by ERIC S. STACY
Around 1998 while bowhunting whitetail deer on a public Wildlife Management Area, namely Red River WMA located in central Louisiana I spotted an approximately 100+ lb male cougar. At first I thought this was a doe sneaking along the tree line toward the tree opening I was hunting over.
I was up in a climbing stand about 30 feet off the ground at the time. When I saw the animal was going to exit the brush into the open area I was hunting over, I brought the bow back to a full draw in anticipation. Well to my surprise, out steps an animal that was most definitely not a deer. It was what appeared to be a mature male cougar. His color was similar to that of a deer.
Mostly tan mixed with a little lighter and darker markings. He had a long tail nearly dragging the ground. He was only about 25 yards away and below me at the time so there was no mistaking it was in fact a cougar. To my surprise, he walked out into the opening in the woods being warmed by the morning sun and decided to come to a stop. I was amazed and honored to watch him lay down on the ground relaxing and licking his paws and body. He had no clue I was only 25 yards away observing him from overhead. This went on for nearly 30 minutes.
By this time, I was hoping he would walk off so I could get back to my hunt. So I took the initiative and pulled out my fawn in distress bleat. Mistake ! When I blew on the bleat, he jumped to a sitting position looking into the woods. The only thing moving at this point on that animal was his eyes.
He did a slow pan of the woods back and forth directly under my stand. He never thought to look up. This went on for another 20 minutes before he finally lost interest, dropped his head and turned and walked off into the woods.
This was a once in a lifetime experience (especially in Louisiana) and I enjoyed every second I got to spend with such a magnificent creature.
Cougars are alive and well in Louisiana.