Naturalist Casey Anderson sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream of tracking one of North America’s most elusive ghosts: the Mountain Lion. Casey’s longtime friend and cat expert, Tyler Johnerson, is on hand to help him in his quest to witness “the ghost of the Rockies.” Casey and Tyler set out together armed with specialized camera technology hoping to document “never before seen” footage of Mountain Lions living in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Aided by Tyler’s keen hound dogs, the same strategy employed by leading cat researchers, Tyler and Casey get hot on the heels of this formidable and cunning predator – an animal capable of jumping vertically nearly twenty feet in a single leap and taking prey much larger than its distant relation, the bobcat.
After the hounds do their job to “cut a track,” Casey and Tyler pursue the cat until its been treed; then it’s time to put away the dogs and break out the cameras for an unbelievable opportunity to obtain footage of one of North America’s most elusive carnivores. As Casey reveals the physiology of the Mountain Lion, he sheds light on why it is the world’s largest-ranging terrestrial mammal – all the way from Yellowstone to Patagonia.
Casey and Tyler’s infra-red, remote camera, and telephoto footage reveal a medley of unique mountain lion behaviors – some of which have never before been documented on film: three kittens with a mother lion on a carcass; use of a cave habitat for courting by a lion; the nighttime activities of a huge “Tom” on a fresh adult deer kill. Year after year, covering countless miles in the dead of Montana’s harsh winter finally gives Casey and Tyler something they did not expect: the ability to identify and follow singular lions, their families and lifecycles, their predation and mating behavior, and their stunning ability to brave the fight to survive.
In his quest to “think like a cat,” Casey’s Mountain Lion quest has propelled him several major strides forward. Casey takes yet another important step – progressing incrementally and methodically towards the ultimate goal of seeing the world through a cat’s eyes. Finally, armed with his now-textbook-like knowledge of felid behavior, Casey resolves to try the impossible – a rare and daunting task: to follow a mountain lion to its bed without the aid of dogs, GPS collars, blinds, or camera traps. Rather, Casey must apply all the skills and intelligence he has learned over the course of many months of cat tracking – from the patience required to film camouflaged bobcats to the trekking skills needed to pursue Mountain Lions in the harsh winter backcountry to the knowledge of predator-prey relationships that he has uncovered in his investigation of the Lynx. Little does Casey know that this “old-fashioned” approach is almost unheard of, even among the tight-knit tracking community; therefore, if he pulls it off on film, he’ll enter the elite company of a small and legendary group of individuals who have truly earned the designation of “thinking like a cat.”
Tune-in tonight at 9P e/p on Nat Geo Wild!