By Don Ford

LOS ALTOS (KPIX 5) – Rancho San Antonio Preserve in the hills above Silicon Valley is very popular with joggers and runners like Nickolas Melville.

The cross country runner stumbled upon a life and death battle that left him shaken, a mountain lion attacking a buck with a full set of antlers.

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“I was flabbergasted! It was happening at noon, in the middle of the day,” Melville recalled.

Frozen in his tracks, Melville started recording the fight. To see a mountain lion at all is rare but to record this battle, a battle that lasted nearly fifteen minutes, is remarkable.

“To see that happen right next to the trail, was a little disconcerting,” Melville said. “I was afraid but, I felt comfortable that there were two of three other people there already.”

There are mountain lion warnings posted at all trails. Senior park ranger Chris Barresi said visitors must always stay alert.

“Although you may be very tempted to pull out your camera and start rolling video of a cat, we would not recommend standing there watching the cat,” Barresi said.

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With the lion holding on the deer’s head, the buck dragged the lion across a ditch trying to gore the lion, trying to free himself from the claws.

“Those two were going at it. For a while, I didn’t know if the mountain lion wasn’t going to get killed,” Melville said.

Both animals exhausted, the fight seemed to pause while each tried to catch their breath. Eventually, the mountain lion won the battle.

“This is their natural habitat. This is where they live,” Barresi said. “This is where they eat.”

Several trails were shut down but now have been reopened.

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“As far as danger on the trail, be more worried about ticks and snakes than a mountain lions,” Barresi said.