A Wisconsin bowhunter by the name of Ben Karasch got into a scary situation when his hunt for deer turned into a cougar’s hunt of him. The 39-year-old had been situated in his tree stand for quite a while when he noticed the big cat was tracking him down, and appeared to be inching closer and closer.
Karasch was about to call it a day as the sun started to go down, but knew he wouldn’t be going anywhere as long as the cougar was lurking in the area keeping a close eye on him. He admitted that he was fearful of the animal, and he wasn’t a fan of how it was acting as it stood only 40 yards away.
“I could see it was sneaking up on me, staring right at me with its tail swishing back and forth. It would crouch and hide, then start creeping toward me again, always with his eyes on me.
There never was a minute in the whole episode when he wasn’t coming toward me. I think he saw the deer decoy first, then saw me moving in the stand and started concentrating on me instead.”
As the big cat seemingly closed in on Karasch, he was unsure of what his next step would be. He tried to scare away the cougar by banging on his tree stand with his carabiner and waving and yelling, but nothing was swaying the wild animal from coming his way.
Karasch began to fear the worst, and knew he would be in trouble if the cougar made it to his tree and began climbing up. He spoke about the internal struggle he had when trying to decide if he should pull back on his bow:
“I’ve hunted deer since I was 12 years old and most of my shots have been at about 20 yards. This cougar was half that distance away. All these thoughts are running through my mind, I felt extremely scared and vulnerable at that moment with the cat still staring at me.
With how close the cougar was and his lack of fear even though I tried to scare him away, I felt like the only option I had was to shoot.”
A cougar was killed in western Wisconsin Saturday, and the hunter involved claims it was in self-defense. https://t.co/WM7x4RD0Yx
So that’s what he did, and with it only being about 15 yards away, Karasch hit the cougar in the shoulder area and sent it running. Once it was out of sight and presumably out of the area, he quickly climbed down and vacated the premises.
When he was a safe enough distance away, he called Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources to turn himself in, knowing that the cougar was a protected species. Though it was a tough call to make, he knew it was the right thing to do.
And after revisiting the spot with game wardens and tracking down the cougar (which ended up being recovered around 120 yards from his stand), the DNR determined that the cougar was killed in self defense, which meant Karasch wouldn’t have to face charges:
“I was relieved, but not surprised, when the wardens and the District Attorney decided charges wouldn’t be appropriate.
I’d give anything for this to have not happened. I guess you could say we were both in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
What a scary moment, and a lesson for the rest of the hunters out there to always keep their head on swivel, and to always do the right thing when things go wrong.