October 23, 2006 at 1:57pm
I was bowhunting one afternoon in the Atchafalaya Basin several years ago near Bayou Benoit. The sun was going down behind me, but it wasn't quite dark yet. It had been quiet all afternoon then all of a sudden, I heard what sounded like something running in circles and making strange, raspy, hissing and just really weird noises just out of sight in the brush out ahead of me. Naturally, I started getting excited, you know the feeling, your heart starts thumping and you breathe a little faster, shake a little, etc. I nocked an arrow and watched, and a few seconds later I saw a long, tan/golden colored body, it looked alot like a deer, about 75 yards directly ahead, but it was level with me, and I was at least about 12 feet off the ground in my climbing stand. It stayed about a second or two then jumped or ran down to the ground out of sight. I was totally confused. Deer don't climb trees and there certainly wasn't a hill there. There was an old dead cypress tree that had fallen over and was leaning against another one in that exact spot. It started making sense. I remembered I'd been fishing around there a few weeks earlier and heard what sounded like a high pitched scream way off somewhere in the swamp. I guess I figured it was just some coonass at his camp probably getting drunk hoopin' and hollerin', but now I wasn't so sure. I started putting 2 and 2 together. The noises, the color, size, up an old dead tree leaning over, all spelled out BIG CAT! Even though I didn't see it clearly, and it was only 1 or 2 seconds, I'm convinced that's what it was. Maybe even more than one. Then it dawned on me that I had to walk right through there to get back to my boat, and I was WAYYY back in the swamp, and it was getting dark fast. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. I packed up, shut it down, and hauled my butt outta there quick, fast, and in a hurry before it got dark!