Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Mountain Lion Thought To Have Attacked Teenage Deer Hunter
Springfield Journal Register
BAYLIS â€” A 14-year-old deer hunter said he was attacked by aÂ mountain lionÂ Sunday evening, just a minuteâ€™s walk from his familyâ€™s Pike County home.
His father, a Baptist minister, said his son was fortunate.
â€œIf God had not protected that boy, it would have been over,â€ said Gary Dice, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Pittsfield.
The young hunter, Jeremiah Dice, managed to fend off the attack with a knife and then ran home.
Jeremiah was taken to the emergency room out of fear of rabies, according to his mother, Pam Dice. He had no puncture wounds and was treated for scratches on his face and released.
Jeremiah described the mountain lion to a â€œt,â€ Gary Dice said.
The family was waiting Monday afternoon for representatives from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to arrive and examine Jeremiahâ€™s clothing and knife.
â€œDNR is concerned I canâ€™t prove it,â€ Gary said. â€œI trust my son, and I want the truth.
â€œRegardless of what it was, it is still out there, and it attacked a human being.â€
â€˜Itâ€™s big â€¦ Iâ€™m scaredâ€™
The attack occurred near Baylis, northwest of Pittsfield.Â There are onlyÂ three confirmed reportsÂ of mountain lions in Illinois since they were eliminated from the state in the late 1800s. Missouri, however, has confirmed the big cats 26 times since 1994.
Gary Dice said his son was hunting in his stand when the boy heard a flock of turkeys take flight nearby.
â€œThen the deer started snorting,â€ Gary Dice said.
Jeremiah saw a large animal standing near a flag placed 20 yards from the deer stand to help hunters distance. Jeremiah then radioed his mother to alert her to what was going on.
The big cat walked out in the open, not far from a flag placed 30 yards out.
After hearing it leave the area, the boy radioed to tell her he was coming home.
â€œHe said, â€˜Mom, thereâ€™s a big cat back here,â€™â€ Gary said, relating Jeremiahâ€™s words. â€œHe said, â€˜Itâ€™s bigâ€¦ he ran away, so Iâ€™m going to get down and go to the house. â€¦ Iâ€™m scared.â€™
â€œHe took three steps, and it was on his back,â€ Gary said.
Jeremiah elbowed the animal in the ribs, throwing the animal off of him.
â€œHe got to his knees, and there it was face to face with him,â€ Gary said. â€œHe told me, â€˜It just got real still, and I didnâ€™t know what to do.â€™â€
Jeremiah reported the animalâ€™s breath smelled like â€œdead rabbits.â€
â€œHis fangs were out, and he looked eyeball to eyeball to me and lunged,â€ Gary said, retelling his sonâ€™s story.
The attack shredded the bill of Jeremiahâ€™s cap and pushed it down over his face â€” providing some protection. His heavy camouflage coat was shredded down to the boyâ€™s belt.
Jeremiah is already an experienced hunter at age 14.
â€œIâ€™ve taught him to hunt since he was old enough to sit still,â€ Gary said. â€œHe is about six feet tall and over 200 pounds. He is not just a kid.â€
Jeremiah told his parents he starting swinging his hunting knife in an attempt to get the animal to leave. He cut it, but not deeply, and the animal knocked him backwards again. Jeremiah hit it in the ribs again and let go of his knife.
The big cat rolled off Jeremiah and ran off into the woods.
Gary Dice said his son started to run â€” backwards at first, to be sure the animal would not follow.
He grabbed his knife and ran for the house, â€œthe fastest he had run in his life.â€
When the elder Dice first heard the report of a mountain lion, he was a few minutes from home and skeptical.
â€œBut then I saw him and the look on his face of terror and fear,â€ he said.
Gary Dice said Jeremiahâ€™s description of the big cat was that it was as large as a Great Dane, with a long tail that curled.
Depending upon the sex, mountain lions range on average from 75 pounds for a female to 160 pounds for a male.
Gary Dice found the shredded cap, but never did find Jeremiahâ€™s bow.
As for Jeremiah: â€œHeâ€™s fine,â€ his father said. â€œBut he hasnâ€™t slept since.â€
Chris Young can be reached at 788-1528.
According to the website Living with Wildlife in Illinois, domestic dogs and bobcats are most likely to be misidentified as a mountain lion in Illinois.
Bobcats weigh 10-40 pounds, while mountain lions weigh 75-240 pounds. Both are secretive and elusive.
Most sightings are fleeting.
Mountain lions once were found throughout the United States, according to The Cougar Network.
Conversion of prairies to agriculture, logging of forests, elimination of prey species like white-tailed deer and predator-reduction programs led to their extirpation from Illinois by the 1870s.
*â€Mountain lion,â€ â€œcougar,â€ â€œpuma,â€ â€œcatamountâ€ and â€œpantherâ€ all are names for the same animal: Puma concolor.
*There have only been three confirmed sightings of mountain lions in Illinois since the late 1800s.
*Missouri has had 26 confirmed reports since 1994.