By Jamie Leary

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Weeks after surviving a mountain lion attack, the runner who killed the lion with his bare hands, was finally ready to talk about it. Thursday, Travis Kauffman talked to CBS4’s Jamie Leary about what happened after he addressed a throng of reporters from across the country.

Travis Kauffman (credit: CBS)

“It was definitely a little bit of a surreal experience.” Kauffman told CBS4’s Jamie Leary.

The 31-year-old was able to relax a bit as he spoke to CBS4 from the comfort of his kitchen. Even joked about the news conference.

“It wasn’t like getting attacked by a mountain lion so that was easier than that,” He said.

CBS4’s Jamie Leary interviews Travis Kauffman (credit: CBS)

He laughed about some of the questions he had to answer earlier in the day.

“Some of them were a little crazy like, what kind of running shoe I wore, or what the cat’s breath smelled like. Just stuff like that – If I wanted to have the cat mounted. I was like, ‘No, not especially.'”

The headlines have made national and international news. There was even someone who came forward claiming it was him who killed the lion. This, especially, gave Kauffman a good chuckle. 

The attack took place at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space in Larimer County on Feb. 4, and Kauffman has numerous wounds from it including lacerations on his nose and cheek. He had to have about 20 stitches.

Kauffman, originally from Arkansas, has lived in Colorado for a little more than 5 years and has been trail running for about 1. He says he often ran in the trail systems west of the city.

He was planning to go on a 12 to 15 mile run on the day of the attack. He started at Lory State Park and ran south through the park into neighboring Horsetooth Mountain park.

Travis Kauffman (credit: CBS)

While he was able to joke about certain things, he was serious as he recalled the moment of the attack. It lasted 10 painstaking minutes. Kauffman said in the beginning he wasn’t sure it was a battle he would win.

Kauffman heard the cat coming before he saw it and was able to brace for impact.

“I looked and I saw the cat chasing after me and at that point I just stopped and threw my hands up, I faced it and started yelling and then it just kinda kept coming.”

The lion jumped onto him, wrapped it’s paws around Kauffman’s back and dug in. He said the animals strength wasn’t even the biggest issue.

Travis Kauffman (credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

“It was mostly the fact that whenever its claws or teeth sink in, they seem to stay. So it was like a matter of like pulling it off but everything wanted to just completely stay clamped down,” Kauffman continued, “As we rolled down the hill, it just kept on thrashing and claws were kind of flying around.”

Kauffman said he finally managed to get on top of the animal.

“I was able to get a good amount of weight pinned on it and I was just kind of looking for things around me that I could use to help get it off of me.”

Kauffman ended up suffocating the animal under his weight.

“I was hoping that I could kind of get in a few hits on it and then convince it to scram but it was still really aggressive the whole time and really latched onto my wrist and didn’t release until the moment it finally suffocated.”

Travis Kauffman (credit: CBS)

Kauffman’s wrist to took the brunt of the force. He says it’s still sore and he has yet to regain the feeling in two of his fingers.

“It’s mouth was latched onto my wrist so I just had some puncture wounds in my wrist, kind around my ulna and another tooth penetrated pretty deep on the palm of my hand.”

Kauffman also point to his lip where the lion’s tooth went through. The lions claws miraculously missed his eye but left a deep gash across his cheek and nose. It took dozens of stitches to patch up.

Travis Kauffman (credit: CBS)

“I had 17 here, there’s some deeper ones that are in there and then they did some more superficial ones.”

Immediately following the attack, Kauffman says he ran as fast as he could. His biggest fear was that there may be other lions lurking in the area.

Once he reached the trailhead, he was able to assess his injuries.

“I had some bloody spots on my arms and kind of dripping down my neck but nothing seemed like it was spurting so I felt really good about that and I started to jog down.”

The winter layers, he was wearing prevented his injuries from being more severe.

(credit: CBS)

“It was really fortunate that I had on double layers of long sleeves and gloves. Yeah I really feel like if I didn’t have gloves on my hands would’ve been a real big time mess.”

He says he is also glad he choose to run without headphones. Had he not heard the lion coming, he fears the outcome would have been much different.

WATCH: Travis Kauffman Describes Attack Before He Killed Mountain Lion

“I’m really glad that I was able to turn because it would’ve been a lot tougher fight if it had been able to get on my back and sink it’s teeth into my neck instead of my arm.”

Kauffman hopes his story helps inform people not scare them.

“I want them to know they shouldn’t be reluctant about using the open spaces um but just to kind of be aware that there is wildlife in the area and take certain precautions.”

The attack took place at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space in Larimer County on Feb. 4.

(credit: CBS)

The attack has not deterred him from running but it may be some time before he returns to the trail where it happened.

“If I do go back its gonna be with maybe one or two other people, it’ll probably still raise the hairs on the back of my neck whenever I go and hit that trail.”

(credit: CBS)

RELATED: Conservationist Explain Mountain Lion Activity In Larimer County

Watch Travis Kauffman’s complete news conference below:

Jamie Leary

Comments (34)
  1. Bill Zager says:

    This doofus is being treated as some sort of hero by some people. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He bears complete culpability for the unnecessary death of a young, hungry cat. That stain will be on him forever.

  2. Mc Spearing says:

    Cats prefer attacking from behind and instinctively go for a suffocating (or spine breaking) bite to the neck. Good ears and good defensive reflexes saved this guy, as he was able to turn and face the cat and get his hands up. The hand was bitten instead of the neck. Cats often just clamp on and not let go until the prey is dead. Good fortune and good fitness save this runner.

  3. Kzar Foster says:

    Why do You have to jog in the woods? You become the mouse, running at that stupid pace. I am so sad for the lion. I’m sure it was hungry and you looked like something moving to catch. If you are selfish enough that you just can’t jog in your own territory, then for Christ’s SAKE, bring some pepper spray so you don’t have to run around slaughtering lions. When I first heard about this, I was more sorry for the lion and I have not changed my mind after reading his interview. Hipsters are mindless.

  4. Michael Baub says:

    Wow – crazy story – glad you’re okay Travis! Wear that scar proudly – I think it looks pretty cool, actually.

  5. Jeb Charleston says:

    This is the kind of story that makes me want to go hunting…but only for animals who attack humans.

  6. Doug Day says:

    I’d want every tooth and claw on a necklace…

  7. Mace Fourier says:

    California firearms laws negate self-defense and mandate that we allow ourselves to be eaten by wild animals in our regional parks.

  8. Makes clear that when you’re out in “open spaces” why you need a gun, let alone in public spaces.

  9. Kim Leevy says:

    That, my friends, is true SEAL material.

  10. Tom Donahue says:

    From the details of the full report on the attack, it looks like this guy was very very lucky. The cougar was reported to have been a young male and weighed in at 80 lbs. A full-grown male can weigh over 200 lbs and would have quite probably dispatched him without much trouble. I live in cougar country on the west coast and these cats are all over the place. The young cats haven’t figured out what’s the best prey and often get their butts handed to them by critters they take on that they shouldn’t until they’re much older and more experienced. Glad he’s ok. This could have turned out much differently.
    Also, the suggestions that people who use these places carry grizzly pepper or other forms of force deterrent aka a gun, are reasonable. Carrying in national parks is allowed (check with the ranger first) Many of us who go out into the woods here always have something on us that can give an advantage if we run into something hungry.

  11. It’s a hoax. Story doesn’t add up. You cant smother a mountain lion. And his injuries look staged not a real lion attack.

  12. subtle2 says:

    President Carter was attacked by a rabbit.

  13. I would never go into the forest or jog a trail without my 10MM. Bear, Mountain Lion, Bobcat, etc…

  14. How did he suffocate it? I wish they would explain that part. Choke it to death?

    1. Jtom Carr says:

      “Kauffman wound up killing the animal by stepping on its neck while they were locked in combat and suffocating it.“

      Considering the lion had a lock on his wrist, Kauffman must be pretty limber to step on its neck at the same time.

  15. Laura Todd says:

    Thank goodness he had the wisdom to fight back. A woman jogger was killed by a mountain lion in the Sierra foothills about a decade ago. A weapon might have saved her life.

    1. Gerald Cullison says:

      A woman jogger was killed by a mountain lion last summer on Mt. Hood in Oregon. They outlawed hunting lions with dogs, so there are a lot more of them now.

  16. It’s Blurmphs fault! He should have been carrying bleach and noose like all Maga-pedes.

    1. Wait, you believe the bitc% that cried wolf?

  17. Should always carry at least a good-sized knife with you in areas like that if not a sidearm.

  18. junglecogs says:

    Rick Perry (TX) had a similar experience while running… wisely, he carried a .380 in a belly-band and having it (and using it) saved his life. Be smart if you go outside your safety zone!

  19. Sam Jones says:

    Good for Travis, but D Boone kilt a bar on this tree.

  20. Ted Holtz says:

    One of those keychain pepper sprays would seem to be a no brainer!

    1. junglecogs says:

      Those things are toys…if you’re going to use a spray, buy a can of the same stuff LEO’s use; but you are better off with a micro-pistol (if allowed).

  21. Fritz Vondago says:

    Moron, take a weapon next time snow-fake! jezzzz!

    1. Fred Huppert says:

      Snow flake? Really?

    2. Inger Phanortner says:

      If he is a snowflake, he would have said the cat would have yelled maga country before the attack

  22. Barry Brumfield says:

    Derek, you are using wisdom and practicality in your comment, you may offend the PETA members on here. But you will survive longer than they will.

  23. John Oakman says:

    Only a Southern guy can whip a mountain lion.

    1. Nav Nostunk says:

      1) Jog on trail
      2) Get attacked by mountain lion
      3) Kill it with your bare hands
      4) Continue jogging on trail
      5) Have breakfast.

      1. Jay Patterson says:

        You forgot pee nails and spit fire.

  24. Derek James says:

    If you are going to travel by foot in mountain lion/bear country, it would seem prudent that some weaponry should be on your person. Luck was with him…today.

    1. Jesher Spelling says:

      No such thing as Luck – God was with him and his life was spared.

      1. No such thing as god. Luck was with him.

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