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16-year-old girl saves little brother from cougar with bow-and-arrow

Amaya, right, and Cole, left, after their escape from a cougar in the woods. (Photo courtesy of Amaya Simpson)

Washington state may have found its own version of “Hunger Games” teen archer Katniss Everdeen — a 16-year-old Inchelium girl used her bow, arrow, and quick thinking to save her little brother from being attacked by a cougar.

Amaya Simpson was out on a routine evening hunting walk with her brother Cole Seymour, 6, on their family’s property on the Colville Reservation, about 80 miles from Spokane. Suddenly, Amaya got the feeling that there was something amiss.

“It’s just kind of an instinct thing, I just kind of got chills on the back of my neck,” she told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “Just an instinct telling me that something is not right.”

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Amaya, who is in tune with nature and her family members, looked back to check on Cole … and was shocked at what she saw behind him.

“I turned around just to check on my brother, and a cougar was right behind him,” she said. “It blended in with the ground and bushes.”

Using a calm but authoritative voice, she told her brother to come toward her, but did not say to run. Amaya knew that if a person runs when a cougar is nearby, the cat’s hunter instincts kick into gear, and the runner instantly becomes a target.

“Luckily, he didn’t run … Anytime you’re in the woods and you encounter something like that, you always have to be cautious around animals, predators especially,” she said.

Amaya and her mother guessed that the cougar, which was young, must have been inexperienced to have stood there the entire time without making a lunge at Cole.

“When he was walking toward me this whole time, it just stood there, it didn’t do anything,” she said. “It just stood there, it was kind of crouched down, frozen there I guess.”

With no adults around them, Amaya knew that it was up to her to save her brother’s life. She had no choice but to use the bow and arrow she carried.

“It was 11.5 yards away from me and I think about three yards from my brother, so I just knocked an arrow and shot for its face,” she said.

The arrow went through the cougar’s ear and into its back; the animal ran off in the woods. Amaya grabbed her younger sibling and ran for the house. Later that evening, she and her parents hunted down the cougar with dogs and shot it.

Although she used her bow and arrow out of self-defense, Amaya said that as her story made national news, she has received many mean comments from people around the country who are critical of her killing an animal. Some people have even made fake Facebook accounts to troll her mother on the social media site.

“There are haters, people who completely disagree with everything I did … Everything you could name in the book, they’ve said it,” she said.

She pays the online bullies no mind, however, knowing that if she hadn’t shot the cougar, her brother may not be with her today.

Dori told her that the people criticizing her online are just “city hipsters who think they know what’s going on [outdoors in nature].”

“You are completely right, [those] are the people who it is,” Amaya laughed.

The big question, however, according to Dori, is — will Amaya ever hold over Cole’s head that she saved his life in any future sibling arguments?

“It’s already come out of my mouth a few times,” Amaya said with a chuckle.

“That’s a pretty good card to play — that’s a nice arrow to have in your quiver,” Dori quipped.

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