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Record lion killed

Jason Ferguson
Published: Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Frank Schmidt of Custer shot this 177-pound mountain lion south of Custer Jan. 21. It is the largest mountain lion to be shot in the state since the mountain lion hunting season was introduced in 2005.

 

By Jason Ferguson
Frank Schmidt knew he was tracking a big mountain lion. Just how big, however, he had no idea.
On the morning of Friday, Jan. 21, Schmidt was on another day of mountain lion hunting when he discovered the tracks of what appeared to be a large mountain lion south of Custer. He had been hunting hard for nine days, doing a lot of walking and tracking with minimal success. If he was going to take a lion, he wanted it to be a big one.
He was about to get his wish.
After following the tracks for a while, he discovered the lion’s kill site, where a deer carcass sat, partially buried. He worked his way to some rocks, roughly 80 yards from the site, and waited. About an hour later, the lion came back for another meal.
Once the lion was in view, Schmidt raised his .270 rifle and peered at the animal through the scope. It was at that point Schmidt began to realize just how big of an animal it was. As a professional taxidermist, Schmidt had just worked with two other large cats, and he knew the one in his scope was a big one.
“I thought, ‘I’m not going to watch him anymore, I’m going to take him down,”â��Schmidt said.â��“A little gust of wind or whatever, and he (could have been) gone.”
When he first started hunting lions, he took out a .223 rifle. However, once he began skinning the cats as a taxidermist, he decided to go up to a .270 because of their muscle mass.
“This was a bigger animal than any deer in the Hills,” he said.
After shooting the lion, he walked over to it, and that’s when the sheer enormity of the lion set in.
“When I walked up, it was the biggest cat I had ever seen,” he said.
It wasn’t just the biggest cat he had seen.
Luke Neduna, a resource biologist with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks, helped check in the lion. The cat, a 5-year-old male, weighed 177 pounds and was 88 inches from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. Neduna confirmed it is the largest lion that has been taken in South Dakota since the hunting season  began for mountain lions in 2005.
“It was definitely a big cat,”â��Neduna said. “It was pretty impressive.”
Neduna said a male lion that large could have a range of up to 300 miles, making the fact Schmidt was able to track it down that much more rare. A lion that big will also often consume one big game animal per week.
“Iâ��saved a lot of deer,”â��Schmidt joked. “Iâ��was really lucky to cross one (that size). About the only way to do it is to cross a kill site.
“His forearms and paws are just amazing. It’s scary to think he was only a couple of miles from where I live.”
Neduna said the cat was the picture of perfect health and is the biggest cat he has ever seen personally. He did say there are reports of mountain lions over 200 pounds wandering in the Hills, but they are “few and far between.”
This year’s mountain lion season will end when either 45 lions are killed, or 30 females are killed. As of now, 31 lions have been taken down, 18 of which have been female.
Schmidt said this was the first year he had “legitimately” gone lion hunting. Although he has been here for five years, he said he never wanted to go out and randomly shoot a lion because he had seen too many small ones shot.
“Iâ��was pretty particular,”â��he said.â��“Iâ��didn’t track any small tracks.”
Since he is a taxidermist, Schmidt said he plans to do a life-sized mount of his prized lion. Once he finishes it—which he said could take up to a year—he will display it for a while at Top Pin Archery.
“He is special, so I will make sure it is done right,”â��he said. “I’m going to take my time.”

Frank Schmidt knew he was tracking a big mountain lion. Just how big, however, he had no idea.

On the morning of Friday, Jan. 21, Schmidt was on another day of mountain lion hunting when he discovered the tracks of what appeared to be a large mountain lion south of Custer. He had been hunting hard for nine days, doing a lot of walking and tracking with minimal success. If he was going to take a lion, he wanted it to be a big one.

He was about to get his wish.

After following the tracks for a while, he discovered the lion’s kill site, where a deer carcass sat, partially buried. He worked his way to some rocks, roughly 80 yards from the site, and waited. About an hour later, the lion came back for another meal.

Once the lion was in view, Schmidt raised his .270 rifle and peered at the animal through the scope. It was at that point Schmidt began to realize just how big of an animal it was. As a professional taxidermist, Schmidt had just worked with two other large cats, and he knew the one in his scope was a big one.

“I thought, ‘I’m not going to watch him anymore, I’m going to take him down,”â��Schmidt said.â��“A little gust of wind or whatever, and he (could have been) gone.”

When he first started hunting lions, he took out a .223 rifle. However, once he began skinning the cats as a taxidermist, he decided to go up to a .270 because of their muscle mass.

“This was a bigger animal than any deer in the Hills,” he said.

After shooting the lion, he walked over to it, and that’s when the sheer enormity of the lion set in.

“When I walked up, it was the biggest cat I had ever seen,” he said.

It wasn’t just the biggest cat he had seen.

Luke Neduna, a resource biologist with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks, helped check in the lion. The cat, a 5-year-old male, weighed 177 pounds and was 88 inches from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. Neduna confirmed it is the largest lion that has been taken in South Dakota since the hunting season  began for mountain lions in 2005.

“It was definitely a big cat,”â��Neduna said. “It was pretty impressive.”

Neduna said a male lion that large could have a range of up to 300 miles, making the fact Schmidt was able to track it down that much more rare. A lion that big will also often consume one big game animal per week.

“Iâ��saved a lot of deer,”â��Schmidt joked. “Iâ��was really lucky to cross one (that size). About the only way to do it is to cross a kill site.

“His forearms and paws are just amazing. It’s scary to think he was only a couple of miles from where I live.”

Neduna said the cat was the picture of perfect health and is the biggest cat he has ever seen personally. He did say there are reports of mountain lions over 200 pounds wandering in the Hills, but they are “few and far between.”

This year’s mountain lion season will end when either 45 lions are killed, or 30 females are killed. As of now, 31 lions have been taken down, 18 of which have been female.

Schmidt said this was the first year he had “legitimately” gone lion hunting. Although he has been here for five years, he said he never wanted to go out and randomly shoot a lion because he had seen too many small ones shot.

“Iâ��was pretty particular,”â��he said.â��“Iâ��didn’t track any small tracks.”

Since he is a taxidermist, Schmidt said he plans to do a life-sized mount of his prized lion. Once he finishes it—which he said could take up to a year—he will display it for a while at Top Pin Archery.

“He is special, so I will make sure it is done right,”â��he said. “I’m going to take my time.”

 



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Current Comments

27 comments so far (post your own)
Eddie from the Bronx
February 2nd, 2011 at 07:42am

After reading this article movie quote comes to mind.

"Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, for he is the harbinger of death."
— Planet of the Apes

Pat
February 3rd, 2011 at 04:45am

So, how many times did he hunt "illegitimately"? People complain about too many deer, then they kill the lions. What a beautiful animal to have wasted. Think, people, before it's too late.

Sara
February 3rd, 2011 at 20:34pm

You watch to much TV.

Ann
February 6th, 2011 at 10:04am

I can't believe that anyone could be so happy about killing such a beatiful animal.These are God's animals and he put them here for our enjoyment and he wants us to take care of them, not kill them for sport just so you can be this big shot in front of all of your friend.There are alot of people that are NOT IMPRESSED.

Stacie
February 9th, 2011 at 09:44am

I think that is awesome and who care what the tree huggers say. I have never hunted Mountain Lion before, but that would be a dream come true to get one like that!!!!

Chris
March 3rd, 2011 at 05:47am

For those of you who do not believe in the Mountain Lion hunt,..think about how close they're moving to town next time you let your small children out to play, or your dog & cat. They are stealthy hunters, a top predator, they hunt alone vs in a pack and they wouldn't think twice about jumping anything for food. I admire them but certainly think a season on them is needed. I don't want to keep looking over my shoulder just to enjoy a walk with my dog. You'd have no warning.

Vis
March 4th, 2011 at 07:43am

Ann, you should go back and read the Bible. GOD has given us dominion over the animals, to rule them. In no way can you justify your comment with scripture. Awsome trophy man. We have way too many of these cats.

Chris
March 17th, 2011 at 00:59am

Good Job Ann!! :)

sue
March 17th, 2011 at 14:21pm

Remember that WE are the encroachers. As we increase out population at more than an exponential number, we have to use more and more of land that is home to the native creatures. The animals are the ones who suffer from mankind's errors. It's not their fault, it's OURS!!!

Christopher
September 27th, 2011 at 08:00am

I was just reading the above comments. I am a Christian and am sickened by mans destruction of nature but I also grew up in the country. I had to drop a mountain lion who ate all seven of our goats. I was assisted by fish and game. The must be a moderate balance. Their is no black or white answer to killing animals. Also as a Christian I think we should use scripture to show love not to put people under the Law. Peace and Love to all from just some country boy.

Jacob
February 23rd, 2012 at 07:04am

You god guy's are something else, stop speaking on behalf of someone else's words and speak for yourself, this bible thing is only to be used as guidance for yourself, not to be taken verbatim. As far as the beautiful creature that was killed for sport not food, guess it wasn't his day. A real man would have caught it with his bare hands, not coward up to using a rifle. Killing a large animal without purpose does not make for an honorable or respectable man, just displays the lack of intelligence and gives his family bloodline shame.

Norm
August 2nd, 2012 at 14:02pm

It is amazing how so many people condemn the hunting/taking the life of an animal while supporting the abortion of an innocent living human being as a choice. Taking the life of an innocent human is clearly murder!

It is an established biological fact that human life begins at conception.

So, if you support human abortion you should not complain about hunting an animal.

Gary
September 11th, 2012 at 17:02pm

Norm, your logic is skewed. Besides, not anywhere in the comments above was abortion mentioned. So stop tryna create problems, you whiner.

Norm
September 15th, 2012 at 15:02pm

What is illogical is to be pro-choice when it comes to taking human life and then opposing the hunting of animals.

So, unless you oppose aborting people you have no basis for opposing hunting.

Chris2
November 15th, 2012 at 09:34am

When you have a 4 year old child camping with you and off about 40 feet away is mountain lion watching intently your every move, you may think twice about being in anti-hunting, save-the-planet mode. Horsethief Campground, Custer, SD. July 2012. Wish we had our .270 with us.! Lucky we scared it off and had a truck to sleep in, forget the tent. Forget bringing the horses camping too. But it was unforgettable! Beautiful Town! Friendly people! (and animals) LOL

bryon
December 11th, 2012 at 08:45am

As an outdoor enthusiast/hunter/fisherman and christian I agree with many of these comments, however am disappointed that people can't see what other people enjoy to recreate. I ma a bow hunter by passion and an ethical one at that. Not one time did anyone say this man was not going to eat what he harvested. I have been tracked by several lions while hunting and have seen several others without incident. Living in a heavily populated lion area I don't even want to know how many times I didn't see them when they could have pounced on me. God put these animals on this earth for to enjoy both visual and for harvest. We all have our differences let keep it together and respect one another.

Blessings

Deborah Johnson
January 17th, 2013 at 06:34am

It never ceases to amaze me how people who come to the wilderness for recreation or to live think that because they are there then animals who threaten them should be killed. There is no justification for this mentality,the truth and simple facts are that you moved into their territory and must abide by the laws of nature and not try to make nature abide by yours.

if you are worried about your children, pets and horses don't come to the blackhills or prepare yourself for situations where you may encounter a mountain lion etc.

I have been in the hills for 3 years now , I am a nature photographer and i spend a lot of time in custer park on the trails and back roads and I just seen my first big cat last summer and it was more afraid of me than I was of them.

Jake F
February 15th, 2013 at 07:56am

We were in the black hills before the lions ever were, they are a growing problem and their are way more out there than they say there is. I have experienced this FIRST HAND, I have seen Mountain lions kill a deer right outside of the Elementary School in Broad Daylight on a Friday afternoon, they are not scared of humans, and they WILL kill you! If they are hungry, you think that because there is purity in nature? Explain the Orangatangs and Monkeys eating there young and putting the women up to be WHORES and getting paid in bananas? true story bro, but Animals and nature are evil, God Put these animals here for a reason, and nobody knows why, so stop prejudging, i believe, that when Moses saved two of every animal the bible says, and i will not quote, because i do not recall the exact words or page, since he saved the animals, he is now allowed to eat them, When I got my mountain lion, i killed the sucker dead, and to prevent him from breeding more and to kill someone elses livestock, call me a neanderthol, call me heartless, I am here to prove a valid point, to bring up false evidence about anything and the lady ^ obviously has not been around these animals here whole life, every cat is different, every cat has a different opinion, just like us, a female cat will attack you on sight, while a male cat will "play with its food" parsay.

carol
April 12th, 2013 at 05:44am

Speaking as a Christian, I am one who cannot imagine a God creating a species (mammals, like us) capable of suffering, and then claiming they were put here for our pleasure - to torture, abuse and destroy. While I consider myself a Christian, I do not share the arrogance most Christians display towards the natural world. I think that the picture of the goof with the large mountain kill is absolutely disgusting.

cthulu
April 26th, 2013 at 11:51am

As a life long hunter, I cannot imagine taking a beautiful animal like this without a compelling reason. Trophy hunters are NOT my idea of sportsmen. (Tell me the lion was used to feed the guy's family, or that it was killed self defense, and I will reconsider.)

Rob
May 31st, 2013 at 05:03am

That someone can take pleasure in killing a mountain lion is pretty sick. How come the people of SD tolerate this barbarism? Isn't conservation a priority for the majority of South Dakotans?

Norm
June 4th, 2013 at 14:37pm

The real barbarism is the taking the life of innocent unborn human children. Do you care more about the hunting of animals than the murder of children?

Karl
June 14th, 2013 at 05:56am

Cats like these are the reason I don't open the door to go outside without a handgun as I live south of Custer. Cats have litters and there are way too many of them. I understand there was an attack by one at Sheridan Lake . I have a relative that was out on an ATV with another ATV behind him that blew their horn and made him stop. He informed him that he saw a lion jump off a cliff and just miss taking him out on his ATV as they blew down the trail.Poor timing on part of the cat. Maybe next time he will succeed.

curt marchiando
December 11th, 2013 at 06:36am

good job frank. if u people don't have something nice to say zip your mouths. I forgot u are the perfect people in this world. look in the mirror your far from perfect your head is lop sided and u have big ears. GET MY POINT MR KNOW IT ALL?

dooley
December 20th, 2013 at 22:21pm

Hi I live south of Custer .. about fifty years now ....and see them lions quite often. One was shot, by the sheriff, in my sons garage a couple of years ago .. these girls comments remind me of the young couple that understood bears and went to live and interact with them on a remote Alaskan island .. the bears ate em .

believer
April 6th, 2014 at 08:49am

Genesis 1:28
Then God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground."

anonymous
July 20th, 2014 at 06:36am

idiot!

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