By Clay Newcomb

Idaho is a refuge for trail-worn, old school American hunters that love wildlife, conservation, and large doses of hunter opportunity. As it stands, Idaho has almost every big game animal in the Big 10 excluding Musk Ox, Bison, and Caribou (some migrate in at times I hear). They’ve got moose, elk, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, mountain goat, antelope, whitetail, mule deer and most importantly to me this winter, mountain lions.

First Lite Clay Newcomb

The First Lite Sanctuary jacket and bib overalls will be a critical key to staying warm on my mountain lion hunt with Clark Fork Outfitters. My Plott hound, Jedi, isn't going but we'll be hunting with Plotts in Idaho. 

Good friend, Forest Teeter, and myself will be making the 28-hour drive from Arkansas to meet up with Leon Brown of Clark Fork Outfitting in northern Idaho. Leon and I had many mutual friends in the Plott hound circles and we hit it right off nearly charring the phone lines with excessive boredom with our near endless banter of Plott hound bloodlines. However, that was our connection point. We don’t have mountain lions in Arkansas, but I do hunt my Plotts on raccoon. They did, albeit, come from a long history of big game bear and mountain lion pedigrees. And some of our dogs even have similar pedigrees. I’m looking forward to seeing his dogs work.

First Lite Clay Newcomb

The new Grizzly Cold Weather Gloves are a great addition to my gear this year. Also, looking forward to wearing the new First Lite belt!

We’ll be cruising the roads next week hoping for fresh snow and lion tracks. If we need to get into some deep country to find lions we’ll be on snowmobiles pulling trailers carrying the hounds. On this hunt I will be carrying my trusty take-down recurve made by Kent Roberts of Timberghost Archery. As a backup however, I’ll be carrying the Ruger .44 Magnum Super Redhawk that my father gave to me as a high school graduation gift. If the cat is in bow range, I’ll take it with the bow. If the shot is questionable, I’ll use the pistol. I’m happy with either option. Getting a clean kill is critical with a cat, because you don’t want a wounded animal jumping out and scrapping with the hounds.

I just got a new order of clothing in from First Lite. My primary jacket that I will be wearing is the Sanctuary jacket in Fusion camo. This jacket is extremely warm, too warm really for active hunting. However, long rides on snowmobiles will require heavily insulated clothing. Secondly, I’ll be wearing the Sanctuary bib overalls, even though I got word from Ryan Callaghan suggesting they’ll be too warm, I plan to bring them. Ryan suggested I wear the North Branch Soft Shell pants, which I do plan to bring.

I’m quite impressed with the new Grizzly Cold Weather Glove. They’ve got a weatherproof outer shell and a removable glove liner on the inside. This is the ultimate cold weather glove that’s got leather palms, an articulating trigger finger, hang tabs, a “snot pad”, wrist and arm cinches and solid construction.

I’ve got in the line up for head gear First Lites Tag Cuff Merrino Beanie, a trucker hat, and an orange Brimmed Merino Beanie. I will bring more clothing than this including Merino base layers, Corrugate Guide pants, and multiple Merino wool tops. The key is going to be to use the Merino for my “on skin” layer. For a hunt where you may be sweating climbing a mountain, and then be on a snowmobile riding two hours out, you’ll need something that wickes moisture and keeps you warm even when damp. I find First Lite’s gear to be just right for this.

I will keep you posted on the Mountain Lion hunt, and hope to run an article in Bear Hunting Magazine sometime next year. This will be my first trip to Idaho and my first lion hunt, so I’m quite excited. 

Clay Newcomb Plott Hound

Leon Brown's Plott hounds he uses for bear and mountain lion in Idaho share some of the same pedigree as my hounds I use on raccoon in Arkansas. Mountain lion hunting is as much about the dogs as anything. If you've never tried hound hunting, you're missing out on a very traditional American hunting method that is crawling with excitement.