How to survive a mountain lion attack
A couple of years ago, a 75-year-old man was attacked by a mountain lion. He told the story to Salon.
"I'm a World War II veteran, went over on D-Day plus 17, got captured in Normandy by S.S. troopers on tanks. I spent 297 days as a slave laborer for Adolf Hitler. I was in a 1-square-mile camp for 20,000 starving men. A place where death was so common, they bulldozed the bodies into pits right outside the fence.
"None of that scared me the way that cougar did, that day he attacked me. Because you knew where the Panzers were coming from.
"On the 24th of January of 2000, in the early hours of the morning, a dog had been killed on an Indian reserve, and I went out, before the hunting party had gathered, to pick up the tracks of the cougar that did it. It was minus 4 degrees centigrade, two inches of snow on the ground, overcast, good tracking weather. I was waiting for the hounds to arrive, so I left my rifle in the car -- worst mistake of my life -- and went into the bushes past the backyard where the dog was taken.
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'How to survive a mountain lion attack' continued:
"And to my shock and surprise, I turned my head, and there, about 40 feet from me, at the base of a spruce tree, all curled up, head down, swishing his tail, was an adult cougar. I ducked, and I did it softly: Movement causes a cougar to attack -- you try to back up, you try to run, he'll pounce.
"I snuck back a distance of 150 feet, and I was walking to my car and I heard nothing when he hit me. First time in 60 years of hunting that I've ever been attacked. Oh my goodness! It was like a baseball bat to the back of the neck, the blood is filling my ears and running down my shoulders and I'm down in the snow: four big canine teeth embedded in the muscles of my neck, and in the blink of an eye it let go and grabbed me again and then it shook its head just like it was killing a deer, shaking the life out. This is all in dead silence, no growling, no hissing, and I said, 'Clarence, this cougar is going to kill you.'
"Now, at that moment, with his jaws around my neck, I was reminded, I was made conscious, that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit within me, my innermost being, is more than one billion times faster than a cougar. I went hot with the thought of it, hot all over, my mental faculties turned razor sharp. Instantly, I remembered an old rule: If ever attacked by a dog, place your hand behind the lower canine teeth on the lower jaw and you can control that animal. Bang! Never hesitated! My right thumb went in one side of that big jaw and my left forefinger and middle finger went in the other, I pulled down and pulled those ugly teeth out of my neck, and there's blood everywhere in the snow, and those canines are cutting my hands. I believe I am the only living man to deliberately place his hands in the mouth of an attacking cougar.
"So I wrestled that cougar's head and neck over my chest and as quick as you could blink an eye my left arm was wrapped around his neck, choking him. I put such pressure on him that 3 and one-half inches of the blood vein in my left arm was totally crushed, and to this day has not come back. That vein has dried up.
"My plan was to flip its head and suffocate him in the snow, but just then, somebody come running up on the scene, a man with a .22 rifle, he stood about 12 feet away, and not knowing who this young man was or whether he could shoot straight -- well, I've got a cougar on me and now I'm looking down a rifle barrel, and of all the scare I had, that was the scariest -- I hollered, 'Don't shoot! Come right up here within 12 inches, and lay into him.' He fires four shots and when the fourth shot hit that cougar in the spine, I felt it go limp.
"The cougar had every reason to attack me. He was starving. There was nothing in his stomach but water, and porcupine quills in its throat -- those 'stickers', the quills, were his last meal, and they hurt him. He was in pain. And when I put my hands on either side of his face, and I looked straight into his eyes, I felt sorry: That was the closest I've ever gotten to such a fierce animal, and I saw how beautiful an animal this was, and I felt sorry that it had to be destroyed, that I had to kill this pretty animal.
"One of the prettiest animals in North America, a proud and master predator, a species unto himself, and he knows it. I have a great respect for the cougar."