The Day I Was Almost Killed by a Cougar

This happened about a year ago.  I was 15 at the time camping with my family, and also a  good friend who we will call  Zach who is the same age as me.  We were out camping in a campground called Miquelon Lake which is a campground in central Alberta Canada. The lake is basically a drying up shit pile now, but the scenery is nice, and we know most of the staff at the park.   The campground is of modest size and is often filled to capacity. There are a series of trails over by the park center that takes you through the forest. We decided to walk down one in the evening.

After some walking, we found an old trail we had not taken before. It was overgrown, but you could clearly tell it was a pathway and so we took it to see where it would go. After walking for 15-20 minutes we heard some rustling in the bushes. Zach figured it was a beaver as they are common around here, but I looked and to my horror,  I saw a cougar’s face peering at us from the bushes. I could barely make out its yellowish eyes, but it did not seem like the cougar was moving, and yet we still heard the rustling in the bushes. I pointed at it and told Zach who begun to panic.

Cougars often try to stay away from humans, but they are getting more common. So though unlikely, it is not impossible to find one. I told Zach to remain calm and backpedal away with me. And we began to backpedal away.  I could tell he was scared shitless, but I told him the rustling was probably it’s young, and that we probably stumbled upon its nest by accident. I figured so long as we made a point to backpedal away, the cougar would just leave us alone. We backpedaled down the trail for some time, and when we felt we were safe, we turned our backs to continue walking. We rounded a corner only to find the Cougar standing there on the trail in front of us. It was staring at us, and it obviously wanted to attack us. I was shocked at how fast, and quietly it was able to pass us. At this point, it was clear that the cougar was toying with us, and that an attack is imminent.

I had a K-bar knife on me at the time in case of situations like this, and so I pulled it out. Truthfully a knife probably would not save our lives against such an amazing predator, but it is better than nothing, and it is useful as a tool, a weapon for hunting, or defense.  should we need it. I think Zach knew the cougar was probably going to attack too, given my reaction to the situation and the cougar’s odd behavior.  We were both tall for our age,  and though Zach was scrawny, I was quite muscular for my age. Even so,  if the cougar chose to attack us we would be in trouble. I told him to backpedal away once again and to stay close. He did not listen though, he booked it away.  Before I knew it the cougar was running towards us.

It was fast,  I chose to fight as it is my natural response to danger. It was probably also my best chance of survival at this point as running would only result in it attacking my friend since I am much faster than he is.  Perhaps if I bought Zach some time, he would be able to get help from people walking the trails, or there was always the possibility that he would rush to my aid. The cougar got close to me so fast I barely had time to react. I plunged my knife into its torso right as it jumped towards me. It growled in pain but the wound though deep was not lethal perhaps because I hit a rib.  It shoved me to the ground, clawed my right hand forcing me to let go of the knife, and tried to bite my throat while also sinking its claws into my shoulders. Zach at this point was running away yelling for help. To be honest I do not blame him. Yes, he probably should have helped me out whilst screaming for help, but some people when they are afraid never even think about that.  I protected my throat with my left arm which was luckily by my chest before it clawed my shoulder so I was able to defend myself. It bit my arm which was the worst pain I have ever felt. I could hear the sound of it’s teeth puncturing my arm, and ripping it to pieces.

I remembered advice from some show stating that shoving your arm down a predator’s throat initiates its gag reflex forcing it to stop biting you at least for a moment. Remembering this I shoved my arm further down its throat. The pain got worse but I was able to fight through it thanks to my adrenaline rush. The cougar gagged and promptly let go after a struggle. This  gave me a few seconds at most  to prepare for its next attack. However, I was still at its mercy and I knew my chances of survival at this point were low.  Suddenly I heard a loud bang, and the cougar let out a small whimper before falling on its side. I stood up and saw a park ranger running towards me along with Zach.

At this point, the pain on my left arm was starting to set in. It was messed up bad , and so were my shoulders both deeply scratched. I did not realize it hurt me  as bad as it did until I looked and felt the pain set in. He explained that other hikers had reported the cougar earlier, and so he came to the trails to find it and heard Zach’s cries for help. After performing first aid, he took me to his truck which was quite a walk to get me to take Zach to our site, and get me to the nearest hospital as my wounds were serious and could easily become infected.  My parents ended up driving me there as the ranger could not leave the campground on duty,  leaving Zach in the trailer at our site. Zach was shaken, but he was amazed that I was still alive. I needed stitches for my shoulders, and my left arm which to this day is still damaged permanently but  it could have been a lot worse. It was a  very terrifying moment of my life. I could have easily died right then and there.

Later, after I was treated I talked to an expert from the park. He told me that the cougar attacked us because it was in pain, and we approached its nest. It had porcupine quills in its throat. He said that it probably would have left us alone as we did everything right at least initially  if it wasn’t for the quills in its throat.

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