Petersburg Times Friday, January 25, 1895
This Article is titled: Stalked By A Lion
There were five of us encamped at the base of Chickasaw mountain, Montana, and I had given my ankle a bad twist and was laid up for repairs. We had a shanty in the edge of the thicket, and before leaving camp after dinner the boys slung me up a hammock between two cedars and helped me into it. We had a half-breed for a cook and all-around man, and so I was not to be left alone. I smoked a couple of pipes after getting into the hammock, had some conversation with Jim about the horses and the supply of food, and before I realized that I was even sleepy I had departed for the land of Nod.
The half breed saw that I slept and went over to the grazing ground, half a mile away, to see that all was right with the horses. He meant to return at once but found diversion and delay in setting snares for the hares he saw running about. I slept for perhaps half an hour—-not more. When I awoke I was still lying on my right side and facing the heavy growth of cedars clothing the base of the mountain. There was no yawning or stretching; I simply opened my eyes and was wide awake. My head was elevated so that I could see about me, and my eyes were scarcely open when they fell upon a mountain lion and her cub advancing upon me. The shanty was to the west of me and about two rods away. To the south, and about the same distance, was a ' wickup' of brash for the cook and his campfire. The lioness and her club were advancing from the east.
They need not pass the shanty nor the fire to reach me. They were out of the underbrush and into the open and had probably had their eyes on me for ten minutes before I awoke. While the hammock seemed to puzzle them, the mother at least had the scent of a man in her nostrils and her actions went to show that she meant to attack me.
The cub was about half grown, and I had not had my eyes on the pair thirty seconds when I concluded that the mother was coaching him. When I awoke he was ten feet behind her and acting as if he meant to run away. She coaxed and threatened him by turns until he advanced to her side. She then crouched down and wormed herself along the ground and gave him a lesson in advancing upon his prey. At the end of twelve or fifteen feet she looked back and growled and switched her tail and he reluctantly imitated her. This brought them to within thirty feet of me, with the ground all clear.
Had I started up and shouted for Jim the lions might have run away or the mother might have attacked me. Their presence was proof that I was alone in the camp, and the fact that I was practically helpless decided me to wait. The return of the cook would frighten them away, and I expected to hear his whistle or voice any minute. The Lioness advanced another ten feet and after considerable persuasion, the cub followed. It was plain that he had never stalked big game before and did not feel sure of himself. If the mother had not held him up to his work he would have turned tail a dozen times over. She must have seen that my eyes were wide open, but as I lay perfectly quiet I doubt if she knew whether I was awake or asleep.
At the distance of twenty feet, she crouched down with her hind feet under her, switched her tail from side to side, showed her yellow fangs, and I knew that she was about to spring. Her idea was to give the cub a lesson in attacking, and he watched every movement and prepared to imitate. I think the mother made two springs to cover the distance, though she moved so swiftly that I was not sure. She cleared the hammock like a ball sailing through the air and struck the ground to return to the cub and demand that he go through the same motions. He got down and made one spring, which left him ten feet away, and then skulked back. The mother flew at him and gave him a blow with her paw which rolled him over and over and made him whine and cry like a puppy. He lay for a time on his back with his feet in the air, and then she advanced him seven or eight feet and forced him to crouch down for another spring.
The question with me now was whether the cub would go over the hammock or light upon me, but before I could decide, he made his spring and went under it. I was about thirty inches above the ground, and he grazed the netting as he passed under it. It was a false spring, and he had no sooner returned to the old lady, than she bowled him over again and bit him so savagely that he yelped with the pain. He started to run away, but she forced him to return and then crouched down to show him how it should be done.
The distance she took was fourteen feet, and I believe it was her design to come down on top of me. This time her claws were exposed and she had eyes of fire. Only a few seconds were given me in which to make up my mind. I was about to start up and shout at the top of my lungs when the sound of Jim's voice reached my ears. He was singing as he returned. The lioness and the cub caught the sounds at the same instant, and the cub at once ran away. The mother arose, looked this way and then in surprise and alarm, and presently as the sound of footsteps came to us she turned tail and bolted for cover at a much faster pace than the cub had gone. I am ashamed to add that when all danger had passed—when the lioness was half a mile away and Jim was close at hand —I played the baby act and fainted dead away. None of the crowd ever knew it, though, for Jim looked into the hammock and thought I had fallen asleep, and I was careful to conceal that part of the incident from the boys when they came in. My excuse is that it was a new sensation to be stalked by a mountain lion and that I was as helpless as if caught in a trap a mile away from camp.
When I told Jim of the adventure he went out and looked at the tracks and measured the distance and then carelessly remarked: ' Good thing for you, I guess, that the cub hadn't got worked up to business yet and that the mother had to cut it short.' And that has always been my opinion of the affair. Pinaleon