DSC_4568 copyTwenty-one years ago god put me on this earth, and ever since I was able I’ve been hunting.  Whether it was sparrows in my grandparents backyard with my trusty red rider bb gun, shooting ducks coming into a morning spread, or a buck of a lifetime stepping into my crosshairs. All of these things have had a real impact on me both as a person and as a hunter, but a recent experience showed me just how you need to always be prepared for something new.

It was a chilly December evening, bow in hand I stepped out of my friends truck and whispered “pick me up at dark”, which was the usual ritual, but tonight would be something different. As I walked to my blind just a couple hundred yards from the road it seemed like any normal night in North Dakota, a steady North West wind accompanied by some blowing snow. For middle December this was expected, what wasn’t expected was what I was about to see next.

As I sat in my pop-up blind underneath a small tree I saw some deer start to move my way out of a corn field, but then suddenly they were at a full sprint toward the nearby shelter belt. This baffled me for a second, until I saw what they were running from. Behind them at a near full sprint was the largest predator I had ever seen in the wild. This was no house cat, it was a mountain lion.

With a quick  twenty-second glimpse it was gone ducking into the shelter belt where the deer had entered. As I brought my binoculars down from my eyes, I could feel my heart racing out of control with adrenaline. I think just the sight alone of this magnificent hunter was worth all the money the world has to offer, it was an experience few can say they have had in life. To see a predator in the wild like that has been a dream of mine since I was a child, not only because they are such rare creatures in North Dakota, but because they are such majestic and beautiful animals.

I stayed in the blind till dark hoping I would get another glimpse of this creature and my heart continued to beat quickly.

I never got another look, but just as I saw my friends truck coming down the road about a mile away I heard what has to be the most bone-chilling scream I have ever experienced. The worst part was it was right behind me, and all I had to protect myself was a bow and my trusty knife.

The thing about a bow is that you really cant protect yourself with it unless you have nerves of steel, something that went way out the window the moment it screamed, so with knife in hand, I waited about twenty minuets before exiting my blind.

I sprinted to the truck, making as much noise as possible, but still the two hundred yards I had to go felt like miles, and seemed to never end. I arrived at the truck with the sound of my friends laughing at me after seeing me run all the way to the truck and fully out of wind.

That memory will always be rattling around in my head as one of the coolest and scariest experiences of my life. The thing about hunting is that things like this happen everyday to someone, somewhere in the world, and I cant think of anything better.  isn’t that what life is all about?