It was a close encounter of the scary kind |

It was a close encounter of the scary kind

Karen Woodmansee
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

Dustin McClelland knows how far his dad will go to try to protect him.

Dustin, 15, was returning to his Pinion Hills Road home about 6:30 p.m. Saturday after an outing on his dirt bike when his father, David McClelland, watching from a window, noticed a mountain lion stalking the youth.

“Something flew up alongside of him, coming out of the trees, and it was a mountain lion,” McClelland said. “It had maneuvered behind a pinion pine and was stalking him from behind.”

McClelland said he ran out of the house and put himself between the cat and Dustin, who his father said never saw the animal, but heard it.

“It was screaming, not the kind of growl you hear in the movies, but a high scream,” McClelland said. “It was so fixated on the kid, I started running for him.”

McClelland said the cat turned its attention to him when he was six to eight feet away from it.

“It was in a crouch, ready to pounce,” he said. “It had its ears back and teeth out. At this point it was all on me now. I was anticipating him lunging at me, I was trying to catch him knowing it would not be pretty.”

He said he expected the big cat, which he estimated at about 150 pounds, would run after being challenged but it was holding its ground.

The confrontation lasted about 20-30 seconds, with the mountain lion lunging from side to side, when McClelland lost his footing on the ridge and fell down an embankment to a dry creek bed, where he lost consciousness.

“I ended up looking up at the sky with silver vision, everything was blurring,” he said.

His wife, Theresa, called 911 and McClelland was taken by CareFlight to Renown Medical Center with a concussion, along with cuts and bruises. He doesn’t know what happened to the cat, which apparently fled.

“The paramedics didn’t seem concerned with it,” he said. “I was in and out between daze and haze.”

He said his neighbor had noticed bobcats in the area, but this was the first mountain lion he had seen in the three or four years he has owned the property.

McClelland, the airport manager in Carson City and a construction company owner, said there have been quite a few deer coming by the house, and he wanted to alert the community after the lion incident.

“We know we’re moving into their territory,” he said, adding that his property backed up to Bureau of Land Management property. “We know the animals are there, and we want to protect them too, but this land shark type of animal is just too close to these houses.”

He admitted that the story’s ending could have been much worse, which is what he expected.

“Jumping between him and my son, I knew it wasn’t going to be a happy ending,” he said. “I’m just glad it didn’t get my son.”

– Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or call 881-7351.