Last Monday, Travis Kauffman headed out to the Horsetooth Mountain area of Colorado, just a few miles away from his home in Fort Collins, to go for a run. During his workout, he encountered a mountain lion. While mountain lions are not usually a problem for people, Kauffman couldn’t avoid a confrontation. However, he did come out on top.
“I feel like I should go buy a bunch of lottery tickets,” said Kauffman after the incident. He ultimately won a brutal fight against the big cat that ambushed him along the trail, killing the mountain lion with his bare hands by suffocating the beast.
Kauffman, 31, described the full experience during an interview earlier this week with Colorado Parks and Wildlife as well as to reporters on Thursday.
“It was just pure adrenaline,” Kauffman told reporters, according to a report by CNN. “There was a certain point where I just kind of imagined being stuck on this hillside and eventually just having a cat gnaw at me, which is a creepy way to go. But, for the most part, the adrenaline just kept kicking in at those moments.”
As Kauffman was running, he heard a rustling noise behind him. While he usually wouldn’t have turned around, assuming that the sound was coming from a small “woodland creature,” he decided to this time.
“[I]n the back of my mind there’s always that thought that it could be something else,” said Kauffman. “And that something else this time happened to be a mountain lion.”
“I just kind of had my heart sink into my stomach a little bit,” he added.
Kauffman said that the big cat was about 10 feet away, so he threw up his arms and yelled, trying to scare the mountain lion off.
It didn’t work.
The mountain lion pounced, grabbing Kauffman’s wrist in its strong jaws as he was trying to protect his face from the massive claws that were tearing at his face and legs.
Kauffman then tried to throw the mountain lion away from him, but he tumbled down a slope along with the big cat, causing a “wrestling match” to begin.
When he managed to pin the mountain lions back legs, he grabbed at sticks and rocks, looking for a weapons to strike the big cat with or to force the animal off of him. The entire time, his wrist remained in the beast’s mouth.
“It really clicked after I hit it in the head with a rock and it still didn’t release my wrist, that at that point, more drastic measures were necessary,” said Kauffman.
Kauffman managed to place his foot on the mountain lion’s neck. He applied pressure, holding the big cat down until it suffocated and his wrist was free.
After the attack, Kauffman ran three miles to get help, all while injured and bloodied. He came across another runner who joined him on the trail, and they managed to find a couple near a parking lot, securing Kauffman a ride to the hospital.
Kauffman ended up with 19 stitches for a gash on his left cheek, another six for a cut on the bridge of his nose, and three more for his wrist.
The body of the mountain lion was recovered, and a necropsy determined that the big cat for between 4 and 5 months old, weighing between 35 and 40 pounds.
Multiple causes of death were noted, including strangulation and blunt force trauma.