I’m not sure now where the idea of a cattle prod came from. It probably came to me when I was out on a run, dodging Douglas Lake cows and hoping the bull wouldn’t charge me. I looked at how big the cattle are, and thought they are actually much bigger than a cougar. So maybe if the cattle prod moves them around, it might have a deterring effect on a cougar as well.
I went to a farm supply store in Chilliwack, and learned there are different types of cattle prods—short ones and long ones! What kind should I get? This decision required some thought about being attacked, and from what angle would the attack likely come. I imagined a cougar leaping on me from where it was perched on a tree above. I imagined it attacking from the front and side. I imagined it leaping out of nowhere and biting my neck. In the end I decided I needed a short one and a long one. The long one I could use if I saw the cougar coming from the front or side. The short one, worn in a belt holster, I could use to zap the cougar if it was biting my neck from the rear.
Are you getting an impression of how ridiculous this is? Well, it took me a few more years to reach that point. I bought both sizes of cattle prod, and for about a year I ran with them both. The small one I wore in a belt holster, around my waist. And the long one I carried in my hand. I did this for at least a year, until I realized that no cougars have ever attacked me, and I’ve never even seen one while out on a run, and it seems unlikely that any cougar ever will attack me. And although I’d never seen any cougar since that one I saw from my car, I’d seen plenty of deer. And I know that the deer are the cougar’s favourite food.
So I finally reached the conclusion that given the cougar has plenty of deer to eat, and given that I am in the middle of a large area of relative wilderness (not encroaching on cougar territory like the houses in North Vancouver), it is very unlikely that the cougar would want me for dinner. So I stopped carrying the cattle prod, and enjoyed the freedom of running without weapons! As you can see, it took a number of years for my direct experience to outweigh the strength of my fearful fantasies… (to be continued)