Last Memorial Day weekend while camping in my yard trying out new hammocks with my son, I heard this sound,
It repeated several times, then happened again about 30 minutes later, again repeating several times. It was very loud, causing all the dogs in the neighborhood to bark for several minutes. And creating an acute case of chicken skin on yours truly.
Also it seemed to be coming from the same general area on the mountain behind the house where I had camping alone the previous night. The experience has still curbed my enthusiasm for camping in the woods behind the house. Wondering what could be sleeping inside the old mine opening in the hillside, my solo camp site the previous night was along the old road leading to the old mine. And I was camped maybe 20 yards away.
Officially DNR claims there a no big cats like this around. Even people who believe there are mountain lions about say there are no panthers. Yet many people say they have seen them. I can't say for sure what it was I only know the sound linked above is the only animal sound recording I have found which is not just similar but sounds exactly the same.
This past week I had some work to do at the hospital near Marlinton, at the edge of the Monongahela National Forest - which has more than the average share of reported sighting. I asked staff about personal experiences or claims of sightings from friends. One said she had personally seen one of these big cats a couple of times , once just along the road but the most impressive one was in her own back yard.
A couple of years ago after some critter slaughtered several of their rabbits and destroying several cages her father erected flood lights to illuminate the area should they ever hear their rabbits screaming again. A few nights later the rabbits screamed, the lights came on, dad went outside and had his attention drawn to a thumping sound. The source of the thumping was a large black cat, a panther, thumping its tail on the ground as it hide behind a Rhododendron bush. Dad raised his arms to appear large and yelled "aaahhhhh" at the cat which ran off. She said he believed it to be a juvenile cat, big but not as big as full grown cat.
All this to go along with a tale told to me last week from a friend, my son's Boy Scout Troop leader, telling two stories. A friend of his told him a neighbor had caught a picture of a mountain lion on a trail camera near Crawley Creek. Though he has not seen the picture himself. He said the story took on added meaning to him when a few days later while at the barber shop a local DNR guy was there and said his office had received several calls from people saying they had seen a mountain at Chief Logan State Park, which is only a few miles from Crawley Creek. Both of which are about 30 miles from my home.
Still I try to keep in mind that possibly the most dangerous thing in the woods is a frightened hammock camper armed with the items recommended by Mule.
hmmm - can't believe folks in Texas haven't heard of haints. Spirits - but not the drinkin kind.