A Utah hunter’s “biggest fear came true” when she found herself facing off against a territorial mountain lion near Rush Valley in Tooele County.
On Saturday, Laurien Elsholz was bow hunting for spike elk when she picked up the odor of a dead animal. Seconds later, the mountain lion guarding its kill crashed through the brush of the steep canyon and swiped at its potential opponent.
According to the western hunter, she used her hiking stick to swat the big cat away, but she couldn’t back away safely without the cougar advancing again and again. As she tried to evade the cat, she called out to her friends, warning them of the lurking predator that was hot on her trail.
On Facebook, Elsholz recounted the close call and just how lucky she was to come away with only minor injuries.
“I hit [the mountain lion] with my hiking stick, and it backed up and walked around a tree. It lashed at me three more times before I started recording,” she shared.
Just a heads up, the clip understandably has a fair amount of swearing.
“After [I stopped recording] the video, the mountain lion lashed at me one more time,” she said.
Knowing just how dangerous it would be to turn her back on the animal, Elsholz remained calm and maintained eye contact as she searched for an exit. She continued slowly out of the woods until the mountain lion gave up the pursuit.
“I didn’t wanna turn my back to her I finally found a way out of the trees and she followed us for a little bit then ran off,” the hunter shared.
She later revealed that the cougar followed her for about a mile before peeling off.
Why the Hunter Kept Her Bolts in the Quiver as Mountain Lion Approached
It may seem like an odd choice for Elsholz to opt for her hiking stick instead of the weapon on her back. But the hunter explained that the stick was already at her disposal and proved a good deterrent if only for a few moments as the mountain lion recovered from her defense.
Additionally, Elsholz stated that she didn’t have a handgun on her, so to her, the most viable resource was literally what she had on hand. It’s also possible that she didn’t want to risk being empty-handed as she knocked her bolt and took aim.
In hindsight, Elsholz recognized that the cougar was likely warding off the hunter so that it could enjoy its meal in peace. As the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DNR) confirmed, mountain lion attacks on humans are pretty rare, and they usually only engage when their young or kill is around.