At the 2009 NRA Convention in Phoenix, my cousin(Dr. Bob Collard) and I visited with Kelly Glenn-Kimbro at the Ruger exhibit. Kelly’s father, Warner, was also at Phoenix and I met him. Bob is from Silver City, NM and had hunted lion with Warner and Kelly several years previous.
I have said several times that I could spend the rest of my hunting time on whitetails and be perfectly satisfied. However when pushed about some other hunt, a good lion is first on my list. Also, I just happen to have the perfect place for one in my library!
At Phoenix, Bob and I decided to ask Kelly if we could get on her cancellation list. A year and a half goes by and no chances. In November of last year, I began to think that maybe we should just book a hunt. The first week of December, we hosted Mike Fifer, President and CEO of Ruger, for a whitetail hunt. I mentioned the cancellation list and said after a year and a half, I thought I might just as well and go ahead and book the hunt with Kelly and Warner. Mike let me know that they were booked 5 years out! Well, 5 years from now, I think I might just be too old to set a mule.
What a surprise when Kelly called just after Christmas; we were on for a hunt.
So, how do I get in some kind of shape for this effort in 6 weeks? February 6, 2011 is the start date of the hunt.
In Jack O’Connor’s The Big Game Animals of North America, the Chapter onThe Mountain Lion contains several quotable sentences: “Even in country where the mountain lion is common, it is very rare that one is seen unless it’s put up a tree or otherwise bayed by dogs.”
“Of all the large American mammals, the mountain lion is the shyest, most furtive, and most difficult to encounter.”
“Catching a glimpse of him is made all the more difficult because he is almost entirely nocturnal. Generally, he does not begin to hunt until dusk, and shortly after dawn he lies up in some secluded spot.”
“Few types of hunting excel lion hunting in anticipation. The hunter who knows his dogs can, by their actions, tell pretty well how old the scent is and what the lion was doing, and he’ll have a pretty fair notion about where the lion is heading. From the distant sounds he can tell when it is treed, if it makes a stand against a cliff and is fighting the dogs off. He can tell the voice of one dog from another, and he has fairly accurate ideas about the noses and intelligence of his various dogs.”
“And lion hunting is by no means easy. In the rugged mountains of the Southwest, even the dude hunter who is paying for the show usually has to do some desperate horseback riding over country so rough it is incredible.”
“When the Lee brothers took paying guests out lion hunting, one of the older Lee’s used to stay with the dude and try to keep him within sound of the pack, but the youngest Lee, Dale, stayed right with the dogs, running up hill and down, through some of the roughest country on the continent.”
“The great sport of lion hunting is following the wonderful dogs through wild and beautiful country. The actual shooting is generally very easy.”
“I have done in only one lion with my own fair hands, and that was in the early twenties.” O’Connor used a ’92 Winchester carbine in .25/20; the location is not specifically noted, but surely was in southern Arizona.
Craig Boddington’s book Campfires and Game Trails has a chapter on The Great Cats. Craig hunted with Marvin(Kelly’s Grandfather) and Warner Glenn prior to the books publication in 1985, There are 4 photos in the chapter of this hunt; Craig with his lion, the cat loaded on the mule, Craig with the dogs, and a tom lion scratch. Craig caught his lion in the Chiricahuas north of Douglas, Arizona.
“It’s tough hunting and the Glenn’s make no guarantee. It’s also extremely rewarding hunting, and those Arizona mountains are my favorite hunting country. My Arizona cougar came surprisingly easy; some trappers gave us a tip about a javelina freshly killed by a cougar. We trailered the mules as far as we could, rode in to the designated place and Jaws, their big black-and-tan strike dog, found the scent. The lion was laid up nearby. The pack jumped him, and after a couple of miles of pell-mell chase, he treed in a big pine.”
Both O’Connor and Boddington make the points that lions are generally shot at close range, are not hard to kill and that cartridges like the .22 Magnum, .22 Hornet, .25/20, etc have killed many a lion. Boddington notes that “It is important to place the shot carefully. A wounded cougar isn’t to be taken lightly even if he poses no great threat to you–and that isn’t a certainty. He can do a lot of damage to a prized pack of hounds, and do it very quickly.”
I have selected a Ruger No.1A in .357 Magnum and a Blackhawk .357 to take on this hunt. (Click on any of the photos and they will enlarge!)
The No.1 is one of the unmarked over runs from the California Highway Patrol edition of 1982. Generally it is thought by Collectors that less than 200 were made. The .357 Flattop is a 4XXX range 1st variation. It has some very old and thick after market stags fitted. Both were sighted with the Hornady 125 grain XTP. The No.1 will shoot one hole groups at 25 yards. I figured I was good with the Flattop to about 7-8 yards.
Bob and I were to be at the Glenn’s Malpai Ranch by 5:00PM on Saturday, the 5th of February. I left home at 1:30AM that morning. Met Cousin Collard at Lordsburg, NM about 1:00PM and we had lunch. Turned off I10 at Road Forks, NM and took US 80 all the way to Douglas. We stopped to look at a marker along the way noting Geronimo’s surrender at Skeleton Canyon in September, 1886. We would see Skeleton Canyon again on the 4th day of hunting, having come in the long and rough way!
Made it to Douglas and then out Geronimo Trail to Warner and Wendy Glenn’s Malpai Ranch. Here is the sign at the turn off!
Bob and I met Warner and Scotty at the stables, met Wendy(Mrs. Glenn) at the house; we unloaded our gear, had dinner and turned in early. We were to get up at 4:00AM the next morning, with breakfast at 4:30. Kelly had an obligation in town and did not arrive at the Ranch until after we had turned in.
The morning routine after breakfast was to get the mules saddled and loaded, let the dogs out and have their run(to “empty out” as Warner said), load the dogs and our gear and we were off. It was an hour to an hour and a half to the east on Geronimo Trail to the Peloncillos. It would usually be light enough to see, but well before sunrise. The 1st day we turned up Estes Canyon. The hunting party was Warner and Kelly, my cousin(Dr. F. R. Collard) from Silver City, New Mexico, and Scotty Dieringer of Safford, Arizona. Scotty is a 17 year old cowboy and experienced lion hunter. He had brought his two dogs, Berdie and Spook. And then, as O’Connor notes, the “dude”; me!
This was at a windmill and stock tank. We had just unloaded and Scotty was loading the pack mule. Mostly water for the dogs was in the packsaddles. We would water the dogs about 3-4 times a day on those trips were we found no surface water.
On the way up Estes Canyon, early in the hunt, the dogs got on a scent and took off to the left side of the Canyon. We all pulled out to keep up, but the track played out pretty quick, Was exciting for a few moments though. We rode all the way up Estes and topped out; then down into a very grassy basin. The dogs picked up another track here but it was too old to do anything with. We started to make a big circle to head back out and jumped a good Coues buck. This was the only day we actually stopped to eat our lunches. Guess Bob and I needed the “Rest Stop”! On the way out, we ran in to several mama cows with new calves; like 3 or 4 days old. One seemed to be missing it’s baby, so your 1st thought is that a cat caught it. Warner, Kelly and Scotty spent several minutes looking for it; Bob and I rested. Time to head back and we went into some really rough and rocky country. I had to get off and lead Mariah for several hundred yards; just about wore me out. There was just one big descent left to get back to the trucks and trailers. Kelly said it was really rough and steep; we would have to lead our mount for a ways. Kelly and Scotty went off; Warner led Bob and I a longer, slightly easier way around. We were back at the Ranch after dark.
Bob has been nursing a hip problem and he opted out on the 2nd day. We went back to Estes Canyon and rode straight up to where we had turned around the 1st day. We then made a big circle back to our left. Was a much easier ride this day, but the dogs hit no lion scent, Just a short time fooling with what Warner thought to be a bobcat. This was the longest day in the saddle; we must have ridden over 15 miles!
Bob was back in the saddle with us on the 3rd day. We were going up Hog Canyon.
The wind was really blowing hard today when we got out of the lower canyon. When we were heading into the wind, the mules could barely make any forward progress! Hog Canyon was where Warner and Kelly found the jaguar in 1996. Also, note this is the hard way to Skeleton Canyon. This brings up visions of Geronimo and Cochise! Kelly and Scotty split off to the right with 2 dogs and Warner, Bob and I went up the Canyon Trail. Wasn’t long until Kelly radioed that the dogs were on a track. We pulled off the trail and went to them. After we got on the top, the dogs really lit up and headed off into a deep hole. Scotty took of his jacket, chaps and spurs and bailed off the mountain after them. I am thinking-now how am I going to get down there if I need to?? To make a shorter story out of a long day, we didn’t catch the cat; couple of dogs got lost and Warner and Scotty spent a couple of hours gathering up the dogs. We went back out down Hog Canyon; wind still blowing hard!
This was the only day of the hunt that we had this kind of wind.
The 4th day, we rode the trail all the way up Hog Canyon and topped out. We were on top of the Peloncillos and could see a very long way; all the way to the mouth of Skeleton Canyon. To return, it was a long ride circling back to our left on the western rim of the Peloncillos.
We could see the Chiricahuas and the Basin where the Malpai Ranch was . We went by Chester Wells and Chester Bluffs, which would be a big part of the 9th day hunt. A very recognizable landmark from this high is College Peak; formerly known as Nellie’s Nipple. Easy to see why!
After 4 days in the Peloncillos, we were going to head west and go north on the 5th day to the Pedregosa Range. This meant we would be getting up at 3:00AM and trailering the mules for over 2 hours. Bob stayed at the Ranch today, as he would also on the 7th and 9th day. Scotty’s horse bumped a back leg loading in the trailer this morning and he ended up riding the pack mule this day. We were in cattle country and water tanks were available for the dogs. A beautiful and interesting ride this day. By about 10:00 we were on a track. I will mention here that anytime the dogs hit a scent, Warner and Kelly are both off their mules looking for a track to get an indication of what the dogs have scented, whether it is a bobcat, coati mundi, a female lion or tom, and which way it is going! The dogs take off again today; Kelly could never find a track, so we were just not totally sure what it was. There was one heck of a chase going on. Warner and Scotty stayed with the dogs; Kelly was in radio contact. We were in Pryon Canyon and the dogs were hot on something. Warner radioed that all were headed back our way. Kelly told me to get my rifle out and take a shot when it came by. We never saw anything and Warner sheepishly decided the dogs were on a coyote!
The 6th day we were up at 3:00AM again and headed to the Chiricahuas and Rucker Canyon. This was a long day. Kelly had told me in our 1st e-mail that I would be sore from the riding and after the 3rd day it would began to get better. Well, it does! I could barely tell it was better on the 4th day, but by the 5th and 6th days, I was doing pretty good. My knees would get numb and sore after 3-4 hours in the saddle and it would take a few steps after dismounting the mule to get my legs limbered up.
We circled up Devil’s Canyon, down Kid Canyon and then down Bruno. At the day’s end, we found a big tom track in Rucker Canyon. The dogs could not do much with it, but we would be back here at daylight the next morning. Kid Canyon was apparently so named because the Apache Kid hid out here. Search and you will find an interesting Apache-Arizona history story from the 1880′s.
The 7th day we were back in Rucker Canyon, trying to guess where this tom lion had gone last night. The dogs got on a trail early; Warner and Scotty jumped the lion off this bluff.
An interesting bit of Arizona-Apache history is here as Camp Rucker was active camp in the 1879-1880 Apache Campaigns. Lt Anthony Rucker was Commander of C Company of the Apache Scouts. He drowned in 1879 in this flooded creek trying to save his friend and fellow Apache Scout Commander, Lt. Henley. Both drowned. Do an Internet search and you will find the whole story. Will also note that Kelly’s 2011 Poster(from SHOT) was taken at the Camp Rucker ruins.
Down in the Creek, Kelly decided the cat was a small female; we lost it. There were big trees all along the creek, so we all rode through looking up, just to be sure the lion was not high up in a tree. Kelly looked everywhere for tracks.
The 8th Day, we were back in the Chiiricahuas; another 3:00AM wake-up call. This was a pretty easy day. We made a ride up the Turtle Mountain Trail and down the John Long Canyon. Dogs made a couple of short runs, but we couldn’t get on a track to do any good. This was a most scenic ride down John Long. Here was the biggest Ponderosa pines that I saw on the trip.
The 9th Day; Valentines Day! We went back to the Peloncillos, so there was an extra hour of sleep. Warner and Scotty got out and took 6 dogs and went up Wood Canyon, where Warner, Bob and I had come out the 1st afternoon. Kelly and I went on a couple of miles more on Geronimo Trail, parked the truck and trailer and went up Estes Canyon. We had 2 dogs, Raisin and Gringo. It was just about sunrise. Pretty soon up the trail, Kelly noted a tom lion scratch, actually two, one going up and one coming down. They had been made since we were here on the 1st and 2nd days of the hunt. After going up the trail a little farther, we pulled out on the left and started cutting the smaller canyons. Raisin and Gringo got on a track, but it was so rocky that Kelly was not sure what we had or if we were backtrailing. After 10-15 minutes of following the dogs, the dogs were back at Geronimo Trail. They bailed off a bluff that we could not ride the mules off of. We hurriedly took a shortcut back to the Road and found Raisin; we could not find Gringo, nor could we hear him. In the soft dirt of the Road, Kelly found a good tom lion track; it was made last night and we were going in the right direction.
Kelly radioed Warner; he and Scotty had not hit anything, so they came as fast as they could with their 6 dogs. Still no Gringo! The tom crossed the Road and looked to be headed up Hog Canyon. Warner and Scotty took the 7 dogs and tried to find the trail. The lion came off the Bluff just to the right of the big rock. The track( a perfect one; I could even see it!) was in the Road at the big rock. The dogs took off up and out of the left side(West) of the Canyon.
We all followed, out over the top and down into another deep and steep canyon. We could see the Chester Bluffs.
This was off to our right when we lost Raisin and Berdie.
We are all riding along trying to figure out where to go next; we realize Raisin and Berdie are not with us. They both just disappeared without a sound. Now we have lost 3 dogs, as we haven’t come up on Gringo yet. We all head off up this “little” hill and top out, looking and listening for Raisin and Berdie. I don’t even know which way Warner went, but Scotty went left and Kelly and I went right when we topped out. We ride a long way and are getting back to Hog Canyon.
Kelly walks out to the rim to listen; I am with our 2 mules and the pack mule. I hear Kelly say over her radio “I hear the dogs bayed.” It was Raisin and Berdie. I gather all 3 mules and start leading them to her, as I figure we are in for more riding. About the time I get to Kelly, we hear Warner on the radio “I see the lion.” He tells us where the lion is; I get my rifle and we head to the edge of this bluff. Kelly looks over and snaps these 2 photos:
Kelly told me to step right up to the edge of the bluff and I could see the tom; she said Warner was off to the right of the dogs down on their level. I slipped up to the edge; “Kelly, I don’t see the lion.” She said “Go closer to the edge!” I moved another step closer and there he was, just as you see in the above photo. He was on a rock about 25-30 yards below us; the dogs and Warner were another 20 yards below the lion. Looking near straight down, the photos offer no depth perception. I could see Warner on his mule far enough off to the right that I could shoot at the lion without any danger to him. Another problem! The sun was directly above, reflecting in my ocular lens; I could see nothing through the Leupold 2×7, set on 4X. I told Kelly to lay her hat along side my head and scope to shade the lens. I have no recollection whether I had a rest of any kind or how close I was to the edge! When I shot, the lion flopped off the rock to the left and fell another 20 yards to where the dogs and Warner was. He was DRT. I looked at my watch; it was 2:40 PM. We had been on his trail over 7 hours! It took us 40 minutes to get off the top of the bluff and down to the level where Warner, the dogs and the lion were. Then, as we just started down the steep slope, we look back and there is Scotty’s horse, dragging his reins, and his dog Spook, coming down the trail behind us. That was a bit scary, until Warner told us that Scotty was with him. Scotty could hear the radio traffic, but was not at the scene when the shot came. Hearing the shot, he dropped his spurs and chaps and bailed off the mountain to get to the lion and the dogs. His horse and other dog decided to follow Kelly and I. We could not lead Troubador down, so Kelly tied his reins up, put him in front of me and I drove him off the mountain to where the lion was.
I shot from the large “V” on the left; the lion was down on the lower ledge, and he ended up down at this level. It was not flat up on top of that rock!
Kelly, Warner and I all used our cameras to take the photos; we took a lot! Right in the middle of my camera being used, I was introduced to a new aspect of technology- my card was full! After picture taking, Warner gutted the lion; we were interested to know what his last kill was. It was a javelina. Now was time to load this tom on the pack mule and head out down Hog Canyon. Kelly covered up the mules eyes with her hat and the rest of us loaded him in the pack saddle and tied him in good!
It took a couple of hours to get back to the Road and the sun was going down.
We did find Gringo, right where we had last seen him 10 hours earlier.
This was absolutely the hardest, most exciting , and adventurous hunt I ever expect to have in my lifetime!
Hog Canyon is the orange mark, just above Estes Canyon, on the lower right of the map.
One night as we finished dinner, Warner remarked that he had been asked how many more years that he would be hunting lions in these mountains? He replied:“I guess until Kelly gets too old to go hunting with me anymore”.
A last photo that you may have seen on TV.
We saw no Smugglers or Illegals in 9 days in the mountains. We did see some trash and debris left on the trails. What we did see was a tremendous presence by our Border Patrol. Know that these men and women are working hard for you. Gabrielle Giffords gets great credit making this increased Border Patrol activity happen. Please pray for her continued recovery and rehabilitation.
I would suppose that anyone visiting this Website with any interest in Rugers would know that Kelly has been representing Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. with advertisements and at Trade Shows since at least 1988. The advertisement with the Mini-30 in 1988 is the first I am aware off. That was the poster given out at the 1988 NRA Convention in Orlando, Florida. I was there and got an autographed one!!
The most recent poster, from the 2011 SHOT Show. Kelly is holding the new LC9 and the Gunsite Scout model in .308.
For all of you men(and women) and boys and girls who have only met Kelly at SHOT or the NRA Convention, where this always smiling, gracious lady listens to all your Ruger stories, answers all your questions, signs your posters(usually several, for all your friends back home), let me tell you, Kelly Glenn-Kimbro is the “Real Deal”!! She rides a mule and hunts mountain lion in really, really rough country right up there with her father, Warner. And, Warner Glenn is a legend! For those of you who have not seen this, you cannot imagine it; for those who have been there, you know what I mean.
Couple of years ago, Kelly put together a book.
Kelly caught(and shot) this lion on the cover!
Some may recall Warner Glenn’s book, EYES of FIRE, Encounter with a Borderlands Jaguar, from 1996. This is a fascinating read!
The best part of the story is on page 8 when Warner realizes that the dogs are not on the trail of a big tom lion, but a jaguar! Page 9; “Jaguars are notorious for killing dogs”, and Warner’s great efforts to get the dogs off and away from the jaguar!