The Hunting Stories Podcast

Ep 076 The Hunting Stories Podcast: Cliff Gray

November 20, 2023 The Hunting Stories Podcast Episode 76
The Hunting Stories Podcast
Ep 076 The Hunting Stories Podcast: Cliff Gray
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Brace yourself for a thrilling adventure as we welcome Cliff Gray, a seasoned commercial outfitter, passionate hunter, and spearfishing enthusiast

Hang on to your seats as our journey takes a hair-raising turn with an exploration of lion hunting. We uncover the primal world of hunting lions, focusing on the critical role of dogs and the tracking process. Get a unique perspective on the reality of treeing a lion in a cave and learn about the strength and tactics lions employ when cornered. This riveting segment gives you an adrenaline-charged glimpse into the intense world of lion hunting.

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Speaker 1:

Howdy folks and welcome to the Hunting Stories podcast. I'm your host, michael, and you know what we got a good one for you today. Today we actually talked with one of my favorites, someone that I've been hoping to get on the podcast for a while, cliff Gray. Cliff is one of actually a couple people that committed to come on the podcast and then got on a Joe Rogan show and, of course, at that point their life gets a little too busy and it's hard to get in touch with those folks. But Cliff made time and he did not disappoint. Today he tells us only one story, but it's one of the most memorable stories I've heard since I've been doing this podcast. So I want to say thank you to Cliff for coming on. Thank you guys, of course, the listeners for tuning in. Let's just jump right in and let Cliff tell us. All right, cliff, welcome to the Hunting Stories podcast, brother, how are you Good man? Thanks for having me. Yeah, man, I'm honored to have you here.

Speaker 1:

I was telling you before the podcast that I've been a fan for a long time. When I first started researching hunting, I was like I should probably know what these things eat, and I bet if I hang out near where they eat, I will find elk, and your video showed up and I've been following you ever since. It's been like I don't know three, three years, three and a half years or something like that. So I'm excited to have you on the podcast and, I'll be honest, I was a little worried that you wouldn't make it, because I've gotten, I think, three or four people committed to be on my podcast and then Joe Rogan stole them as a guest. You're the only one I've actually been able to really get in touch with after they've been on the Joe Rogan show, so I appreciate you, cliff, for following up with me and jumping on the show.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Of course, man, I'm glad I finally made it on. I always like talking to people and getting on these podcasts and it sounds like you kind of got a. It's intriguing man Like one that's based on stories is kind of fun. I feel like I touch on them on different podcasts, but that's never the center of the discussion. So we should have some fun, man.

Speaker 1:

Yeah yeah, usually people have some kind of lesson to learn and that's not required here. You know, if you just want to tell me a story about I'm trying to draw a blank on who it was the guy who runs the Gladiators on Least podcast. He's telling a story, he's full draw on a bull elk and he craps himself Like there's nothing to learn from that other than maybe empty your, your, your gut before you go out and to hunt.

Speaker 2:

That's impressive, and I'm trying to think of his name too. I don't, I don't know, it's.

Speaker 1:

Luke Cadillo. I remembered it as I was telling it. But yeah, man, it's a funny episode and we're not talking about, like you know, a nice little package in his underpants. We're talking he filled his boots. So yeah, I haven't listened to his episode. To the listeners, please do. We're getting off track, though, cliff. Why don't we, why don't we start this thing off by letting you introduce yourself, so that people know who they're hearing stories from?

Speaker 2:

Yeah yeah, yeah, no, no problem, man, I'll. I'll be fairly brief. I right now I'm sitting in Puerto Rico. I spend nowadays I spend about half my time in Puerto Rico, half my time back in the States, some of that in Oregon, some of that in Colorado. I still get looped back into guiding.

Speaker 2:

For most of fall, but really the last decade to 13 years of my life I would, until the last 18 months I was a commercial outfitter. For the majority of that time, most of it was wilderness horseback stuff. The primary area was in the flat tops of Colorado and that's what I've been doing for the last I don't know 10, 12 years and focused on that. And now I'm like I tell everybody I'm in like a mini retirement, but I've got a couple other things that I've been kind of chugging along on. I've got some other passions that keep me down here.

Speaker 2:

I'm secretly an obsessive spear fisherman that sucks at it. So so that's one of my current endeavors and I would say I mean I could, you know, go into details of whatever part of that, the outfitting or or the hunting world and all of that. But I think that might be where I'd end. The bio is that one of my problems in life is that I get these obsessions right. It's elk hunting, mule there hunting, bear hunting, spear fishing, I like. I tell people that I guess I'm trying inadvertently I'm living, trying to live like Hemingway, but I'm going to try to avoid all the women problems and this side deal. I think I'm good on all that front. But other than that, I've got his other problems in terms of obsession with all these outdoor activities. But but yeah, man, that's me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, you know the obsession makes you an expert in some of those things, and so I appreciate you Make sure you check out Cliff on YouTube. I don't know if there's other places that you want to direct them, but I love your YouTube videos. Like I said, I've been watching them a long time and I guess we can get in more into that at the end when we run out of time. I know we have limited time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah sure, let's jump into this thing, man.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, cliff, once you set the stage, you're here to tell some stories. Where are we in this first story? Man, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So you know, I was actually thinking about it because I'm going to go, I'm going to run back to Colorado here in a couple weeks, as the big games is fourth rifle season closes up and go lion hunting with some buddies and I you know it's funny, mike, because a lot of my bat, my like at least most entertaining hunting stories to me, are lion hunting stories. And have you ever hunted them?

Speaker 1:

before. No, it's high on my list but I haven't gotten around to it. I'm worried. By the time I finally do, it'll be illegal everywhere.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, unfortunately that might be a reality. But I I've got faith that they would got some time man, but I I've hunted them a fair amount over the years. But I would say I don't know, when I was outfitting, like three or four years into outfitting, I got just exhausted with elk and deer hunting. I should say exhausted. But anytime you know you go through a season and really you're at it for 100 days, right, because you start putting your camps in August and then you're not really done until Thanksgiving is pretty much like your primary season, and then you got like a trickle of other stuff you do in late season, late season cowhounds or whatever, but you get, you get seasonally burnout. That's what I would say.

Speaker 2:

I'd say, like, my recommendation to any guide or outfitter is long as you can keep it to being just seasonally burnout, that's a good thing. You don't want to be, you don't want to hate hunting, because if you, I think, if you run your business a certain certain way or you pursue the career a certain way, you'll end up hating hunting but you're for sure going to end up getting getting burnout at the end of the season. So, lying hunting, lying hunting over time, I think, because it's so much different than a lot of the other big game hunting. It actually became like my primary hunting passion and I, the thing is is like so once we closed up there around Thanksgiving and in November, I could look forward to lying hunting because I did I what I the other big part of is I didn't do it commercially and there's a whole bunch of reasons, reasons why I chose not to not to pursue that. So it was like my fun hunting right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and archery or rifle typically when you go hunting lions.

Speaker 2:

So I've always done it with pistols or rifles. And the thing about Lionhunting, michael, is like I shouldn't say always. I've never killed one with a bow. I've been with guys that have killed with bows and to me the weapon and the killing part of Lionhunting it's like inconsequential, right. I mean, people can say that about elk hunting or mule deer hunting or whatever, but the dynamic of archery versus rifle, the actual component of harvesting the animal, letting go of that arrow, pulling that trigger, like it's an important component of the hunt, right, lionhunting's really not. I think you could ethically, morally, no problem. Take somebody who's shot a gun one time or who can shoot their bow consistently on a target this big, at 15 yards. You could take them and you could kill a lion and no problem, right.

Speaker 2:

So that gives you an idea of like it doesn't really matter. Dude, you're gonna quickly see that if you ask questions, I'm gonna go off on these, but Quit teaching stuff.

Speaker 1:

Clint no, no, no, no, no, no, no no.

Speaker 2:

I think I find it interesting, not just like nerd out on shit.

Speaker 2:

So, you might have to guide me back onto the story, man. But, yeah, no, the weapon deal, whatever. But lionhunting is really interesting in the sense that there's a couple big components of it that are much more substantial in it where they're less so, and lots of other hunting. One, obviously the dog component. Right, I've always been a dog guy, like when I waterfowl hunted as a kid, I mean like a 12, 13 year old kid it really wasn't about shooting ducks, it was about having my lab with me, that component of it. So I've always been into dogs, into training dogs, that sort of thing, and so I appreciate that part of lionhunting.

Speaker 2:

And one of the and this will play into this story a little bit whenever I hear people talk about lionhunting in the context of it being brutal towards dogs, I find it laughable, because if you have been there, you realize that these dogs, that's all they wanna do, like they're happy place. Yeah, their happy place is imagining that they're going to kill that lion. That's what that's. The hounds, that kind of dog hunting hounds, are convinced they can kill a mountain lion. It itself is kind of hilarious, right, like it's not, like people think, oh, they wanna run them up a tree. No, no, no. They don't wanna run them up a tree, they wanna get in a fight with them.

Speaker 2:

The end result, due to a bunch of mechanics of lionhunting, it tends to be that they do end up in a tree. They end up in a cave, like we'll talk about in the story, but the dogs love it, and it's same thing with waterfowl dogs, whatever, they really love it. So to me, to view it as like there's this ethical dilemma about the brutality towards the dogs I mean it would be worse if you had them in your house. You know, probably the most fucked up thing is to have like that kind of dog living in an apartment or something right?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I had another guest who he's a dog trainer out of Florida and all he talks about is dogs and all of his stories. And he had one where he was training a dog and she just loved it loved it so much and she took a spill training one day and broke both of her back legs and she was still just trying to retrieve Like it's all they wanna do.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

She was like, yeah, she was in pain, but she was still happy. She crawled herself over to that little toy duck they were training with and got the job done, and she couldn't have been happier. That being said, her days were done as a real waterfowl dog, but they just love it. It's in their blood.

Speaker 2:

So I understand what you're saying. Yeah, it's amazing, man, and I think it's. I mean, it sounds like you got a really good understanding of it. I think until somebody's been exposed to that with dogs they don't realize like this obsession they can develop. I'll talk to guys about dogs that are totally unrelated fields defense dogs, that sort of thing and it's the same deal. Like the people like that who interact with dogs, they know immediately like oh yeah, like they know how a dog's brain works and I don't think it's specific to a dog, but dogs are real trainable in terms of the species. So and they also think there's like a lot of genetic manipulation with hounds or waterfowl dogs or defense dogs or whatever, where it comes out Like, if they don't enjoy it, that those genetics have vanished, right. So you've got like years of these dogs that really enjoy it.

Speaker 2:

But anyways, so back to line hunting I. It was like typical year we had in. If you get really lucky, or if I would get really lucky, I would be ready to wind up shop, close down my fourth season hunts. A lot of times we were just mule there hunting, so it was pretty low key and then we'd get some snow, like right at the end of fourth rifle season and then, like in the next three or four days, I'd be out with my buddies lying hunting. That's like a perfect situation. So this year perfect situation, you know, right when I wound up, fresh snow and within 48 hours I was out looking for tracks. And sometimes you had still have horses up my lodge and mules. So I go out look for them on mules or I just you know there's roads in and out of there and I go out like the first morning of closing up shop and I go from my lodge, like I don't know, maybe 500 yards from it, and I cut a line track like fresh in the snow, like smoking hot, like probably could have walked it out, right.

Speaker 2:

So I call my buddy, I call my buddy in town and that's another thing about lion hunt, dude, like that's what it's all about, right, is the tracking component. That's the I actually mentioned. There's two things the dog thing and the tracking thing. Tracking is all where, it's all at where. Like that's the whole deal. And I mean tracking in the sense that like you're gonna know, like you get a feel for like how those lions hunt, so you know where to look for tracks, you know how they move through country. So a lot of lion hunters. If they really get into the lion hunting they really develop that skill and it's kind of interesting because the transfer's over a lot of other hunting. But anyways, I found, like the you know, this is like a special thing, like a smoking fresh track in perfect snow, good to go. So I call my buddy up and he kind of knows that he knows the area. We've hunted a lot In this particular area cause it was so close I had never hunted lions in that area.

Speaker 1:

Just I just you know, yeah, I never had crossed tracks or whatever.

Speaker 2:

And I remember the first thing he said to me. He's like yeah, man, have you been up there? And it's in this canyon. And he's like, have you been up there? And I'm like, oh yeah, dude, like I've been all over that, that shit, like. And he's like there's no caves in there. Is there. And I was like, nah, I don't think so. And what is this? It's like really tight canyon and it's a bunch of cedars and stuff on top and it goes up into the outpine, goes up into the wilderness area. So I covered all that country up there and it's just, you know, it's conifer, it's cedars, conifers, aspens, like that's where I'm thinking this line's going. No, no, no caves, man, come on out. So he brings some dogs out from town. He's there like within 45 minutes. And again he asked me. He's like Cliff, is there any caves? Dude, like, are you sure there's not any caves? And I'm like no, I'm 100% sure, 99% sure. At this point, no caves. So all right.

Speaker 1:

I wanna ask is there a reason why he keeps asking, or am I gonna ruin the?

Speaker 2:

story by asking that question. No, no, you're not gonna ruin it. It's probably good to fill people in. Okay, the problem with caves with lions? It's just like it's back to what I mentioned about the dogs. These dogs want to get a hold of the cat if they can.

Speaker 2:

So, in the hope of not getting dogs damaged, you really want to tree lions in trees. You don't want to tree them in caves, because the problem with caves is that the lion's stuck but the dogs have direct access to the lion right, so they're going to try to get a hold of it. You're going to try to fight it. It puts the risk of the dogs way, way up if they're in caves. That makes sense. So generally, you don't want to turn out dogs on a lion. That you think is high probability going to end up in a cave. You know, if there are if, like rocky outcroppings you see a lot of these really cool videos on Instagram and stuff where these cats are stuck on rocky outcroppings where the dogs can get to them, but the guys can't get to them. So it's giving me like if you're there, there's an intense level of stress amongst whoever. Whoever is managing those dogs is stressed because he doesn't want his dogs to get hurt, you know, and so he he's like these are always very hairy situations.

Speaker 2:

I think I see those videos in a certain perspective because I'm like, wow, they're, they're awesome, right. Like you know, everybody's heart's just like bumping, but the guy who's trying to take care of his dogs has like a next level stress in a cave rocky outcropping because, eventually the cat's going to going to going to try to get a hold of the dog and it's crazy how they get them.

Speaker 2:

Like, if you like, if you watch lions, like they slap and they have a dew claw, like down down low on them, like down here in a, in a hang. It's like flopping. When you, when you skin a lion, you're like what is that thing for? But if you've ever seen them, if dogs get close to them, what they do is they generally will hold their their mouth back and they'll slap. And they'll slap with that dew claw or their lower paw and they do a pooling action, like they pool, like this, and what they want to do is they want to pull and then they want to get their jaws on the dog because that's where they have, like, a lot of yeah, they have a lot of strength, yeah, yeah, man, it is terrifying.

Speaker 2:

And there's videos of these guys you know, or you know into, you know people who are interacting with them and you can tell like the lions piss. There's like this one where the guy's backing up on a road I don't know if you've seen it and that lion's doing the same thing. He's slapping like, he's like this and, believe me, that guy got close enough to him. That's what the lion's thinking is I'm going to slap this guy and get a hold of them and bring him down. And they got really.

Speaker 2:

They got like forearms, like a you know, not like yeah, yeah, they got really strong forearms, like, and it's crazy when you skin them, like the this, the tendons and the muscle mass in the forearm. It's not like an Elk or deer. You're not going to like, you know, touch it with your knife and then snap it or whatever. That's not. That's not how a lion's built, right, they're built to get a hold of stuff, pull it down, get their mouth on it and so, anyways, that's, that's why, cause, you know, we don't want to end up in these caves. So, anyways, he asked me again get all the dogs colored up. We got their GPS colors on, all that. We're like ready for a day, right Cause this is like open country, no, no.

Speaker 2:

And the other thing is, is there's no roads, right? So, yeah, I got the one road I'm on and then you know where the lion's gone, and then wilderness, and the trick to that is like a lot of like strategically, when you're lion hunting, if you cut a track, really regardless of how fresh it is, unless you like saw the lion, you got like some, some really weird situation. Yeah, you want to check the next road, right, cause you don't want to turn out here, and then you know, two miles through an area, the lion's actually crossed another road. Which you want to do is go hit that other road or hit that other trail on horseback or whatever, and see if that lion's crossed Right and snow. It's easy, cause you can, you can cover, I mean, you can go hit the trail, go hit the other road and be like, hey, like I know you got the fresh track over there, but we've got the same line crossing here.

Speaker 2:

Let's turn out here, because then your dogs, your dog, stay. You know your dogs don't get worn out, you're tracking them. And then you got more time right, cause time is always like an issue with lion hunting. Most guys want to wind it up, you know, early afternoon, cause you really don't want to be in the dark trying to find your dogs, like this, just logistically could be a friggin nightmare. You know, got it, man, that makes sense.

Speaker 2:

But in this case we didn't have an option because it was like wilderness, you know, like you, the next road was 15 miles away. So we're national forest or whatever, but no road access. So, uh, so we call them up. We got the whole day, you know, and we're like geared up to go for a long distance, or at least see where the see, where you know we're assuming they're going to hit the trail go a couple of miles, we'll be able to get up into the plateau, start, start following the dogs, whatever. So we got all of our stuff and there's a lot of snow, like we had had a lot of snow, like I mean on the. You know, on the we had fresh snow on the road, but the road had been plowed as probably like this deep, but the actual like snow pack was probably I don't know like thigh deep, so it was pretty pretty deep, so it's hard on the hips, man.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, oh, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And climbing out of it too right.

Speaker 2:

Like post hole you know is is brutal. So anyways, we let we, we call them up, get them going, we let them out. And I swear like we go to get our packs and just kind of get our stuff. Lat you know, the last, throw on your packs and start start slowly trailing the dog type of deal and boom, the dog's treat. And really the term tree means like they just bunched up in their, in their like on something Right. Yeah, within like five minutes and again my buddy looks at me and he's like Cliff, is there any caves? And at that point I was like.

Speaker 2:

I was like, ah, there's, I'm 55%, sure there's no caves at this point. And I was like all I know is that if they tree that quick, they didn't get to any trees. So, like I don't know, they either found like one little cedar and this lion's like hanging in like a four foot cedar or something in this cliff edge, or I was wrong, right, so we're like oh shit, your buddy's looking at you like damn it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, he knows.

Speaker 2:

And he's like, and he's a much more experienced liar under me, so he's like now he's like lost all confidence in my opinion on this matter.

Speaker 1:

And now we both know the actual answer here. I'm like dude.

Speaker 2:

I'm still thinking like dude, I'm pretty sure there's no cave, but anyways. So we actually drop off and we climb to the other canyon or the other side of the canyon to look like we just go across real quick, like five minute deal, cause we got to see, like, where they're at, because the other thing about this is like this thing is steep as hell to get out of, like we're assuming dogs are going to be up out of it. But now, now they're treed on this lion within 800 yards of the road. But that means they're still in this like you know, you know hand, you know hand, belly crawling type of canyon in two and a half three feet of snow, type of deal. So we got to figure out how we're going to get to them. So we go over there, we look and, sure enough, like we both look over in glass over, like oh yeah, that's a cave.

Speaker 2:

And the cave, the whole, the whole the whole of the cave is like this big, like it's tiny like two feet, two feet, yeah, yeah, like tiny under a rock and we've never known it was there. But the dogs are already going in and out, right? So we're like, okay, we have to get over there, and we have to get over there in a hurry, and, mind you, this took the dogs five minutes to get to that cave, or less, right?

Speaker 2:

So, we get in there, we get up off the road where we can see the cave, but it's like high angle above us and we both immediately realized it gets going to take us half hour 45 minutes to get there Because just physically the snow is like total bitch, even though the dogs like just jammed up there. So as we progress up this hill we just see these dogs and they're like taking turns, michael, like they're outside, you know, doing their thing, just having just a freaking joyous time, howling like crazy. But they're like cycling in and out of the cave, right, and as they cycle in and out of the cave you start to notice like a little blood on the snow and for like cave and I can see your buddy just like mean mugging you for the whole 45 minutes Like damn it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean he was good.

Speaker 2:

at this point it was what it was.

Speaker 2:

man Like, we just want to get there, have a good situation, and the thing is it's like it's not like you don't know right, like just because there's a little blood or whatever, I mean the dogs just pound in the snow, put some blood on this. So we don't really know right, we're just kind of hoping for the best. And we get up there like three quarters of the way and he's really keeping track of the dogs that he's seeing out of there and I can tell he's getting like stressed and I know what it is is one of the dogs we're not seeing. We're just not seeing the dog come out.

Speaker 2:

All the others are rotating in and out, having just like the best time of their life, but one dog we have not seen come out of the hole. So we finally get up there. It doesn't look real bad, but there's like there's some blood where they've been going out. They've been working the hole like a ton, and so we get down in there and he's like go in there, dude, and see what the deal is. So I mean we don't know how deep it is, anything, man and I remember I had a little.

Speaker 2:

I had a little 380. I actually had a little. I had a little a little short barrel rifle and then I had a little a little 380 pistol and I was like, okay, I'll take that in there. And so I shimmy, I shimmy in there and I got all. I got my headlamp on and it's like it's a weird, like a lot of how these caves are. They stay real tight. Like they stay tight for the first, like you know, I don't know, like maybe four and a half, five feet and that doesn't seem that deep, but like it's deep man, like that's your hole, like getting past me's like my feet, like my feet, are still hanging out, but it's real scary, you know, and so I shimmy in there.

Speaker 1:

Especially known as a cat.

Speaker 2:

I shimmy in there and I can hear the lion. I can hear the lion like they tend to chill out, like people think that they get like once they get to a safe spot They'll kind of get like relax where they're not too worried, and you can hear them. It's like a purr slash growl, but it'll like make your soul shake, man.

Speaker 1:

I hear that.

Speaker 2:

I hear that, but I can't see that lion. And the dogs are like coming over me. You know, they're just having fun like going, going in, checking online, run out, howl out their buddies, like what's in there, type of deal, but they're trampling me like as I go and so I shimmy in there and then I look, I'm looking forward and like I see nothing, and then I see, like above, on an inner bench, I see the eyes of the lion and they're like looking at me, weird, but they clear, like they pop off when I shine my lamp my light Adam, yeah, you know, had the glare and I see her but she's like she's got her head down right and in like in a weird position. I'm like I don't really know what's going on by shimmy up and now I'm talking like I'm within like three or four feet of her, but luckily the cave kind of opened up and she's above me, like above me and I'm lucky to me, but go ahead, yeah, yeah, well, like she wasn't, like you know.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, I guess the lucky part is it wasn't tight, like I could at least like kind of move. And so my buddy, the whole time is like telling me, like hey, man, like what's going on? And I couldn't figure out that was going on. Then I look up in there and finally I got enough, you had her. And I saw she had that dog. And she had that dog by the face, like right here. She had managed to get a hold of it and was holding it, holding it down into the rock.

Speaker 2:

I thought Dogs dead. You know what I mean. Like I, I've never seen a dog. To be honest with you, to this day I've never seen a lion dog get mortally wounded. I've seen him get cut up a little bit. This is the only time I've ever seen a cat get a hold of one. I've never seen one get killed by line. And so this was like it wasn't like it's not like I'm used to seeing this kind of contact, right. But I thought my mind like that dog's dead man. I told my buddy, I was like dude, I don't know what to tell you, but she's got, she's got the dog. Um, he goes, he goes. Well, you got to get the dog and I'm like see.

Speaker 1:

I can't get the dog.

Speaker 2:

You know, like I'm literally in it, like there's no way I can get the dog. Man, I'm sorry, I think. I think she's probably already killed the dog and he goes. He's like all right, get out here, dude. And I feel like I feel like a total bitch telling the story because I I couldn't do anything Right. He's like get out here, and I was like all right.

Speaker 1:

I wouldn't have gone in, so you got me. I think that guy's like go in there. I'd have been like no, yeah, no, you go in there.

Speaker 2:

So I see me, I see me back out and I'm like dude. I'm sorry, man, I got. I don't know what to tell you.

Speaker 1:

You should be out head first, like you go. No, no, no, no, you like keeping your eyes.

Speaker 2:

I see me back out like this I couldn't.

Speaker 2:

There's not enough room in here to turn around. Okay, you know what I mean. Like there's not enough room in here to turn on. The other thing that's crazy like, even though it's like I'm, it's so there's tons of snow outside, moist environment inside these caves there's like a layer of bat shit that's like this deep and once you start, once the dogs have been in there, and once you start going in there, like visually it's insane.

Speaker 2:

And then like this is this is how you be, this is how you become like patient one for COVID 20, right, like so, anyways, like there's a lot of reasons this is not the most intelligent thing to do, but anyways, there's no way I can turn around. So I shimmy back and he gets a hold of my feet, kind of gives like once you get like your knees out, you're good right. So I shimmy back out. I'm like devastated, kind of feel like a bitch, feel really bad for him because it's it's one of his favorite dogs and he's like dude, I'm, I'm gonna go in there, and he's bigger than me and so he I could tell he's he's a little more like claustrophobic, so he's like hold on, like get where. You just make sure you can stay where you can get my foot.

Speaker 1:

All right, all good man, go as a as another big guy like I. Small spaces are like one of my yeah, yeah, yeah, I don't like I mean throw a cat into a small space.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

You're absolutely talking, not my language clip.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, I get where you guys coming from the thing is, though, is the thing is from my perspective. I'm doing this risk adjusted thing of like okay, the dog's already dead in my mind. So I'm like what you know, what are we gonna do? My buddy's thinking I like I want my dog back, like I don't want to admit that my dog is dead.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, cuz it's also maybe he's got a little bit more experience, right.

Speaker 2:

So oh yeah, I said you've done this a lot.

Speaker 1:

You've never seen one actually mortally wounded.

Speaker 2:

Maybe he's like yeah, whatever cliff, get out the whole yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, probably fine, yeah, yeah, see what dogs probably alive, maybe not, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And so he goes in there and I'm down low shining light over his back. I can see the lion and the dog from the hole. Now, now that I've got a different angle than he does, he goes in, dude, and I watch my buddy Michael, like no shit within, like we're talking like two and a half three, like an arm length. He reaches up, grabs the collar of the dog, like right around the GPS, where there's like bulk to it, and he grabs it and goes a Boom and pulls it and the lion pops off the dog like boom, pops off the dog and immediately the dog is a hundred percent alive and starts like jamming, howls, like Like not like like, I'm like you let me all.

Speaker 1:

Right, it's go time, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I'm like you know, it's like this amazing feeling because it's like this relief, but it's also like my buddy's in there and like now. Now the lion has nothing to keep its attention. You know what I mean.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so so he in the, he's fighting the fact that dog, like wants some, you know, wants to like get back into the game. And you can see the dog has got like a pretty good laceration on his face right here, and so I grab his feet, we get out of the hole and the dog's like not gonna die, it's like a, it's like a peel you know what I mean which is unfortunate. He's be taken care of. But the dog, literally, is going to like go back in there. So we get out, we decide like, hey, you know, do we want to harvest the lion?

Speaker 2:

At that time I had never heard, I've never, I had never killed one. I've only killed two in my life and I'm done killing them, but this I had never killed one. At that time and, you know, maybe there was a little bit like my, I think, maybe my, but my buddy might have had like a little just like, like, I don't know like maybe animosity or like a little like just high. We're all pumped up, right. So it's like well, the next thing seems to be To harvest this lion, right, and I don't know, this was an idiotic idea From both our perspectives, right. So, but, but my response was like yeah, let's do it man.

Speaker 1:

Like, okay, so you got out of the hole with the dog. And that's when you're like let's get this guy now.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we had even thought about killing the lion until then and I think and I think it was because we both just Intuitively knew that if we shot, if, like, like, if we shot them, like it was probably gonna be hard to shoot the lion without, you know, potentially shooting the dog, like, yeah, this is like an inner toy in a body, you know what I mean? Yeah, so it had not crossed our mind, is that? Because people, when I tell this story, people ask me, like, why don't you shoot the lion? It's like, do this. This is like, if you're in like a, you know somebody runs into your house and, you know, jumps on top of you and is wrestling with you and you tell your wife to shoot the robber, right, like, please don't shoot the robber.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I was worried about your eardrums too.

Speaker 2:

Right like yeah, well, yeah, oh, my god this was something that I didn't think about at all and so I was like, let's do it. So I get my little 380, I go in there and I just hear my buddy in the background Whatever you do, don't let her out. Like, don't let her out. I'm like, okay, well, I won't, I won't let her out. And I get up in there and I see her and now she's just like you know, now she's focused on me and so with with no thought process, you know not the the best judgment I I shoot her and immediately when I shoot her I realize Not a good idea at all because, two things.

Speaker 2:

One, what you just mentioned like immediate, even though it's a ringing, that's a yeah, that's a really. You know it's a small caliber, you know it's much lower Decibels than the vast majority of weapons I could have shot her with. Still in that closed environment. It's like boom, no hearing, and the other thing is the cat starts to roll. You know like, you know go crazy.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, what's been it?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, dude in the dust, like the dust. Cloud is like black Right, like just black.

Speaker 1:

And I can feel.

Speaker 2:

I can feel the movement man like I can feel the movement of, you know of the lion rolling in there, I shoot once or twice more Just, I need to get it like done. In the whole time my buddy's like don't let it out of the hole.

Speaker 2:

Don't let it out of the hole, dude, I wouldn't maybe let it run by me. You know physically could get by me. Yeah, you're like I'll grab it if it tries. Yeah, yeah, but anyways, man. So Then, like you get the moment of silence right, no, struggle, lions dead, all good Parties over, get out. Like he pulls me back out. I don't have the lion and I remember I come out of the hole. He's like you know what's why you didn't grab the lion. I'm like, no, I need like a, you know a chunk of relief here. So I should be back in there, grab it by the tail, get it out.

Speaker 2:

I was excited as the first lion I harvested. Still, you know, we ate. It was actually, it's actually the first line I ever ate too, which, which lion's actually pretty good, still have the rug. You know, not like, not like the biggest lion in the world didn't matter, just like this to this day, like when I see, see that lion.

Speaker 2:

It brings back this story, but the crazy, the crazy thing about it is I remember just getting out of the hole, getting the, getting the lion out, like just a relief of stress and and everything else, and I just remember like looking at that dog and the dog is like still pumped, like it's running around the hole, you know, going, going crazy, all that, and so that was that. So that's basically the story of my first lion hunt. But, to top it off, the funniest thing was like Three weeks later I get a call from my buddy and he's like dude, you got a, um, you got a cough. And uh, I was like, yeah, I do kind of have a cough, you know like a respiratory thing. Yeah, and dude, like he was I don't think he realized it, but he was bringing it up to like the biggest hypochondriac ever.

Speaker 2:

Right, like I'm always concerned about something Not familiar with like these eonic diseases, particularly because I, because I like in the nature of like where I was. It's a thing Like in in the the I'm sure you heard about it like living in the colorado too. There's this disease called haunt that you get from. You get from mice turds, you get from that. You gotta spray down the mouse turd. Yeah, yeah, sleep it up.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's like serious and it has like, if you get it dude like Like you can die or like you're likely to die.

Speaker 2:

Right, it's, we're both like I think he's a little hypochondriac. I am too like now we like both are in like cold sweats that we think are we have, like I'm like looking up like research papers on like what do? Like where do I need to get, where do I need to go? Where they know.

Speaker 2:

Like what this is and where they can take care of it and all of that. And then within 48 hours, you both realize it was just the cold, but but it's kind of a funny, kind of a funny thing, right like you go through the whole adventure and the excitement of something that you know Everybody's gonna view is like wow, that's crazy. And then, and then there's this other part of your mind that's like I'm gonna get killed by, by inhaling dust. Yeah, yeah, that's an awesome story. Cliff man, uh man, I can't even imagine.

Speaker 1:

There's a whole bunch of points where I would have ended that story before it got to the point you got it to. I don't think there's any way you could have gotten me into that, uh, into that cave. No, no way. Here's the thing, though.

Speaker 2:

I think it's an interesting dude because a lot of people probably listen to that story and then it'd be like that guy is an idiot, you know, or he's like, yeah, he's like that guy is an idiot, you know. Or he's like irrational about you know, um, you know, managing risk or or whatever. And it's funny because I I think that the intensity of the I have like thoughts about it, because I think about it a lot like and you know, my wife was my what when I tell us my wife's like why would you do that?

Speaker 2:

I'm like, yeah, you're not allowed to hunt anymore, yeah, yeah, like you're putting yourself at risk and even now that I reflect on it, I don't know I I mean one I was with, I mean my buddy is like a very high level lion hunter and I think, seen seeing his Like confidence in the situation, like that rubs off. It's like it's not like.

Speaker 2:

It's not like peer pressure, it's just more like okay, he has an understanding that this lion doesn't and I've learned this sense generally, lions don't want to get in a conflict with a person and they really don't want to get in a conflict with a with a dog, and he knew that I didn't, Um, and so I think that, you know, mitigated some of my choices in the situation.

Speaker 2:

The dumbest choice I made by far was, uh was using the pistol in the cave, just just from the perspective of like the angle of it, the caliber, all that like I don't, I'm not like I wouldn't like judge myself on that, but I would judge myself on the risk of damage to my hearing because it's like, yeah, it's crazy.

Speaker 1:

It, you know.

Speaker 2:

I've never done it before and I don't think it registered and it was a dumbest. That was a dumb choice because, yeah, I could have messed up my hearing forever. Luckily, I don't like having sure.

Speaker 1:

You know for sure, I've, like I fired a rifle just out in the open and then inside of, like a fabric blind, and yeah, it's substantially louder inside of a fabric blind. And so, just like, as soon as you said you, you know, we went back in there to shoot it. I was like, oh god, his ears. Like an idiot, I can't, I can't even imagine, because I've only uh, yeah, my ears were ringing after shooting in a fabric line like in a cave, yeah, yeah, I can't even imagine.

Speaker 2:

It's funny because I think I think you can get used to these things. Like I watch guys like the, the pig guys. You know the guys that you know they dog pigs and and you know they're and they're, you know they're grabbing by the ears or grabbing by the back legs. Like man, I've done a lot of pig hunting and been like in like you know, like distant, hairy situations with them. I look at those guys. I'm like what the like? What in the world are you thinking, man? Like you got freaking giant balls. There's a bunch of guys down where you're at that are that's like what they live for man Right, I had a 30 pound pig charge me once.

Speaker 1:

I was terrified, oh yeah dude, 200 pound pigs.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but I guess, to your point right, they just have a level of familiarity that they're like no, I know the situation, I know how this is going to end, that maybe you and I don't, or the average person doesn't.

Speaker 2:

No, yeah, yeah, yeah, that's when I was long route getting to Michael's. Like I think that if I was with one of those guys, that's very does that all the time I really like yeah let's do it. If I was on my own. Like no way, you know what I mean. Like that's, it's always, I think, I think, for better or worse. Like confidence is contagious. You know what I mean? Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you just got to get the confidence that those dogs have, that's all.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, that might be, that might be around I mean, just imagine, like the depth of that dude, like a giant apex predator holding you by the face for like 20 minutes, yeah, and then your, your reaction is not to run away, your reaction is like let's go.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Like you're. I mean like yeah, I mean I have a hard time getting going out of my house after that for a year, let alone that's so it's. It's amazing there are resilience to that dude.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, man. Well, that was a great story, cliff, like that did not disappoint at all. I know that we have limited time. Do you have another one that you could sneak in in the time that we have left, or do you want to call it right there? It's entirely up to you. My guy Dude, let's call it right there if you don't mind.

Speaker 2:

That's no, that was one of the best stories I've ever heard, if I, if I tell one in, if I tell one in 10 minutes, I'll I'll miss out on some detail that I want to tell people, okay.

Speaker 1:

Okay, well, yeah, I can imagine that you'll want to teach them something in the middle of the story.

Speaker 2:

I get that that's a fault of mine, man, I don't know.

Speaker 1:

No, no, it's, it's. It's why I appreciate you. It's why I've been following you for such a long time. Man, I hope you don't mind. I'm going to stay in touch and we're going to get you back on to maybe when you have a little bit more time. Who knows, maybe I know that you go to Colorado often enough. I'm working to move back there. Maybe I'll buy you a beer and we can record something there. So, cliff, thank you. Why don't we, why don't you tell the people where they can find you? Yeah, check out all your different awesome content you're putting out.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, man, you mentioned. The biggest one is YouTube and it's just my name, cliff Gray CLIFF G-R-A-Y. If you put it in the search bar it'll pop up, and then Instagram. If you want to want to keep, keep in touch with me that way and I try to keep that update as much as possible. It's just Cliff CLIFF G-R-Y. It's missing the A there at the end. So yeah, those are. Those are people's best, best bet. So so yeah check me out on that stuff.

Speaker 1:

Awesome, cliff. Well, thank you again. I really do appreciate it. Like I said, love what you do and your story was amazing, and thank you very much for taking some of your Saturday here to chat with me. Man, I really appreciate it. Yeah, of course, dude. Thanks for having me, of course. All right, guys, that's it, another story in the books.

Speaker 1:

I want to thank Cliff, of course, for coming on the podcast. Couldn't have done it without him. He's been someone I've wanted to get on the podcast for a long time, so I'm glad we were able to make some time and hopefully we can get it back here soon. Like I said, that or that Cougar story, that's going to stick in my mind for a while. I've already told it to a couple of folks and my eardrums are still ringing. So, cliff, thank you for letting us have that story. And to you listeners, go out there and give Cliff a follow. Check out what he's doing. It's great stuff. While you're doing it, go ahead and give us a follow on Instagram and give us a review. You know five stars, three stars, two stars, I don't care, just go out there. Whatever you're listening to right now, give us a review so that more people can find us. More people reach out and we have more fun stories to tell. But that's it, guys. Thank you again. Hope you have a great day and talk to you next week.

Lion Hunting Stories
Lion Hunting in Challenging Caves
Rescuing Dogs From a Lion
Rescuing a Dog From a Lion
Risk and Resilience