Lion Tamer by RU Nick

Updated: May 5, 2009



As the pungent breath of the male lion rushed across my face, I remember thinking, “Seriously God?  This is how it is going to end?” 

Ok – that’s bullshit.  I was pretty much pissing myself with fear and had no thoughts other than “Lion, bad.  No lion, good.”
Hang on, I’m ahead of myself.  A lot of times civilians ask me how my military friends differ from my non-military friends.  There are, of course, differences – my military friends and I tend to have more black and white viewpoints, more aggressive personality traits, and  more creative uses and combinations of expletives, but on the whole I tend to hang out with some pretty awesome people, so this article is definitely not a “military friends are better” story.  On the flip side, however, there are definitely things that my military friends would NEVER do – things that would make them cringe.  That, my friends, is what this story is about.

I was between my first and second years at Duke – now a civilian for a full year.  I absolutely did not walk around saying “Army this” and “Airborne that” but the little things like winning the drink-a-thon for charity, breaking a guy’s arm on the first play of “flag” football, and telling people the stories that now reside on the Rhino Den began to add up and before long, people that didn’t know me pretty much referred to me either as “that Army Guy” or “that Ranger Guy” or “that Obnoxious Guy that I Hate”.

With that thought in mind, I was now on a Duke sponsored trip to sub-Saharan Africa on safari in the wonderful country of Botswana.  If you don’t know where Botswana is or what it’s like, that’s okay – imagine the most stereotypical extreme-poverty-with-giant-dangerous-land-mammals-running-around-with-a-small-weak-and -corrupt-government image you have of Africa. That’s Botswana. 

So there we were, riding around in an open Land Rover-ish truck with bench seats.  This did not strike me as safe, since we were riding around looking for half-ton animals with giant teeth engineered by nature to kill animals twice our size.  But our guides were the experts, right?  After an hour or so of riding around unattacked, that sense of danger faded drastically – all we kept seeing were kudu and gazelles – aka “fancy deer”.  To my left was my good friend T, a pretty dark-haired female classmate of mine and to my right was California A, a very dainty, slim, and pretty blonde classmate.  California A is not a very strong girl – in fact, she is probably on the top five “physically weakest girls I have ever met “list.  I’d go so far as to say that if my hands were tied behind my back and my legs were bound together and she was given a scimitar, a grenade, and a Howitzer freakin’ cannon, I’d still bet on me winning the fight.  In short, she is the last person on earth that is a threat to anyone’s life – least of all mine. 

Suddenly we crested a hill and there, right in the middle of the damn path, was a male lion.  Holy shit this was suddenly awesome.  As we slowly approach the lion, the guide tells us that this lion just moved onto the reservation and is a little more aggressive because he’s not used to humans. 
He keeps approaching it.

He proceeds to tell us that they lose about a dozen people a year to lion or leopard attacks.

He keeps approaching it.

The lion roars at us.  He tells us this is the lion’s way of telling us to go away.

He keeps approaching it.

The lion roars again.

He keeps approaching it.

This time the lion walks away into the tall honey colored grass.  We lose him entirely.  Turns out lions are designed to hide in this shit.

We wait.  The guide tells us that we should not go off the path because it is more dangerous.

We wait.  The guide stands up and looks into the grass.

The guide drives into the grass.

All of a sudden, the male lion busts out of the grass.  He is at a dead sprint right towards us with a dead aim on my seat in particular.

California A jumps over me and lands on T’s lap and proceeds to plant both of her feet on my back and kick with all of her might.

I find myself flying through time and space towards the edge of the vehicle.  There is a good chance I am going over the edge.  I am keenly aware that the lion is still coming at me.  Unlike in flag football, I am concerned that this collision may not turn out in my favor.

Instinctively, my arms shoot out and I catch the rollover cage with my arms.  It looks like I am doing a chest stretch.  My head, chest and shoulders are well out of the vehicle.

The lion roars in my face.

Lions are loud and scary when they are in your face…possibly less so if you are a lion.

I am not a lion.

The Lion stops short of eating me, pauses, and retreats back into the grass.  I can physically see my heart pounding out of my chest.

I turn around.

Nick: Are you fucking kidding me?!

California A: What?

Nick: You kicked me at the lion!

California A: No I didn’t.

Nick: Yes, you fucking did!

California A (sweetly): Well…you’re a Ranger.  I figured you could handle it.

Nick (having none of it): You thought I’d handle it?! 

T: Nick, be nice.

Be nice?!  I wasn’t exactly sure why.  She just tried to kill me, and her apology was an insinuation that at Ranger School, right after we learn how to do the Recon, we get thrown into a pit of lions and learn how to kill them with the magic Ranger Lion Choke or perhaps the mystical Ranger Death Blossom.  Handle it? I was going to “handle it” by being Simba’s fucking lunch.

So, I killed her and fed her to the lion.

Just kidding.  Once the adrenaline drained away, I recognized the scariness of the situation and how one might easily overreact with a swift kick to the back.  Surprisingly, California A and I are still good friends (although I never sit next to the psycho anymore when any animals are present).  Of course, I miss no opportunity to remind her that she tried to kill me.

I’m not sure what the moral of the story is other than this: I have had one civilian friend try to feed me to a lion.  I have had no military friends try to feed me to a lion.  Statistics don’t lie.

Think about it.

If I can save just one troop from a lion attack with this story, then I’ve done my job.




  1. Sgt.Joey

    May 5, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Nick you are my hero! He probably came at you because you were the biggest(masculine) threat to him.Just think he may have been protecting his pride(harem) of females lying just out of sight.Would there have been enough food to go around? Wax the competition. Anyway,Simba(Panthera leo) can weigh up to 600 pounds.His canine teeth can top 3 inches in length.Those forearms of his would make Arnold Swarzennegger’s look anemic!He can hit 45 miles an hour in 2 seconds from a dead start.(Imagine if you could enter him in a Olympic 100 meter run!)And he can cover that distance in 3 seconds flat!And as for maneating ,check out the Lions Of Tsavo,the two brother male lions had well over 130 confirmed kills at the late 1890’s.The both weighed well over 500 pounds and were 4 feet at the shoulder! Human flesh must have steriod-like implications.Anyway, you forgot to mention if anyone deposited any human waste in their underwear.I sure would have .Maybe I should change my name to Sgt.Jungle Joey!

  2. SSG Smith

    May 7, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    You’re a freakin riot. I would have crapped my pants.

    And yes. Military friends are the best… ever.

  3. Pete

    May 8, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    I saw the title “The Lion Tamer” and it immediately reminded me of a very obscene story about a plebe, a turnback, a tattoo of a lion in said plebe’s nether regions, and a cadet room that belonged to neither of them.

    Just thought I’d share.

  4. hank

    May 11, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Dear Nick the Lion Tamer,

    Yeah, I see a common thought running through the military types here, how urine soaked was everyone after the event? You make my back flips off picnic tables seem tame competition for Darwin awards. I was tracking with, “…fed her to the lion” til you said you were “Just kidding” any regrets? I guess you discovered first hand that a lion’s tongue is barbed and particularly useful for licking the skin off a body. I think you should market Nick’s Rabbit Feet, I want one to hang around my neck.

    Semper Fi, Hank

  5. Sgt.Joey

    May 13, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Hank is right on several accounts.Those rabbit feet would definitely have high market value.I would buy one.Also the lion’s tongue is useful in scraping flesh from bones as an added benefit.In fact,multiply everything that a 10 pound house cat is by 40 times(400 pounds),then you have a lion or tiger. The supreme land predators.Also I would NOT like to have a tongue like that while trying to please a woman in a certain sexual act!I would definitely have to file the barbs away……Hmmm the length might be okay?

  6. Sgt. A

    May 22, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    you should check out youtube.com (ranger school promo). Has a line about kicking a retarted lion or tigers ass.

    • The Rhino

      May 22, 2009 at 1:58 pm

      Got it on the Den. Check it out in the “Video” section by clicking on the link on the top right of the page.

  7. EOC Bill Epps

    June 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    But, the main question is…is she hot?

  8. Elias D

    October 1, 2009 at 9:09 am

    You made the slight deviation of “Lion” to “Tiger” and made that ranger school video, didn’t you?!?!?!

    Seriously, military friends have the unique trait of no time passing between you. Civilian friends, they get old, get married, you don’t see them for a few years and things seem to change. Military friends, all those same things change, but two jackass’d stories about “back in the day when we were (insert third world shithole or training event here)” everything feels the same again.

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