Smartphones allow people to shoot video when something unexpected happens, but ironically, that same phone not working allowed Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Rob Howe to get some amazing footage of a mountain lion.
He was on the phone getting directions from fellow officer Andrew Sorenson to prominent point where he could observe elk hunters when he started losing reception, which is common in the mountains, so he moved his pickup where the reception was better and caught a glimpse of something ahead.
It was a mountain lion sauntering down the road toward him, and it was unconcerned about the parked truck.
Howe told Sorenson “my God, it’s a mountain lion,” and Sorenson told him to hang up and call him back.
“Then I pulled up my phone and started filming,” he said.
After walking past the truck and stepping off the road into the brush, Howe got out of the truck and watched the cat for a moment before it spotted him and darted off.
During his 11 years working as a conservation officer, Howe has seen mountain lions treed by hunters, and nuisance cats caught in traps, “but that’s the first one I’ve seen just roaming,” he said.
Mountain lions are typically shy, reclusive and often go unnoticed, but they’re found throughout Idaho.
In a way, the cat's low profile is similar to Howe’s job patrolling Eastern Idaho near Victor. He was on his way to keep a watchful eye on elk hunters. Like the mountain lion, they probably had no idea he was in the area.
Howe said part of him would have liked to just watch the cat and not video it, but he wanted to share the rare encounter with others.
“I don’t expect that to happen again. It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said. "Chalk it up to bad cell coverage.”