A few weeks ago Byron Shaw headed afield fearing a mountain lion attack.
Within minutes the 22-year-old I’ve known most of his life was bleeding profusely.
But rather than a McPherson County cougar my friend owed his wound to a weapon he was carrying for protection.
Super-sized can of pepper spray?
Shotgun with buckshot and slugs?
Nope, he was toting a steak knife.
You know the kind – cheap, thin blade of lousy serrated metal, so fragile you can break them cutting a tough steak.
No, he’s not some super-paranoid whacko a few arrows shy of a full quiver.
Byron Shaw was simply improvising.
“My brother had my hunting knife and I wanted something that would be handy and for some reason I had a steak knife in my truck,” said Shaw. “I was walking to my stand when I felt blood running down into my boot.”
A few days before he tried to fillet himself Byron Shaw heard some locals thought they’d seen a mountain lion enter his hunting ground.
The problem was he heard it from his father. Kendall Shaw has never missed a chance to play practical jokes on his two sons.
He once kept them keyed-up for years about a delapadated old house supposedly with a history so bad he couldn’t tell them about it.
“Every time we’d go by it they’d ask and I’d get all serious and told them I just couldn’t talk about it because it was so terrible,” Kendall Shaw said. “They were so (mad) when I told them the truth a few years ago.”
Like him, they’re both wonderfully gullible.
Kendall Shaw said he couldn’t wait to built up the reported mountain lion to his son as he headed out to hunt that afternoon.
“I put it on him pretty thick, telling him the lion had all it needed in the pasture and there was no reason for it to leave,” Kendall Shaw said. “You hear those (stories) all the time but I knew it would get him thinking and worried.”
Byron Shaw admits he was extra jumpy that day after seeing trail camera photos of a mountain lion taken earlier this fall in northern Kansas.
Never mind it was only the fourth confirmed Kansas mountain lion seen in modern times. Or that attacks are very rare on humans, even in states with thousands of cats.
Most mountain states have had fewer than 10 cases of mountain lions attacking humans in the past 100 years. Many have had none.
And never mind that Byron Shaw’s probably the last person a very rare Kansas mountain lion would want to attack.
He’s 6’5” and 240 pounds. Little of it is fat and he’s very strong, even for his size.
“No mountain lion would mess with him,” Kendall Shaw said with a chuckle. “I wouldn’t mess with him. He’s a beast.”
But while he’s a towering oak among men Kendall Shaw said his youngest son is a willow when it comes to things that go grrrrr in the night.
So that afternoon Byron headed for his deer stand, carrying a bow and quiver of arrows tipped with razor-sharp broadheads. He slid the el cheapo steak knife in the cargo pocket of his pants. It wasn’t long before he stabbed himself as he walked.
“I decided I was just going to hunt anyway,” he said. “Later I was walking out thinking I was bleeding, walking around in the dark where there might be a mountain lion.”
He later bandaged the wound at home and will carry a small scar the rest of his life.
Far more painful will be the ribbing he’ll hear the rest of his life from family and friends. His brother, Caden, was kind enough to post news of the accident on Facebook.
Still, he keeps a good sense of humor about the accident.
“I won’t be carrying any more steak knives in my pocket. I learn real quick,” he said. “I guess if I ever get attacked I’ll have to put (the mountain lion) in a sleeper hold.”