Large predators are a scourge in rural environments. Any kind of livestock or pet is fair game (no pun intended) for the four-legged fiends. When you depend on these animals, it’s especially troubling when some kind of predator is killing them.

In South Dakota, a 14-year-old boy decided enough was enough after a mountain lion killed one of the goats his mother keeps as part of a small goat dairy operation. He took a 30-06 rifle he won at an NRA raffle and used a playhouse as a ground blind. After all, not only where there goats to protect, but also small children sometimes played in that yard and might make a tempting target for the hungry lion.

Dalton Streff fancied himself a hunter at age 14 and had completed his hunter safety course, so he felt perfectly fine taking up his position in the playhouse to wait for the animal, though his mother, Lila, was skeptical.

“He decided he was going to go sit out there until 7, when he had to do milking chores,” Streff said. “He said he’d go back out again at 5:30 in the morning if it hadn’t returned that night. But even though it was a possibility, none of us expected the cat to come back that evening.”

A half-hour later, as the sun began to set behind the Ponderosa pines, Streff heard a single, staccato gunshot pierce the silence of their remote Black Hills home.

“So I ran outside, and Dalton threw his arms in the air and screamed, ‘I got it,'” Streff said.

On Tuesday, the soft-spoken, well-armed kid said he had been intently watching his surroundings from the confines of the plastic playhouse when he noticed one of his family’s house cats wandering about 50 yards away.

“I was just sitting there and all of sudden one of our cats was back there too, and the mountain lion jumped on it,” Dalton recalled. “It looked at me once. When I saw the mountain lion, I grabbed my gun quietly so I didn’t scare it off, quietly loaded one round, looked through the scope and shot it. When I shot it, it jumped about 20 feet and then did a face plant.”

After waiting about three minutes, adrenaline pumping through his body, Dalton walked over to the young, female, 70-pound mountain lion and confirmed his first kill.

It was apparently quite a shot. Not just right through the heart, but also reportedly through some trees that added difficulty to the shot.

In rural environs, situations like this are far from uncommon. Most of the folks I know who keep animals have made some preparations for protecting those animals. All of those plans include a firearm. Fences are great, but predators defeat those regularly. A bullet through the heart? That usually stops the problem quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Young Mr. Streff didn’t do anything particularly new here. Instead, he simply carried on an ancient tradition of protecting your livestock, one as old as keeping livestock itself. That he did so with such determination and dedication indicates a maturity far beyond his mere 14 years on this Earth. I know a lot of adults who wouldn’t have been nearly so patient.

Hat tip: Gun Watch