Michael Pearce

December 18, 2011

Only Santa can deliver this unlikely package

Dear Santa,

Michael Pearce

The Eagle's outdoor reporter highlights the latest hunting, fishing and wildlife news.

Dear Santa,

I know it's been about 45 years since my last letter, but you're my last hope to make my Christmas wish come true.

I want to see a real, live Kansas mountain lion.

I've failed in my quest for years while thousands have succeeded. Reporting on the six confirmed Kansas lions in 107 years is as close as I've come.

I feel like such a failure, Santa, because it sounds like we have more mountain lions in Kansas than anywhere.

I have friends in the Rockies who are out 100 days a year and may see one in a decade. Yet I talked with an outfitter near Independence who sees six or seven a year — which, according to him, is why his clients seldom shot deer.

A family in Reno County told me they saw one coming and going from church on the same Sunday. (The family was coming and going, not the mountain lion.)

A buddy said he saw a mountain lion trotting by a Walmart parking lot one afternoon not long ago.

Please, Santa, I'll take a big cat of any color.

One of the black mountain lions I keep hearing about in Kansas would be cool, especially since one has never been documented in the United States.

No, Santa, I don't want just a photo of a Kansas mountain lion. I've seen lots of them.

Recently, someone e-mailed a photo of a mountain lion dragging a dead deer through what they said was the Flint Hills.

Actually, that would be a great first Kansas mountain lion for me to see.

From what I've seen online, he's been dragging that deer from Texas, around the eastern half of America and in and out of Kansas for about three years.

It doesn't have to be multiple cats, either, like in the photo of three in the yard with ponderosa pines and aspens, and cars with Colorado tags in the driveway. The e-mail said they were near Leavenworth.

It doesn't even need to a super-huge mountain lion, Santa, like the one the guy who sent the pictures said was shot while chasing cattle near Leon several years ago.

That mountain lion was so big the guy who shot it could hardly lift it.

He had trouble lifting an identical-looking mountain lion in Washington several weeks prior to the Kansas kill, according to the Boone & Crockett website.

And I promise to be careful if you show me a mountain lion, Santa. Kansas cats are especially strong and vicious. I hear frequent reports of our mountain lions attacking full-sized cattle and horses, something biologists say is rare in the western United States.

Reports say our cats drag kills up trees, too, which is a trait normally reserved for African leopards.

But seriously, Santa, I'll take any kind of sighting you can give me. Have one stroll by while I'm bowhunting or let me spook one off a fresh deer kill while I'm fishing a Flint Hills stream.

If it'll save you time, drop one down our chimney as you make your rounds on Christmas Eve.

In fact, that would probably give me a mountain lion story that's never been told before. Even in Kansas.

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