Kyle Burgess of Orem had a terrifying encounter over the weekend, when a female cougar stalked him along a mountain trail for what seemed like an eternity — but was really just “six very long minutes.”
The 26-year-old not only was unharmed but caught the entire episode on his cellphone. The video has since gone viral with thousands of views on social media and YouTube.
On Saturday around 5 p.m. Burgess said he was coming down Provo’s Slate Canyon, a place he has hiked numerous times before, often getting glimpses of various wildlife.
He pulled out his cellphone when he caught sight of what he thought were young bobcats. He quickly realized they were baby cougars when their mother darted into his path.
“Mama was not happy," Burgess said Monday.
The video shows Burgess backing down the trail, yelling at the large cat trying to get it to retreat. “I tried to make myself loud and scary,” he said, “I wanted to make it seem like I wasn’t afraid.”
Every time Burgess crouched down to pick up a rock, the animal lunged forward.
“Get out of here you stupid kitty cat,” he yelled at one point.
Later in a more steadied tone, he said, “Dude, you are scary.” And “I don’t feel like dying today.”
The talking, said Burgess, “was mostly to calm myself down. There were a lot of emotions going through my head.”
There were also a lot of profanities coming out of his mouth — but those are easily forgiven considering the circumstances.
Burgess ultimately was able to throw a rock at the cougar, and it ran away. “It was a surreal moment,” he said. “I go out on hikes all the time and you think nothing will really happen — until it does happen.”
Burgess said he works for UPS and Blade HQ, which sells folding pocket knives — although he didn’t have one of the utensils with him on Saturday. Not that it would have helped.
The incident was also terrifying for his wife, Whitney, who couldn’t watch the video until the next day.
The social media response has been a surprise. “I thought this will be fun for my friends to see what happened,” he said. “It completely blew up from there.”
Burgess said the cougar encounter also won’t keep him from hiking that trail again. “Any mama is going to defend her kids,” he said. “She was doing what she was supposed to do.”