Quick-Thinking 12-Year-Old Girl Shoots Mountain Lion at 5 Yards in Self Defense

Alyssa Caldwell, a 12-year-old from Odessa, Texas, was elk hunting with her father in New Mexico in late November when she shot a mountain lion, which stalked in to 5 yards from the girl and crouched down as if to attack. "I didn't hear him or see him until he was really close," Caldwell told Lone Star Outdoor News. "I didn't know exactly what it was but I knew it wasn't a bobcat. I raised my gun when he crouched down."

The duo had just left a makeshift aspen blind over a waterhole they'd been hunting, when Alyssa's father, Joshua, realized he'd forgotten their shooting sticks and left his daughter alone while he went to retrieve them. She was still on her own about a minute later, when she spotted the big cat approaching and made the call to shoot it head-on, killing it instantly.

"I knew it was stalking me," she said. "I had a feeling right before that something was watching me. After I shot, I kept the gun on it the whole time. Dad ran back and he thought I had shot an elk. I told him I had shot a cat and he got real emotional."

Most western states have seasons for mountain lion hunting, and killing one without a tag is a violation, unless the hunter can prove self defense. Game wardens confiscated the cat, and allowed the Caldwells to continue their elk hunt. "They didn't give us any grief," said Joshua. Two days later, Alyssa took a 6x4 bull elk at 375 yards.