Big Cats 2.
By The Ole Hedge Creeper
After writing Big Cats, part 1. It all went just a little bit crazy, you see we had literally hundreds if not nearing thousands of letters/emails/post cards/ written posts and private mails all over our face book/twitter and magazine accounts, the postman delivered the letters, by the sack load and they came from all over this beautiful planet of ours not just our home nations, all of them saying how much they enjoyed part 1 but also passing on their tales of the times these people had come into contact with what they considered a big cat…
Indeed I found a lot of similarity within their stories and encounters as that with my very own encounters, so as is the natural order of things it all went back to normal and quietened down with the odd story trickling in after a fan etc had read part 1 of Big cats or had an encounter themselves, if you have not read part 1 have a read for yourself and bring yourself up to speed as it were.
There were no real cat sightings of any kind for a while round these parts and well I just sort of forgot about them, I never really pay much attention when I see them really, it’s more of a nice oh there’s tiddles moment etc when I catch one of them in the lamp etc, but never really get over excited about them now days. Now Michael Bell a mucker who is also an ex sky hound (4 para) came down all the way from Yorkshire to help with a Pass It On Young Sports event (wwwpass-it-on-young-sports.org.uk) and also help me do some of my vermin jobs etc, I have Knick named him Tinkerbell and will explain more later on in this article.
Tinkerbell got here early morning on the Thursday morning of said week question, I had a lot of vermin control work on before I could even think about the young sports event that was booked for this coming Sunday, We got Mike bunked down gear lashed and stowed away and loaded my truck for an evening’s rabbit and fox control. First we started off at the golf course then the equestrian centre then the garden centre, all standard stuff and a bag full of rabbits and one fox was already in the bag in no time at all really, so we stopped for a well-earned brew (cup of tea) from my Jack Pyke cartridge thermos flask I got from www.reallywildadventures.co.uk Tinkerbell thought this to be quite novel.
So as we sat there and enjoys a nice hot cup of tea and one of my home made venison pasties we chatted like old school chums, now I could tell something was on his mind and he wanted to talk to me about something you know when you get that gut feeling and can see someone is struggling to get his words out, I am not very diplomatic at times Greg often says you were a bit forward there weren’t you, but I am getting to long in the tooth to beat around the bush and sometimes it’s better to just come straight out with what you mean instead of all that pc bull crap. So I say come on then Mike what’s wrong what’s on your mind you look like a woman with the I am fine moment, when quite clearly something is agitating you? So he blurts out well I am a bit curious about these big cats, I read Big Cats 1 and I am sure you have brought me to where you had seen them it’s the feeling in my guts. I started to laugh nearly spitting out my brew oh so that’s what’s wrong with you, I thought you were as nervous as a ferret faced with a rat all night, we both laughed and well I told him he was wrong we had not got anywhere near those places YET. The look on his face was priceless I telle, you know I wish I had a picture it was a cross between curiosity and fear, I persuaded him he would be quite safe with me and there is not enough meat on him for them to bother with him, I don’t think my bedside manner is quite what he wanted in the reassurance I gave him as I laughed even more.
We got to the farm were the Petrified Welshman saw Tiddles munching on a sheep with me on this very same farm were the two cats took my rabbit (from Big Cats part 1) I did not tell Mike this until we were well and truly across this sheep/cattle farm right out in the pitch black. So when we came to the said gate of the petrified Welshman I told him this was where Tiddles ate the ewe, I am so cruel but I just couldn’t help it I suppose they don’t make 4 Para boys as crazy as 2 Para boys, some of my 2 Para muckers who came out hunting with me wanted to track a big cat down and get some pictures armed with nothing more than a camera and a Swiss Army pocket knife, like I say 4 para are not a crazy bunch unlike these Paras 2 para boys. Mike really was not having any of it as he pulled out something that looked like a homemade machete and then and only then would he proceeded to open the gate very gingerly almost on tip toe, We cruised around taking the odd rabbit here and there, and well the evening settled down as expected, I pretty much forgetting about Tiddles. That was until I got to the spot where the pair of the big cats had taken my rabbit that time, I brought the subject up again, awwww bless him his bottom lip started to quiver and a tear welled up in his eye his Adams apple sticking out like he had just swallowed a hedgehog, I know I know I am a cruel bugger but I could not resist the wind up. We pressed on taking a couple more rabbits when we pulled round into what I call the 30 acre kidney field just over from the old abandoned glass mines, as I shined the lamp across this big field I picked a flash of green eyes up, big green eyes I knew immediately it was Tiddles as I fondly call her.
Mike was what was that flash of eyes over there? I don’t know I didn’t see anything? Sorry my devil horns came out again, Mike says go over there I think it was a fox so we trickled over nice and steady all the time my grin got wider and wider. I flicked on the lamp and there she was sat on a dry stone wall preening herself, there were some large cattle behind her so we could get a good idea of her size, you know the cattle on this farm just ignore this cat I have the theory it’s because farmer has 3 black cats at the farm one being a big Tom cat, and well the calves are brought up seeing those right from a young age hunting rats etc around them, what do you muckers think have you got a theory on this I would like to hear it, Mikes face went green a lump in his throat got bigger and in a gruff squeaky wobbly voice he said is that what I think it is. I laughed and said yup that’s tiddles alright as the cat stood up stretched looked straight at us its green eyes piercing in the lamp light, it stretched and in one magnificent pounce effortlessly leaped off the wall and was gone just like that, I think these cats are used to me now they know I mean them no harm and farmer swears they keep the badgers and foxes down so the odd lamb here and there matters not.
Now Mike was less impressed being that close and squeaked let’s get the hell out of dodge can we, I laughed and said yes why not it’s got pretty late almost 3am, We got to the gate at the top of the field and Mike had to get out to open it for me to drive through, again he was on his tip toes, as I drove through I put my back spot light on so he could see what he was doing when closing the gate. Well I drove over a stick didn’t I it made a snapping noise, Mike was off running to the car like Kenny Everett as he thought Tiddles was after him , so what did I do? Picture this I pulled away, Mike I could see quite clearly chasing my car shouting RUUUUUUUUUUUUNT or something that sounded very similar, He ran like a Tinkerbell Fairy and thus the name stuck Tinkerbell as he is now known by his friends who know this story. I said to him what about the gate you have to shut it or the livestock will get out, a lot of curse words later he did find the minerals to shut the gate and took my portable lamp and his machete with him, Still to this day I have never let him live it down, Greg and I often mentioning Tiddles to him or posting pics of big cats on his face book wall etc, he has took it all in good gest and even laugh’s himself about it all now, another convert who has now seen a big cat first hand, He will tell you this story in his own words if you see him on our stand at any of the game fairs etc.
Now moving on a year I was called out to a very high profile equestrian place, the lady there a very well-known prominent figure in the British equestrian world and one of my longest standing customers, she also has a passion for fine breed Old English chickens etc and she was losing them to a hungry fox. I went down to recce the place and put some traps in, I even spent several days sat there waiting with the rifle to shoot said fox as it attacked during the day, This particular day I took my young sports with me as I look after a bunch of them whilst their mothers go to slimming world etc, also along for the ride was James Trenchard from the face book group Trigger happy, My young sports have Knick named him JT or Trenchy as I suppose you would. JT is a great young countryman in his early 20s he follows after his ole Dad another fine West Countryman and took up Fieldsports following in his ole Dads footsteps were his sibling’s have not, So like I say he joined me on this particular day as did my young sports. You see for the past couple of weeks this fox had eluded me and it’s not often a Chicken Thieving Charlie Fox gets the better of me I telle, But this one really had me scratching my head it always attacked every other day between 12pm and 4pm, unless I was there in my high seat then the bugger never showed.
I don’t know what it was but my sixth sense was telling me this was not a fox, I considered a badger but no it just did not add up right, So like I say this day JT the young sports and myself decided to bait the traps with fresh rabbits and move them to a different location on said farm. The fox had already attacked before we got there and taken a chicken right from the back door of the farm house in broad daylight, so I started off tracking the way it went, after all a big chicken flapping whilst being taken by said fox will leave a feather trail wont it. How wrong can you be just one small fluff of feathers out by the arena, now this was a very big chicken it would need to be a good fox to take that big bird that quick and not leave a trace, I was hot on its heels though as I tracked its retreat, I told JT and the young sports to spread out and work towards the huge woods that ran along the foothills of the famous Mendip hills. This wood was at least several hundred acres but that foxes earth can’t be that far away, the farmers grandchildren joined us with their pack of farm dogs so the hunt was on, I told all the young sports to take the dogs and out skirt us into the big wood as the farmers grandkids said they knew were a fox earth with chicken carcasses outside was. Of course they made a lot of noise going through the wood, this was my plan that coupled with the farm dogs I hoped they would bolt the fox my way and I would bowl him over with the 12 bore, JT and I stealthily stalked through the woodland edge, JT just inside looking for chicken carcases or day earths etc and me just outside trying to pick up the foxes trail. I got to a fence and saw what looked like a big cats pug mark in an old mole hill, The hairs on the back of my kneck stood on end as I knelt down to get a better look knowing exactly what I was looking at as I had tracked big cats whilst on my travels around the world, at this point JT shouts I found the carcase of the chicken that was just taken, then he shouts something big bolting your way. I span round and came face to face with a juvenile Cougar, it looked at me hissed and took off across the paddocks straight through the riding arena cleared a 5ft post and rail fence and was gone, JT came out all of a fluster what the bloody hell was that, I am telling you that was no fox, I laughed and said no you are right there mucker, it was a young Cougar. JT went green and said sod that for a game of cards give me that gun, I laughed and said he aint interested in you give him space to get away and don’t corner him you will be fine, He came out not ten yards away from me in broad daylight I knew exactly what I saw.
So that was no fox taking those chickens I was right, I have spotted it once more since then a mile or two away but it has not attacked the equestrian chickens again since our encounter, This also ties in with my book Big Cat Sighting of Somerset that I wrote about in Big Cats part 1, this equestrian place only is a hop skip and jump from where the folks have had sheep taken and seen what looks like a mountain lion, so I guess I just met one of its young. I am sure in Big Cats 3 we will have some more sighting to talk about etc. Anyway I hope you enjoyed this as much as I have remembering it, please keep those stories/letters and emails coming in we do try to read them all and answer your questions etc, but some do slip through the long net just like a bolting rabbit at times.You can also catch me over at. wwwtheolehedgecreeper.co.uk www.reallywildadventures.co.uk
BIG CATS 2
By The Ole Hedge Creeper