How to Skin a Cougar

The awesome task of dismantling a marvelous beast

| July-August 2009

  • Cougar Skin

    image by Getty RF

  • Cougar Skin

The cat was enormous, 200 pounds easy. It died about 100 miles from Portland, near the Klickitat River. The man who killed it wanted to tan the hide so we would always remember the amazing animal and the fact that he killed it and not the other way around.

It was evening and we were hunting deer in the rugged breaks above the river. So was the cougar. It trotted right up to the man who killed it, looking as big as an African lioness, and when it was 15 yards away he shot it. It whirled and leapt into a draw.

Another hunter joined the first and when the first hunter stopped shaking the two of them triple-checked that their guns were loaded and headed into the draw side by side.

The cat was dead. The first two hunters confirmed this several times, and I confirm it again when I meet up with them an hour later. Claws and teeth and muscle in those proportions make you do such things.

It’s getting dark so we move quickly. We cut a thick straight oak limb and lash the cougar’s massive feet to it and hoist the load to our shoulders. The guy in the downhill position on the pole has almost the entire weight of the cat and log smashing into his shoulder. It takes us two hours to cover a mile to the old road where we had stashed our mountain bikes.

The first hunter guts the cat. He cuts a shallow straight line groin to sternum, then reaches shoulder deep into the rib cage to sever the trachea and esophagus and pull out the organs.

11/6/2017 11:52:48 AM


9/21/2009 8:20:10 PM

I know this is a little late (I picked up the magazine on vacation this summer and just had time to read it over this last weekend) but I'm really curious. Don't you have to report shooting a cougar to the Division of Wildlife in Oregon? Unless the hunter who shot the cougar already had a cougar tag and it was in season? Did he? And what kind of firearm was the hunter hunting deer with? The article left me with some questions.

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