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.”
But just because it’s not popular doesn’t mean that 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, harvesting the 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.
In other words, 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 own nutritional benefit? Meat for the table; pelts for the winter; responsibly managing population numbers.
So, why doesn’t that same moral code apply to mountain-lion hunting?
Related: Becoming a Mountain Lion Hunter
You might recall when California’s former Fish & Game president Daniel Richards received a lot of 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. In fact, 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 that most people shy away from the meat, which is a real shame because according to people 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.”
He also recommends chopping up the meat and serving it on hamburger buns drenched in tangy barbecue sauce — aka a cougar barbecue sandwich. Rinella stumbled upon mountain lion being cooked this was 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 any of the meat other than the backstrap (sound familiar?).
“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 can also parboil puma steak, soak them in a marinade and then throw them on the grill. Just make sure to check that the meat is cooked through thoroughly and that there’s no pink in sight. Like bear meat or wild hog, cougar meat can carry trichinosis, an infection 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. What do you think? Have you ever tried it? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or let us know in the comment section below.
Featured photo: John Hafner