A relaxing hike quickly took a turn for the worse when Dave Nash was confronted by a mountain lion last week.

The meeting was unexpected. The trail Nash favors near his Rocklin, California home isn’t usually known for cougar sightings, and he never felt threatened before. According to ABC News10, the only precaution he took was a flashlight that had a whistle attachment, something Nash grabbed on a whim. It may have very well saved his life.

“I was walking along and I hear this noise off to my left hand side, just about five feet away,” Nash told ABC News10. “And the mountain lion came out, it kind of came out of the bushes off this ledge.”

He was at first excited to see the cat, despite its large size.

“It looked huge when I first came up on her,” Nash told CBS13. “I just thought, ‘Wow, what a privilege to see such a beautiful creature.’”

However, curiosity turned to dismay as he realized the mountain lion had no intentions to leave. Nash continued to face the cat until he knew he had to do something. Running from a mountain lion is generally a bad idea, as they associate that with prey animals. After a tense few minutes, Nash risked taking out his phone and calling 911. The operator patched him through to a warden with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who instructed him to use the whistle and flashlight.

Nash held off the animal for about nearly forty minutes as it slowly circled him, waiting for him to tire. With the sky getting darker, Nash feared an immediate showdown.

“I grabbed closest thing I had for a weapon,” Nash said. “I was ready to brawl if need be.”

Even so, against a large cougar Nash had slim hopes for a favorable outcome.

“I could see her eyes at 20 feet away from me, coming at me fast,” he recounts as the mountain lion moved in on him. Nash waved his arms over his head and started yelling at the animal.

Then suddenly, he was rescued. A California Highway Patrol helicopter descended down on the stalemate and used the onboard searchlight to scare off the cougar. Nash managed to escape the encounter with no injuries.

“I’m never going to forget it,” he said. “I learned a lot, and I have a lot of appreciation for law enforcement.”

Experts advise standing your ground when confronted by a mountain lion. Try to appear as large as possible and make loud noises. Gather any available weapons but do not bend over if possible. If the animal begins attacking you, fight back aggressively and try to stay on your feet.

As always, precaution is better than a few rounds of bare-knuckle boxing with a cougar. When in mountain lion territory, go out in groups and avoid the time between dusk and dawn. A defensive weapon or long walking stick may also be prudent.

Officials believe this specific mountain lion was stalking Nash, and will be putting the animal down when it is found.

Update: The mountain lion involved in this encounter was shot and killed by a California wildlife warden. Many have spoken out against the killing as unnecessary, but authorities state that the cougar developed predatory behavior towards humans and was actively seeking them out. The warden was approached by the mountain lion and shot the animal when it prepared to pounce towards him. The incident happened near Colfax. 

Image from Jöshua Barnett (contemplicity) on the flickr Creative Commons

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18 thoughts on “Hiker Describes Hour-long Stare Down with Mountain Lion

  1. Never been in that situation, not sure what I’d do. I did hear that if it becomes a fight for survival, to go for the eyes. Don’t know if that’s true or not.

    1. Why anyone would hike unarmed in such wild Country is beyond me. At least a large caliber revolver or pistol is the prudent plan. If anyone does not get that simple fact they may well make it to the Darwin Awards finals, posthumously.

  2. I don’t think I’d go out into the wilderness unarmed. It’s not just large predatory animals one needs to be concerned about. Other than that, I’d do as the guy was told – look big, don’t look intimidated, remain standing.

    1. Really!!! Maybe it was just as curious as he was..just checking it out..killing it seems a bit harsh for an animal that could have attacked and killed him in a minute, but didnot for close to an hour..curious is my vote..leave it alone or take it to a wildlife sanctuary where it can run free.

  3. I have been followed by lions. I have been followed by bears. I have been attacked by deer. I just let them have their space.

    Why not just grab something and start backing down the trail? That is what I have done, never taking my eyes off the animal. End of problem. And no trigger happy law enforcement ever went and killed any of these beautiful animals.

  4. As a hiker, I agree that this would be very scary and am glad that this man was unharmed. Sadly though, I find it very disturbing that humans feel it’s okay to enter an animal’s home and kill that animal for either being curious or defending itself / home / family. Very wrong 🙁

  5. Why should the animal be put down after someone stumbled into its territory? I understand defending oneself or another if attacked but why should it have to die when it has harmed no one? Disgusting. Hopefully whatever department planning on taking out another member of an already struggling species will have its budget cut as California bleeds financially.

  6. if you encounter a cougar, back away …. slowly (making sure you never turn your back on the cat or run.) Sad the cougar will be put down… fewer and fewer of these amazing creatures left.

  7. She does not need to be put down. She was protecting her lair. I know from personal experience. In July of 1967 while hiking in the foothills of the Rockies near Ft. Collins, CO, I was circled all night by a lioness. I had stumbled upon the safe zone for her cubs at sunset. At dawn I made a break for it and the gods had me run to the left, away from the lair. Female lions will protect their cubs, that is the only reason they will mess with humans.

  8. Glad the individual survived. Yes it is sad the animal had to be put down. BUT when it was found again it deliberate wanted to pounce on the Wildlife man. If the animal had been afraid of humans and moved on, it would NOT have been killed. The Wildlife man had experience dealing with the attitude of animals and this PARTICULAR animal was going after other creatures, it was going after HUMANS. Sometimes you got to do the extreme because of the extreme situation. . This is MY opinion. The hiker was staying on the path. The animal was not be teased or threatened. It came out to the man and started pacing him out like, for examples, lions do when they weed out a weak animal in a herd. This animal was NOT acting normal… Right, the animal didn’t hurt the hiker but the Wildlife man’s job is to check the animal out and what happened happened because of what happened to the Wildlife man.

  9. Hi…
    I see a lot of folks stating a lot of opinions. But, were you actually there? No, you weren’t. If you were, your opinions might have been quite different…if you left alive…!!

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