A Vancouver Island woman scared off a threatening cougar by playing Metallica on her phone. Later she was given the opportunity to thank the band when frontman James Hetfield contacted her to talk about the incident.
In late July, Dee Gallant was walking down a logging road south of Duncan with her eight-year-old husky-retriever. It was then that she started to feel like she was being watched.
“I looked over to the right and there’s this cougar prowling toward me, doing that really stalking kind of cat prowl with his head down and his bum up,” Gallant recalled in an interview, as reported by The Globe and Mail.
She waved her arms, attempting to frighten the cougar, but was not successful. Then she shouted at the cat, threatening to fight him, she said, laughing. The cat, about 50 feet away, stopped approaching but kept its eyes focused on her.
“I thought, ‘I’ll just start recording,’” Gallant said. “‘This is really cool, I want to share this, and if I get eaten, then at least people will have footage of what happened, and they’ll know what happened to my body when they find my phone.'”
When things did not change, Gallant decided that she was not content with the encounter ending with a viral video of her death by cougar attack. She tried another tactic, pulling out her smartphone again and looking through her music library. She wanted to find a song that might “give the right message to the kitty.” She chose Metallica’s “Don’t Tread on Me.”
“I thought, ‘That’s perfect. It’s got that really strong intro and it says exactly what I want to say,’” she said.
Turning the volume up, she pointed her phone at the cougar, which immediately turned and ran.
Gallant shared her experience on Facebook that night. Friends started tagging the band and spreading the story. The media pounced on the story, first locally, then internationally. She received calls from Spain and Italy.
“When a CNN reporter tracked me down at work, I thought, ‘Okay, this is getting really big,’” she said.
In early August, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett shared Gallant’s story via his Facebook page, which thrilled her. The next day, an artist liaison for the band messaged her, asking for her contact information.
She got a call that afternoon, from a California number.
“Hi, Dee?” said the voice on the line. “This is James Hetfield of Metallica.”
“I didn’t know what to say,” Gallant said. “I was more scared talking to him than I was facing a cougar.”
They spoke about dogs and life on Vancouver Island. The guitarist said that he had read Gallant wanted to know that it saved her life, and he did in fact know.
After the phone conversation, Hetfield sent Gallant a photo of himself with a big smile, making the ‘rock on’ sign.
“Thought you might like some confirmation that it was me,” an attached message read.
“It was really cool,” Gallant said. “I was beside myself excited.”
Read The Globe and Mail story here.
Listen to “Don’t Tread on Me” here.