ELKO — A mountain lion almost stole $400 worth of personal property from a Montello resident in the hills not far from his home last week.
Ken Larsen spotted a large cat track in the mud a few miles outside of town the day before his encounter with a cougar.
“Right next to that track I saw a little paw track,” he said during a phone interview. He guessed a mother mountain lion and her cub had recently trotted through.
The next day, he set off for the hills with a Foxpro game caller, which he said resembles a small radio. The device emits a range of animal noises that a person can change via remote control.
Larsen, who also wrote about the experience on his Facebook page, said he positioned the caller in a clearing, sat down about 40 yards away, and waited as it mimicked the sound of a “fawn in distress.”
But nothing happened, so after a while he changed the caller to its “canine pup distress” setting. Still nothing.
“I’m sitting there 40 minutes. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing,” he said.
In the past, he’d had success drawing coyotes using the caller’s “lighting jack” sound.
Sure enough, not five minutes later, in the distance he noticed a dot moving in his direction. Based on the way the animal moved, however, Larsen could tell it wasn’t a coyote. He assumed it was a bobcat.
Soon, it made it to the tree line about 150 yards away; it was clear the cat was much larger than a bobcat.
“That ain’t no bobcat, it’s a lion,” Larsen wrote. “It’s a lion and it is stalking my call that has a spinning woodpecker critter thing attached to it.”
Larsen frantically snapped photos of the cat as it approached the box then circled and sniffed it, he said. He continued watching until the cougar picked his machine up in its mouth and started to trot back to the trees.
Larsen — who had come prepared with a pistol and rifle in case he saw a coyote — was never in fear of the animal, he said, but did worry that the $400 device might be lost.
With the caller’s cost in mind, he started yelling out at the mountain lion as he charged toward it.
“That’s when it looks at me,” he said.
She kept walking away but dropped the machine as he approached and dashed away.
“I pick the call up and it is covered in lion spit,” he wrote. “I stop and look but she is gone and I start laughing …”
Larsen said he’d never spotted a cougar in the wild before. After examining the pictures he took, Larsen said he could make out a couple cubs in the background.
“It’s exciting,” he said, “a once in lifetime thing.”
Elko was surprised by a mountain lion in the city streets last April.
Nevada Department of Wildlife officials killed that cougar because it was considered a threat to public safety.