(nr Piños Altos NM)
The Ben Lilly Memorial plaque can be found on an impressive rock pile a few miles north of town; placed there by friends and admirers. Famous as the last mountain man, he was a prolific hunter of mountain lions, grizzly and black bears.
It’s estimated he killed up to 1,000 cougars. At the time, that was considered commendable by ranchers, settlers, and forest-men. His favorite hunting weapon was a homemade Bowie knife. Yep, he would attack a lion or bear and kill it with the knife. He was pretty good at it, too.
He also used a Winchester .30-30 or .33 rifle, hunting from northern Mexico to Montana, but eventually settled in the area now called the Gila Wilderness in southwest New Mexico. Sometimes, he was a guide for wealthy hunters such as Teddy Roosevelt.
In his later years, he sent plant and wildlife specimens to the Smithsonian Institution. He considered owning property a handicap, so preferred living in the wilderness. Interesting fellow.
Camp: City of Rocks SP drycamp
Scene: Rock formation, memorial
I have really mixed emotions about hunting, especially for trophy animals that the hunter has no intention of eating. But that was then, and now is now.
Actually, he did eat them; his favorite meal was either bear or lion. He didn’t hunt for trophies, but to irradicate what he considered dangerous predators or varmints.
He must have been a treasure to the cattle ranchers for ridding them of predators. The plaque proves that fact. Interesting story; thanks!
Indeed! And, they paid him well.