Big cat evening.
A round up of the evenings talk.
The evening was co-hosted by Pass it On Young Sports, The Countryman’s Diary magazine and Diary media.
Featuring the Ole Hedge Creeper and our very special guest Danny Nineham, the UK big cat consultant.
You see by chance on his pest control rounds Rob was finding deer missing from the herd.
When your as willey as the Ole Hedge Creeper, you notice if several deer are missing from one of the estates.
So after conducting his own search and finding remains and tracks, he consulted Danny, who promtly came out to confim Robs suspisions on his evidence.
Rob has had prior encounters with Tiddles, (common name for big cats in the countryside) from a cougar encounter many years ago, to a much more recent sighting, and a lynx that got caught in a large fox trap, please read his accounts here.
The evening was held at the very homely Ring O Bells pub in nailsea, this Family run dinking hole has a fantastic menu, and a nice feature is the bar and seatting area are seperated by this lovely real and very much working fire place.
Moving from the main bar we pass through a hallway with the toilets then down to the warn and cosy funtion room, here we held the evening talk.
We had a marvellous turn out on such a taboo subject, we know many people get ridiculed over sightings, so with the function room packed to nearly standing room only, Danny began his talk, with over 30 years knowledge on tracking these elusive animals, and nearly 50 years as a countryman and hunter.His knowledge of the countryside is second to none, from a young boy growing up in rural Gloucestershire and on in to manhood from, bugs and bees to well big cats of course. They say you never stop learning and anybody who listens to Danny will surely learn something new from every conversation.
Now I have seen at least 3 sightings of these cats, and followed several tracks over the years, and its an eye opener how these large animals can simply vanish while being tracked.The only animals I know that can vanish as easily are the deer, the ghosts of the forests, you look down and they become the trees, the wilds and the nature itself.
But young Danny seems to be able to read the invisible spore left by what us country folks simply refer to as Tiddles.
He even told us the story of tracking up in the hills of Shropshire on a small farm, where all the livestock had vanished over a period of time nearly sending the farmer into bankruptcy.
Farmers understand a sheep may die or a calf might get sick and thats ok, but when animals just vanish farmers take notice rather quickly.
Well it turns out the cat was using a bent over oak tree growing a good ¾ mile away from the farm house, as its watching area, from here it was waiting for the family to go out before stalking the livestock.
While tracking its latest kill Danny was indeed stalked himself by the clever cat who thought it would be fun as Danny was inspecting the remains of its kill, to stalk in on him and sit behind him.
Lucky Danny’s 6th hunter sense kicked in and he felt the presence of something watching over him to, find a cougar in this case sat purring behind him in the rushes.
Did you know cougars can purr, they don’t have the same voice box as the other big cats that can roar.
But the cougar, can meow, purr, whistle,chirp and a whole lot of other noises. Including the famous snarl hiss you hear in cowboy films just before it leaps to attack.
It makes me laugh, cougars would rather slink off than confront us!
Danny talked about tracking and signs that are there, and he has met thousands of people over the years, from dog walkers to bushcrafters, plumbers to judges, and most of the time the evidence of a cat in the area is still there.From a single paw print to claw marks his photo evidence is incredible, his recall knowledge is an encyclopediac memory.
Every picture tells a thousand words, well Danny can tell you a thousand words about each picture,and with baited breath you wait for the rest of the story.
Not once did an interuption break his dialogue. Danny explained how he is more like a crime scene agent as the kill or incident has already happened, and he follows it up hours or days after.
Be it claw marks on a tree, to a kill site or fur or pug marks (paw prints).
Danny hasn’t said how many miles he has clocked over the years, but from Lands End to Scotland and everywhere in between, all for free, yes Danny does not charge the public to see evidence.
Rob was playing host and wing man to Danny, and they have gelled together really well, It was like a slighty old oiled machine with a few cogs missing.haha.
So we had a cracking turn out at the pubs function room well over 50 people came and filled the room with an air of anticipation, as we waited to hear the truth from Danny, people were polite and friendly,some of us have had several sightings/ encounters of the years, others maybe only one or 2, and some even came having not told anybody before.
So we had a slide show and a talk from Danny, followed by a break to get a top up on drinks, and devour the fantastic buffet Dave at the pub had put on. Thanks to Dave and the staff at the Ring O Bells.
Then the floor was opened for people to ask any thing they liked and to tell their stories, bearing in mind some had never came forward and some just came out of interest, Danny was a warm and gentle character being well over 6 foot tall with a tanned skin and silvering dark hair, just stood and talked as if everybody was old friends.
We were made to feel welcome by our host Rob from Pass it on young sports and the clubs secretary Margaret.
It has been so popular that we have booked Danny again for another talk in October 2018.
To book your seat on the next talk, click the link below.