‘I’m so lucky to be gone alive’: Utah woman escapes encounter with cougar

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RUSH VALLEY, Tooele County – A woman hunting in Tooele County on Saturday came across a mountain lion.

She posted a video on Facebook that showed the encounter.

“My biggest fear came true today. I’m so lucky to have escaped this kitty,” Laurien Elsholz posted on Facebook.

She is grateful to have been able to get out of there alive. As a hunter, she is often in the woods and has seen mountain lions before, but never in an encounter like this.

“My friends were on the hill and I was at the bottom of the ravine, walking towards the top of the mountain,” she explained.

She was absent for the opening day of the bow hunt on Saturday in the woods of Rush Valley. It’s something she’s done many times before.

Elsholz said she felt something that was dead and then she felt something grab her leg.

“And then to my right I heard crashing and I felt something like a hit on my leg and I looked down and it took me a second to realize I was facing face with a cougar,” she said.

It took him a few moments to start recording.

“I started shouting up the hill to everyone, like, ‘Mountain lion!’ let them know,” she said.

Elsholz backed into thick trees and shrubbery. She had to get closer to the animal to be able to step back.

“I have something on my bag where I put my phone to record and I actually didn’t want to end the video,” Elsholz said. “As I put my phone down to capture, I finished the video and thought I was recording a lot more.”

But that was not the end of his encounter. “It followed us for about a mile before turning around and heading back down the canyon to feed.”

She thinks she bumped into the mountain lion while it was eating and the animal was just trying to protect its meal.

“Just know that you are not alone on the mountain. This is their territory, so be prepared,” she warned.

In October 2020, a Utah County man survived a similar encounter.

He recorded the incident on his mobile phone as a cougar stalked him for six minutes.

“Insane! I can’t even explain how I thought this was happening,” 26-year-old Kyle Burgess said. “It was cool, exciting and then it’s like what I do?”

The Division of Wildlife Resources said that if you encounter a cougar, back away slowly, maintain eye contact, stand up straight, and speak in a loud voice.

Also be prepared to protect yourself. Eslholz said she must have hit the mountain lion multiple times with her hiking stick because it was getting too close.

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