A Utah man pulled out his phone to record four small animals he saw on the trail during a hike Saturday—and ended up filming a terrifying 6-minute encounter with the cougar kittens' extremely protective mother. The video Kyle Burgess shared on Instagram shows the animal pursuing him down the trail at a steady pace and occasionally lunging at him as he backs away, NBC reports. "No! Go away! I'm big and scary!" he shouted. "You're a good little kitty cat," he said, urging her to turn back and "go get your babies." "Come on dude, I don't feel like dying today," he said. The 26-year-old later said the mountain lion hissed and lunged every time he tried to stoop down to pick up a rock, but when he was finally able to grab one and throw it, the animal ran away.
Officials at Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources said they searched the Slate Canyon area near Provo on Sunday but there was no sign of the cougar or her kittens. Scott Root, DWR’s conservation outreach manager for central Utah, told Burgess he "did awesome" during the encounter. He tells the Deseret News that while hiking alone may have been ill-advised, Burgess did almost everything else right. "He backed away. He didn’t go toward the mountain lion or her kittens. He made a lot of noise," Root says. "He stayed large, he stayed loud and he backed away from the area for quite a while. I think he did everything really well." Root says Burgess' video is one of the most "terrifying" and "emotional" ones he's ever seen of a cougar encounter. (Read more cougar stories.)