Hadlock sets record in lion hunt
Published: Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
A chance encounter coupled with a keen eye resulted in a record for Cheryl Hadlock in being the first woman ever to shoot a mountain lion during the Black Hills lion hunting season — made all the more remarkable by the fact that she brought it down with one shot from 294 yards away.
Cheryl and her husband, Bob, who were returning from a trip to Custer on Monday, Jan. 31, had decided not to hunt that day because it was so cold. They had been out hunting 14 or 15 times this season, but it was minus one degree on Monday about 1 p.m. when they headed home.
“We were going to look for tracks on the way home,” Cheryl said. “We thought we’d look for where we’d hunt the next day. We thought it might be warmer on Tuesday.”
They had just passed the road grader in the Pass Creek area about a mile back when they noticed fresh tracks in the snow that had blown back onto the road from the grader.
It was obviously a lion track because it was so big, Cheryl said. “We could see where she'd come off the hill and left two fresh prints in the fresh snow and then she must have jumped and gone into a draw.”
Because the Hadlocks had their daughter and granddaughter with them, they were going to take them home and come back and track the lion. However, they spotted it sitting up on a hill where it stood out against the white landscape.
Cold or not, Cheryl said they couldn't pass up the opportunity when it was standing out there, but they didn’t want to spook it.
“I didn't know if she saw us," Cheryl said, "so I told my daughter to drive off and we slipped out of the vehicle.”
Both Hadlocks had licenses for a lion, but since Bob had shot one two years ago, it was Cheryl's turn, he said.
They snuck up on it as closely as they could while remaining hidden behind the trees, but then they came out into the open, “so I had to take a shot,” Cheryl said.
Bob was ready to back her up in case she needed it, but it dropped on her first shot. It was a shot to the neck.
When she turned it in, she was told she was the first woman to shoot a lion during the season.
“I was excited," Cheryl said. “I never imagined that. I don't know what record book that goes in, but it's in my record book anyway.”
The lion will be mounted by Bob, who has mounted all their other trophies, and it will fit in nicely in their living room (which they built especially to hold all their mounts) along with two elk heads, six deer heads, several elk horns and Bob's mountain lion.
Cheryl has purchased a mountain lion license every season and had the chance to shoot one last year.
She and Bob used a predator call to call in five of them, but they never saw them — although they later noticed lion tracks had crossed over theirs. The one they did see was so close that when Cheryl looked through the scope all she saw was lion and couldn’t tell what part of the lion she was aiming at.
“I didn't feel comfortable,” she said. “I didn't want to wound it.”
Her hesitation was well founded, as two years ago when Bob shot his, it shot six feet up in the air and came charging at them. He had to shoot it four times before he actually killed it. It was a female, 2-1/2 years old, 76 pounds and 79” long.
Cheryl's lion was also a female, 7 years old, 87 pounds and 81” long. When she checked it in, it was determined that it had not given birth to kittens for at least two years.
When Bob started the mount, he noticed that it was crippled in its front paws. “You could tell she was starving,” Bob said.
Cheryl, who says she has been hunting since she was big enough to hold a gun, says it was worth it to shoot one. “Just to say I’ve shot one,” she said. “I may not have been trophy hunting, but I feel that I got a trophy.”
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