RainShadow Game Calls & Custom Knives

Steve Tormala

stevetormala@hotmail.com  (No more phone calls... my phone is blowing up with telemarketers! Start with electronic mail please!)







These book reviews are a list of books I've found related to the Mountain Lion, Mountain Lion Hunting, Mountain Lion Hunters, Cougar Research, and General Predator Calling where some coverage of the Cougar was provided. I have no axe to grind, no grant to protect, and no publisher to impress, so my opinion of the book and it's content will be easy to see.




Calling Cougars: The Ultimate Predator Hunt. Tim Roberts

Well... having waited this long for a book written directly to dedicated Cougar callers... this was very lightweight.  (My tutorials - included with every "Cougar Package" on this website - have 4 to 6 times the how-to, research, data, and anecdotes. The Call-in Story Page on this website has WAY more information on how Pumas react to calls.) I'm glad Tim "Northslope" Roberts wrote it, kudos to him for cranking it out and getting it on the market, but it's value is pretty limited. I mean, 2 page chapters? September? Fighting Prey sounds?  Anyone with basic predator calling knowledge who lives in an area where Lions live, already knows everything in this book at least 3 times over. (Anyone with moderate to advanced predator calling experience will guffaw and yawn...) That being said, if you've never made a lion calling stand, and you're in an area where there are few to no Mt Lions... you might like it! Buy it, support this guy, we need more like him... I just really, really... REALLY hoped for more. 


COUGAR: Ecology & Conservation. Edited by Maurice Hornocker & Sharon Negri

This is one of the most recent and most exhaustive Cougar textbooks out there. It represents years and years of research by many Biologists and Naturalists. If you're seeking Mountain Lion DATA, you need look no further than this collection.

It's kind-of neat how this work is a collection of study summaries by nearly 2 dozen professional researchers. It gives a good universal view of the Puma Concolor from every possible research angle.

The main drawback of this book is that it's terribly dry and monotonously high-brow. It's a research book, written in a research style, by researchers FOR researchers. There are a couple notable exceptions, Hornacker being one, and Harley Shaw being another. (See "Soul Among Lions.") Shaw and Hornacker and very few others in the compilation write in a conversational manner and include example stories and anecdotes. Most of the other writes were all data, all the time. (I tend to mistrust a researcher who doesn't seem to bother getting a feel for the animal, allowing it to have personality, and variances inside the species by behavior and individuality.)

If you want pure egghead data on the American Lion, this book is one of the top choices... just don't choose it for the armchair!



I highly recommend this old book. It's a great read, and like many of its contemporaries in the 1940's and thereabouts, it's not "dumbed down" for the masses. It's good writing, detailed, with lots of Cougar behavior right on the page, as well as between the lines.

The first chapter is an account of Hibben meeting and getting dragged into the New Mexico wilderness for an impromptu overnighter with Ben Lilly. Really a great spin of yarn about one of the best known Lion and Bear men of the SW. (See Dobie and Carmony.)

This is the log book of an extended Mountain Lion study, but it's really a compilation of hunting Stories. Lots of detail, lots of good reading. It's hound hunting, on foot or on horseback, but that's how it was done back in that era. Still plenty of good information for the boot hunter. And it's Americana! My copy is a first edition from 1948. It's inscribed inside the front cover, "To Pa. Best wishes for a happy birthday. Jesse. Nov 10, 1948" Then "Pa" took a few notes under the inscription as he read the book. Makes me wonder if he got out after them!

Lots of Cougar hunting books are assembled like this one, but I like this one best of all of them, just because it's from the 40's and it's an era that's all but gone now.



This is a hound hunting book from the Northern Rockies. Written by the houndsman himself. It's both a story of the Houndsman, and the story of the hounds. It's compiled as a grouping of sequential hunting stories, with an occasional hunter story mixed in. I really enjoyed this book.

It gives a REALLY good perspective on being a good conservationist hound hunter, as well as nuances of handling the dogs, living in the mountains, and hunting the Mountain Lion. Plenty of Cougar information between the lines, and tons of good reading stories.

This is one of the best Rocky Mountain Hound Hunting books there is. Fun to read, and lots of information, but as an example of the Houndsman lifestyle in the Northern Mountains, this is your book.

LION TALES, Thirty Years Hunting the American Cougar: Jonathan Kibler

This is another houndsman book. I love that it's so similar to the Longwalkers, but it's also entirely different, because Kibler's story is of the chases in the Desert Southwest. Dry ground hounds, hunting arid land Cougars of Arizona.

This book is a little bit more about the business of hound hunting, but at the same time, it's another great book of hound hunting stories, with the occasional houndsman story thrown in.

I really enjoyed this book.

Kibler also includes a few "how to" chapters on guides/outfitters, on the dogs themselves, and on the difference between the scent hounds of the dry country, and the sight hounds of the snow country. Wonderful perspective for a arboreal forest mountain dweller like myself!

If you're seeking a telling of the houndsman lifestyle of the South West, this is the book.


SOUL AMONG LIONS, The Cougar as Peaceful Adversary: Harley Shaw

This is a wonderful book for Mountain Lion research delivered in a conversational, enjoyable prose. Shaw is a researcher, but he knows hunters, hunting, and animals. He's not a data collecting robot, he's a REAL Scientist, observing, learning, listening to stories and opinions, and taking everything in as a whole, rather than entering the field bent on "proving" pre-concieved notions with his data. I really like this book, and have gained tremendous respect for Harley Shaw through his writings.

This book is a summary of a long run of Cougar research in AZ, compiled as a series of topic based stories from the field. It's a research book, not a story book, but it's done so well that it's very enjoyable reading, and it keeps your interest. All of Shaw's points are supported by stories, accounts, observations, anecdotes and data.

This is how research book should be done. It's not dumbed down, it's real life. Research books that are all metric specifications and Latin terms aren't intellectual, they're largely a waste of time and (usually government) money. Harley Shaw is the kind of researcher that Wildlife Departments across the nation are sorely lacking.


COUGAR! : Harold P Danz

Danz's book is a "cougar information" book. Written for a professional of another discipline than wildlife biology. Danz is a freelance writer whoi likes writing about these kinds of topics.

There's good information here, but it's gathered information, not observed information. I think it's well worth reading, but there's lots of books like this on the market. Danz's political bent isn't as left as may of them, however, so I consider it one of the better "information" books on the mountain lion. Many have similar information, but also have lots of pointed political opinion, this one is pretty neutral.

One of the features that sets this book apart from the others are the appendices. Good data, and a good compilation of the times when Cougars have made the news, both fatal and non fatal. Lots of information can be gleaned between the lines.


WILDERNESS TRAILS AND A DREAM, The story behind the Olympic Game Farm: Lloyd Beebe

Lloyd Beebe is a favorite Son of the area where I grew up, and still live.

He started out as a bounty houndsman in NW Washington, ending up settling on the North Olympic Peninsula, and starting the Olympic Game Farm. This book is an autobiography of that story. I'm a little biased, because I met Lloyd when I was a little kid, I know lots of the people that work and have worked for him at the Farm, some of them all the way back to the "Charlie the Lonesome Cougar" and "Grizzly Adams" days. Not to mention the fact that I'm developing a working friendship with Lloyd & Catherine's grandson, who runs the Farm now, which is also the place where I get my live Cougar Vocals!

This is a great story about a great life lived. Hound hunting for Cougar in the NW, then eventually starting the Game Farm, mostly on the withers of the Olympic Mountian Lions, training them, and filming them. This is a real story, my kind of story, with lines like, "...on his mantle there was a human skull. He said it was his Uncle's. He didn't say how he got it, and I didn't ask him." And a quoted newspaper article crediting Beebe with being Washington's #1 Cougar Hunter, and recording his 1939 tally as of April 25 at 23 animals.

His story goes on to recount adventures in Antarctica, and Brazil, as well as lots of the history with Walt Disney. An armchair book, about the life of a real American. I highly recommend it. (Check out the Olympic Game Farm on the internet, you can order the book from them, very cheap.)


THE COUGAR ALMANAC, A Complete Natural History of the Mountain Lion: Robert H Busch

This is another on the modern Cougar books. It's a good compilation of research and factoids, it's well written, and neatly organized. It's sound research, and well documented. It does lean a little bit left in politics, but not badly. I differ with the philosophy communicated, but in real practice, don't disagree with the sentiment, since I like the Cougar and want to see them come back from coast to coast.

I don't intend to dissuade from this book, I'm just not enthralled with it entirely. Buy it used.


MOUNTAIN LION, an Unnatural History of Pumas and People: Chris Bolgiano

This is kind-of an interesting book, in that it's a similar, not an expert, not a biologist, just a researcher of research writing a book on a favorite topic (like LOTS of the stuff out there on the Puma) but this one takes a different tack, which I like. It's about People in Cougar country, interacting with them, and the thought that they're out there in their same region.

No, it's not a must read. It's just a cool perspective. It's a little earthy and green, but not badly liberal. I enjoyed it, with a grain of salt.


SHADOW CAT, Encountering the American Mountain Lion: Susan Ewing & Elizabeth Grossman

This book is an interesting grouping or articles and reports. It could be alot better, because it's quite a bit green and left, but it's interesting as long as you don't assume I agree with the politics or philosophy espoused! It's grouped into articles by topics, like natural history, encounters, and political positions.

Again, not a must read, but it's interesting, and another perspective.


COUGAR, Ghost of the Rockies: Karen McCall & Jim Dutcher

This is a photo essay compilation that goes along with a video documentary of the same name. The video documentary was about a pregnant female lion, that was placed into a 5 acre pen, and denned, birthed the cubs, and raised them in there, with artificial kills and other human intrusion. Still, some really interesting thoughts and insights can be gleaned from the video.

The book, on the other hand, while having unbelievably wonderful photography, is very liberal, left, and green, and not much of any valuse can come from the pages when you compare with other research and compilations. Worth the used price for the photography.


SPIRIT OF THE ROCKIES, The Mountain Lions of Jackson Hole: Thomas D Mangelsen & Cara Shea Blessley

This is a photo essay about a Female Lion that Denned in a visible spot outside Jackson Hole. The photography is great, the text is borderline worthless. Get it used, cheap!


COUGAR, The American Lion: Kevin Hansen

Robert Redford wrote the forward, need I say more? Another research compilation by a researcher of researchers. Not an expert, but Hansen actually puts together a nice set of information on the Cougar. Left as can be, green as can be, but it's a good compilation of basic Cougar information. Definitely buy it used, but it's a good layman's book on the Cougar, with some good illustrations and pretty good photography.


FOREST CATS OF NORTH AMERICA, Cougar, Bobcat, Lynx: Jerry Kobalenko

This is a somewhat short sketch of the big North American Cats as a group. It's good information, just not alot of it. Real good photography, and a good perspective. Kind of a cursory research of researchers book, only with real good photography.



This is a really good biography of Ben Lilly. A great story of a really interesting guy. (Both interesting = intriguing, and interesting = wierd!) Quirky guy, hard core, and Dobie does a wonderful job of telling his story and legend in 1950 prose. This is a great story, but doesn't have a whole lot of data about the Lion. That is until the chapter called "Ben Lilly on Panthers." Then you get a little taste of some hillbilly houndsman Wildlife Biology and observation. Most of which has held up to the scrutiny of modern government financed research. A few points were contradicted (see Carmony, below) but several of his point that were contradicted ended up being proven correct in later studies.

There's really not alot known about the Ghost Cat, but this guy, following behind them in their tracks, was many years ahead of the scientists. He had a couple theories that were a little bit speculative, and later shown incorrect, but some data coming in now is showing that he wasn't far off. (Kill sharing, cashing for other cats to find - intentionally or accidentally - Lilly observed it happening before anyone wrote about it or got it on a trail camera.)

If you want to know about the hound dog legend, don't pass this one up.



This is what I was waiting for when I read THE BEN LILLY LEGEND! Data! Log books! Details of chases! Details of tracks! etc! Etc! Etc! This is a great compilation of Ben Lilly's writings, reports, letters, and etc. It kind-of takes the mystical legendary atmosphere away from the man, and shows the reality, which is still fascinating, and as a fellow predator hunter, and a wanderer of the wilds, impressive and inspiring.

There is so much detail and discourse in this book that it can become a little dreary, but it's great information to have. There's a myriad of side notes and expert interjections bracketed into the narrative. It's funny, many recent studies and facts gathered and observed have eventually proven Lilly to be correct, or at least on the right track, and the bracketed corrections to be soon to be recanted biological theory. Lilly was either right, or on the right track, and the bios were guessing too. (Gives you a little different perspective on "science.")

Absolutely recommend these two books together.


Steve Tormala