Mackenzie Lappin yelled, screamed, and growled at the cougar to try to scare it away
Mackenzie Lappin was hunting deer by herself deep in the woods when she experienced one of the most terrifying moments of her life. She encountered an aggressive mountain lion that seemed unfazed by her efforts to scare it away.
The scary encounter — caught on her cellphone video — happened on Nov. 1 near Gunnison, Colorado.
“I was on a hunting trip with my dad, and at this particular time, we were actually split up in different parts of the woods,” Lappin said. “So, I was walking by myself. I was way far back in the woods where there weren’t any other people tracks around or anything. I was kind of just looking down following some deer and elk tracks in the snow.”
As she walked around some trees, the 23-year-old woman looked up and saw a mountain lion standing there about 16 yards in front of her.
“It was close enough that I could see its eyes were blue-green and it was just staring at me.”
Lappin said the lion didn’t act scared or startled by her.
She loves big cats and wanted to get the mountain lion on camera. So, she pulled out her phone, took a photo, and started to take a video of the encounter.
“Before I started the recording, the mountain lion hissed at me once,” Lappin said. “That made me a little bit scared. I thought as soon as I started making noise, it would run away. I started yelling and waving my arms in the air. As you can see, it just stands there for a few seconds. It’s not really scared.”
Seeing that her efforts to scare the big cat away weren’t working, she made her gestures bigger and yelled louder and even charged a few steps toward the lion, which caused it to run off to the side.
“I thought, ‘OK, it’s leaving. End of story. That was cool.’ Until, I realized in the shadows it had made a little turn around. It was coming straight toward me,” Lappin said.
She said she suddenly became more scared than she’s ever been in her life.
“I thought that this mountain lion was about to be on top of me and possibly killing me."
With that thought running through her mind, Lappin threw her phone down into the snow, took a few steps back and got her gun off of her shoulder. The cat moved toward her, crossing a few downed trees and stopping on the last downed tree in front of her.
She said at this point survival mode kicked in. She didn't want to keep backing up for fear she’d trigger the cat’s chase response. So, she stood her ground and got her gun up.
Thinking she could still scare the cat away, she continued to yell, shout, and roar, but the mountain lion only responded by growling, showing its teeth, and hissing.
“It actually started to put its ears back, and its tail started twitching, and it started to creep its paws onto the front of the log,” Lappin said.
Understanding cat body language, she could tell that the mountain lion was getting ready to pounce.
“I felt like I had no choice at this point. I pulled out my gun and got my scope on it.”
Lappin tried to get as steady as she could. She took a slow deep breath and slowly pulled the trigger. The mountain lion jumped up and took off.
Lappin then located her dad and told him what had happened.
They reported the incident to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife office and showed the officers the video. The officers said Lappin did the right thing and it was obviously a case of self-defense.
She said the mountain lion did die.
“I’m very sad about that,” Lappin said. “I wanted it to keep living. That’s why I tried so hard to scare it away. I didn’t want to shoot it. It was the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen up close like that.”
She said ultimately, she is very grateful she was able to survive the situation unscathed.
“I started quietly praying, asking God for protection, and I really do feel like he was right there with me through the whole thing, kind of protecting me and getting me through it.”
You can watch video footage of the encounter here.
Stephanie Mallory is a mom, a hunter and Realtree’s PR Coordinator. She’s here to deliver an insider’s look at the outdoor business and give her opinion on all things outdoors—whether you asked for it or not.