When he started out on his cycling trip, he never imagined it ending this way. Being out in the woods sounded like a great idea – getting back to nature and enjoying some fresh air. Now, though, he wanted to be as far away from nature as possible. The predator advancing on him had other ideas, however.
On October 21, 2015, a video was uploaded to YouTube that captured a scary encounter. Uploaded to the Deep Bush Survival School channel, it seems to demonstrate the group’s mission statement perfectly.
Deep Bush Survival’s Facebook page states that it “is intended to teach bushcraft skills, self-reliance, and forced survival.” Hunting, foraging, camping and fishing feature heavily on its social media gallery. However, it was cycling that almost proved the undoing here.
From the video, it’s not exactly clear where the trip took place, but the encounter happened on a secluded trail. The footage showed a clearing of scrubland and long grass surrounded by a heavily wooded area. Suddenly, an object appeared to move.
The mysterious shape blended in with the long grass almost perfectly, but there was definitely something there. Moreover, it appeared to be stalking the cyclist even as he noticed its approach. He only seemed to realize what the shape was when it got closer.
To the cyclist’s alarm, he found himself face to face with a wild predator, and a dangerous one at that. That is to say, he had caught the attention of a mountain lion, also known as a cougar. To add to his worry, it was coming ever closer.
At first, the man greeted the cat to show he wasn’t afraid, but that had little effect. “I am much bigger than you,” he tried telling it, but the animal continued to prowl around him. It would appear that his voice wasn’t scaring the mountain lion.
As his stalker crept closer the cyclist became more concerned, and he shouted after the cat as it melted into the bushes. Judging by the low rumble coming from the predator, though, it just got more agitated. Then the man tried echoing its growl.
The cougar responded with a warning of its own, which clearly left the retreating cameraman terrified. However, despite his fear, the cyclist carried on his breathless commentary. “There is a mountain lion right here,” he gasped, “and he’s just staring me down.”
There is a gap in filming, but the mountain lion continued to pursue the cyclist across a small footbridge. And then the man does something that caused the mountain lion to pause: he stopped retreating. Indeed, he even took a few steps towards it.
A combination of the cyclist’s dominant behavior and raised voice made his pursuer back up. Finally, no doubt much to his relief, the mountain lion casually padded off back the way it came. It was the last the man saw of his potential attacker.
Deep Bush Survival’s video was a hit on social media, drawing in over 2.5 million views. But while there’s no doubt the encounter was scary, there was some debate over the mountain lion’s roar. Some commenters believed it was a stock sound effect added in after the event.
One commenter said, “You should have a disclaimer in your description reading: added sound effects for dramatic effect.” Another wrote, “Hmm… [the] mountain lion roar […] is the EXACT same cougar library sound they have been using in films for decades.”
Meanwhile, some argued that the cyclist was playing mountain lion sounds from his cell to scare the cat. Regardless, no one can deny that such an encounter was potentially dangerous. So did the man react in the right way?
For the most part, yes. Although it’s sometimes unavoidable, exploring alone in mountain lion country isn’t a good idea, since you make a more tempting target. You’re better off traveling with company, and if you’re with children, keep them at the front of the crowd.
It’s important to know that mountain lions are ambush predators – they rely on stealth to kill. They stalk their prey, and wait for a moment of vulnerability before they strike. If the man had turned and ran, he could have incited an attack.
In fact, experts advise people to make themselves appear more threatening if confronted by a cougar. Keeping constant eye contact may also be useful in that regard. Meanwhile, the cyclist did the right thing by shouting at the animal – loud noises are recommended.
Furthermore, you should use whatever you have at hand to make yourself appear bigger. Opening a shirt or coat and spreading it wide apart could work, as might waving around your arms or a stick. The important thing is to remain facing the mountain lion at all times.
If all that fails and you are attacked, don’t be tempted to play dead – it’s the worst thing you could do. A mountain lion is more likely to give up on fighting prey, so try to stay on your feet. This is all just precaution, however.
Over the last 100-odd years, only 18 people have died as a result of a mountain lion attack. The animals are actually quite elusive, and generally they don’t see humans as prey. The best thing you can do is give nature the healthy respect she deserves – and travel safely.