Oh gees! Don't be a sissy! You have nothing to worry about. These gun carrying guys always get everybody worked up. I've fished all my life walking thru the woods on lonely trails by myself, hiked on 50 milers by myself, etc. No cougar fears ever. Don't waste you money on a gun, buy a fly rod instead, a nice backpack, and for Christ's sake enjoy yourself! It would be a RARE situation to have some sort of attack on you. You must be from the "city", right?
Years ago, when her Ladyship and I used to do a lot of cycling with a club in Sacramento, we were going out for a ride on New Year's Day, leaving from the Sacramento State Univ. South parking lot. We entered campus on the North side, and drove through the arboretum to get there, and passed a kitty sunning himself on the lawn! They come down the American River bike trail after the deer which live in the green belt on either side of the trail. That made a total of 4 cats I've seen in my life in the woods. Great looking creatures, they move with an amazing grace and power! No, I'm much more concerned about the pot farms in the woods, and the scum which inhabit them.
Alex, i have a pet theory about mountain bikers looking like "fleeing deer" to cougars. There have been a few cougar attacks on mountain bikers. (Sorry, don't have links offhand).
I never run along trails any more (used to be into "trail running" when younger). I never want to appear that I'm fleeing from anything. This concerns me a little bit, as I plan to ride my hybrid mt bike on gated logging roads in known cougar country, to get to fishing spots. I might get a handlebar holder for an ipod and some speakers, and crank the volume up LOUD for the ride. Also, bright dayglow chartreuse and hot orange flags, maybe some shiny foil. If I don't make noise and stand out as something unnatural, I might just look like food to a cougar while riding along.
I really don't care whether or not if this noisy spectacle offends any "emos" I might encounter along my route, as long as I feel a little safer, myself. Looking out for #1, always.
357 mag would be my repellant.I have heard tall things make them scared.Like put a small child on your shoulders.Mountain lions will stalk you.And thats about all they will do.Bears and wolves would make my nervous.
On second thought, I'll be playin "Working Man's Dead," "American Beauty," or some country music, to avoid getting shot by hunters for the reason of GP. Alanis sounds too much like a dying goat, and might actually draw an attack.
When I was up on the Kenai peninsula a few years back our guide told us a funny story about clients and guns. Seems he hired out to guide a guy from the lower 48 who wanted to bag a grizzly. They'd been out for a couple days and hadn't seen a bear, but the guide finally had to ask why the client always carried this big ol' Ruger Blackhawk 44 mag revolver around. The client says "Well, in case we see a grizzly!"
The guide told him "Let me give you a little tip. Take this file and file all the sharp edges off of that front sight until all the edges are smooth.".
The client asked "But this is a very expensive sight, won't that make it less accurate?".
The guide said "Well, yeah, maybe, but it'll hurt a lot less when you shoot a grizzly with it and he takes it away from you and shoves it up your ass.".
The guide told us that yeah, you shoot a grizzly center of mass (chest) with a .44 mag and he'll die. He'll take 10 or 15 minutes to do it though, and in the meantime, your ass is his.
He told us if we see a grizzly to get down on our knees, head on the ground and cover your head as best you can with your arms. Stay tucked into a ball no matter what, and the bear will likely swat at you and maybe even bite you some, but will probably then leave with you alive.
being a gun nut i find it funny i'm gonna say the following, but if ya gotta ask, your not prepared, no need to carry a gun. this is an alpha ambush predator, odds are if your the one in a million to get the jackpot, ya won't know it 'till your knocked down can't breath and are fighting for your life thru the shock of it all. these guys are incredibly strong. your only chance is to protect your neck, feed him your weak arm/hand and stick him with a knife. many attacks have been fended of just this way.
You have a better chance of being struck by lightning, hit by a falling tree, getting in a car wreck and probably all on the same trip, than you do of a cougar encounter. Come on out. I solo hike and camp a lot in Montana and have never had a problem with them or bears. And I, contrary to all conventional wisdom, move quietly (unless entering the thick stuff); it is hard to take pictures of wildlife if you have announced your presence.
There is no reliable evidence bear spray works on a cougar (I do have a couple of friends from there I will try it out on, purely in the interest of science). The best advice is the same as for bears, keep a very clean camp, hang your food and dishes away from camp and for good measure, sleep in different clothes thatn the ones you cook or fish in, and hang them too. If you are really worried, the best piece of mind would probably come from the grizzly fence mentioned above. In tests, the little circle of wire repelled grizzlies. and, make noise while hiking.
If you are attacked by a cat (I know of no instances of them dragging someone from a tent), fight back hard. He means to eat you. Use rocks, clubs, fists and a good knife if you have one. Try to keep your neck, head and gut covered. BUT FIGHT!
A few years ago, my daughter in law worked for Napa County as a planner and had to make site visits at wineries. While walking down a small dirt road between fields with another girl, a cougar crossed the road not too far in front of them. Her reaction? "Damn, I can't believe I didn't have my camera."
Enjoy your trip. In lion country, if you have kids with you, keep them with you, and you should be fine.
A pistol is not going to save your bacon if you are jumped - a knife will. That being said, if your fishing buddy gets jumped and you are armed, then you might be able to intervene on his behalf.
My 40+ yrs of hunting experience has shown that a pistol and a backpack is very uncomfortable, no matter if you are carrying in a hip holster or a shoulder rig. The backpack's waist band and shoulder straps interfere and create safety issue's. A long arm is much more comfortable to carry with a backpack. However I have not tried a tactical pistol holster in which the pistol would ride on one's thigh.
Given the nature of the original party's question, it sounds like a firearm is not "his thing". Bear Repellent spray would work, however how to carry it (read a holster) is a question that he will have to work out.
In my book a Ruger 5 shot revolver in 357 would be a good choice, so would a 40 Cal semi-auto pistol. If any of you decide to employ a pistol or revolver for self defense from 2 or 4 legged critters, do as I do and shoot a IPSC match on a quarterly basis. The importance of stress fire training cannot be over emphasized.