Remember back in early February when officials in Larimer County, Colorado told everyone that a jogger killed a cougar with his bare hands? They didn’t say who he was, though, and it was such a tease. Well, the man now has a name, and surprisingly, it’s not Chuck Norris. It’s Travis Kauffman.
In the days following the attack, Kauffman asked for some time before talking to anyone about what happened. “We can let you know that the runner is doing well considering his ordeal, and will need a few days to decompress before deciding if he will speak publicly,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife wrote on Twitter. “We hope you all can appreciate and respect why he needs this time.”
The attack occurred on February 4, when Kauffman was running through Horsetooth Mountain Open Space and a juvenile mountain lion came up behind him as he jogged. Well, after getting his face put back together and his thoughts sorted out, Kauffman sat down with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to explain exactly what happened that day—and it’s pretty much just as crazy as you thought it was.
“When I first turned around,” he explains, “the cat was probably 10 feet away from me… as it got close, it just kind of lunged at me, so I threw my arms up and it latched onto my wrist, so I was just kind of protecting my face. Then it just started clawing along my face, and then my legs, and I was just kind of screaming the whole time. I was doing my barbarian yell as best as I could.”
Kauffman tried to throw the cat off him, but they both ended up off the trail. “We both left the trail because it just re-gripped my wrist,” he remembers. “We kind of tumbled off the slope to the south side of the trail. From there it was just a wrestling match. It was thrashing and it still had my wrist locked in its jaws.”
Using his legs to gain control of the mountain lion, Kauffman remembered something that may have saved his life. “As a pretty new cat owner, I remembered that once you get a cat on its back, its back legs go crazy,” he says. “That little rabbit thrash—so I was pretty wary of the back claws hitting my guts or my groin or anything like that.”
After pinning down its back legs with his left knee, Kauffman began trying to get a hold of a stick to stab it in the throat with. The sticks, however, kept on breaking. Then, he grabbed a large rock and began hitting it on the head. He soon realized that wasn’t going to be effective, either, so he changed tactics.
“I used a little body weight transition and got my right leg close to my wrist and was able to finally get onto the cat’s neck,” he says. “Then I stepped on its neck and was able to suffocate it. Then it finally released from my wrist.”
After the attack, Kauffman amazingly managed to get himself to a hospital, where he told authorities what had happened. It’s not an experience he’s ever going to forget. He also has a warning for other joggers. “One of the things I’m really glad I did was turn my head,” he says. “I couldn’t have done that if I had earbuds in, so I think just to kind of fully appreciate the sights and sounds of nature.”