SAN FRANCISCO – All she had was a pen, a tree log and a desire to save the man she loves.
Wildlife officials are crediting Nell Hamm with saving her husband Jim's life by clubbing a mountain lion that attacked him while the couple was hiking in a California state park.
The couple, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next month, were hiking in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park when the lion pounced.
Nell Hamm said she heard a 'horrible plea for help' and when she turned around, she saw her husband in the mouth of the lion. So she picked up a nearby log, about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and used it as a weapon.
"I just picked it up and started hitting the lion and hitting him hard but he wouldn't even flinch. He wouldn't let go," Nell told FOX News Friday morning as her husband recovered from a torn scalp, puncture wounds and other injuries on his arms, legs and hands.
"I just kept hitting him and hitting him and Jim was coherent through the whole thing," she said.
While he was being attacked by the lion, Jim Hamm told his wife to get a pen out of his pocket and stab it in the animal's eye. She did this, but then the pen broke.
"So I picked up the log again and hit him directly in the head and somehow it backed off, and then it's ears went back," she told FOX News. "I told Jim, 'it's got me, Jim, it's gonna get me.' And I started screaming and raised the log and for some reason, the lion just walked off."
Jim Hamm, 70, is doing better today after surgery, Nell said, and he's even eating some soft foods. He had to have his lips stitched back together and underwent surgery for lacerations on his head and body.
"He's cut up pretty bad but he's a fighter," Nell Hamm said. "We both are and we fought together to save his life and this is the easier part. I know he's going to get well. He's giving it his all."
After the attack, game wardens closed the park about 320 miles north of San Francisco and released hounds to track the lion. They later shot and killed a pair of lions found near the trail where the attack happened.
The carcasses were flown to a state forensics lab to determine if either animal mauled the man.
Although the Hamms are experienced hikers, neither had seen a mountain lion before Jim Hamm was mauled, his wife said.
"She saved his life, there is no doubt about it," Steve Martarano, a spokesman for the Department of Fish and Game, said of Nell Hamm's efforts.
Nell Hamm, 65, said she was scared to leave her dazed, bleeding husband alone, so the couple walked a quarter-mile to a trail head, where she gathered branches to protect them if more lions came around. They waited until a ranger came by and summoned help.
"My concern was to get Jim out of there," she said. "I told him, 'Get up, get up, walk,' and he did."
Jim Hamm told his wife he still wants to make the trip to New Zealand they planned for their anniversary, she said.
Nell Hamm warned people never to hike in the backcountry alone. Park rangers told the couple if Jim Hamm had been alone, he probably would not have survived.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.