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  1. #1
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    Default Handgun for Lions

    What are peoples preferred handgun for lions? Or what would most consider as the minimum caliber needed to take a lion within 30 yards?
    Coal. Guns. Freedom.

  2. #2

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    Which ever one you can shoot well. Myself I don't like it when a person shows up at the tree with a new handgun they bought just for the lion hunt. I carry a Rem Mtn lite in 260 rem in the truck for people to use. There is a lot of excitement when you get to the tree and that tends to throw folks off a little when trying to shoot a handgun.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, I used to hound hunt when I had dogs but we always used a rifle. Now that I am on my own I want to just pack a handgun and am thinking my 357 would be plenty but wanted to see what others thought. I know guys that have used a 22, 38, and obviously the larger magnums like 41/44 but the 22/38 seemed too small and a 44 seemed too big.
    Coal. Guns. Freedom.

  4. #4

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    10mm or a lever action rifle.

  5. #5
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    Default

    A Henry .357 would be a classic little lever to carry. Just think of the awesome pics you could post! Too much time in the Corps has left me less than a Fan of carrying a pistol as a primary, even at short range. I do agree that the 357 seems just about right though.
    "Talent, hits a target, no one else can hit... Genius, hits a target, no one else can see."

  6. #6
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    For me, when the day comes, I want to chase/take them with lever action's. Something about the nostalgia of the rifle and animal. Big cats are on my bucket list!

  7. #7

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    I don't think i would go smaller than a 357mag

  8. #8

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    Bear Spray. I'm terrible with a handgun....

  9. #9

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    .22
    Lions aren't hard to kill.

  10. #10

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    What's legal is most important.

    Rimfire calibers are not legal in some locales.

    I have killed four with. 30-30 lever action. I am partial to that I guess. My daughter will use a 300 blackout AR this year. I also carry a 357 revolver on occasion.

    For a first time hunter, I would prefer a rifle over a handgun.

  11. #11
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    44... you can never kill a lion too dead.

  12. #12
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    Don't be a sissy...grab the lion by the man bun and cut it's throat
    I'm an addict...archery, rifles, shotguns, handguns, muzzleloaders, hunting, fishing, fly fishing..and I don't want rehab

    CWEH...Colorado's Worst Elk Hunter 2007-2017 (but I'm still damned sexy) 10 years of consistency!!

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCushman View Post
    Don't be a sissy...grab the lion by the man bun and cut it's throat
    heh, heh, you said "man bun"
    "Freedom is NOT Free"

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunner46 View Post
    A Henry .357 would be a classic little lever to carry. Just think of the awesome pics you could post! Too much time in the Corps has left me less than a Fan of carrying a pistol as a primary, even at short range. I do agree that the 357 seems just about right though.
    You should look up the pictures of Sasha Siemel after he killed anacondas, jaguars, and cougars with both a lever action and 357 revolver. They are as cool as they get. Oh and he killed most of his jaguars with a spear, which is even cooler, but the pictures when he used a gun are better for whatever reason.
    Coal. Guns. Freedom.

  15. Default

    I don't mean to be "that guy" who is a Debby Downer but after hunting lions and watching more than a few get shot, I've changed a bit of perspective over what kind of weapons are best. Because lion hunting is perceived to be relatively easy shooting, there seems to be a fascination with using less efficient gear such as archery tackle or pistols over a scope sighted rifle to make the shot "challenging."

    This might make good sense in terms of hunting an animal that is in it's natural element. Short range weapons make it more difficult to actually get a shot in the first place but we are talking about shooting a stationary object that is up in a tree. (Unless you are referring to tracking without dogs, calling, or stalking) IMO, and this is actually a hard and fast rule in our hunting group, it is unfair to the dogs and the lion to use a weapon that is anything less than the most efficient method of dispatch possible.

    I know not everyone hunts lion in the same way that most of our hunts take place, but for us, many of the cats I see killed are for friends or acquaintances whom draw a tag and then ask for help in catching a lion. They are asking a dog owner to spend his time, his gas money, his dog food, vet bills, etc. to help them fill a tag that they were lucky enough to draw. Often it will take several days of looking for tracks, unsuccessful chases, time off work, etc. before the tag holder has the privilege of walking up to a tree that holds a legal lion. Once the track has been located and the dogs turned loose, the hunters (ones looking for tracks, tag holders) turn the responsibility over to the dogs for the next phase of the hunt. Now it is up to the dogs.

    When the dogs fulfill their part of the hunt and put a lion up the tree, the responsibility for the ending of the hunt transfers back to the tag holder. He can choose to kill the cat and fill his tag or walk away and let it go. When the cat is in the tree, it is no longer a hunt, it is shooting. Just like everyone else who did their best to bring the hunt to this point, it is only right to have the shooter do his part kill the cat as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    The dogs don't deserve to have the shooter drop a wounded lion out of the tree for them to chase again and risk serious injury all because the person with the tag felt it would be more "rewarding" for him to shoot with a pistol or bow. The lion doesn't deserve being shot with a weapon that is not the most accurate available for a quick and humane kill.

    I know it sounds hard-nosed and narrow minded, but we learned the hard way. We took a new guy that happened to draw a tag and wanted to kill the cat with his bow. On the first morning, first chase, the dogs treed a mature tom of the type that only come every three or four years. He was so excited he muffed an easy 12 yard shot in the open and wounded the cat. A mile later the dogs cornered the lion in a thick patch of reprod when he wouldn't climb again. The shooter finally finished it with one of the dog owners' pistol that he carried for worst case scenarios but not before the lion injured a dog. The dog recovered but not without significant vet bills. The fact that the shooter said "Thanks for the hunt" and never offered to help with vet bills, did nothing to help with the disgust everyone else felt.

    Now, when someone asks to shoot a lion with anything other than a scoped rifle, the answer is a straight, "Nope." If they don't like it that's no problem. They are more than welcome to ask someone else to catch them a lion.

    I'm not meaning this as a personal insult to the OP or anyone else who commented, only my perspective as someone who had their ideas changed through experience. Obviously, if they are your dogs, you have the vested interest to conduct the hunt as you see fit, but don't be surprised if you have a houndsman who is unimpressed with your desire to use a handgun or bow if he is catching you a cat as a favor.

    My guess is for anyone who has never had the privilege of shooting a lion before, the entire process is so interesting and exciting, that what weapon you use is the least memorable part of the hunt. In fact, the shot is not the climax of the hunt. Walking up to the tree is the moment of highest excitement. The shot is anticlimactic, a necessary part of a successful hunt to be sure, but not like pulling the trigger on a big bull or buck that doesn't know you are there and will bolt at the slightest betrayal of your presence.
    Last edited by Gerald Martin; 12-15-2017 at 07:03 PM.

  16. #16

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    Very good points Gerald. I have never treed or killed a lion, and I currently have no desire to kill a lion. I will shoot a bobcat, coon, etc that my dogs tree, but I would have a tough time shooting a lion. Maybe I will change my mind. For me its about my two hounds that I trained, got pissed at, took pride in hunting, and watching them grin at the tree; yes dogs do grin.

    The only thing I would add, is tie the dogs up well away from the tree and get everyone back behind the shooter.

  17. #17
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    Liked your response here Gerald. It takes some thought to read and digest. There are no pictures. It speaks of experience and experience gained through experience. And respect for the animals - the lion and the dogs. It is deeper than which one to use, where to go, look at this, look at me.
    After spending about 45 years immersed, in every aspect of my life, in this stuff - I'm not real interested in how we do what we do anymore. I for one have come to appreciate folks who put thought into what we do and why we do it - and our impacts on what we do.
    Not trying to - this always has cracked me up - "hijack" the topic. Just think Gerald really added to it.
    Carry on.

  18. #18

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    I personally prefer a rifle but I would use my 10mm or .357 in a heartbeat. The lion I have mounted was killed with a .357. Lions aren't necessarily hard to kill, getting a clean and ethical shot can be trickier than most think and judging distance up in a tree with angles is hard, and no gun will compensate for that, which means an undersized gun is even a bigger problem. Lion hunting is harder than people think. Lion hunts can take 10 minutes ( rarely, but it happens) or 10 hours. Its all about stamina and trying to stay as close as possible to the dogs. You could be in knee deep snow. When you get there you are exhausted and there's a lot of commotion going on. Some people struggle making a good shot, then things really get going. Guides prefer their dogs not getting chewed up or killed when a lion is not hit well and comes down on the dogs. Let alone the fact that if the dogs can find a way they will climb up after the lion. Take a big enough gun that you can pack and shoot well, and practice shooting, the dogs will thank you for it.

  19. #19
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Martin View Post
    I don't mean to be "that guy" who is a Debby Downer but after hunting lions and watching more than a few get shot, I've changed a bit of perspective over what kind of weapons are best. Because lion hunting is perceived to be relatively easy shooting, there seems to be a fascination with using less efficient gear such as archery tackle or pistols over a scope sighted rifle to make the shot "challenging."

    This might make good sense in terms of hunting an animal that is in it's natural element. Short range weapons make it more difficult to actually get a shot in the first place but we are talking about shooting a stationary object that is up in a tree. (Unless you are referring to tracking without dogs, calling, or stalking) IMO, and this is actually a hard and fast rule in our hunting group, it is unfair to the dogs and the lion to use a weapon that is anything less than the most efficient method of dispatch possible.

    I know not everyone hunts lion in the same way that most of our hunts take place, but for us, many of the cats I see killed are for friends or acquaintances whom draw a tag and then ask for help in catching a lion. They are asking a dog owner to spend his time, his gas money, his dog food, vet bills, etc. to help them fill a tag that they were lucky enough to draw. Often it will take several days of looking for tracks, unsuccessful chases, time off work, etc. before the tag holder has the privilege of walking up to a tree that holds a legal lion. Once the track has been located and the dogs turned loose, the hunters (ones looking for tracks, tag holders) turn the responsibility over to the dogs for the next phase of the hunt. Now it is up to the dogs.

    When the dogs fulfill their part of the hunt and put a lion up the tree, the responsibility for the ending of the hunt transfers back to the tag holder. He can choose to kill the cat and fill his tag or walk away and let it go. When the cat is in the tree, it is no longer a hunt, it is shooting. Just like everyone else who did their best to bring the hunt to this point, it is only right to have the shooter do his part kill the cat as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    The dogs don't deserve to have the shooter drop a wounded lion out of the tree for them to chase again and risk serious injury all because the person with the tag felt it would be more "rewarding" for him to shoot with a pistol or bow. The lion doesn't deserve being shot with a weapon that is not the most accurate available for a quick and humane kill.

    I know it sounds hard-nosed and narrow minded, but we learned the hard way. We took a new guy that happened to draw a tag and wanted to kill the cat with his bow. On the first morning, first chase, the dogs treed a mature tom of the type that only come every three or four years. He was so excited he muffed an easy 12 yard shot in the open and wounded the cat. A mile later the dogs cornered the lion in a thick patch of reprod when he wouldn't climb again. The shooter finally finished it with one of the dog owners' pistol that he carried for worst case scenarios but not before the lion injured a dog. The dog recovered but not without significant vet bills. The fact that the shooter said "Thanks for the hunt" and never offered to help with vet bills, did nothing to help with the disgust everyone else felt.

    Now, when someone asks to shoot a lion with anything other than a scoped rifle, the answer is a straight, "Nope." If they don't like it that's no problem. They are more than welcome to ask someone else to catch them a lion.

    I'm not meaning this as a personal insult to the OP or anyone else who commented, only my perspective as someone who had their ideas changed through experience. Obviously, if they are your dogs, you have the vested interest to conduct the hunt as you see fit, but don't be surprised if you have a houndsman who is unimpressed with your desire to use a handgun or bow if he is catching you a cat as a favor.

    My guess is for anyone who has never had the privilege of shooting a lion before, the entire process is so interesting and exciting, that what weapon you use is the least memorable part of the hunt. In fact, the shot is not the climax of the hunt. Walking up to the tree is the moment of highest excitement. The shot is anticlimactic, a necessary part of a successful hunt to be sure, but not like pulling the trigger on a big bull or buck that doesn't know you are there and will bolt at the slightest betrayal of your presence.
    Gerald, I ran cats for 15 years and agree with most of what you say here, but let me straighten something out. Anyone who hunted with us was told if they wounded their lion, our dogs would not be turned on that cat. We allowed no shooting at lions unless all dogs were leashed first. I realize that's not always possible with cliffs and train wrecks, it's not a perfect world, but that was our rule. My dogs depended me not to let them be turned into a grinding machine of teeth and claws because a wounded cat was caught on the ground. Over 15 years we had cats wounded and jump tree and most of those were hunters shooting big game rifles, one was a 44 mag revolver. Everyone of those cats was tracked by us and dispatched without a single dog being hurt.

    To be honest, I wouldn't think too highly of a houndsman who would turn loose their dog on a wounded cat or leave them unleashed at the shot. I knew every time I unleashed my dogs on a track they might not return home alive, it was my job to make sure it wasn't some boneheaded move on my part that caused it.

  20. Default

    Yep. Totally agree with what you said. I left out quite a bit of detail about that shot simply because I was trying to make the point about using the most efficient weapon available. The dogs are always tied back before the shot. Like you we always track on foot to confirm the lion is dead before turning the dogs out to chew on the cat. This one happened to not be dying after several hundred yards and the decision was made to turn out again in order to finish the job. To date, it's the only lion we've had to chase again after the shot and I don't mind if it is the last. I was the first one on the scene when the dogs had it bayed up on the ground and was unarmed. Trying to grab my buddy's dog to get her leashed out of the way with a snarling 140lb. lion ten yards away on a slick hillside is probably not one of the smartest things I've ever done.

    I like that concept of telling guys they are on their own to track a wounded lion. It might make them question how much challenge they want when shooting the cat.


    I think we all agree that lions are not that difficult to kill when hit in the right place. We've taken quite a few with single shots from a .223 so the size of the gun isn't the issue. Accuracy is the issue and while many people can probably kill a lion that trees 20' up a tree with few limbs with a pistol, there are very few that can make a one shot kill 40' up a brushy tree when the lion is laying across a limb with his vitals behind the trunk.

    Flukes happen despite the best preparation at times. None of us would dream about passing up a shot at deer at 200 yards so that we can let it get to 500 yards in order to make it harder to kill. That's a bit how I see trying to make the shot at a lion in a tree more difficult with handguns or bows.

    Of course, if dogs aren't involved and a hunter wants to try and kill a lion with bow, pistol, pointy stick or bare hands, I say do whatever makes you happy.

  21. #21
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    Gerald, I do agree and all of the bears and cats we previously shot with dogs were with hunting rifles. Sometimes a 500lb bear changes the plans though and takes 10 shots to die so there are still instances where chit happens even with multiple large guns.

    On another note, I can't distinguish what you talked about from bow hunting for elk. How many elk have been hit and not recovered or just plain wounded due to poor archery shots? I would say far more than lions with handguns, at least from my anecdotes every year. I always talk to multiple people I know in person that hits an elk but doesn't recover and read about plenty of them on here as well. The dogs don't change the dynamic about the need to use a bigger gun, the animal you are intent on killing dictates that and a bow is not the most efficient method of dispatch possible for an elk, regardless of whether in its natural state or not.

    I am not against bowhunting for elk, but all animals deserve to be harvested efficiently so we kind of come back to the age old question and original post "what is a minimum---- for hunting----?"
    Coal. Guns. Freedom.

  22. #22

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    To be honest, I wouldn't think too highly of a houndsman who would turn loose their dog on a wounded cat or leave them unleashed at the shot. I knew every time I unleashed my dogs on a track they might not return home alive, it was my job to make sure it wasn't some boneheaded move on my part that caused it.
    I hunt by myself a lot. I have killed four over the years. Because I hunt alone and because lions can change their mind in an instant, I prefer not to leash my dogs most of the time. I also make quick work of what I need to do. I get to the tree, take a few pictures, then let it go or shoot it.

    I don't jump the cat for the fun of it.

    The one I killed in January had a clean, lethal shot. It was still alive for about two minutes after I killed it. (Not sure how). My dogs were on it immediately and I was able to concentrate on the situation rather than trying to mess with my dog's leashes. I have always felt a little nervous about having my back to a lion, wounded or not, or having my hands occupied with something such as trying to leash a dog.

    Many may not agree with that, however, I have felt it is the safest for me should something go wrong.
    Last edited by mevertsen; 12-18-2017 at 03:00 AM.

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