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The WORST scare of my life!

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Mr.510, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. Mr.510

    Mr.510 Belfair Washington Member

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    I had the worst scare of my life last night. I was leaving my home in Belfair for Seattle at about 2:00am. My wife and I are "swing shift people" and I was headed to the city for work.

    A little background: Our house is on a couple acres that back up to the Tahuya State Forest. We have deer in our yard almost daily and have seen bear and cougar prints from time to time. A large cougar seemed to be hanging around our yard way too much a few years ago. We saw it slinking off silently several times but haven't seen any tracks or scat in at least six months. At least a couple times a year a pack of eight or ten coyotes will come up the drive in the middle of the night, yipping and carrying on, and disappear into the forest behind the house. The middle of last week my wife came face to face with an adult bobcat, about fifteen feet from her in the driveway. It froze and just stared at her for a couple minutes before springing off into the brush. Our driveway is a 600 foot long "S" curved blind strip of tarmac. It's pretty steep at 15 degrees the whole way up, and with a wall of brush on each side. I've got a beefy gate at the bottom and it's always locked whether we're there or not. To give you an idea, each of the two footings contains 2k pounds of concrete and 200 pounds of rebar. :cool: It's currently a manual gate and takes some time and effort to open or close, at least a minute either way.

    OK, back to last night: I'd loaded up my Pathfinder with the stuff that needed to go to Seattle with me. Mrs.510 had been cleaning up some debris in the driveway with a couple flood lights on. She said she was going to water the plants on the deck and then go inside for the night. I gave her a kiss and a hug and headed down the driveway in the noisy 'ol Pathfinder. I stopped about 10 feet short of the gate and re-arranged some crap that was sliding off the passenger's seat. I left the truck running as I got out and closed the door. As I turned to head down to open the gate I thought I heard something up at the house and stopped. I turned my head a little, and over the rumble of my Pathy's rusted out exhaust I heard the most blood-curdling scream ever. My heart stopped. I instantly thought that a bear or cougar was attacking my wife. I paused for about a tenth of a second to decide if it would be faster to run up the driveway or open the gate, flip a U-turn and put the hammer down back up the hill. I have a debilitating spine condition and just walking up the driveway about kills me some times. I said out loud,"F___ it!" and started running up the driveway. I yelled to Mrs.510 several times as I ran but didn't get an answer. My heart sank further. I grabbed my tac light in my left hand and drew my XD45C as I ran up the hill. By 2/3 of the way both of my feet were numb and I had ice-hot daggers running down the backs of both legs but that did not slow me down. When I rounded the bend about 100 feet below the house she finally heard me and yelled back. Thank God she was on the deck and was safe! She was really freaked out. She tried to tell me what had happened but all that came out were stutters. I was still about 75 feet below the house so I started the rest of the way up to her. She finally got out the word "STOP" so I did. She pointed to the back yard and yelled, "C-C-COUGAR!" I yelled back, "Are you OK?" She replied with, "Yes."

    Whew... The world sped back up and I could hear my heart pounding in my ears now. I stood in the driveway for a few minutes, XD in hand, as we both gathered ourselves back together.

    When she calmed down she asked if I'd heard 'that'? I said I'd heard her scream and ran up the drive as fast as I could. She said that she hadn't screamed, or even said a word since I got in the truck to leave. WTF???? I asked if she didn't scream, who did? She said the cougar screamed. She couldn't figure out how I'd heard it over the truck as I don't hear very well to begin with. I told her I heard what sounded like an awful scream from her, about five seconds long. As it turns out I had heard the loudest (or maybe lowest-toned) five seconds of a fifteen second shrill scream from a cougar in the back yard, 30 feet from my wife! She had walked up the sidewalk and turned to go up the stairs onto the deck. As she started up the steps she must have startled the big cat and it let out this gigantic scream. She said she spun around and saw a blur of tan with a long, thick tail vanish into the dark behind the garage, screaming on the run.

    I did a bunch more cougar research on the web today and found a couple cougar scream sound bytes. The only references to screaming I found were mating calls from females in heat. I played the sound bytes over the phone and she said it sounded like the same animal except what she heard sounded both scared and pissed.


    Things I learned/what to do different if it happens again/how to stop it from happening again:

    1) Get back into the truck, shove it into 4 low, and back up hard into the trees/brush/rocks to hammer out a brutal U-turn. Vehicles are pretty good for scaring off wildlife and make excellent portable shelter from attacking animals.

    2) Always have the .308 Saiga close at hand in the woods. It's usually in the truck when I travel between houses, this time it wasn't. If this had been a bear attack maybe the .45 would have ended it, maybe not.

    3) Get another dog. We had to put our GSD down a few years ago and it nearly killed Mrs.510. She hasn't been "ready" for another dog. I think she might be now.

    4) Call the game warden and get a nuisance cougar removal permit. He told me several years ago he'd issue me one if I got a rifle in 30-30 or bigger, my 12 gauge with slugs wasn't good enough?!? Has to be a center fire rifle bigger than .223. I ordered my .308 that week but we never saw the cougar again, and rarely any sign.

    Three years or so ago I had several long talks with this warden. At his request I called him each time we had a sighting. He told me some stuff to do to help keep cougars away and we've done them all, except for getting another dog. At that time he told me I could shoot it on sight on my own property as long as it didn't turn and leave when it saw me. I'm not one to think that taking out apex predators is generally a good thing to do and cougar attacks on humans are incredibly rare. He convinced me that if it kept hanging around it might completely lose it's fear of humans and it would only be a matter of time before it attacked someone. I'm going to call him this week about that permit.

    So, what do you guys think? How could I have done better? Given a legal opportunity, would you kill this cougar?



    Mods: If this should be in a different sub-forum please move it.
     
  2. dario541

    dario541 medford, or 97504 Member

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    I once heard a cougar scream, so I know how you felt. I agree with the Game Warden. The cougar may be getting too used to humans and may pose a threat to you or your neighbors. If the game people don't want to trap it and move it, then ALWAYS have your gun with you and USE it!
     
  3. theflyguy

    theflyguy Beaverton, Oregon Member

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    My wife and I both volunteer at a local wild cat haven, that provides a safe home to individuals who "thought" it would be neat to own a large cat or one that was so injuried that it was unable to be returned to the wild.

    99% of the time a cougar does not want ANYTHING to do with humans and will avoid them at all possible. Now with that being said, in this instance the animal could have had its young in the area, looking for a mate, or was looking for food...think of it...these animals were here long before we were. Humans keep encroaching on wild animal areas to a point we start having encounters like this. Cougars have a very large roaming territory, if the food situation has gotten so bad in other parts of its territory, it will move to seek out food.

    Now I'm no bleeding heart, I use to hunt all the time but these large animals are getting fewer and fewer. Over the years of volunteering with these large animals I've learned to appreciate their beauty and what they offer. (most people don't know or understand how cougars and wolves help filter out i.e., kill the unfit from the fit in the wild)

    If we (humans) who live in rural areas would take the right approach and make sure we dont' leave food out, secure garbage, keep "small" childern/animals (dogs/cats) indoors our under watch, we can reduce these run-ins.

    But when all else fails, protect your home and family. Keep the .308 nearby.
     
  4. Jamie6.5

    Jamie6.5 Western OR Well-Known Member

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    http://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2009/october/100209.asp

    Deer and elk hunters may hunt bear or cougar after filling their deer or elk tag. (Previously, hunters could not hunt bear or cougar during deer and elk season after filling their deer or elk tag in many units.)
    No tag sale deadline to purchase SW Additional Bear Tag or Additional Cougar Tag but Fall General Bear or General Cougar Tag must be purchased by tag sale deadline to be eligible to purchase additional tag.
    Cougar season will run year-round statewide. Hunters may still not harvest spotted kittens or females with spotted kittens.


    Sorry but your claim above is in direct conflict with every game biologist in the state of Oregon. Even ODFW acknowledges that our cougar population has exploded, and that is why the 2010 season will be all year. Hunters will also be allowed to hunt cougar during elk and deer seasons after they've filled next years tag.

    Cougars kill more than just the sick and the weak. The average cougar kills a deer or young elk every 3-7 days, depending on the weather (spoilage) and/or the number of mouths a mother cougar has to fill.
    There are places in Oregon where the deer herds are REALLY hurting due to cougar populations and their kills.

    And if Oregon bleeding hearts hadn't passed measure 18, cougars would still have a healthy respect for man and his dog. Cougars are difficult prey for a hunter without dogs, and the manageable numbers we had in the '80s and early '90s have exploded to unmanageable numbers since the ban.

    Don't wait for a "failure." Failure=dead family member or spouse. Take out your trusty .308, check the sights and get the permit.
    The cougar doesn't want or need a permit to kill your wife. It only needs your negligence.

    My TARP adjusted $.0735
     
  5. theflyguy

    theflyguy Beaverton, Oregon Member

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    Nice thing about America....we can all have opinions...you don't buy mine and I don't buy yours or ODFW

    Isn't America GREAT
     
  6. Jamie6.5

    Jamie6.5 Western OR Well-Known Member

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    Yup! I know, I especially don't buy the part of your post that said:
    I guess all the ODFW biologists are full of it. Your volunteer friends are the only ones "in the know." Despite the fact that Oregon has nearly twice the target number of cougars. Last count was 5700.
    Maybe you should try reading the cougar management plan.
    There's a link to the PDF version here:
    http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/cougar/index.asp
     
  7. ZA_Survivalist

    ZA_Survivalist Oregon AK's all day.

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    Scary stuff.

    The Saiga .308 made me smile.

    Kudos.

    (Yes, I'm a huge Saiga fan.)
     
  8. Mr.510

    Mr.510 Belfair Washington Member

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    The game warden said the cougar population has exploded here as well since hound hunting was outlawed. He said the 'funny' thing is that hunters in the area still have their dogs and now take just as many cougars as before the ban. Now they take them with nuisance cougar removal permits! He has offered to call a couple hunters with dogs to come out to the neighboring forest and take out a cougar. The problem with that scenario is that you don't know where each cat's territorial boundaries are so you don't know if you got the right one. Killing the "wrong one" may help as it opens up more territory for it's neighbors, but I really don't want to end up killing two cats if only one it getting too used to people.

    As far as trapping and relocating goes, they don't do that in Western Washington. Any cat they trap has to be killed. He also said trapping them is nearly impossible unless you come across a fresh kill and put it in the trap close to where the cougar left it. They will not eat anything they did not personally kill. He also said the cougars here are likely the biggest in the world as there is an extremely dense deer population and hunting conditions are ideal for ambush predators: heavy brush. Where 'typically' a cougar will stash it's leftovers and come back to feed again a couple times here they often don't bother. He said he's tracked a single cat for three weeks and found a fresh kill every third day like clockwork.

    Front paw prints this cat leaves in my yard measure a little over 5" across, so it's a pretty big one. The first time I saw it was on the neighboring property. It was about 75 yards away but walked past a power transformer that I was able to measure later. Best conservative guess is 9' long nose to tail, and it appears to be a female. :wow:
     
  9. Bajablast

    Bajablast Hillsboro, OR Active Member

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    I am not a hunter, but it in a situation of spouse vs cat, I would likely shoot at least a warning shot at the cat first(safely of course), shoot to kill if that doesn't work, and answer questions later.

    In a split second situation like the OP posted, you don't have time to think about a permit if the cat is stalking/attacking.

    Each situation is unique, and I don't know that I would have done anything different, you just gotta respond the best way you know or have been trained to.

    Thanks to God that Mr and Mrs 510 are OK.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.
     
  10. .45's and .38's

    .45's and .38's Happy Valley OR Well-Known Member

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    Very lucky everything turned out OK. Im glad to hear that. Good story though. I think if I knew my wife was being attacked by a large animal, wouldnt you want to shoot off that 45. I imagine maybe some trouble.....but, It would be someone's life on the line.......into the air of course. Or into osme bushes. Just to make a very loud bang.
     
  11. Jamie6.5

    Jamie6.5 Western OR Well-Known Member

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    Just a little fresh blood from The Oregonian's Bill Monroe this morning:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/sports/or...f/2009/10/bill_monroe_its_time_to_put_th.html

    More definitive work by biologists is showing scary numbers of cougar, and the prey they eat.
    5,280 cougars eat one deer or elk each per week.
    5.280x52weeks= 274,560 deer/elk every year. And their population is growing?!?

    At this rate there will be few tags to apply for.
     
  12. Wenis

    Wenis Tri-Cities, WA Member

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    It sounds like that cougar was screaming the fight song. I hope they beat Notre Dame on Saturday.

    But I'm glad to hear you're both okay. +1 on adding a dog, or two.