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Mountain Lion safety

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  • Mountain Lion safety

    Those of you that ride in Mountain Lion territory, what precautions do you take.

    I posted in off course about my neighbors experience today...


    I've been pondering options recently anyway, but after today, I have to do something...
    Turn off the computer and go ride!

  • #2
    Most cats are not going to seriously consider a human and horse. This particular cat seemed more curious than threatening. Probably a young cat just seperated from his mom and learning about the world on his own. Usually a good noise maker will scare them off.

    A pistol, an air horn etc. What ever you choose to carry. make sure you desensitize your horse to it before hand. Horses get very used to guns going off around them. It's not hard to teach. Look at the Cowboy Mounted shooting for an idea of people shooting off their horses backs.

    We rarely see cougars. But I do see their sign. So I know they have followed me down a trail checking me out. We see their tracks around the deer and elk we kill during hunting season. The cats come in and clean up what ever we leave.

    Don't be scare, jsut use common sense and be aware of your surroundings.


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by Painted Horse View Post
      Most cats are not going to seriously consider a human and horse. This particular cat seemed more curious than threatening. Probably a young cat just seperated from his mom and learning about the world on his own. Usually a good noise maker will scare them off.

      I thought screaming like a banshee and throwing sticks would qualify, but apparently that didn't work... The behaviour was strange, which is why it was concerning. She mentioned he was not skinny and did not appear to be a juvenile as he was large and had a huge head.

      Actually, my biggest fear is that the horses will spook and I'll be on the ground....
      Turn off the computer and go ride!


      • #4
        I don't mean to suggest it was a cub or baby cat. But i doubt somebody who rarely has seen a cougar could tell the difference between a 18 month old just abandon by his mom vs a 10 year Tom. Young cats that are just newly on their own are very curious and will take risk that more experience cats would avoid.

        Have you ever heard some of the calls that hunters use to attract Coyotes and cats when they hunt them. Dying Rabbit Calls sound like a Banshee Screaming. Your friends screaming may have confused the cat with a dying rabbit or dying deer call. The cat may have been attracted to the screaming sounds, but held back because the smells, shapes and other factors did not add up in his mind.


        • #5

          Believe it or not; we've seen them here but never while I was on horseback. I think they pretty much avoid us and are mostly nocturnal. I'd just ride on like I do when I see bear or anything else. Everyonce in a long while I hear a loud growl far off. Not much recently though.

          Nevertheless, they can be curious! Hubby clearing a trail 2 yrs ago for a local foxhunt with chainsaw running and Kubota tractor running and looked up and saw a BEEG KITTY 30 ft away walking calmly by waving his long tail. Hubby said he stopped sawing and just watched as kitty ambled calmly by .Was apparently just checking him out and not deterred by 2 loud machines!

          Next day we told the foxhunts huntsman about it and asked what the proper call was when the hounds hit on a mountain lion . (For foxes of course it's tally ho!) and he said it's "Oh Shit"!!! There was a mated pair nearby that raised 2 cubs. One adult was tan and one was almost black. Ditto on the cubs.

          I guess I'd carry a hunt whip and learn to crack it good...maybe that'd make me brave!!!


          • #6

            I live in a very tucked away area with tons of trails in the mountains. I have always been warned to bring a gun with me while i ride alone. Because we do have mountain lions here.

            Anyways i have never seen mountain lions while i have been riding but we did have a momma and her cub come and snoop around the house before. We had the hounds come out and everything. It was not a fun experience... spooked the horses so much that one jumped the electric fence... but surprisingly enough we had the chicken coop open. Also the barn doors open and they didn't harm a thing... i was shoked. We still had the hounds come and search where they went but its like they were just having a midnight stroll.

            One thing we have to worry about here is the cyotes though they love to snack on chickens. Not to mention the deer that think that we are so very nice to feed them all winter long... lol
            Last edited by gottalovethecowgirl; Jan. 21, 2010, 12:45 PM.
            ~Your horse can only be as brave as you are~


            • #7
              Just an aside on the wild cats, albeit not mountain lions. My mother often told stories about growing up in a quite rural area. One of the stories I remember well was about cats, specifically bobcats. The kids would walk along the railroad tracks at night just for the fun of it and were regularly "trailed" by a bobcat. The cat never tried to harm the kids and never came in super close, seems it was just satisfying the typical cat curiousity.

              Edited to add: Once the kids figured out the bobcat was around, they would walk the tracks just to see it follow. Pretty fun times, growing up back then.


              • #8
                I think I would be in much bigger trouble carrying a gun and suddenly shooting it while on horse back as well as blasting my air horn than dealing with mountain lion. I think my horse would die, fall on top of me and trap us both there whilst the lion feasted if I pulled that stunt! Do you guys have airhorn proof horses? My horse is relatively cool with gunfire, but dont know how she would take shooting while in saddle.


                • #9
                  As I said, You need to teach your horse to deal with the noise. Don't just tuck gun or air horn away in your saddle bags and never use it until the cat shows up. But if you have shot a gun around your horse. It's no big deal. It's all a matter of training.

                  I start by having a friend shoot the gun 10-15 yards away while I hold my horse. Make sure he points the gun away to minimize the noise the first few shots. After a the horse gets used to that, Move a little closer and closer until you can shoot off their back. You will not be accurate shooting a gun off a horses back. They figet and move. You can not control their breathing etc. So all you want to do is use the gun to scare the cat away. By aiming it in the area of the cat. You not only increase the muzzle blast noise, but they will hear the bullet crack as it passes by or hits something near them. Remember most bullet are faster than the speed of sound, so it breaks the sound barrier as it flies by.


                  • #10
                    I live in cougar country and I do pretty much what Painted Horse said. I read your other thread when you originally posted it, and my thoughts were that the cat was curious, and that your friend's screaming might actually have further attracted it--most women have high pitched voices and it might not have sounded all that different to the cat than a dying animal would (no offense meant to your friend! ).

                    An old survivalist once told me, "You don't have to worry if you can see the cat; it's when you can't see them that you need to worry!" Especially on horseback, that's usually the truth. Cats are ambush predators and it would be very unlikely for it to attempt to take down prey as large as a horse and rider from the ground. Of course any encounter should be treated with caution and you shouldn't let your guard down, but your friend was probably not in as much danger as she felt she was. Not to say I can blame her, though...once I was walking alone after dark in a mostly empty area on the outskirts of Golden, CO and I sort of saw a large shape moving quickly in the darkness. It ran out under a streetlight and I realized it was a pretty big cougar! Even though it barely glanced at me, being alone and unarmed as I was I nearly died!

                    As a general rule it's a good idea to make yourself as large and scary as possible, including using noisemakers or shouting in a deep voice and waving a jacket or whatever over your head. Cougars are usually looking for relatively easy prey and they typically won't start a fight they're not sure they'll win.
                    exploring the relationship between horse and human


                    • #11
                      mountain lions

                      have anyone read the book named "CLAWS"? by stacey cochron.
                      Interesting FICTION, of course, concerning mountain lions


                      • #12
                        An old survivalist once told me, "You don't have to worry if you can see the cat; it's when you can't see them that you need to worry!" Especially on horseback, that's usually the truth. Cats are ambush predators
                        yup. If it's actually going to go for you, you won't get any advance notice, you certainly won't have a chance to fire off a noise-maker.


                        • #13
                          I watched an interesting show on mountain lions which basically summed them up as killing machines. If attacked, unlike a bear, do not play dead. Fight as hard as you can because once they decide to attack you they plan on eating you.

                          The design of their bodies is amazing. They showed how, even after being stabbed deeply with a Bowie knife, the thick layer of fat closed around the wound essentially sealing it. The show was amazing but at the same time completely creeped me out at the thought of ever encountering one. I told my husband we are never EVER hiking off the beaten path again with the children.


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by Painted Horse View Post

                            Have you ever heard some of the calls that hunters use to attract Coyotes and cats when they hunt them. Dying Rabbit Calls sound like a Banshee Screaming. Your friends screaming may have confused the cat with a dying rabbit or dying deer call. The cat may have been attracted to the screaming sounds, but held back because the smells, shapes and other factors did not add up in his mind.
                            Screaming like a banshee was my description, not hers. I don't think she was girly screaming....she's no stanger to the high country and know how to handle herself. She said she did everything by the book... and the branch throwing and moving toward the cat with the horse should have moved it off...... This cat apparently didn't read the books....

                            I've run into them before and haven't had an issue....I think this cat was not typical...so perhaps typical techniques will not be appropriate....

                            I've decided to just not go up there alone, at least for now. She does, but is packing when she goes.... She's braver than I am......
                            Turn off the computer and go ride!


                            • #15
                              Usually if you get one that doesn't understand the rules. It's a young cat and is just curious. Mom kicked them out, They are still learning how to hunt, They see you and curiosty sets in. They are young and haven't been shot at yet or had hounds chase them yet. So they are not scared of the human smell at that point of their life.

                              Remember that a cougar can cover several hundred miles in its hunting territory. So just because you saw it last week, doesn't mean it's still in the area.


                              • #16
                                sounds good to me