It was several years ago now, probably 6 I guess, and I still get the serious heeby-jeeby chills just thinkin' about it. Pretty ironic I would see a
news story about something similar on the very anniversary of my experience. That story didn't end as well as mine.
It still stuns me at just how close I came and didn't even realize it until it was too late (maybe another 30 seconds or so and I might not be typing
this right now). It was a 'perfect storm' of a situation, an absolute deadly trap, and I was lucky to have walked away from it. Perhaps some quick
thinking in the moment made a difference, I'll never know for certain. What I do know is, I was close, really close!
I've told this story on ATS before, so I won't bore you with the details (again). On the evening of Sept 24 back about 2012 or so I was seriously
stalked and very nearly attacked by a cougar. The situation still scares me to this day. There was absolutely no doubt I was the target, and when I
look back on that moment I can't believe I ever let myself walk into that situation. All my clear escape routes were steep uphill, the snow was deep,
daylight was not on my side. It was the perfect trap, and I walked right into it. My confidence (and maybe arrogance) got the better of me that day.
In my mind, the thought of a cougar even being there at all never even entered my brain. That, coupled with the fact I was carrying a high powered
rifle let me trick myself into thinking I was invincible. In retrospect though, I'd have never had time to unsling that rifle before it was too
The stalk came from behind (as they always do), and it was a game of cat and mouse, except this time there was a REAL "cat" and I was the mouse. To
this day I still have my path that night saved into my GPS. They say it was most likely an old male, and he was a big one with a print fully 7"
across in the snow (probably 170lb cat). They say the older cougars are the ones which prey on humans the most, likely because humans are easier prey
It was the only time in my life I've ever been "hunted", and it's a downright scary feeling...when the hunter becomes the hunted. He was totally in
his element, and I was totally OUT of mine. I often wonder how long he watched me from the shadows, how long he waited and set me up.
I often recount my plans for that night, and how I was going to hike all the way down that mountain. There was only 30-45 minutes of light left when
I started out and there were loads of elk in that timber, we'd hunted them for nearly two weeks, but no one wanted to bushwhack their way down through
that "dark timber". It was the second to last night, so I said I'd do it.
The guys would drive over the top and meet me on the road below maybe 5 miles away. It seemed like a good bet, most of my delay would be in the dark
when it didn't matter. It was all downhill for me. I'd take advantage of the remaining light in the sweet spot for the elk and then spend the rest
of my time down-hiking in the dark. It was the perfect plan...except for that cougar. You see, he had the exact same plan, but his was better. He
wouldn't get an 800lb elk who was fast as the wind and way better in the heavy cover, no, instead he'd get a nice tasty, and much slower, 260lb
hunter...from behind, in the timber, timber so tight you couldn't even hardly turn around.
No way would I have ever gotten my rifle turned around fast enough to get a shot off before he was on me. I still remember the fear that swept over
me when I saw his tracks crossing mine in the untracked snow, twice, when I turned around. He was close, very close, but I never even heard a thing.
I was probably within just feet of him several times and never even knew it. If I would have spent even 10 more seconds walking into the timber
rather than turning around and walking back out into the open (where at least I had a little bit of an advantage) and uphill. ...in the last bit of
That experience really rattled me, a seasoned and hardened elk hunter of 40+ years. I had the shakes for a while that night. I still get the chills
just thinking about it. BRRRRRrrrrrrrrrr!
The night the hunter became the hunted!
edit on 9/24/2018 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)