Huge captured male cougar tagged in 2018 by biologists legally killed by hunter in northeast Washington
Eli Francovich / The spokesperson-Revue
A huge male cougar captured and tagged by biologists in 2018 was legally killed by a hunter on September 9 in eastern Washington.
In 2018, the puma tom weighed 197 pounds, its head was 56 centimeters in circumference and it was 9 years old, according to Bart George, a wildlife biologist from the Kalispel tribe who captured the puma in 2018. The puma was so big it biologists had to dart it twice. He was so muscular that one of the darts came out when the animal flexed the muscle in his thigh. On average, Tom cougars weigh between 150 and 155 pounds.
Around this time, the animal was captured and provided with a collar as part of Washington’s ongoing predator-prey project, which is trying to better understand the relationship between wolves and ungulates. A secondary consideration, however, is how wolves and cougars interact.
In 2018, the cougar was the largest cougar captured in Washington.
“Kudos to the hunter, this is a large, mature animal that has most likely spawned a lot of offspring in the area,” George said in a text. “Removing the fat cat will make room for another mature male to fill his doghouse.”
On September 9, Brandon Reed was fishing and camping with his girlfriend and two children on Lake Carl. That morning they went for a hike around the lake and he climbed to a rock outcrop to look for elk. Reed started looking for nearby drainage with his binoculars when he saw the tomcat lying under a tree.
“I’m glazing and letting clear through that drainage was a cat and a big cat,” he said. “It seemed huge to me. Lying there like your normal house cat.”
Reed, who had his Tikka .300 mag rifle with him, approached the ground and saw the tom. He estimated that the shot was between 300 and 350 meters.
Reed figured that with such a small target, he would either hit the cat or miss it altogether.
“I’m either going to be up, down or I’m going to hit it,” he said.
He fired, the recoil knocked him off the scope.
When he put the telescope back on the cat, he saw it make two turns in the drainage before it disappeared into the treeline.
Reed returned to his truck and his family, grabbed a shotgun, and then went to retrieve the cat. He found the tom wrapped around a tree below where he was lying. He also brought a range finder and found that he had shot 366 meters. He also found the collar and tag placed on the animal in 2018 and he briefed state and tribal biologists.
Over the next several hours, Reed skinned the cat and wrapped between 50 and 60 pounds of meat in addition to its skin and skull. He waits for the skull to be treated by the taxidermist and will submit it to verify a world record.
The biggest cougar hit, according to the Boone and Crockett Club file, was killed in 1979 by Douglas E. Schuk in British Columbia. The skull scored 16 4/16 points. The Boone and Crockett Club finalist cougar was killed in the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness in Idaho by Gene R. Alford of Kamiah, Idaho, in 1988.
“The truth is, I want this to be a record,” Reed said.