Mountain Lion Stare Down in Montecito
By Ryan M.
[Friday morning] I had an earlier than normal meeting with a subcontractor on a project recently completed in the hills of Montecito. The subcontractor was late, so I waited quietly in my truck, thumbing through my emails with the door open enjoying the morning air.
Then in my peripheral vision, I caught the movement of something large that was fairly close to me. As my focus sharpened toward this movement, I was startled to see for the first time ever in the wild and only 12 feet away, a freaking mountain lion! The lion paused looking in the direction of his travel up the driveway toward the mountain. I don't think he had realized I was there.
He then turned and looked straight at me and we were both locked in a stare that must have lasted 20 seconds. Absolutely astounded, I was trying to get the sense of the cat's next move and then my thought turned to trying to get a photo of this creature. I was able to thumb through my phone and get the camera app up and with this cat continuing to stare me down. After snapping three photos, the cat lost interest and turned back up the drive and went on his way stopping a few times to look back at me.
What seemed to have happened next, I hope did not actually happen. About 5 to 10 minutes after the cat slipped out of sight to the neighbor's property to the north, I heard the crack of a high powered rifle. I have been to gun ranges a couple times and this was very loud and very close, coming in the same direction as the cat had traveled. Gathering my thoughts and thinking through the consequences I jumped in my truck and drove around to the neighbor's driveway, it was gated.
I was deeply disturbed that this beautiful encounter may have ended tragically, I called the non-emergency line of the Santa Barbara County Sheriffs department, spoke with dispatch, recounted my experience and that I had heard the gun shot. The dispatcher said that she would send a deputy. I waited one and half hours, no show. I could not wait any longer.