This article was first printed in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Nov. 25, 2010. Ryan England, the hunter in the story, is a third generation UA pipefitter.
Believe it or not, some people in the world actually express gratitude on Thanksgiving Day. Today, Ryan England is one of them. He’s thankful for quick reflexes and a shotgun that didn’t let him down when he needed it most.
England, a Las Vegas native, spends much of his free time hunting coyotes in Lincoln County, and his efforts have not gone unrewarded. During his last foray into the hinterlands, England managed to call and bag five yodel dogs, all in one day, but it’s what happened early the next morning that set this outing aside from all others.
The sun was still resting below the eastern skyline when England stepped out of his truck and grabbed his gear. He was dressed in camouflage from head to shoes and carried with him a shotgun, a rifle chambered in .243 and a pair of electronic predator calls – one a Primos Power Dogg and the other a FoxPro. After walking through the dark to his chosen hunting location, England built an impromptu blind using brush and a few deadfalls. These he placed in a circle of sorts with a big tree to watch his back and break up his silhouette when the time came.
With the sun rising, England pulled a camouflage net down over his face, flipped the switch on his FoxPro and let it run just long enough for the call to get the attention of any nearby coyotes. He followed that up with the remote-controlled Primos that he had placed about 25 feet in front of his blind. This time England let the call run for about 20 minutes, and that’s when the predator hunter suddenly became the predator’s prey.
Seemingly out of nowhere, a mountain lion landed in the middle of England’s set, and it didn’t take him long to recognize the lion was looking for breakfast.
“When he first came in sight, he was airborne and he landed right on my call,” England said as he described in detail the cat’s sudden appearance. “That’s how good he pinpointed my call, where that noise was coming from. He landed on that call, knocked it from the dead tree it was on.”
Everything happened so fast that at first England thought the cougar was a big coyote, “but when he turned at me, I realized it was a mountain lion,” he said. “I didn’t have time to get my .243. I pulled up the shotgun that was in my lap, and he must have seen my movement. That’s all I can think. And he turned at me, took two leaps, and the third one he would have been on top of me.”
Somehow in that split second after recognizing the lion for what it was, and that the big cat was coming his way in a hurry, England managed to point his shotgun and squeeze the trigger. The lion landed “eight to 10 feet from my feet,” England said. “That was completely instinct. It happened so fast, it was as quick as I could move. I had no time to think. No time to think.”
It’s easy to see that England’s experience is one he won’t soon forget.
“My adrenaline was so high, and I was shaking so much, I don’t know if I was scared or excited,” he said. “Oh, man, I can’t even explain it. I was high for two days over it. I’ve never had nothing quite like that. I mean, I’ve had them coyotes run right over my lap and stuff like that, you know, but nothing like that.”
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own.