Close Encounters

With mountain lions, bears, the occasional bobcat and coyote.

Growing up in the rural Sierra Nevada foothills in California with lots of wooded acreage to explore, my family has had more than one encounter with the wild beasts that also roamed the area. Mountain lions sightings and attacks were (and still are) a not un-common occurrence, and bears also are pretty bold about getting into trash, chicken coops, gardens, bee hives, etc… I have some fun, and scary memories of my own encounters with these predators over the years.

  • My first encounter with a mountain lion happened when I was 7 or 8. I had been warned about what to do if I saw one, and well versed about mountain lion habits, like coming out at dusk, they’ll chase you if you run, and momma mountain lions being mean. It was shortly after dinnertime, dusk had fallen, and I had been sent outside to fetch my bike I’d left lying in the dirt. I had just picked up my bike when I heard a noise. Looking down at the apple trees, I saw a tawny colored small animal. I looked closer. There were two of them. My heart started racing when I realized they were mountain lion cubs; I wasn’t brave enough to look around for the mother mountain lion. I dropped my bike, and slowly made my way to the backyard fence, hoping I wasn’t moving so fast I would be chased, but when I reached the gate, I ran like mad for the house, slamming and locking the door behind me. When I told everybody inside what I had just seen, they laughed at the silly notion that I had seen mountain lion cubs, and told me it must have been a fox instead. Huh? They did believe me the next week, however, after the mountain lion got both of our goats we had at the time. When a hunter came out to deal with the problem, and he finally tracked down the mountain lion, he found that she had two cubs, as well. Uh huh.
  • Our whole family was out on a walk around our property, and had gone pretty far down our hill towards our well, bordering another neighbor’s property. We were walking back up the hill towards our house when we heard noisy rustling in the fall leaves close by. Not too far from us, a mountain lion had crept up on a deer and had taken it down! Fun family adventure indeed! Mom and Dad took us back to the house as quickly as the could.
  • Sam and I were out on a walk (or perhaps riding bikes) around the road on our property and we our corgi Home with us. Suddenly, Homer started barking like crazy (since when does he not?), and we look down the hill to our right and saw a BIG.BLACK.BEAR. Just standing there. Looking at us. Homer was still barking at the bear, so Sam and I inched our way back up the hill towards the barn at the top, and when we got to the top started shouting and screaming at Homer to come here! Finally, the stupid dog obeyed us, and we ran all the way back down the stairs to our house and inside as quick as we could.
  • I was 13  and walking up our neighborhood road knocking on doors and handing out fliers for my new business. I’d already secured a few sales from sympathetic older ladies, so I was feeling pretty good about my business, and decided to walk up one longer, more secluded driveway. When I got to the end, I knocked on the door and waited, waited, and waited some more. Nobody was home, so I turned around to go. Running away from me back into the woods was a mountain lion. And here I was, at the end of a long driveway, a blackberry hedge blocking the view from the road, and nobody inside the house. I started praying as hard as I could, and, willing myself to not run down the driveway, took what seemed like an eternity to make my way back to the road. When I got to the en,d a neighbor lady drove by, stopped to say hello, and offered me a ride home, which I gladly accepted.

And, that is the extent of my distinct memories concerning encounters with mountain lions and bears. I have seen the odd bobcat and coyote out and about on my parent’s property, too. I know that all of my siblings have their own memories about encountering bears, and mountain lions. Perhaps they would be kind enough to share some of those memories here, too.

Coram Deo,



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