish he had a shotgun!


Thats amazing, im glad everyone is fine...I had an wxpeience with a bear like that but I wasnt so lucky, I got mauled pretty good


I had a similar experience on my first lion hunt in Utah. We had to crawl in a cave to get my lion. My first shot was from 7 feet away and I had to shoot him again from 4 ft away. Glad he didn't come out like this one.


I love this video! I have hunted lions a few times and even with dogs, it is the greatest sport. For you people who are disgruntled about using dogs on lions, you need to go on a good lion hunt and you will see that it is as fair chase as you will get! In this game, the lion wins as many of the chases as the dogs do!

Trophy Room

Dean - you are an animal. Really impressive stuff. Thanks for bringing your video camera along on your hunt - we all appreciate being able to see something like this.

Smallmouth King

Which is the bigger beast? Dean or the tom?

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