The Colorado jogger who killed a mountain lion with his bare hands has come forward to describe the vicious struggle that ended with him getting more than 25 stitches on his face and wrist.
Travis Kauffman, 31, an environmental consultant from Fort Collins, fought off a 50-pound mountain lion on Feb. 4 when he was running on a trail at Horsetooth Mountain Park.
"I feel really fortunate that this situation turned out the way that it did,'' he told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.
The 5-foot-10, 150-pound Kauffman was able to have a sense of humor about the harrowing situation after he suffocated a 50-pound mountain lion to death that was lacerating his face and wrist with its claws.
Kauffman was jogging when he heard a rustling in the pine needles behind him and turned to see a mountain lion about 10 feet away. In hindsight, he was grateful he wasn't listening to music or he would've never heard the mountain lion behind him.
"I couldn't believe it when I turned,'' he said. "As it got close, it just lunged at me, so I threw my arms up. It latched onto my wrists and started clawing at my face and my legs.
"I was just screaming, doing my barbarian yell as best I could."
It was a rare encounter, as mountain lions have only killed 20 humans in the U.S. in the last 100 years. Experts say the animals usually avoid human contact.
Kauffman tumbled off the side of the trail with the mountain lion latched on to him. He tried to jab it in the neck with sticks and hit it with a rock, but that had no effect.
"It really clicked after I hit it in the head with a rock and it didn't release my wrist, that at point, more aggressive measures were necessary,'' he said.
He was able to get on top of the mountain lion, pin its legs to the ground and then move one of his legs to the animal's neck, suffocating it to death.
"It was just pure adrenaline," Kauffman said. "There was a certain point where I just kind of imagined being stuck on this hillside and just having a cat gnaw at me, which is a pretty creepy way to go."
Kauffman had to get 17 stitches on his left cheek, six on the bridge of his nose, two on his right cheek, and a few on his wrist. He also suffered contusions and puncture wounds to his legs.
He has already returned to the trail for a jog, but has made sure to take along a buddy this time.
"I've been out running and I feel like I am a little bit more jittery than I had been," Kauffman said. "I kind of really analyze all of the paw print tracks that I see now."
He is just grateful he made it home to his girlfriend, Annie Bierbouer, in one piece that day.
"One of my coworkers when she found out it was Travis was like, 'You gotta lock that down,''' Bierbouer said to laughs at the press conference.