IA: 17-Year-Old Shoots Mountain Lion in Self Defense

IA: 17-Year-Old Shoots Mountain Lion in Self Defense

Dean Weingarten

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- Jake Altena was hunting deer in Iowa, on private property near the Little Sioux River. Jake is 17 years old.

He started hunting when he was 12. On Saturday, 9 December, he heard a noise. He carefully and quietly investigated the origin of the sound.

From siouxcityjournal.com:

Armed with a Savage bolt-action 20 gauge shotgun, Altena found an uprooted tree that appeared to have enough clearance for a person or creature to be able to move underneath the branches.

“I was about 15 feet away and a mountain lion poked his head out and it was looking at me dead in the eyes,” he said.

“I immediately pulled my gun on him; I was pretty scared at the moment. When I had him in my sights, he kind of made a quick jump at me and I instantly pulled the trigger.”

The shot hit the creature in the shoulder and fatally wounded it.

Shot at close range in the front of the chest, it is clear the big cat was coming at Jake.  The projectile appears to have traveled lengthwise in the body without exiting.  A 20 gauge slug has plenty of power for most big game in North America.

Only shotguns were legal for hunting deer in Iowa until 2017, when rifles shooting straight walled pistol cartridges were added to the list of legal firearms available to deer hunters. Jake’s 20 gauge is camouflaged and has a telescopic sight. It has been designed and manufactured for big game hunting.

IA: 17-Year-Old Shoots Mountain Lion in Self Defense

After the Department of Natural Resources reviewed the law, they returned the lion to Jake. He intends to have it mounted.  It is one of only five mountain lions that have ever been recorded as shot in Iowa, according to the Department.

There is no law in Iowa that prohibits the shooting of mountain lions. In the United States, conceived in liberty, everything that is not forbidden is allowed. In some countries, the philosophic basis of government is that anything not allowed, is forbidden.

It is legal to shoot mountain lions anywhere in the United States, in self-defense.

Mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare. They have increased in the last few decades as the lions have been protected. Mountain lion populations are increasing. The lions are extending their range into areas frequented by humans.

Only a tiny number of humans have been recorded as being killed by mountain lions. There were 10 fatal attacks recorded between 1890 and 1924, three from 1949 to 1953, and 14 fatal attacks since 1971.

Two mountain lions were killed as they attacked hunters in 2017. Dylan Ross shot a lion that attacked him in Colorado, on five November 2017, while he was hunting mule deer. Jake shot his cat on nine December, a little over a month later.  Both of those attacks happened at an extremely close range, 16 feet for Dylan, 15 feet for Jake.

The odds of being attacked by a mountain lion are tiny, but improbable things happen. It does not matter if they are rare if they happen to you. In overall numbers, you are tens of thousands of times more likely to be attacked by a human than a mountain lion.

The estimates of mountain lion numbers in the United States are about 30,000. There are about 330 million humans or about 11,000 humans for each mountain lion. Fortunately, most of those humans are concentrated in large cities.

Jake and Dylan have fantastic hunting stories to tell the grandkids, and pictures to prove they were real.

2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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Larry Brickey

The cat looks starved.


I beileve the event probably happened as it has been reported. However, especially in light of recent poaching activity, it is not inappropriate to review the hunter’s actions. That apparently having been done, and the determination made that he did in fact act in self defense, file this under “lessons learned” and move on already.

Ross Campbell

Good job,Jake.one shot.if your afield someday,and some of these righteous morons get attacked by some animal,just turn and walk away,they would like this.


Congrats Jake, I’m glad you didn’t get mauled. I’m also impressed with the Iowa DNR for returning the lion. I can’t imagine that happening in Michigan. It’s also a great story for the grandchildren with proof.

Ronnie Jennings

Murdering Baby Cougars are the things that give hunting and the Second Ammendment a very bad name. These are the individuals who cried Wolf in this case Cougar, and there was no threat. This individual should be taken out tand taught the respect for for nature and other living creatures. Today animals in the Forest in the future Kids in School. Learned too take responsibility

Major Jennings


I can see you, like some others, either have a reading comprehension problem or just didn’t bother to read the story at all. Did you ever hear the old story about it being better to keep your mouth shut and let everyone wonder if you were an idiot than open it and prove you were?


What does hunting have to do with the Second Amendment?

Steve Sanson

17 year old needs his ass kicked, needs to lose the gun and truck that his mommy and daddy gave him


You need your ass kicked for ignorance.

Larry Brickey

What is your problem? Should he have been turned into Cougar turds?


Great job Jake don’t let the comments of the few ignorant ones who have said stupid things upset you. You did nothing wrong but protect yourself. This guy’s parents probably tossed him out of the house because he turned into a snowflake.

G Mac

Really Steve? Your statement proves that some people shouldn’t breed. Too bad your parents did.


Be careful in the woods while hunting, if you act like a pork chop you might be a pork chop.


This is not the first cougar reported in IA in recent years. And in not so recent days … in the mid 50’s through the 70’s I grew up on a farm not far south of where this one was taken, on the Rock River appx 10 miles north of if’s emptying into the Big Sioux. I recall finding what could only have been cougar tracks in fresh, hard snow. At one point where the cougar was chasing a deer there was 20-25 feet from take off to landing, and the paw prints were appx. 5” across. I also found… Read more »

Dr. Strangelove

I live in eastern Iowa and there have been a couple of sightings here.


Congratulations Jake, that mount will look great


Somebody’s pet.

Jim Macklin

Not poached. Of course you are always welcome to go into the field and ignore noises. Might be a bear, hog or even a lion. You are welcome to wait until the animals teeth or claws are in your neck before you decide that defense is necessary.
A decade ago near Colorado Springs [ I recall ] a woman was out on her bicycle and she was partially eaten.

Wild Bill

M, I remember that, too. An excellent example of nature at work, using its’ typical tools. Nothing goes to waste in the natural world, not even … the foolish.


Another poached animal.
“He carefully and quietly investigated the origin of the sound.”
He is now actively pursuing game……..that is not self defense. It is the Zimmerman mentality.
By the size of the feline, it looks as thought it was born in the spring of this year.

Let the hate begin.


Oh look, a keyboard hunter as emerged from the camouflage of his basement. We all are perfectly aware that if you heard a sound while outside, in a field, you’d run away.


Good thing he wasnt hunting snowflakes


Hey, DF, did you fail to read this
“After the Department of Natural Resources reviewed the law, they returned the lion to Jake.”
“There is no law in Iowa that prohibits the shooting of mountain lions.”

Roy D.

I concur with your assessment of the event. The only way that cat would have “attacked” any person is if it felt trapped and cornered or it was rabid. Since they said nothing about it being rabid, and you know they tested for that, it was not. Some people on here feel that wrongful killing of animals is ok if you can give a plausible story to justify the killing. We all know these types of people and they are nothing more than thugs.

Roy D.

I agree with your assessment of the situation.