MANDAREE - Ron Brugh has heard mountain lions scream and found their tracks but he'd never actually seen a cougar until Sunday night when he shot one in his yard.
The mountain lion was spotted about 6:30 p.m. at the Brugh ranch about eight miles southwest of Mandaree.
Brugh said several of his grandchildren were playing outside and riding four-wheelers at the time.
Submitted Photo •
Ron Brugh, left, and his son, Koty Brugh, hold the mountain lion that Ron Brugh shot near the Brugh home Sunday night. Ron Brugh’s grandchildren were playing in the yard when the cat was spotted and then shot.
"That was way too close for comfort," he said Monday morning.
"You might say it was broad daylight. It was very bold," he added of seeing the mountain lion, a primarily nocturnal animal, in daylight and not far from his house,
Brugh said one of his horses was scratched rather badly recently which he believes was done by a mountain lion.
Brugh and his son, Koty, went after the cat, going to a patch of poplar trees with undergrowth, which is separate from the other trees. "He got on one side and I got on the west side," Ron Brugh said. "It was going to be his shot or my shot, and I got a good position,"
Brugh said the cat was much larger than he thought. "Honestly, I didn't think it was that big," he said. He could just see the cat's head in the 13- or 14-inch-tall grass.
"A ranchhand said he heard it scream," Ron Brugh said. But he said maybe too much of his adrenalin was pumping through him as he was running to get positioned because he didn't hear a scream. He said he shot at the cat with his .223-caliber rifle. "It was a lucky shot and shot it right there," he said.
Fred Poitra, director of the Three Affiliated Tribes' Game and Fish Department at New Town, went to the Brugh ranch Sunday night following the incident and brought the cat back to his department's office. Brugh is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes.
"It's pretty big," said Poitra," giving his assessment of the cat.
Poitra's department took the cat to Bismarck to the N.D. Game & Fish Department Monday to be weighed and analyzed.
Poitra said the cat, a male, weighed 120 pounds and was between three- and four-years old, according to the state Game & Fish Department officials. It measured 6 feet, 2 inches from the end of its tail to the top of its head and measured 2 1/2 feet from its paws to shoulders.
"Its canines were about 2 inches," Brugh said.
State Game & Fish officials also confirmed the cat at one time had broken a hind leg.
L.M. Baker, editor of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Times west of New Town, who has photographed several mountain lions that have been shot or died in other ways on Fort Berthold, said, "It certainly had a more brownish color and the paws were the biggest in size."
Mountain lions are not currently in season on the Fort Berthold Reservation but Poitra said Brugh's shooting the cat was justified by the tribal Game and Fish Department because it occurred in the yard where Brugh's grandchildren were playing.
The mountain lion will be returned to Brugh who can have it done in a full mount by a taxidermist.
Brugh, who grew up near where he lives, said people in that area started seeing and hearing mountain lions and wolves about 16 years ago. Also a hunter, he said he's never hunted for mountain lion.
"I can live with them as long as they're not coming in my yard," he said.