Wollman CSP Lion
Second Lion taken in the 2017 SD Mountain Lion Season
Here's the story as told by Michael's brother Jeremy:
Michael Wollman struck Black Hills gold when he drew a coveted Custer State Park access permit that allowed the use of hounds. There were 562 applicants for the first Custer State park season and only 3 hunters were fortunate enough to draw the access permit.
Michael has ‘boot’ hunted for lions since 2008, only to get close enough twice, without being able to close the deal both times. Upon finding out he drew the Custer State Park Access with the use of hounds, he immediately started networking with friends and coworkers to find a houndsman. After making several contacts and trying to pin down a houndsman that could commit several consecutive days, Michael contacted Kris Weinsberger, an experienced houndsmen that has vast hound experience in Custer State Park. It didn’t take Michael long to decide that Kris was exactly what he was looking for. Kris had a wealth of knowledge, an infectious positive attitude, and the dedication to put forth any amount of effort that was needed to accomplish the task.
Michael had arranged to hunt the very first day of the season, Dec. 26, 2016. The Christmas Day snowstorm had prompted no travel advisories across the area. However, Michael was prepared to take full advantage of the new snowfall and left at 3:30 AM on opening day in hopes of cutting fresh tracks.
Michael followed houndsman Kris and his dogs Britt, Ripper, and Rousey into Custer State Park. The snow plows had yet to be out and the only visible sign of the road was the single track a vehicle had left just minutes before they entered the park. Michael joined Kris and his three canine companions, and proceeded to drive the park roads looking for signs of lion tracks. After several hours of searching, and with no luck, Michael and Kris met up with Jack Corr and his two sons, Sawyer and Cody. They, too, had not cut any tracks that morning. All parties agreed to grab breakfast in Custer before making a final drive through the park.
Following breakfast, Michael and Kris stumbled upon some fresh tracks that were found by an old deer kill. The tracks circled by the old deer kill and followed the top of a log for about 20 feet. Kris indicated that this would be a cat he wanted the dogs to pursue. Jack, Sawyer, Cody and their dog Josie rejoined the group. The hounds sounded off in agreement. The hounds were released and immediately followed the trail up hill. After watching the dogs lose scent on the windblown peak above, the houndsmen decided to meet them on the other side. Upon arrival on the back side of the hill, it was determined that another houndsmen and hunting party had already pursued the lion they had been following.
After pulling the dogs off the old lion tracks, the houndsmen decided to return home to do chores. Michael and his brother decided to keep driving through the park. After following buffalo spectators through the wildlife loop and glassing 30 head of elk, Michael returned to the Blue Bell area. Not more than a mile from the Blue Bell Lodge, Michael saw tracks on top of the snowplow mound. Knowing the snowplows were not in motion until midmorning, He l knew this track was fresh. At approximately 1:30 PM, Michael called Kris and Jack to come investigate the fresh track. Jack arrived shortly before Kris and both agreed the track was made by a ‘tom’.
The hounds were released at approximately 3:00 PM. After making chase for about 45 minutes, the dogs finally treed the cat. With time running short in the afternoon, Michael and the houndsmen had to push hard to get to the lion before legal shooting light ran out. After a mile dash up hill, Michael and the houndsmen arrived at the base of the tree. There sat a beautiful adult male lion. The lion was perched some 35 feet above the ground, on a north facing incline. Michael took aim from uphill as the houndsmen collected and contained their dogs. After finding the right opening in which to make a shot, Michael made a perfect 25 yard shot and the lion fell to the ground. Michael was stunned in amazement.
Michael had hunted for this ultimate predator for several years without luck. Upon approaching the downed lion, he was celebrating with quiet gratitude. He got to experience a truly traditional mountain lion hunt with hounds. Although only a day long, the hunt had several adrenaline-pumped moments followed by a rigorous hike into the some of the roughest country South Dakota has to offer.
Michael’s cat officially weighed in at 140 pounds and was estimated to be 3-4 years old. A special thanks to Kris Weinberger, Jack Corr, Sawyer Corr, and Cody Corr for sharing their knowledge, their company, and their hounds’ effort in making this hunt truly a once and a lifetime experience.