I was hunting elk along the Nisqually river in Washington a few years back when I had a most disturbing experience. This seems the place to tell it. My favorite elk stalking woods were between the river and a 30 foot tall bank (almost straight up and down). When I started my stalk thought I saw a patch of yellow move in the brush in front of me, my first thought was ELK!! I didn't hear it run off so I continued slowly making my way down the trail. I was in heavy timber about 200 yards from where I saw the yellow patch when I saw two elk come down the bank on my right. I was not able to see antlers or heads because of the trees, so I continued at a slightly faster pace. When I caught up with the elk they were 30 yards to my left and looking generally behind me (still could not see heads). I knelt down to wait it out and when I looked back at the elk both where walking backwards. Now I could see heads (both cows I had a bull only tag) and eyes. Both were transfixed on something behind me, and they were nervous as could be. I thought that the yellow patch I had seen earlier must be a bull elk coming to meet them, so I turned my head ever so slowly to look down the trail behind me. Nothing was there. I turned back to look at the cows and they were gone. They didn't make a sound leaving, usually it sounds like a freight train derailing when I get busted by elk. So I was concerned. I stood up and looked harder into the woods.
20 yards away crouched, ready to pounce is a cougar, looking right at me! I almost shot him. As I looked at his chest through my scope crosshair I remembered the warning I received that I would have to prove I was in danger and actually being attacked. My blood would have to be on his claws was the only acceptable proof of an attack. I did not have a tag so I decided to chase the big cat away. I picked up a stick and broke it on a nearby tree. No response or movement from the cat. So I dropped the stick and again aimed my rifle at him and took three steps toward the cat. That made him nervous. He started slinking backwards and twitched his ears. I then remembered I had a camera in my fanny pack. As I reached for it he stopped moving and watched me intently. I turned it on and pointed it at the cat and started clicking away. It was a 35 mm camera and the battery was low so the flash did not work, but the clicking made the cat turn and walk away. I left that piece of woods as fast as I could. Too bad the flash was dead the pictures did not turn out. In the three years following that 4 people, that I know of were followed by the same cat, in the same area. The 4th guy had a cougar tag. 140 lb tom. I watch my back track more now and have purchased a cougar tag every year since.