Photo: Dee Gallant/Facebook

A quick-thinking Vancouver Island hiker got the surprise of a lifetime after the story of how she scared off a cougar went viral.

Chemainus resident Denise Gallant received a personal call from Metallica lead singer, James Hetfield himself, after he heard the story of how she used their song Don’t Tread on Me to scare off a cougar that had been stalking her.

Last month, Gallant was hiking along a logging road south of Duncan with her husky when she got the funny feeling of being followed.

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She turned around and sure enough, there was a cougar stalking them from some distance.

“I told him off and even used my mean voice but he just kept staring at me,” Gallant writes in a Facebook post.

She then turned on her phone and started recording the encounter in a video where she can be heard saying “Get out of here! Get! Bad kitty!”.

“I videotaped him a while but when he wouldn’t leave even after calling him a “bad kitty” I figured I better try a new tactic,” she writes.

That’s when she decided to rifle through her iTunes and blast Don’t Tread on Me by Metallica at the big cat.

“As soon as it started to play it he buggered off into the bush. I guess he didn’t want to eat anything that leaves a Metallica taste in his mouth,” jokes Gallant.

Gallant has lived on Vancouver Island for about 15 years and therefore has a good idea about what to do when encountering a wild animal.

“It wasn’t so much the volume [of the song] but it was the type of sound too – an intimidating beginning intro,” she says, of the song that saved her life.

Going viral

Denise’s story and her video has gone viral after being picked up by countless media outlets in Canada and around the world.

So viral, in fact, that it was shared by Metallica’s lead guitarist Kirk Hammett on his Facebook page. Not long after, Gallant was contacted by the band’s liaison letting her know that a band member would be in touch with her soon.

Since she wasn’t given a time or date for when this call would take place, Gallant nearly missed the opportunity.

“I thought it was another radio show calling for an interview and I was at work, so I almost didn’t answer,” she jokes.

Fortunately, she did pick up the phone and was greeted by none other than legendary Metallica lead singer, James Hetfield.

“He said ‘Hi Denise this is James Hetfield from Metallica’. (He really didn’t need to say ‘from Metallica’),” Gallant told Victoria Buzz.

“My first thing to say was ‘How do I know it’s really you?’ and then he said ‘Ask me anything you want or just trust me’ so I just trusted him.”

The two chatted a little about Gallant’s encounter, and after the surreal call ended, Hetfield sent her a selfie with a text that read ‘Thought you might like some confirmation that it was me’.

Texting with my buddy James 😎 he is so cool omg!!

Posted by Dee Gallant on Friday, August 2, 2019

Since sharing this story, Gallant has been receiving requests and even offers of bribes from various people who want her to share Hetfield’s phone number with them. Her response is to just delete these requests from her inbox.

Ever since her story went viral, Gallant has spent a significant amount of time responding to media requests for interviews.

Next up, her friends and family have been trying to get her story featured on The Ellen Show, hoping that the prominent TV show would arrange a meeting between Gallant and members of Metallica.

While this does sound appealing to Gallant, she herself has another idea that stems from this whole encounter.

“I’m thinking of start a lingerie business called ‘Bad Kitty’,” she told Victoria Buzz.

Sounds like a pretty happy ending to a scary situation!