Monday, May 16, 2016

My Sighting

I'm an open minded person when it comes to myths and legends. I'd like to think there are some things out there we can't proove. Even though I feel that way I always had a hard time believing I'd be involved in a situation I couldn't explain. I'm a very logical person so if I suspect something or hear about something I'm pretty skeptical until I see the evidence.

My buddies and I were fishing last weekend in a remote part of Virginia. The access isn't difficult but the location is sparsely populated. The day was overcast with a cold front coming in. There was a constant draft accompanying the front. The wind seemed to stay at 20mph with higher gusts every now and then. Branches were falling randomly and there was an occasional rain shower. I was walking the tree line with a friend. Behind the tree line was the forest and the river. Between the tree line was a field and a few houses on the far side. The tree line didn't run in a straight line it was serrated and came out to points then went back towards the creek. I walked around one of the points and heard a dog barking from a house across the field. I looked back in front of me and saw something hunched down on the edge of the tree line. It was facing into the forest. I thought it was a dog at first but it looked strange. The animal was a good 50yds or so away from me. It was dark colored almost a charcoal gray. I figured maybe it was a bear at first but the back of the animal was streamlined and nothing like what I've seen in bear pics before. The animal was also hunched down like a cat. I took a few more steps and the animal's body language did a move like it sensed or saw me out of the corner of its eye. In what seemed like a second it dashed into the forest. What I saw as it did this is what stuck with me the most. It was the animal's tail. It was long like a mountain lion. I turned to my friend and said, "I think just saw a mountain lion." As the words came out of my mouth I felt stupid for even saying it. I couldn't discount what I had just seen. It was way too big to be house cat. The coloring was nothing like a bobcat plus that tail. I really wanted to say it was a panther but I knew that would be even more unbelievable. The coloring was so dark. It was darker than any mountain lions I've seen in Zoos or in pictures. The problem with thinking it was a panther was the color. The animal wasn't shiny like the panther pictures I've seen.

My buddy was really skeptical and we walked over to where I had seen the animal. There was a trail leading into the forest that disappeared into the underbrush. The overcast skies shaded underneath the trees and made difficult to see. The ground was covered with ferns, tall grass, briars and vines. The wind made it impossible to hear in behind the tree line. I wanted to go down and search but I was scared. I knew I had seen something and I had a feeling it was still seeing me but I had no idea where it was. Neither my buddy or I had the nerve to go down the trail. The ground was hard-packed at the beginning of the trail and there was no sign of any tracks. We told my other friend that was with us and he spent about 5min trying to figure out if we were messing with him. The rest of the afternoon was spent wondering if I was lying, hallucinating or doing drugs. It got to the point where I didn't want to talk about it anymore at all. What I was saying sounded crazy but then again I knew I saw something.

That night we researched online sightings in the area near where we were. There were articles here and there and none were very creditable. The location made sense if there truly was a panther loose. There was easy access to food and water. The forest covered 100's of square miles and provided ample cover. The only thing we could come up with is maybe someone had a mountain lion or panther as a pet and let it go. Or it got loose.

I guess we'll never know.

10 comments:

  1. Kevin
    I would say you probably saw a Panther. My brother and a friend saw one in the Mississippi Delta last year while on a deer hunting trip. They call the Game Warden and told him what they saw and he told them that Panthers are in the Delta. He said they feed on the deer fawns and wild piglets. He said that it was not completely jet black but a greyest black. They were in a deer stand when they spotted the animal. So tell your friends that Panthers are in the Deep South. Thanks for sharing

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    1. I called a wildlife number. They said that was the first sighting they had heard of in the area. I just wish I saw a track or something. There was no fur or tracks near the bushes.

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  2. Here in Georgia, it's a running debate between "experts" and outdoorsmen about the presence of cougars all through the state, but particularly in N. Georgia. South Georgia I think it's proven now. Every year, game cam pics surface and arguments rage online. Seems like there are just too many sites in the SE US for them to be baseless.

    And I don't blame you for not exploring... those moments of "What did I just see?!" are downright spooky.

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    1. From what I've read people see them all the time in West Virginia. There have also been several sightings near the VA and NC border. There's an interesting article someone wrote about why biologists haven't confirmed their existence.

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    2. I was always skeptical when people said they'd seen them before. After seeing how fast this thing moved my skepticism is gone. This thing moved as fast as a shadow.

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  3. Great story, got the chills.

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  4. I don't doubt one bit that you saw a panther, mountain lion, cougar or whatever. Keep guessing and be glad he didn't turn around to see what you are. Great story Kev.

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  5. Ran across your blog while looking for reviews about a fly reel. As someone who lives in the deep south, below the Mississippi Delta, I can tell you that panthers/cougars can vary in appearance from shiny jet black to a more muted dark brown. For a long time G&F would say that there were no more panthers in the MS area but that has stopped and it is generally acknowledged that they are around, maybe not plentiful but around. Virginia is a bit out of their acknowledged range however, as most outdoors men know, cats are a VERY adaptable critter and if your gut says 'I saw a panther' then, personally, I would absolutely believe you. Back in the late '70's when I was a teenager a friend and I saw one in a field on the far edge but when we reported it were given the party line of 'there are no panthers in these areas anymore'... they finally quit saying that. I say, when in doubt, go with your instinct.
    Scott P

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Scott. This article gives some good points to why the wildlife agencies are not stating the cats exist. http://rule-303.blogspot.com/2008/04/mountain-lions-in-virginia-how-theyre.html?_sm_au_=iVVst3nSTQFNWknF

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