Man Escapes Cougar: 'Dude, I Don't Feel Like Dying Today'
January 12, 2021 11:38 AM   Subscribe

On a 10-mile run up Slate Canyon in Provo UT, guy sees 4 cougar cubs on the trail. He took out his phone and started filming. When the mother came along he knew he was in trouble. For the next six minutes, he recorded their encounter. The mother cougar followed him — hissing, growling and threatening — as Burgess backed away, keeping his eyes locked on her. Mostly, he alternated between yelling a stream of profanities at the mother mountain lion and calling the animal "dude."
posted by dancestoblue (106 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
One of the scariest videos I've ever seen. Love it.
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:49 AM on January 12 [4 favorites]


What a good momma! And good instincts from this guy to not turn his back on her. Glad this had a good ending.
posted by fight or flight at 11:50 AM on January 12 [9 favorites]


I have a friend that carries a side arm when he hikes (in the Adirondacks) alone. This is a much better outcome for everyone. Burgess and Dude got what they wanted out of the encounter. Dude kept Burgess from her cubs and Burgess did not die and took appropriate steps to clear out.
posted by AugustWest at 11:54 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Whoa, this is intense. I yelped and physically recoiled in my chair when the cat first charged. I'm glad he's ok.

But also, as a metaphor for how I, a frequently furious middle-aged feminist, often feel when called "dude" by young men: pretty accurate!
posted by minervous at 11:55 AM on January 12 [17 favorites]


Pumas in the crevasses!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:57 AM on January 12 [13 favorites]


Took out his iphone? Really? In the Utah hills?

Meanwhile, any time I see any large animal babies anywhere in the world I'm like "ooooohhhhh shit I gotta get the fuck outta here right now jesus where do I go where do I go where do I go!"
posted by aramaic at 12:08 PM on January 12 [38 favorites]


This is why you leave baby animals the fuck alone in the wild. Lucky for him, this cougar mama was more interested in looking scary than in fighting. If she had wanted to fight, we wouldn't have this video to watch.
posted by swift at 12:09 PM on January 12 [33 favorites]


I lived in Provo, Utah for seven years, and my best cougar avoidance technique was to never go running in Slate Canyon.

If I'm being completely honest the full cougar abatement plan also included never going running at all, ever.
posted by seasparrow at 12:10 PM on January 12 [88 favorites]


He was screwing around and it was only because the mama just wanted him gone and not dead that he didn't find out.
posted by winna at 12:12 PM on January 12 [29 favorites]


I can't believe this has never been posted to the blue.

For those who saw it when it originally happened, and want to totally trip out on how much our sense of time has eroded due to current events: this took place a mere three months ago today.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:15 PM on January 12 [77 favorites]


If she had wanted to fight, we wouldn't have this video to watch.

Well, we’d have part of it.

It’s hard to see in the video but I guess he finally got her to leave by throwing a rock. I had been thinking the whole time “just pick up a rock and throw it dude what are you doing” but I guess I can’t know how I’d react in that situation. And maybe he didn’t want to take the time to stoop down and make himself vulnerable.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:17 PM on January 12 [10 favorites]


I bumped into a bear cub out in the woods once. I did stop to look because I thought it was probably somebody's lost dog until I realized that DOGS ARE NOT THAT STOCKY. I did not take out my camera, I got the heck out of there.
posted by wotsac at 12:19 PM on January 12 [13 favorites]


Btw, he says in this longer interview that when he started filming the babies, he thought they were bobcats, not baby mountain lions. And he also addresses the “why didn’t you pick up a rock sooner!!!” thing.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:21 PM on January 12 [9 favorites]


my favorite part about that video is how family friendly it is, and as a provo-born apostate who has spent a lot of time hiking in the next canyon over, I really adore that. Any other state and "dude" would have been replaced with a lot more colorful language.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:22 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]


PICK UP A ROCK PICK UP A ROCK PICK UP A ROCK SO MANY GOOD THROWING ROCKS YOU TOOL USING APE WHAT THE FUCK.

Oh good, you finally picked up a rock!
posted by loquacious at 12:22 PM on January 12 [19 favorites]


I would not for even a split second make myself look smaller in the process of picking up a rock unless the cougar was more than 45 feet away. I mean, I could probably dodge the first leap, but then we'd be close enough to have the fight I'd want to avoid. I might put my toe under a rock and lob it that way, but never would I ever do anything to look smaller. I get why he thought bobcats, okay, but if you see more than one of something feline in the wild, err on the side of assuming a bunch of kittens, not adults.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:37 PM on January 12 [19 favorites]


That said, the old hacky sack maneuver of sandwiching a rock between your heels and tossing it up to grab it might be useful.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:43 PM on January 12 [6 favorites]


Thank goodness the cougars weren’t hurt—this could have turned out much differently.
posted by cupcakeninja at 12:43 PM on January 12 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: Oh good, you finally picked up a rock!
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:47 PM on January 12 [11 favorites]


Not judging the guy, asking for myself because I have no clue: Would kicking a bunch of rocks and roaring more be an effective tactic?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:51 PM on January 12


In the article showbiz_liz posted, he mentions how he wanted to get far away from her cubs, and put as much distance between himself and the cougar before attempting to throw rocks.
posted by vitout at 12:51 PM on January 12 [10 favorites]


Or even backing into the bushes maybe?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:52 PM on January 12


Hahaha, this is pretty hilarious because I'm pretty sure I would make every single decision the same. From assuming they were bobcats (because who the heck ever sees mountain lions) to alternating from freaking out to 'nah I'm calm I can talk myself calmly oh hey dude, try not to swear' back to freaking out.

I was thinking about rocks the entire time I watched the video ("ok... I'm bigger but they're sharper... what is our evolutionary advantage again... oh yeah, tools!") but I know I'd be too freaked to lean down to pick something up if I was in that situation.

Interesting wikipedia has a list of North American Fatal Cougar Encounters and it reads like I would expect... mostly kids but not unheard of for it to happen to a healthy adult.
posted by midmarch snowman at 12:52 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


I have observed a large cougar sauntering along a stone wall for over three minutes less than 50' away

in Connecticut.

State DEEP says impossible, but I know what I saw and it was no bobcat.
posted by goinWhereTheClimateSuitsMyClothes at 12:58 PM on January 12 [6 favorites]


Backing off trail seems like a bad idea since I imagine any wild animal is 10,000 x more comfortable navigating brush than I am... and also I just know in that situation I'd feel comfortable on trail because that's what I'm used to and it would never occur to me to leave the more comfortable footing if I was backing away from a cougar.

I'm guessing he backs up maybe 200m? and I probably would've kicked rocks before bending over and picking one up but it makes sense to put 50m-100m between yourself and the cubs before trying anything. De-escalation is the main idea. An older friend would hike with a gun (and his advice was always try firing it into the air before taking aim, scaring the animal is all that's necessary) and the one time he came across bear cubs in his 30 years of backcountry Idaho he just froze and backed up 50m before even readjusting his backpack.
posted by midmarch snowman at 1:01 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]


He could have thrown his phone at her, you know. And then he'd also have a second hand and the other half of his attention available for dealing with the situation.

He's not going to need the video evidence when the cougar later claims in court that she used lethal force because she felt threatened.
posted by heatherlogan at 1:05 PM on January 12 [10 favorites]


That's a good point, heatherlogan, except something analogous to the anthropic principle suggests that if he'd done that we wouldn't be talking about the video.
posted by axiom at 1:09 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]


when I originally watched this, my main thought was that if it had been me, and I was fleeing backwards over rocky terrain, terrified, that I would have fallen, and that woulda been that. he was right not to stoop for a rock sooner, you don't want to signal that you are prey.

and good on mama for keeping her cubs safe from stoopid hoomans.
posted by supermedusa at 1:09 PM on January 12 [6 favorites]


Man: go back to your babies please

Cougar: you come into my house
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:10 PM on January 12 [54 favorites]


That is pretty clearly a cat telling him to leave, not attacking him. If a mountain lion is attacking you, you probably won't see it coming.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:10 PM on January 12 [15 favorites]


Backing off trail seems like a bad idea since I imagine any wild animal is 10,000 x more comfortable navigating brush than I am

I was wondering if standing out there on the road makes a person look more exposed and vulnerable, but yeah, stumbling backwards uphill in the brush probably wouldn't help project Don't Mess With Me vibes
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:12 PM on January 12


Interesting wikipedia has a list of North American Fatal Cougar Encounters and it reads like I would expect... mostly kids but not unheard of for it to happen to a healthy adult.

I guess it depends on what you mean by "unheard of". There are have been 16 mountain lion related fatalities in US recorded history. Expand that to recorded North American history at the list only gets slightly larger.

While it's a good idea to stay safe, the dangers of mountain lions has been extremely overblown IMHO. And I say that as I type this about 8 miles away from the spot where the last Californian was killed while mountain biking in 2004.
posted by sideshow at 1:12 PM on January 12 [7 favorites]


Seasparrow, now when people ask what I have been doing I will say "Working on the full cougar abatement program, mumble mumble" (leave the room quickly)
posted by InkaLomax at 1:14 PM on January 12 [8 favorites]


the dangers of mountain lions has been extremely overblown IMHO.

I have this conversation all the time with people who come to Colorado and are freaked out about bears. Bears almost never attack people! You should be much more scared of moose. Per this article, there are 5-10 moose injuries annually in Alaska alone, compared to just two bear attacks on average across *all of North America.*

Mountain lions and bears and wolves aren't going to hurt you. Moose and elk and deer aren't going to hurt you either, but it's way more likely that you'll be injured by a prey animal than a predator.
posted by medusa at 1:36 PM on January 12 [7 favorites]


ts/dw
posted by y2karl at 1:42 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


I guess it depends on what you mean by "unheard of".

I'm not that guy, but I'm dying* to know what "unheard of" could mean other than "unheard of".

*very likely not from a cougar
posted by ZaphodB at 2:00 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Would kicking a bunch of rocks and roaring more be an effective tactic?
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 2:01 PM on January 12 [8 favorites]


I'm no scholar of English, but I'd typically take "not unheard of" to be equivalent to "heard of" with an added connotation of "heard only seldom". Am I misunderstanding the question?
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:03 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


This is a dumb derail but surely "not unheard of" is basically "has happened, albeit rarely" and 5 adults killed in the past 20 years bears that description out. I'm not losing any sleep worrying about death-by-lion. That said, when comparing causes of death in the afterlife, you probably don't want to have to explain you were mauled by a big kitty.
posted by axiom at 2:05 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


I had been thinking the whole time “just pick up a rock and throw it dude what are you doing” but I guess I can’t know how I’d react in that situation. And maybe he didn’t want to take the time to stoop down and make himself vulnerable.

Yeah, I agree with this and the many mefites that followed this. It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback this, but although guy is understandably very freaked out, as I would be in his situation, I hope I’d have thought about the Australopithecus-era weapons all around me. Kicking something (like loose rocks) while standing upright is something we can do that is denied to most of our animal brethren.

Maybe I’ve just seen 2001 too many times. This is why I always carry a tapir rib when I go hiking.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:22 PM on January 12 [8 favorites]


And even potentially near death, people still film things portrait rather than landscape.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:23 PM on January 12 [35 favorites]


Wasn't there another one of these about 9 months ago?

The more we invade their habitats, the more these thing are going to happen. My in-laws, who live in southern Oregon all have stories of folks they know who have had encounters with Cougars. If I recall correctly, some of the humans had guns, so, no human deaths. Few things I'd rather run into than a momma Cougar.
posted by Windopaene at 2:33 PM on January 12


Really, having a physical altercation with a mountain lion doesn't have to kill you to really, quite seriously, change your life forever from that moment. I don't know what the stats are on mountain lion attacks and what the tables are on the resulting injuries, but they're covered with knives and teeth and we don't have much of anything but flesh and screaming.
posted by hippybear at 2:47 PM on January 12 [13 favorites]


I have observed a large cougar sauntering along a stone wall for over three minutes less than 50' away

in Connecticut.

State DEEP says impossible, but I know what I saw and it was no bobcat.


Yup, me too. 23 years ago or so, around Sharon, IIRC.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:59 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Respect tbh because if I ever encounter a cougar I will definitely somehow provoke her into eating me, and I'll be screaming DUDE. DUDE. FUCK??? DUDE the whole time.
posted by jameaterblues at 3:38 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]


I bumped into a bear cub out in the woods once.

Yup, inadvertently rounded a trail and found ourselves about to stroll right between momma heading downslope and babies trailing upslope before we even realized what was happening - but it wasn't 5 seconds 'fore mama sensed us, wheeled and came running. Luckily we'd recognized the situation, frozen immediately and already begun backing away so she made only one charge in our direction before turning to corral her cubs and scamper back down the mountain, but it was many moments before my heart settled back in its socket.
posted by thecincinnatikid at 4:38 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]


Okay but did Sharon bring a cute cougar friend?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:49 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Wasn't there another one of these about 9 months ago?

I don’t recall in particular, but there almost certainly was. And a year before that. And then six months before that. As you say, human encroachment on their habitats is an ongoing thing, and likely to engender unpleasant meetings.

And these are not new. I recall a story from at least a decade ago which, as I recall, involved two women hiking when one got attacked by a big cat. They tried to fight it off but the cat was getting the better of the conflict. The women’s screams drew a nearby mountain biker to assist, and by throwing stones, he drove the cat off. I recall thinking that save for the mountain bike, that story could have taken place at any point in the last half million years.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:20 PM on January 12


I had been thinking the whole time “just pick up a rock and throw it dude what are you doing” but I guess I can’t know how I’d react in that situation. And maybe he didn’t want to take the time to stoop down and make himself vulnerable.

At my kids school, they have cougar education1, and one of the things they tell you specifically is not to bend over (for example, to pick up your children) and always be making eye contact with the cat.

Only if the cougar actually attacks you, should you start grabbing rocks and sticks.

Otherwise, make yourself as big as you can, raise your arms, puff out your jacket, make a ton of noise and back away slowly and steadily.

1 Yes, we all made the required jokes.
posted by madajb at 5:30 PM on January 12 [7 favorites]


is there a technical name for the move she does (several times!) other than a charge? i think im going to have nightmares.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 5:44 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]


One of my former coworkers has a story about being stalked like this. He was at the bottom of a canyon and the cougar had the high ground. His ATV was parked at the rim and it stalked him all the way up, he said he never stopped screaming and grabbed rocks and branches but the foliage was so thick he never was able to get a good throw in. When he got out and went to meet up with the rest of the survey team they could see he was shaken, he told them what had happened. When he finished his friend asked him "Why didn't you fire you gun?".

He had forgotten he was carrying one.
posted by lepus at 6:00 PM on January 12 [23 favorites]


I have observed a large cougar sauntering along a stone wall for over three minutes less than 50' away

in Connecticut.

State DEEP says impossible, but I know what I saw and it was no bobcat.


Checking in from northeast RI to join the New England mountain lion spotting club. I grew up in a house that backed onto woodlands that extended over the Mass border, and there was a mountain lion on the stone wall that separated our backyard from the woods. My husband insists that there are no mountain lions in RI, but I also know what I saw, and it was no bobcat (of which I saw plenty, too.).
posted by Ruki at 6:08 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


and always be making eye contact with the cat.

Is there like a list that tells you with which animals to maintain eye contact vs which animals would regard that as VERY AGGRESSIVE?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:14 PM on January 12 [11 favorites]


I caught a bit of a nature doco on cheetahs, against which lions have a seriously negative attitude, and a mother cheetah basically stood down a male lion with exactly those same threat behaviours.
posted by lipservant at 6:21 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Humans messing with megafauna? Hippos are a bad bet.
posted by ovvl at 7:03 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Exceptional_Hubris: is there a technical name for the move she does (several times!) other than a charge?

I'm an animal shelter volunteer, not a scientist, but I would call that a lunge.
posted by swerve at 7:21 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]


Pumas in the crevasses!

This made my day. I had been in a dark, painful funk all day until now. My favorite SB moment. Thanks, Greg_Ace.
posted by neuron at 7:34 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: covered with knives and teeth and we don't have much of anything but flesh and screaming.
posted by loquacious at 7:39 PM on January 12 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: DOGS ARE NOT THAT STOCKY.,

Speaking as someone who spent many years living near and in woods where there were bobcats, I also would never piss off a mom bobcat by getting too near her kittens.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:47 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]


I was staying at The Pack Creek Ranch with two friends. We went for an evening walk down along the pasture and I was listening to a rock chuck chirp across the pasture from us. Suddenly what looked for a second like some smooth mastif dog crossed the road not 10 feet away, stalking the rock chuck. We then realized that no, that was a full sized lynx, size of an adult mountain lion. Bob tail, very smooth and muscled staying low to the ground, we were too awed to be scared. We immediately went back and locked ourselves in for the night.
posted by Oyéah at 9:29 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Exceptional_Hubris: is there a technical name for the move she does (several times!) other than a charge?

"Bluff charge" I believe is a term commonly used. Example usage.

I type this about 8 miles away from the spot where the last Californian was killed while mountain biking in 2004.

FWIW I know his mother fairly well. Small world.

The more we invade their habitats, the more these thing are going to happen.

Interestingly, in Utah and probably many other similar places, the situation is quite a bit more complex than that.

When the Euro-American settlers came here starting in the 1840s, the native animals were hunted and their habitat used by various domesticated animals (cattle, sheep, etc). By the late 1800s/early 1900s you were looking at almost complete decimation of the native animal populations.

Even more so with predators like cougars. They were hunted as vermin; there was a literal price on their pelts. Every area had a few hunters who specialized in taking care of the local predators. They could make a somewhat decent living (or supplemental income) that way.

As late as the 1960s and early 1970s when I went hunting with various relatives, they would take every chance they could to hunt down a mountain lion, both for the bounty it would bring and because they decimate the local deer population, making deer hunting a lot less "fun".

By the early 1900s big game species such as deer, elk, bighorn sheep--and of course, bison--were are driven to extinction or near-extinction. The predators, as well--mountain lions, bears, wolves, etc.

Work to revive game species started in the early 1900s and by mid-century some species, such as mule deer, had made huge comebacks.

But predators like the mountain lion--though never completely exterminated here--didn't make a real comeback until the last 40-50 years.

Nice summary of this history here from the Utah History Encyclopedia.

Anyway, in Utah people have been encroaching on mountain lion habitat since time immemorial. The early Euro-american settlers encroached more than previously, and in greater numbers. Despite that, for the first 50 years of the 1900s your chances of seeing a mountain lion or other predator here was slim to none.

In short, we've been encroaching all along.

It's only the restoration of habitat that began in the late 1800s and continued through the 1900s with increased protection for various public lands, and then the recognition of the importance of predators in the ecosystem and the ensuing healthy growth in predator populations that has made encounters with predators like these far more common in the 2000s than the 1900s or even the late 1800s.
posted by flug at 10:02 PM on January 12 [13 favorites]


This made my day. I had been in a dark, painful funk all day until now. My favorite SB moment. Thanks, Greg_Ace.

I'm sincerely happy a silly joke of mine made someone else happy!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:20 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


HI I'M ON METAFILTER AND I COULD OVERTHINK A PLATE OF HUMAN
posted by not_on_display at 11:45 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Growing up hiking and biking in the Western United States, it was ingrained in me from an early age to never lose eye contact with a cougar should they be encountered on the trail. I agree with the assessment that stooping to pick up a rock seems like a bad maneouver that may prompt attack. This video is scary as hell, but hopefully can prove informative and useful, to spread knowledge of the danger and behavior one might expect. Those bluff charges, for example, might otherwise elicit the wrong response.
posted by St. Oops at 1:34 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Remember that dialect map thing the NYT had a few years back? On this page:

ctrl+f "cougar" = 30
ctrl+f "puma" = 2
ctrl+f "mountain lion" = 19
ctrl+f "panther" = 0
ctrl+f "catamount" = 0
posted by St. Oops at 1:56 AM on January 13 [7 favorites]


is there a technical name for the move she does (several times!) other than a charge?

It looks like the attack animation in one of those old RPG video games like Wizardry that the enemy does when it's their turn to attack even though it looks like they're standing a couple meters away from you.
posted by straight at 2:35 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]


Yes to everyone who said if she'd intended to kill him he'd never have seen her. It's a very cool video.
posted by biscotti at 2:54 AM on January 13


One more wild cat
posted by anshuman at 5:26 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


WHAT COLOR IS THE COUGAR? GOLD? NO! BROWN? NO! RED? NO! THE ANSWER IS TAWNY.
posted by TedW at 6:35 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]


he thought they were bobcats, not baby mountain lions

Because harassing a bobcat would apparently have been ok?
Videos like this make me mad. Have we lost all sense of respect for nature (and self-preservation) so that the first instinct when encountering wildlife is to pull out a cellphone and start filming for our own gratification?
posted by Dotty at 10:54 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


The thing I love about this is he rotates between being extremely polite ("please go away"), constant swearing, roaring and screaming, narrating the scene ("babies are down there, I'm big and scary"), talking to it like a house cat ("bad kitty cat!") and bro style ("Fuck you dude!").

Feels like it's a Fallout style selection of different conversation responses.
posted by MattWPBS at 11:24 AM on January 13 [5 favorites]


so that the first instinct when encountering wildlife is to pull out a cellphone and start filming for our own gratification?

it maybe isn’t smart, but it’s not necessarily harassing the wildlife to stand back and film, is it?
posted by atoxyl at 12:09 PM on January 13 [6 favorites]


Most people are way to close when they stand back. As a general rule of thumb you shouldn't approach closer than 100m/yrds. At that distance most animals are barely visible on cell phone cameras, even ones that are nominally telephoto.

It's really hard to judge distances in photos/video because of the compression that can occur but it sure looks to me like the video starts with him closer than a 100m and then he attempts to narrow the distance until mom shows up.
posted by Mitheral at 12:33 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]


Have we lost all sense of respect for nature (and self-preservation) so that the first instinct when encountering wildlife is to pull out a cellphone and start filming for our own gratification?

I absolutely have the camera instinct. On my (urban parkland) morning walks if I spot a coyote or come upon a fox den (once, although I see foxes pretty often), deer, or pretty much any interesting bird of prey, first I freeze, then I am awed, and then I'm like "I want to share this with my fellow primates!"

And so it has been, I believe, since the first rock paintings.
posted by warriorqueen at 12:49 PM on January 13 [6 favorites]


2004 we had a 100 year flood. The power was out and I didn't have a flashlight. When I let the dog out she stopped and looked up. All I could see was a long dark tail swishing below a tree branch. Dog agreed that we should go back in.

We are not supposed to have anything like that around here. I think it came down the river and finally managed to get out of the water in our yard. There's not supposed to be anything like that upstream either. I don't know. Panther? Judging from the size of the tail it could have taken both of us.

I had lived here all of a week so I asked around and nobody had ever seen one. That was spooky.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:58 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]



Most people are way to close when they stand back. As a general rule of thumb you shouldn't approach closer than 100m/yrds.


100m? Most people wouldn't even be able to see a bobcat at 100 meters. Where do you think wild animals tend to live? Airports?
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:00 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]


True. And sometimes you'll find yourself closer than you should be because a lot of animals blend into their surroundings. But if that happens to you you should back away not continue to approach.
posted by Mitheral at 1:21 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


While Australian fauna does have its own, very special, kinds of lethal, I am very grateful that we do not have mountain lions because they are terrifying when angry.

(Of course, a kangaroo can disembowel you and kick you to death but they sing the theme song from "Skippy the Bush Kangaroo" as they do so, which makes it far less threatening.)
posted by nfalkner at 4:39 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


I find kangaroos scarier than mountain lions, I guess because I'm used to mountain lions and I know they aren't that big and are usually pretty shy.

Kangaroo bucks (bucks?) always look like a bully in a bad mood happy to start a bar brawl, and probably should be wearing a flat cap while they do it.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:24 PM on January 13


Kittens not withstanding cougars generally are loners. From what I've seen kangaroos travel in packs.
posted by Mitheral at 6:46 PM on January 13


Pro-tip: Bear spray is also effective against Mountain Lions.
posted by interogative mood at 6:51 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]


So, more seriously on kangaroos, yes, the bucks (also called boomers) are serious towers of muscle and will act to protect their does. They can be quite aggressive during any stage of breeding system and it's not uncommon to be wandering through the scrub, see some cute smaller kangaroos and then realise you're getting the death glare from 5-7 feet of lean, mean hopping machine.

The big reds are usually the worst and you usually have to head out bush to see them, whereas I can see eastern greys easily by going for a walk through the Adelaide hills. Greys are smaller, which means that the bucks are correspondingly less intimidating but they are still built like a brick outhouse.

With all of this, it's very important to note that kangaroos will usually not go out of their way to attack you. You keep walking, they'll keep watching, but they won't stalk you up a path like a lion. You get too close, you might get punched or kicked, but even then they don't want to eat you, they just want you gone. You could walk in the scrub for decades and never be attacked by a kangaroo. (Snakes, spiders, lizards, and the gimpy gimpy plant are of far more concern.)

There is a highly amusing exception to this where someone landed a paraglider somewhere in Australia and a kangaroo ran up just to attack him and then ran off again. There's some very Australian swearing. Truly, Australia is a land of contrasts.
posted by nfalkner at 8:33 PM on January 13 [6 favorites]


> Pro-tip: Bear spray is also effective against Mountain Lions.

I imagine it's pretty good against kangaroos too, in a pinch
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:40 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]


On non-preview nfalkner's comment suggests there's very few situations where that might be a consideration, and my jokey comment reads a bit worse with that context right before, so it goes
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:44 PM on January 13


Yeah, you shouldn't be pinching kangaroos in the first place!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:44 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]


Like, dear lord, bear spray. Are people who are mentioning that people who have ever experienced it?

It will shut down an entire football field if one can of it is ever released. It's horrible. It's so terribly awful.

Yes, it's effective, but oh man, it is not a cap one pulls off lightly and a trigger one sets off casually. It will ruin your day, and possibly another day too.
posted by hippybear at 11:03 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


I also grew up around mountain lions and I feel very thankful I've only seen them in the wild from some very comfortable distance, and my rule of thumb is if I can see a mountain lion any closer than that there's either something wrong with it or it wants to be seen and neither of these options are fun.

But note that I say "seen" because I have been stalked, trailed or followed by mountain lions at least a dozen times and have heard them following out of sight in brush or darkness and heard breathing and distinct heavy-padded footfalls that's really unique sounding in that you can barely hear it, if at all. But you can tell or even feel through the ground there's something heavier than a bobcat out there the same way you can feel a dog or a human approaching if you're sensitive to it.

There's been a bunch of times when I could feel something intensely watching me and it properly freaked me right the fuck out, and I want to note that I'm also normally intensely comfortable hiking alone miles away from anywhere and being deep in the trees. If I feel like I'm being watched by something chances are good I probably am and not simply feeling uneasy about being in the middle of some wilderness.

I've also seen super fresh mountain lion tracks in snow and even a few rabbit chases and kills where you could follow the "oh shit oh shit" full on sprint of a rabbit with matching cougar tracks and then, eventually, blood on the snow. Mountain lions are definitely there in the places I go and they live here.

I don't want to go through the whole list of how to deal with a mountain lion encounter again because it's been well written by others and is pretty well known. Don't run. Look big. Make noise.

If you're ever on a backwoods or backwoods-ish hike with me and you see me pick up a good throwing-sized rock and put it in my pocket or maybe hike with it for a while instead of using my hands for, say, rolling a smoke or using my trekking pole, and if you maybe see me suddenly looking around a lot more it looks like my head is on a swivel, or I'm letting my canteen bang around a lot more or stepping heavier or scraping my feet more and I'm not putting down that rock, well;

It's because I'm feeling like I'm being watched. Specifically by a mountain lion. And I might not say anything about it at all if I feel like the person(s) I'm hiking with are going to be jumpy or panicky about it or inexperienced about being in the woods, because the last thing I need is someone freaking out or being skittish while a cougar is secretly stalking us.

If you ask me why I'm carrying a rock I'll be honest about and tell you, but in my experience most people just don't ask or even notice unless they're also experienced in the woods. I've been on hikes with backwoodsy friends and when I pick up a rock or get my head on a swivel they also tend to not ask why and instead say something "Are you feeling watched, too?"
posted by loquacious at 11:47 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]


Like, dear lord, bear spray. Are people who are mentioning that people who have ever experienced it?

I have. Not in an actual bear encounter, just for practice and make sure it worked and know what the range and spray pattern was like, and it wasn't that bad at all. Getting a little blow back was about as bad as taking a deep breath of steam off a really spicy Thai dish.

Bear spray is usually (and supposed to be) much less potent than self defense pepper spray. Bear spray is designed to just irritate the bear and make it want to go far away instead of piss it off. It wont incapacitate the bear like pepper spray is designed to incapacitate a human. You want the bear to be able to leave and not send it into a blind rage.

I've also practiced with personal defense pepper spray and the vapor and blowback from that is much, much worse.
posted by loquacious at 11:54 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I have a cat who got extremely aggressive once and this video gave me flashbacks! I would not have thought to throw rocks because I would have thought it would just piss the animal off more.

But I also think its super cute that cats of all sizes have essentially the same behavior, from our housebroken friends to scary mother fuckin cougars.
posted by LizBoBiz at 4:41 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I would not have thought to throw rocks because I would have thought it would just piss the animal off more.

I think it's 50/50. I've thrown rocks at wildlife before in certain situations, just to get them to leave, and they didn't seem to be exceptionally frightened. I guess if you are planning on throwing rocks, you better have a large enough rock to do some damage and you best not miss.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:18 AM on January 14


Kangaroo bucks (bucks?) always look like a bully in a bad mood happy to start a bar brawl, and probably should be wearing a flat cap while they do it.

u wot m8 i swear by me mam
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:50 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Nearby BYU's fight song feels appropriate:

So Rise and Shout, the Cougars are out
We're on a trail to fame and glory.

posted by mecran01 at 8:56 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


scary mother fuckin cougars.

And scary fuckin' mother cougars!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:16 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


scary mother fuckin cougar

My dating profile
posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:27 PM on January 14 [5 favorites]


As an Australian and a cat person, that was quite confusing. i am not used to being terrified by kitty cats. I kept wanting to laugh when it charged at him, legs flailing. But also I appreciate how dangerous it was. And I got stalked by a bunch of squirrels once so I know fear.

I kept thinking he was going to back in to a bear.

Kangaroos, I've never worried about. I mean I don't get really close but generally you can walk past calling "what's up Skippy?" and it's no riskier than calling out 'hey dude' to some guy outside a bar. That paragliding video nfalkner shared was hilarious. The kangaroo kind of reacted like some big kangaroo toy just got dropped into his back yard. Still scary - no one wants to be a big cat/dog/kangaroo toy. But the guy called it 'Skip' which is regulation kangaroo addressing language but probably really, really annoying to kangaroos. Like an endless dad joke the entire nation keeps repeating.
posted by kitten magic at 3:32 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


scary mother fuckin cougar

My dating profile


Meet 30+ scary mother fuckin cougars in your area!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:33 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Well, I would definitely have very full poop pants when they found my eaten body days later. Jeezus.

I have an American partner and when he moved to Australia with me, all his friends and family went on about our venomous critters and killer sharks and how dangerous coming here would be. But America is a continent full of killing machines and I’m much more terrified of your outback than mine.

( btw Kangaroos are brilliant guard animals. Our kangaroos, raised with us from young, hung out in the home paddock or nearby bush most of the time, and would bail strangers up if they tried to get out of their cars on our property)
posted by honey-barbara at 1:00 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


But America is a continent full of killing machines and I’m much more terrified of your outback than mine.

Totally. I have never understood that. I mean, sure, our snakes are deadly if they get you but they sure as hell don’t chase you half a mile down a trail like Miss Kitty (Dude) does here. Snakes are noping out of the way as fast as we are. I hate spiders but the deadly ones are no bigger than my big toe and perfectly squashable once you get a grip. I mean, have a stiff drink and then squash them with a shoe and it’s all good. You can’t eliminate a mountain lion or a bear so easily.
posted by kitten magic at 2:11 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


our snakes are deadly if they get you but they sure as hell don’t chase you half a mile down a trail

I have been chased by a water moccasin (that's what we called them at least) coming out of a lake in Texas. Probably only 100 yards or so but it was enough to scare the bejeezus out of me.
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:16 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I've never been chased by a rattlesnake or diamondback and I have had a few dozen encounters with them, including one where I was free climbing a really big rock pile out in Joshua tree early one morning. I mantled up over the edge of a large boulder and came face to face with a very slow, cold rattlesnake that could barely muster up the blood flow to shake its rattle.

As for me I damn near had a heart attack and had to fight back my instinct of pushing back from the boulder and falling I don't know how many feet which would have surely ruined my day or killed me. I ended up having to slowly, carefully climb around the snake because I couldn't really get back down the way I came from the position I was in.

I've had them strike at my boots and thankfully miss a couple of times. One time I was mountain biking in the desert through a grassy part of a sandy wash or arroyo and I didn't see it until I was right on top of it and it lunged at my left foot.

I instantly jumped so high off my bike that have no idea how I managed to get several feet in the air over my bike and for all I know I was so scared and shocked that I'm pretty sure I briefly had the power to levitate and defy physics.

I knew someone who was bit on a solo hike long before cell phones and they definitely almost died. They described it as 72 hours of the most excruciating pain they've ever experienced or even heard of, but worse, apparently that much neurotoxic venom has very intense psychedelic properties, so they described it as the most horrifying, intense and endless bad trip conceivable in addition to the incredible pain.

They said it was like taking a God-sized dose of peyote or mescaline while going through full body electroshock therapy while basically immobilized and slowly roasting in the desert sun for three days.
posted by loquacious at 9:17 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


My mom was getting the carport made into a garage and asked me and a friend to pull up the pavers around the back so they could be used somewhere else. We had a fire poker with a hook and I pulled that first one up and it was snake time! They were slow at first while we tried to comprehend what we were seeing and then they just shot out in every direction. 3 different species, mostly harmless but a couple copperheads too. I didn't know they did that communal thing. We were up on the picnic table for 30 minutes or so and my mom came home from work. She had a phobia about snakes and we were really worried about her freaking out and they all just left at that very moment and we didnt want to tell her why we were on the table and we couldn't really come up with anything convincing so she thought we were on drugs. Telling her about the vanished snakes didn't help at all.

I think she believed me ten years later.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:43 AM on January 15


I have been chased by a water moccasin (that's what we called them at least) coming out of a lake in Texas. Probably only 100 yards or so but it was enough to scare the bejeezus out of me.

Ah jeez, snakes in a lake is another world of fear. My Oz experience with snakes has been seeing them curled up in the sun or slithering across the trail. I stood on one once and ran but it didn’t follow me, I suspect it was too busy thinking OUCH FUCK OUCH!

I know death would be very painful and fairly likely but it still doesn’t scare me like being chewed to death. Though loquacious, your friend’s description is making me think maybe wld cat love bites are a better way to go ( I will never stop being utterly terrified by bears).
posted by kitten magic at 5:52 PM on January 15


scary mother fuckin cougar

My dating profile


My grad school’s mascot is the Cougar, and I delight in calling myself such. Said school is a historic women’s college that recently went co-ed, which makes it even better for this middle-aged (albeit happily bi but het-married) woman.
posted by Ruki at 9:57 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


I think this is the scariest video I have ever seen in my life.

When my son was in Cub Scouts, many years ago, the Scoutmaster was a guy who lived in a canyon. This was Southern California. Scoutmaster raised goats.

A mountain lion came along and started killing a goat or two every night, so he sat vigil and eventually shot it, which was legal. It was a big guy, over 180 pounds. He brought the thing by the scout meeting in the back of his pickup truck before turning it over to Fish and Game.

I stood over the animal's corpse, and I can't adequately explain the feeling I had, looking at paws the size of my head. There was an echo of fear - no, much worse than fear, this was some primal terror screaming deep down inside a part of my brain stem that I had forgotten even existed. This was existential, literally yelling at me from some thousands of years in the past.

Never felt anything like that before or since, and I damn sure don't want to experience it again.

This was a dead animal, and it scared the hell out of me. Poor thing was covered in ticks, too.
posted by Xoebe at 7:15 AM on January 16 [4 favorites]


Once, while hiking in Big Bend TX, my friend and I rounded a corner and came within 10 feet of a black bear and her two young cubs. She made a noise like an angry bull and did this weird jump-hop-skip-type thing in our direction. I know you are not supposed to run from bears so I held my ground, but literally, the only thing my frantic brain could think of to say was "No! Bad bear! No, no no! BAD BEAR!"

So I get where this guy was coming from.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:50 PM on January 17 [3 favorites]


Our town had lots of black bears so they seem like more powerful but far more reasonable raccoons.

Grizzy bears scare me- I haven't been around them.

Mountain lions have never bothered me but I don't usually walk alone, especially at dusk, where the path is below a bluff good for lurking. I've probably only seen a dozen mountain lions in my life in the wild. Mom has seen a lot more because she worked swing and graveyard shifts.

The scariest animal attacks I've dealt with have been dogs though once I found myself between a cub and mother bear. I saw the cub and though "Oh wow how cute oh fuck where's mom shit I'm backing out of here sorry maam I'm leaving my apologies." I probably said all of that aloud in a pitch only dogs could hear and I credit my panicked squeaking with why she didn't see me as a threat.

What keeps me from wandering the woods is people. People and grow ops. Animals just aren't as scary as people.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:37 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


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