May 2018 Issue – By Barbara Crown, Editor
Subscriber Robert Matyas says he and his wife, Lois, each took mountain lions within two days of hunting with Wade Hollerman of Pine Valley Outfitters (435-559-9234; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.pine-valleyoutfitters.com). They hunted in the Cedar City area of Utah this past February in the Pine Valley Mountains, which start at a 5,900-foot elevation. With four to six inches of fresh snow on the ground, Matyas says they drove out by truck at 3 am with a pack of dogs and a quad. Matyas and his wife each had their own guide and separated to scout and hunt different areas. Matyas says he and his guide found several deer and bobcat tracks and ran into lion tracks about 8 am. They followed them to a fresh mule deer kill. The lion had dragged the deer about 100 yards, ate and left. “But this was not the cat we wanted,” says Matyas, noting kitten tracks in the snow around the deer kill. He reports also cutting bobcat tracks several times.
Lois shot her mountain lion the first day after a 1,000-yard climb up the mountain. This was her third lion, all killed with one shot to the chest. “This was by far her hardest hunt,” says Matyas, “but it was worth every step up that mountain. Like bears, lions go into the thickest, rockiest, highest area they can find.”
Matyas and Hollerman went out again the next morning, this time finding a set of fresh tracks left by a big male. Matyas says that because it was a hot track, Hollerman believed the chase would be short and he went with the dogs when he loosened them. “About four hours later, he radioed for me to drive the truck down to a lower altitude. We were also helped by two other trackers with dogs and quads. About half a mile away, he radioed that the cat had treed. We started in with the quads and nine more dogs. When the going got rough, we had to walk. I left my coat behind and one of the guides carried the rifle. About 300 yards from the tree, the dogs went wild, and the cat jumped out of the tree. The lion came within 20 yards of me, but the tracker had my gun. The cat changed direction and climbed another tree and with two quick shots from the 22-250 it was over. I tried to put the lion around my neck in the traditional African pose, but he was just too heavy.”
Matyas says he wanted the meat from his mountain lion, and Hollerman took him to a local butcher who cut and wrapped it for him. “Wade says we are the oldest couple to hunt lion with him. If we can do it, anyone can.” Matyas plans to return to hunt bobcat and bear with Hollerman. This outfitter also guides for mule deer, elk and bears. Hollerman can provide firearms for hunters who wish to avoid traveling with guns. Matyas reports using Hollerman’s 22-250.
In a follow-up call with Hollerman we learned a bit more about this operation. Pine Valley Outfitters is based in Cedar City, but Hollerman says he hunts the entire southern end of Utah with permits for Dixie National Forest, Manti Lasal National Forest, Cedar BLM, St. George BLM, Kanab BLM, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Henry Mountain BLM and the outskirts of Zion National Park.
Hollerman says his hunts are not necessarily snow dependent, as he has “dirt” dogs trained to track lions on dry ground. He says clients can book specific days for a lion hunt, which works for those who must schedule time off from work, or they can arrange for Hollerman to call them when a snow storm hits in order to hunt on fresh snow. Hollerman says the odds of success are just as good whether there is snow or not, but that he will accommodate whatever his clients prefer.
Clients don’t need to be in top condition to hunt mountain lions with Hollerman, as he offers a variety of ways for hunters to get around on his hunts. He can provide horses for those who enjoy horseback hunts. He also has several all-terrain vehicles and says that while much of the country he hunts is rough, it is typically riddled with access roads, making it possible for clients with physical limitations to drive relatively close to treed cats and walk short distances to take their quarry. Of course, hunters with the desire and physical capacity for a traditional chase may run behind the dogs. Hollerman says he will pick the best area suited to clients’ physical abilities and preferences.
Pine Valley Outfitters conducts lion hunts from Nov. through April. Hunts are scheduled for seven days, although Hollerman says clients often have a cat or are chasing the cat they want by day four. This season he took 20 hunters; 15 killed lions, three passed on females and two “simply had bad luck.” Hollerman has several licensed guides working with him and he raises and trains his own dogs, working with them all year long.
For the 2018/2019 season, Hollerman still has a handful of openings. The rate is $5,500 for seven days, including meals and accommodations. Hunts based out of Cedar City are housed in his home. Hunts in other areas include motel accommodations. Hollerman also offers five-day bear hunts behind dogs in both Utah ($2,500) and New Mexico ($3,500). He says these hunts run 100% opportunity rates and often produce color phase bears in cinnamon, blond, chocolate, red and sometimes combinations of colors.