Mountain lions are elusive creatures. Not only do they blend well into their environment, but their solitary and stealthy lifestyle makes it difficult to detect them. It’s why spotting a mountain lion is such a rarity and hunting one even more difficult.
However, you can increase your chances by becoming aware of the top signs of a mountain lion’s presence.
Mountain Lion Tracks
Mountain lion tracks range from 3-5 inches wide in diameter and will normally not show any claws. To the inexperienced, mountain lion tracks can often appear similar to dog tracks. However, there are a few key differences that set them apart. Firstly, mountain lion tracks will show the typical cat heel imprint, with two lobes at the top of the heel and three lobes at the bottom. Their tracks will be asymmetrical with a leading toe on the right footprint. Finally, mountain lions have an overstep walk, meaning their hind feet land where their front feet land. As such, you’ll see pairs of footprints roughly 15 to 30 inches apart, depending on the speed of their gait.
Another common sign of a mountain lion is scat. Mountain lions will typically cover their scat with debris, so scat can be difficult to detect if you’re not looking for it. Their scat is 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter and are typically smooth with a strong odor. If you look closely, you should notice meat remains. If you see any fruits, seeds, or nuts, then it is not mountain lion scat.
Markings and Scratches
The final sign that you have a mountain lion in your area are markings and scratches on nearby objects. When marking, a mountain lion will scrape the ground and then urinate on top, typically nearby a tree. You will typically find these markings near kill sites or travel routes. You may also notice scratches along the tree trunk. This is from a mountain lion practicing claw raking, where they repeatedly scratch their claws along trees similar to how house cats scratch their claws on furniture or scratching posts.
Even if you keep an eye out for these top three signs, there is no guarantee you’ll be able to catch up with the mountain lion. That’s why at Elk Ridge Outfitters, we use hounds to track down mountain lions for a more successful hunt. To learn more about our Montana mountain lion hunts, contact us today.