I started my day headed to my job site and thought with a storm coming, it would be a good time to check my trail camera. I had found some nice tracks in the area while scouting early in the season. For the next few weeks there had been no sign of a cat in the area so I decided to move my camera elsewhere. Although I left my electronic call at home, I always keep some hand made calls with me. Whether by myself or with my family in the woods, I like to make a little noise to see if anything shows up. You never know.
Once I got to my camera I pulled out a call and made some racket. Within a couple of minutes I heard some commotion and a growl from the bottom of the canyon. There was a cat close by. I continued to make the same sound with my call, and it really seemed to agitate the cat even more. After 45 minutes of back and forth with this cat I decided to move in closer to get a better vantage point on where the snarls and screams were coming from.
I moved a couple hundred yards and crouched down next to a tree. Made some more noise and the cat growled back. From the ridge I had just left. Thinking I blew it, I waited a couple more minutes and made some more noise. This time he yowled back from just below me. He was really close. A few seconds later he came into full view at 20 yards. I shouldered my rifle, fumbled with my safety and scope cap, and took the shot. Down hill he went. I gave it a few minutes and started following his tracks in the snow, and found him 100 yards later. I knew he was a great cat, but had no idea what I was about to walk up on.
Here I was in jeans, barley any camo, half dead cell phone, and what looked like the biggest cat I had ever seen.
I have been tracking and calling lions ever since the season was reopened. Spent many days, covered a lot of miles, by myself and with some friends trying like hell to get a cat like the one before me know. I sent a picture to my "thrilled " wife and called for some help. special thanks to my sister Amy, and brother-in-law Jason for taking some great pictures in the field, and helping me get him out of the woods.
After all the time I've spent chasing cats, i never would have thought that this was how this day would end.
Eric Botkin's male lion was officially weighed in at 163 pounds.