I’ve reported on at least three people – people of reputable standing – who swear and be-danged that they saw a mountain lion in these northeastern Kentucky woods.
I’ve always been a bit dubious of their claims, thinking that perhaps they saw a coyote, a big wild dog, or maybe even a large tawny-colored doe streaking through the woods.
Now I was going to make my own report on a creature that could not be mistaken for any creature other than a mountain lion.
I was up behind Bradley’s Pond away up on Schultz Creek in Greenup County, up where a portion of the Jenny Wiley Trail curves around and snakes off into deeper woods.
He was sitting on his haunches at the edge of the woods, staring straight at me. He suddenly stood up and I saw him twitching that long tail.
I froze in my tracks, but not for long. He made a couple of steps toward me and I knew it was time for me to get the heck out of there.
I whirled and took off running as fast as I could go. I didn’t realize I could run like that. The wind was hitting me in the face.
We came out of the woods and into a pasture, where I cleared the fence with a single bound. On the far side of that field was the lane were my pickup was parked. I opened it up.
But my lungs were not conditioned for this. I glanced over my left shoulder and did not see the big cat in pursuit. I looked to my right and there he was, right beside me. He was just loping along, rolling his eyes at me.
Was this a game he was playing with me?
Fatigue grabbed me and I collapsed to my knees. The mountain lion – cougar, puma, panther – moved closer. I reached out my hand, wondering what his response would be if I scratched him behind the ear.
I found my answer all too soon. Like a flash he slapped me onto my back and his chest was on my chest. I smelled his putrid breath as he opened his mouth and made a move for my jugular. Somehow I found the strength to hold that massive, tooth-filled mouth open and hold it back from my throat.
His next move would be to throw the full length of his body on mine and, with those huge claws on his hind feet, rip open the arteries along my legs. I would quickly lose strength and soon bleed to death.
There was no escape for me.
You’ve experienced, I’m sure, how that when we’re having a nightmare, one in which our death is certain, we always wake before we die.
I was awake, but still scared out of my wits. I slipped out of bed and stood on tiptoes to retrieve the loaded revolver on the top shelf of my library, up near the ceiling.
I made my way down the hallway toward the kitchen, my wobbly legs barely able to carry me. The pistol was a comfort.
I spend the rest of the night in the lounge chair in the living room.
I should have never taken a boat out by myself from the camp dock, especially on a large Canadian lake I had never been on before.
I had suffered from a sick stomach that morning and the others had gone out without me. But in late afternoon I began to feel like fishing. I kept my eyes on the shoreline as I cast. All I had to do was reverse direction to make it back to the dock.
I was well into the evening when the storm hit. A powerful wind rose up with a shout. It blew me away from the shore the camp was on. The little outboard on the aluminum rental could not hope to override it.
Through a driving rain I could barely make out that I was being driven toward a deep forested island. I was still a hundred yards from shore when a huge swell roared over the side and swamped the boat.
It had enough floatation built in to keep it afloat. I clung to the boat’s side until my feet found bottom and I was able to wade out.
A short distance into the woods I saw a cabin. The door was unlocked. Darkness had fallen as thick as ink. I searched, in vain, for a candle, a lamp, a lantern. The water was cold, and I knew that I cold be in danger from the silent intruder, hypothermia.
In the gathering dusk I gathered some dry fallen limbs from around the cabin. I soon had a roaring fire going in the fireplace. I stripped out of my clothes and hung them on a chair in front of the fire. A bed in the corner of the room appeared to have clean sheets and covers. I slipped in under a quilt and was soon asleep. Sometime in the night I awoke in total darkness. The fire had burned out.
What had awakened me was something sniffing around my neck. I swung my arms wildly but connected with nothing. Then in the darkness came an even weirder sensation. Something was licking my shoulder.
It was tasting me!
I began to kick and swing my arms wildly.
“Get out! Get out!” I shouted.
The thing had gone under the bed. It was waiting for my feet to hit the floor so it could grab me by the legs and pull me under!
But wait! What’s this? My wife Bonnie is standing at the foot of my bed. How did she become involved in this terrible situation?
“Go drink you a warm glass of milk,” she said, and headed back for her bedroom.
But I enlisted her help locating Belle. The little whisker-faced dog slept with me, usually with her back up against my side. Where was she?
I finally found her, cowering under Bonnie’s bed. I had to drag her out.
We both went to the kitchen for some warm milk.
Reach G. Sam Piatt at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.