'I tried to get it in the eye': Boy says of fighting mountain lion with stick

BAILEY, Colo. — An 8-year-old boy from Colorado who survived an attack by a mountain lion last month said he had to be resourceful to stay alive.

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"I was just punching, trying to grab anything that I can, like a stick," Pike Carlson, of Bailey, told KUSA about his encounter with the 65-pound big cat. "I did find a stick, and I tried to get it in the eye, but soon the stick snapped."

Pike was jumping on a trampoline with Gage, his older brother, on Aug. 21 around 7:30 p.m. when a friend called to him from a nearby house, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. When the boy ran to visit his friend, he was attacked by the mountain lion, the release said.

Gage ran into the house to tell his parents, and the boys' father, Ron Carlson, ran outside to help, KUSA reported.

“That parental instinct to protect your child kind of kicks in," Ron Carlson told the television station. "It never even entered my head that I was about to tangle with something that could kill me. All you know is you have to do something. It doesn’t matter what happens to you, you’ve got to protect your children.”

Pike suffered injuries to his head when the mountain lion grabbed him and dragged the boy under a tree, according to KUSA. Pike's resourcefulness saved his life.

“He told me 'Dad, all animals have a vulnerable spot, their eyeballs,'" Ron Carlson told the television station. "So he picked up a stick that was underneath the tree and was reaching back trying to poke it in the eye.

"When I first picked him up, I could see the whole side of his face was open. There was blood all over him. His scalp was ripped open in several spots. It was something that no parent should ever see.”

"The kid was running, and it probably triggered the lion's natural response to a prey animal running," Mark Lamb of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in the news release.

The mountain lion released its grip on Pike and ran away just as Ron Carlson got to his son.

The boy was taken to a hospital, where he needed two surgeries and dozens of stitches, KUSA reported.

"That first night in the hospital, even though the doctors were saying it's going to be OK, I just kept flashing back to what could have happened," Julie Carlson, Pike's mother, told KUSA. "What if Gage, my oldest, didn't get to him in time? What if my husband didn't get to him in time?"

For his part, Pike has kept his sense of humor. Even though he may need more surgery, the boy's brave tale of survival has been inspiring.

"The mountain lion is a cheater," Pike Carlson told KUSA. "No one try to wrestle a mountain lion. It is a cheater."

GoFundMe page has been set up for Pike, and as of Friday morning, more than $16,500 had been raised.