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Backpacker Magazine – August 2012

Troubleshoot This: Stalked by a Cougar

by: Kristy Holland

Photo iStockPhoto.com
Photo iStockPhoto.com

>> Assess “Most attacks are surprises, so often there’s no chance to be proactive,” warns biologist Rick Hopkins. Cats are most active from dusk to dawn, and they follow their prey. If you’re in deer or elk territory, stay especially alert. If you see a mountain lion and it’s hissing, crouching, or flattening its ears, it may be preparing to pounce.
>> Make space Attacks are most likely in rocky and brushy terrain, where cats can stay hidden. If you corner one, slowly back away to give it an escape route. If you see cubs, move into open terrain.
>> Stand your ground Cougars are not usually aggressive, so they’ll likely leave you alone if you don’t run, but quick movements may trigger predatory instincts.
>> Act large Wave your arms or poles, shout, and throw stones or sticks (if you can grab them without crouching or turning your back).
>> Fight back If a cougar lunges, use anything you have (bear spray, knives, sticks) to defend against the attack or to strike it (aim for the eyes and nose). Keep fighting.

Gut check “If cougars saw people as food, there’d be hundreds of attacks a year instead of one or two. Don’t act like prey, and you won’t be a victim.” —Rick Hopkins
Safety in Numbers Mountain lion attacks on multiple hikers are very rare; walk with a friend.


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READERS COMMENTS

JRM
Oct 09, 2012

Sorry; i wasn't finished. Your chance of missing with a handgun is great when a 200 pound cougar is leaping at you and looks to be all fangs and claws. It's not like shooting range targets. When hiking keep some sort of cover on the spear head (leather, naugahyde, heavy canvas) so you don't cut someone or frighten fellow outdoor enthusiasts.

JRM
Oct 09, 2012

I'm reminded of a home film I watched 42 years ago. It was shown to agroup of his colleagues by Sasha Siemel (Jr.), son of the famed hunter/adventurer Sasha Siemel (Sr.), "Tigrero." He used a seven foot long stout spear to hunt jaguars. The critical technique is to kneel, brace the butt of the spear on the ground (a rock or root would make a good brace), point it upward at 45 degrees toward the cat, and wait for the cougar to spring. If you can handle it, the cat impales itself on the spear without killing or maiming you. Sound crazy? I saw it happen in the film. It is used by Indians of the South American jungle. Or you can simply poke at the cat before it gets to the leaping on its prey phase.This is better than a handgun unless one is well-trained and practiced because it won't send bullets flying hundreds of yards into the srroundings when you miss.

foxnewsblonde
Oct 08, 2012

Actually, most liberals dont have a problem with guns. calm down. You gotta ask yourself though, are you gonna be able to get that gun out in time? Just hike smart, and try and keep your right wing blah blah off a backpacking forum.

Michelle
Oct 07, 2012

People shooting themselves is pretty rare considering the millions of gun owners in the USA. There is nothing wrong with carrying a legal firearm for protection. Can't liberals quit trying to brainwash people for political purposes?

Smrt
Oct 06, 2012

Get a gun and don't be stupid. That is all.

asdas
Oct 06, 2012


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Bubba-not
Oct 05, 2012

How many people will be attacked this year by Mountain Lions? Not very many. How many people will shoot themselves or a loved one this year with a handgun? You all know the answer.

Jason W.
Aug 20, 2012

I've had a couple of cougar encounters, the most applicable to this article was the time I almost (accidentally) ran one down on my mt. bike along a heavily forested trail near my home. I held the bike up between me and the cat (she was BIG! Her tail alone was at least 5' long) and shook the bike, screaming at her and jumping up and down like a wild man. She slunk non-nonchalantly off the trail and disappeared into the heavy brush. Then I thought "oh great, now what?". I was in a spot on the trail where it was up-hill both directions. I slowly pedaled back up the hill, the direction I came from, looking over my shoulder the entire time. Now I pack a 9mm when I'm riding alone. Beautiful animal though, would hate to have to kill one.

Tweety
Aug 20, 2012

I t'ought I taw a putti-tat.

pink
Aug 17, 2012

wear cheap glasses on the back of your head i always try to get you from behind , these make me think twice

pink
Aug 17, 2012

wear cheap glasses on the back of your head i always try to get you from behind , these make me think twice

pink
Aug 17, 2012

wear cheap glasses on the back of your head i always try to get you from behind , these make me think twice

pink
Aug 17, 2012

wear cheap glasses on the back of your head i always try to get you from behind , these make me think twice

pink
Aug 17, 2012

wear cheap glasses on the back of your head i always try to get you from behind , these make me think twice

pink
Aug 17, 2012

wear cheap glasses on the back of your head i always try to get you from behind , these make me think twice

pink
Aug 17, 2012

wear cheap glasses on the back of your head i always try to get you from behind , these make me think twice

pink
Aug 17, 2012

wear cheap glasses on the back of your head i always try to get you from behind , these make me think twice

Mark
Aug 17, 2012

John, you must've beat me by mere seconds. lol.

Mark
Aug 17, 2012

My revolver does nicely, thank you very much.

John L.
Aug 17, 2012

I'm wondering if the author or Backpacker staff are so Liberal that they refuse to consider firearms for self defense or advise hikers on the obvious tool to carry for mountain lion defense - a handgun. Having all the tech and lightweight goodies while backpacking is great, but there's a place for a good self defense pistol or revolver. Remember, its better to have it and not need it rather than need it and not have it.

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