Ran into a mountain lion today

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by golfman44, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. I have a kitty story. A few years ago, two of my buddies and I drove way back into a remote creek out on the Olympic Peninsula looking to find steelhead. It's a 25 or so minute drive through a maze of logging roads so not too many humans get back there. Once you park, you have another 3/4 mile hike down to the creek. On this winter trip, we brought along our third buddy, Mark, who was a bit of a steelhead newbie. We had struck out on the other more popular OP rivers so we were hoping to have a better chance of getting our newb hooked on steelie on this less pounded spot. When we got down to the creek where you have to cross, we spotted fresh kitty tacks in the frozen sand taking the same path we were going to take. These were perfect prints with smooth impression of the paw pads and sharp edge definition. Inside the prints was dark wet sand contrasted by the surrounding white morning frost. The tracks were very fresh indeed. I wish I took a picture. I remember we were amazed how big the tracks were, putting our hands next to the perfect prints comparing a similar size (with fingerless gloves on too!). Holy shit, that was one big kitty cat!

    Well, we crossed and started to turn our focus on bagging a steelhead so soon forgot about the near encounter with Miss Kitty. We hopped-scotched about 2 miles or so and my newbie friend was lagging further and further behind. He had a twisted ankle that was nearly healed but was giving him trouble again. Seems all the river crossing and log jumping was making his ankle angry again. We kept egging him on positive we'll find at least one fish here. Many hours later and without so much as a single pull between us, his sore ankle and the cold had broken his spirit. Mark announced he was going to start heading back and that with his bum ankle we're likely to catch up to him soon anyway. Light was starting to fall and my other buddy and I would have to head back soon anyway. After fishing around the next bend, we turned around as well. It was easy to distinguish our buddies footprints making a straight beeline back up river from our river hugging tracks coming down. Being the joker that he is, he even took time carve big arrows in the sand with the words "CAR" and, "GOOD FOOD", "COLD BEER" and then, "GIRLS-GIRLS-GIRLS".

    Our search for steelhead often results in us pushing daylight to the very end and beyond. True to form, it was pretty completely much pitch black when we got back up to the cars. I figured my other buddy would have had a beer cracked and wader off by the time we got there but everything was quiet, dark and cars un opened. Okay, I yelled out, "very funny , dude, quit hiding and let's get the hell out of here, c'mon!" Nothing. Cars opened, lights on, headlamps on scanning the area, it looked like the only fresh boot tracks were just the two of us. Oh-oh, it dawned on us that we'd been here many times before and knew where the crossing was but our newb probably missed it especially since it was so dark. My friend said, "oh shit, speaking of crossings, remember those big cougar tracks we saw down there?....." An icy chill and prickly hairs crawled up the back of my neck. We turned on our headlights, honked the horns, shouted his name and listened for a reply. Nothing. More honking, shouting and flashing of lights. Nothing, dead f-ing quiet. It's one hell of a bad feeling knowing you left your buddy back down in the dark ravine, lost and hobbling around like wounded prey with a hungry bad ass cat lurking around. The hike back down the trail to the crossing was the longest walk ever. I remember shouting as loud as we could and trying to make as much noise as possible. I also remember trying to find a big kitty club but it's the friggin rainforest and all the fallen limbs are pretty much mush. I dug into my fly vest and found my little swiss army knife. I thought about how outmatched I would be against a big cat. Images of raising and sacrificing my left arm to the cat's fangs so I can get a good shot at his body with my puny knife was going through my mind. Should I hold the knife blade down or up?....no, down - the blade is probably not long enough to hit the heart so gotta go for the jugular or an eye or anywhere and everywhere on the head, yep, blade down. And that was the preferable scenario to finding his half eaten corpse and then having to tell his wife and kids. You can't help but to think some pretty sick shit in situations like that.

    Sure enough, he missed the crossing. It was too dark and he wasn't familiar enough with what to look for so he passed it. We had crossed behind him before he'd realized he'd gone too far. Then he backtracked looking for the crossing but it was just too damn dark to make anything out. The old boy scout training kicked in. He knew he was pretty close and we'd come back to look for him so he hunkered down in the freezing cold to wait. He remembered the kitty tracks so he found a driftwood club and big root ball to tuck into. He said that sitting in that root ball in the dark and mist with the little glints of the moonlight filtered by the thick old growth bouncing off the newly formed frost covered brushes, rocks and fallen logs made everything look like hundreds of cats slinking all around him. Everywhere he looked, it looked like a crouching back of a cat sneaking towards him or a peaking head and kitty ears staring at him.

    So, it was such a huge relief when we got down to the river and saw his tiny headlamp heading up the river arms waving and shouting. He heard us and climbed out of the root ball and came up river to us almost running. We couldn't help but to jump up and down cheering as well. We never saw the actual cat but it sure played a big part that day. Sometimes your imagination is worse than reality. I'm often glad it is.
  2. I assume you used "mountain lion" instead of cougar so there wouldn't be any confusion as to the topic of this thread :D
  3. I have had a number of cougar encounters and had the claw marks on my back to prove it.

    I have also seen two puma in the wild.

  4. [​IMG]
  5. Unless you're a small child, or tiny woman, there's nothing to fear about mountain lions. You've all had them follow you, out of feline curiousity, but were completely unaware. The cat knew all you big lugs were more trouble than you're worth, and simply couldn't believe that a large animal would move through the woods like ungainly clueless doofus.
  6. [​IMG]
    mtskibum16 likes this.
  7. About 8-10 years a go a neighbor up the road a spell shot a huge tom out on the OP. It was damn near some sort of state record: a big, thick, battle scarred cat that was missing all but its thumb toe on one front foot, from a much earlier encounter with a trap. This cat was huge, the mass of the front legs jaw-dropping. The claws awesome- they coulda opened a person up like a zipper. Took three of us to lift it from his truck into a wheelbarrow, where it looked absurdly large spilling over the sides. Can't remember exactly what it weighed/scored, but it was very near to 200lbs. Would not want to come face to face in the woods with a cast ther size.
  8. Don't they take down Elk? I know I'm a little heavy around the mid section but an elk makes me look small!
  9. Two mountain lions having a little talk " What do humans taste like? Chicken maybe? " Second lion " Nope, humans taste like shyt , I never eat the stuff "
  10. I was up on Pilchuck Creek one summer day. I heard one call or scream. I got back in my car and left the area.
    Matt Baerwalde likes this.
  11. I suppose if they are hunger enough, a cougar may attack a human. I know they scare the hell out of horses and a horse would have a much better time fending off a cougar than I would.

    They show up frequently on the outskirts of Corvallis... and sometimes in the city. We not only have urban deer that roam around eating the gardens the human citizens provide for them (as the deer assume), but cougars and coyotes sometimes wander down the city streets.

    The cougars are primarily looking for the urban deer and house cats... I have no idea what the coyotes are looking for... there hasn't been a road runner in these parts in years.

    Virginia, Mia and I go on a hike in one of the nearby forests every Sunday. At some of the trail heads are cougar and bear warning signs. They indicate that you should flare your jacket if approached by a cougar to give the impression you are larger.

    I've tried this with co-workers who bother me and flaring my jacket has little or no effect so I'm not so sure about the flaring the jacket bit as a deterrent.
  12. I'm not sure this is still current information but when they banned dogs from Cougar hunts, fewer were being "harvested". One result was that many Cougars were living to older ages. Some well beyond their prime hunting capabilities. Some of these older cats started taking more domestic animals, and started watching campgrounds for stray dogs, kids etc. A few years ago I watched one for a while at Pearrygin Lake State Park, lying on a high outcrop watching the campground. I don't know if this is still a problem or not but a few of the comments above mention cats that were battle scarred or missing toes. In their prime I doubt a cat would risk attacking humans unless provoked or cornered. But older animals have to eat too.
  13. I've seen 3 cougars in all my years spent in the outdoors.

    1) One in CA. - it crossed Hwy 1 in front of our car in the Redwoods so. of Crescent City.
    2) One while deer hunting in the divide between the Teanaway and Cle Elum watersheds.
    3) And one this past summer crossed the logging road in front of my truck just north of North Bend (I posted a poor photo of that one on this forum).

    It's cool to know they're out there, but I've come to respect their presence a lot more after reading this ......

    Here's a link to a chronological list of cougar on human attacks;

  14. There is a healthy population of coyotes in north Seattle and adjacent suburbs. We've had them den in the hillside above our house in the past and have seen them in our yard. It is part of inadvertent wildlife corridor that connects some steep hillsides, wet ravines and city parks. Signs stapled to power poles in the neighborhood appear regularly announcing missing cats and asking for information leading to their return. Most owners have no idea when they let their tabby out that 1) even housecats are fearsome predators on songbirds and small native mammals, and 2) coyotes love housecat for dinner. Frankly, I'm on the side of the coyotes...

  15. Me too!

    Studies done have shown that conservatively 100's of millions of songbirds die PER YEAR due to house cat predation....

    Indoor house cats live 1/3 longer than those that are let outside....

  16. A farmer helped me, after I hit a deer last month. As we walked towards his house, I noticed all these cats running around. I told him that I was surprised to see so many cats, that I thought the coyotes would have got them.

    He leaned over to me and whispered, "We get a lot of new cats."
  17. I don't think that is the right attitude to take with you in cougar country. There is plenty of reason to fear and respect them. My guess is even a deer is tougher prey than a human. We're weak, slow, and unaware. My guess is we just don't taste very good!

    In all seriousness, David Loy hit it on the head. It's the younger or the older weaker cats that generally cause problems for humans (adults and children) and our pets.
  18. I was playing a good steelhead on a small river that had about a 10 foot high bank behind me, on Vancouver Island, when a cougar stuck its head over the bank behind me to take a look. A fishing friend was on the other side of the pool facing me and yelled. As I turned around the Cougar vanished. I never figured out if the cat was stalking me or just curious. great memory.
  19. I dunno...I'm always armed, spent the last half century wandering around in cat country, and my only unpleasant run-ins have been with humans. But I guess I just don't have the right attitude.
  20. You, no doubt, would taste like shit, but elk are delicious.

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