“It’s a very elusive animal. They usually see you before you see them! – DiscoverWestman.com


It was mid-January when North Dakota hunter Don Haas was checking his game cameras on his father’s land on the south side of the Turtle Mountains and came across a set of cougar tracks. The next day he spotted it and was able to get sights on it, taking the big cat down with a single blow.

“The first shot knocked it down so I took the second shot to make sure it would stay down,” he notes.

Haas started hunting when he was 14, with white-tailed deer being his favourite. After 25 years of hunting turtles and seeing something as elusive and dangerous as a cougar, the 39-year-old was shocked.

“When I saw the mountain lion tracks, it was like whoa! There’s a mountain lion here! Even though there are stories that the odd cougar can be spotted from time to time in the Turtle Mountains , Haas had never encountered a cougar in the wild.

Don lives just outside of Bottineau, North Dakota near Lake Metigoshe and was walking on his father’s property near Lake Upsilon, just along the Canadian border.

After the first discovery of the tracks, Haas reassembled the Turtles the next day.

“I had to walk because the snow was so thick that you can’t drive anymore,” he explains. “I just came over this hill and saw this mountain lion walking through this cattail swamp, walking along a deer trail. I actually got a shot at it, and I have had!

The North Dakotan shot the 165-pound male cougar 150 yards away. The experience still amazes him. “Walking up to him was unreal, I had never seen one before, and just seeing his size too was pretty special to me.”

“My dad’s been up there for 77 years and he’s never seen one either, most people have never seen one.”

“There were tracks up there last year too,” he adds. “It could very well be the same cougar, I guess it was.”

The North Dakota Game and Fish shared some Mountain Lion territorial habits with Haas; big cats have been known to cover a home range of 150 square miles and cross the same area from time to time as they make their rounds. “There are probably a few in the Turtle Mountains. Mine was a male and I was told there were probably a few females up there,” he shares.

After dragging the puma out of the bush using a calf sled, Haas took the puma to a taxidermist to have the cat mounted. He plans to display it in a special place somewhere in his local town of Bottineau.

“It’s a very elusive animal,” he adds. “They usually see you before you see them!”


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