WATCH: Utah Woman Is Face to Face With Mountain Lion in Terrifying Footage

by Lauren Boisvert
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A woman who was hunting in Tooele County, Utah, came face to face with her worst nightmare: a mountain lion. Laurien Elsholz was in the mountains with a group of friends when she stumbled upon the animal feeding on some carrion. She recorded part of the encounter, posted it on Facebook, and also spoke to KSLTV out of Rush Valley about the incident.

“My biggest fear came true today. I am so lucky I got away from this kitty,” she wrote on her Facebook post. Elsholz said that, as a hunter, she’s seen mountain lions in the woods and mountains plenty of times. But, she’s never been so up close and personal with them before.

“My friends were up on the hill and I was in the bottom of the ravine, walking up towards the top of the mountain,” she explained to KSLTV. Saturday was the opening of the archery hunt in Rush Valley, a hunt that Elsholz has participated in many times. So, she knows the area.

Utah Hunter Describes Wild Encounter, Shares Video from Incident

But, this time, she said she smelled something like dead, rotting meat and then felt something grab her leg. “And then to my right,” she continued, “I heard crashing and felt something like swipe at my leg and I looked down and it took me a second to realize that I was face to face with a mountain lion. I started yelling up the hill to everyone, like, ‘Mountain lion!’, like letting them know.”

Elsholz shared that she had to move closer to the animal at first in order to back away into the trees. She began recording the incident, but accidentally ended the video when she went to put her phone in a special pocket on her backpack that allows for hands-free recording. So, she explained, the encounter went on for much longer than her video shows.

“It followed us for about a mile before turning around and just bolted back down to the canyon towards food,” Elsholz said. Most likely, she accidentally came upon the mountain lion while it was eating and surprised it. The animal was most likely just protecting its meal.

“Just be aware you’re not alone in the mountain,” said Elsholz, warning other hunters and hikers. “It’s their territory so go prepared.”

How to Stay Safe in Mountain Lion Country

According to the National Park Service, mountain lions are incredibly elusive animals. A mountain lion is also called a puma, panther, or cougar, and they’re all different names for the same animal, the Puma concolor. The NPS says that mountain lions are most active near dawn or dusk and that a majority of sightings happen from a distance. However, if you come face to face with a mountain lion like Laurien Elsholz, here are some things to do.

Mountain lions mostly feed on deer–though sometimes they take down an elk–so first of all, it’s important not to feed wild deer. This encourages them to stay near humans, which can draw mountain lions to the area. Second, always hike, jog, or hunt in a group, never alone. If hiking with children, keep them close.

If you do encounter a mountain lion, the key is to make yourself seem as dangerous as possible, and not to seem like prey. Don’t approach the animal, don’t run, and don’t make yourself look small by crouching. Make yourself look big, and if all else fails, and the mountain lion is determined to have you for lunch, fight back as much as possible. Mountain lions tend to go for the neck, so remain standing and protect that area.

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