It was spring turkey season once again. I decided to bring my wife and boys with me one late afternoon to put one to bed for the morning hunt. So we drove up the mountain and up one of my favorite canyons. I finally got one to gobble at the back of the canyon about 20 or 30 minutes before sunset, but rather than just mark the spot and come back in the morning, I thought I would see if i could call him down off the roost since it was still rather light, out, it's worked a couple times before.
So I tell my wife and boys to just hand tight while i hike up the slope to give it a try. But as I get near the top of the ridge, I hear the loud howl of a mountain lion, and it didn't sound too far off. But still, I didn't give it a whole lot of thought, considering every time I had run into a lion it was on it's way out of Dodge and wanted nothing to do with me. Mean while, the turkey is gobbling to beat the band, so I set up and started calling. Next thing I know I hear the lion again, but this time he was much closer, and louder, now I was starting get a bit concerned. It had started to become obvious to me that this lion was after the same turkey I was trying to call off the roost. But from what i could tell, the lion was still on the other side of the ridge, probably 150 yards or so off. I also considered that once the lion gets wind of me, it will take off in the opposite direct, as they usually do when I run into them.
By this time the tree canopy was starting to get pretty dark, but I decided to give one or two more calls to see if I could nail him before dark, but as soon as I called, the lion and the turkey answered at the same time. But this time the lion sounded like it was with just a few yards, so I spun around and looked in the direction of his growl or howl, what ever you call it, and there he was. He was standing up hill of me no more than 30 or 40 yards away and moving straight toward me. At this point I was certain he was stalking either the gobbling turkey, or the hen that was calling, the hen being me. I jumped to my feet, and when I did the lion dropped out of sight then let out another vicious sounding howl, but this time it was parallel to me. It was now really dark in the tree canopy, but I managed to get a glimpse of the cats big silhouette, and he was definitely getting ready to take me down. So I broke into a run, but because the light was so poor, I was running into trees and falling down. To make ting worse, in my panicked state, I managed to drop my shotgun. So I stopped to pick it up, and when I did, I looked up and the cat was right there circling in front of me 10 or 15 feet away. He was crouched down and now ahead of me, like he was trying to circle in front of me. I broke to the right and ran as fast as I could,a nd when I came out the the tree line, I looked back and the cat was standing there just staring at me.
My car was only parked about 100 yards from where I came out of the tree line, but it felt like a million miles away at this point. When I got back to the car though, my wife and boys asked me if I heard the cat growling. I was like, ya, that's why I'm so out of breath, he chased me down the mountain.
Anyway, I made it out alive, but when I returned the next morning to see if I could call that bird in, all I found was a bunch of turkey feathers instead, he got my gobbler.
I learned something interesting about my location tactics in common with the predators, in that, I have always used an owl call, a howling coyote, or a crow call to shock gobble them at sunset, this lets me know where they will be the next morning before sun rise, I refer to this as putting them to bed. So considering turkey can't see after dark, they will stay put on the roost until it's light enough to see. Apparently, predators know this as well, and thus use the same tactic to locate them, and then either wait them out if a coyote or other grounded predator, but if it's an owl, eagle, or cat, they just take them off the roost once it gets dark.
BTW, all of these stories I'm submitting are actual events I've encountered over the years.
"When seconds count, the police are minutes away"