Most hunters don’t hunt mountain lions, and those who do typically pass on the meat and leave it for the outfitter and guides (lucky them). As Hank Shaw put it, “cougar-eating [is] a rarity within a rarity. A taboo.”
Just because it’s not popular doesn’t mean more hunters shouldn’t try it. In a recent #Top10Tuesday post, Bob Robb detailed what it’s like to hunt mountain lions with hounds.
Once you’re at the tree, killing a cat isn’t hard. But that’s a bit of a misnomer since the walk to the baying hounds might be the toughest climb of your entire life. And, if the cat is small or decides to jump and run, congratulations, you get to start all over.
It’s a tough pursuit but well worth the time, energy and effort you put in. Isn’t that what hunting’s all about (or should be about) — working your body and mind hard in the pursuit of a beautiful game animal that’s worthy of your respect, taking it out as painlessly as possible and then using its meat for our nutritional benefit?
The same should apply to hunting mountain lions.
Related: Becoming a Mountain Lion Hunter
You might recall that California’s former wildlife commissioner, Daniel Richards, received flack after shooting and eating a mountain lion while on a legal hunt in Idaho, and posting a photo of himself posing with the big cat online. He was pressured to resign and ultimately stepped down from his position as a result.
Related: The Myth of the Eastern Cougar
Another big reason mountain-lion hunting isn’t popular is most people shy away from the meat. That’s a shame. According to those who have tried it, it tastes just like pork. Steven Rinella defends the merits of mountain lion hunting in this post, wherein he bets that if you did a “double-blind taste test between the loins of a mountain lion and a wild boar and you’d stump ninety percent of the participants.”
Rinella also recommends chopping up and serving the meat on hamburger buns with tangy barbecue sauce — aka a cougar barbecue sandwich. He tried it this way at a dive bar in Wyoming. The owner had a buddy who was a professional mountain lion hunting guide, and his clients apparently never wanted to bother with the meat other than the backstraps.
“I take as much as I can get,” the bar owner said. “Simmer the quarters in water until the meat’s falling off the bone, and then chunk it all up and make some sauce. It’s better than pork once you get it tender, if you ask me.”
If that doesn’t have you drooling, you also can parboil puma steaks, soak them in a marinade and then throw them on the grill. Make sure the meat is cooked through thoroughly with no pink color. Mountain lion meat can carry trichinosis, which is caused by roundworms that hatch once you start digesting the meat and burrow into your muscles. Rinella contracted it when he ate undercooked bear meat (against his better judgement). And the prized tenderloin? Treat it like pork loin, and you’ll have yourself an elegant meal.
Heck, even Ted Nugent enjoys cougars every now and then:
“Vegetarians are cool. All I eat are vegetarians — except for the occasional mountain lion steak.”
There you have it — reasons to give mountain lion meat a try.
Featured photo: John Hafner
More Waterfowl, Venison and Wild Game Recipes
For more recipes about venison and other wild game, visit our Grand View Wild Eats page here and give them a try.