My 10mm vs. a Mountain Lion

By Bridget Fabel
Posted in #Survival
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My 10mm vs. a Mountain Lion

March 9th, 2020

5 minute read

As a full-time fly fishing guide, I’m often on the mountain scouting multiple fishing spots every morning and evening. It was a beautiful, warm evening in June when I decided to make the long trek to one of my favorite spots. This spot is a hike-in lake, about a mile and a half each way or so, to the most beautiful alpine lake filled with hungry Colorado Cutthroat. I set off around four o’clock in the afternoon, which would get me at the lake for the prime-time evening bite.

Bridget often finds herself out in the wild and alone — except for her 10mm Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Operator.

Now I know this sounds crazy, but on this particular day I was hiking with my cat, Brookie, named after my favorite type of trout to catch. She was about two months old and she had been on fishing hikes with me since she was three weeks old. I travel a lot, and fish alone a lot, so the plan was to find a good fishing buddy that wouldn’t tell others about my favorite places and could also be left home while I traveled. Brookie has always liked sitting on my shoulders as I hike, and she was doing that on this day.

Brookie, Bridget’s cat, was with her on this particular day.

Warning Signs

About a quarter of the way into the hike, Brookie started meowing like crazy. I figured it was because she was young and still new to this hiking thing that I was making her do. She was meowing so much, and sounding so much like a young kitten, that I thought to myself “you are going to call in a predator.”

Brookie was meowing and moving around wildly that day, which made Bridget stop to adjust her gear.

After another quarter mile or so, her meowing had increased and she was moving around on my shoulders. When she is in the mountains with me and sitting on my shoulders, I keep her harnessed to a leash that I hold in my hand. With her freaking out and moving around, I felt the leash pull tight around my neck as she had wrapped it around me. I stopped for a second and turned my head over my shoulder to unwrap the leash from my neck and backpack.

Bridget does not venture out into the wild without a sidearm — which was a very good thing that day.

As I turned, I saw a big, strawberry blonde-colored mountain lion about 10 yards behind me. My stopping to fix Brookie’s leash had surprised the mountain lion, and it shot off to my right and into the woods. I’ll never forget seeing it crouch down like a housecat in full pounce mode as it weaved through a thick forest of aspens. Its long tail was really recognizable as it ran away through the aspens until it was eventually out of my sight.

The 10mm Springfield is part of her gear kit when she heads out.

My Other Partner

This was a very eye-opening moment in my life, for I had just been stalked by a giant mountain lion in the middle of the woods while alone. As fate would have it, that was actually my first day open carrying my new Springfield Range Officer Elite Operator 10mm in the backcountry. Previous to this day I had always open-carried the Springfield XD-S in 9mm. After seeing a giant male bear on a trail camera in a place I fish often, I knew a 9mm wasn’t going to cut it. I decided that I wanted a round with more of a punch, and a magazine with increased capacity in case I needed to unload on a threat.

When Bridget stopped, she turned around to see a mountain lion stalking her. Image: Shutterstock/Warren Metcalf

From reflexes or instincts, that day that the mountain lion stalked me I had my pistol immediately drawn and in position. As soon as it started to run away, it was clear I wasn’t going to need to use it, but it gave me confidence to know it was there and that I was ready.

I know a lot of people may fear going deep into the backcountry by themselves. There literally could be lions, cougars and bears at every corner — and you never know when you’re going to bump into an aggressive one. Having a reliable pistol on my hip gives me the confidence to go on the fishing and hunting adventures that truly are my favorite experiences in the world.

Bridget open-carries the 10mm in her left-handed holster rig, and drew it the day she was facing the mountain lion.

Lessons Learned

Looking back on that June day, I remember the mountain lion’s features so vividly. When I turned around and first saw him, he was close and low to the ground in his “stalking” or “sneaking” position. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes, which seemed more out of curiosity than aggression. I’m sure this big tom heard my little kitten crying and had to come investigate. I’m also sure that my little kitten Brookie sounded like a tasty snack!

On the hike back from fishing I paid attention to my tracks and that of the mountain lion’s. He was stalking me for at least a half a mile. He was so quiet and stealthy that whole time that I probably would have never seen him if I didn’t turn around.

From this June day, I learned that it is always important to glance behind you while hiking. A quick glance 360 degrees around you can give you more time to react to a predator that might be stalking you. I also learned not to take my cat into really wild places. She still goes fishing with me a lot, but I make an effort to keep her out of places where I know there are lots of bears and mountain lions. I know that because of her smell and meows she could act as an attractor to animals that I’m not looking to be stalked by.

Bridget learned to regularly stop and check her surroundings — and to never leave her pistol behind.

Stay safe out there and remember that carrying a reliable firearm like the Range Officer Elite Operator is the greatest confidence boost that you could ever bring to the backcountry. Thanks for reading!

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Bridget Fabel

Bridget Fabel

Bridget Fabel is an avid fly fisherwoman, bow hunter, and 2nd Amendment advocate originally from the small town of Stillwater, New Jersey. She grew up on a farm loving the great outdoors and decided to move west by herself at the age of 20 to the beautiful state of Utah where she now resides. Moving west and exploring the desolate mountains alone for hunting and fishing can be a rare and intimidating undertaking for some women, but Bridget learned to embrace her independence and freedom through her ability to carry firearms and protect herself everywhere she goes. Now a proud concealed carry permit holder for five years, Bridget likes to conceal carry and open carry daily. Bridget’s biggest passion is sharing her love and confidence in the outdoors with the young men and women of America.

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