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"There is nothing to fear but fear itself."
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First Big Cat Experience
This "sighting" I had happened around the late 90's, when I was still a teenager and rather gung-ho in my attitude to most things. there had been reports of Big Cats over Cannock Chase, but they were all being denied and classed as "hoax's".
I used to spend many hours over Cannock Chase of an evening and had done since I got my first motorbike. I liked the peace and quiet over there and being close to nature. Once we had heard the story's going round we had the great idea to go looking for a Big Cat, a lot of this was bravado and trying to prove nothing scared us.
Many hours were spent over Cannock Chase just wandering around with no game plan in mind, this was one such evening just a couple of us wandering around seeing what was going on and chilling out in the peace and quiet. We were on Camp Road just down from its junction with Chase Road, we had parked up in the first pull in area. Marked on the map below as "First Experience".
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This is a popular spot with a lot of people as its before all the speed restriction bumps in the road. It is also one of the places that has seen a lot of food thrown out onto the ground to encourage the deer to congregate in this area. At the time we was there the was no deer and it was empty of other people, we got out the car and went for a walk down the trail from the pull in area.
We had walked about 500 yards down the trail and took some turns off of the main track, really just for somewhere different to explore. We started to notice how dark it was getting and found that the trail was getting more difficult to follow, so we turned around and started back to-wards the car. We had walked about a 1/4 of the way back when we heard a noise off to our left in a small patch of trees, we stopped to listen see if it was a deer walking around but couldn't see anything or hear anything.
So we continued to walk back to the car but keeping our voices low as we walked and constantly looking around to see if anything was around, more then we normally would. We didn't hear or see anything for most of the walk back to the car, we got somewhere between 30-50 yards from the car when we heard a lot of noise behind us and turned around to see what was going on.
Stood there on the edge of the track was a large/long black cat, I would estimate it was about the size of a Labrador, needless to say we was scared, it was looking down the track to-wards us. We both started walking back-wards down the trail keeping an eye on the cat, the cat started to follow us down the trail. We continued to walk to-wards the car we got next to the wooden fire barrier and then ran for the car, we got into the car just in time to see the cat running down the track to-wards us.
I started the car and reversed out the pull in area just as the cat ran past the front of the car and leaped over the drainage ditch on the other side of the road. We was shaken up at the time and I drove off to put some space between us and the cat we had seen.
We went back the next night but there was no sign of anything around there, but the deer were at the pull in eating food that had been put out for them. I believe that the deer coming to this area every-night was what drew the Big Cat into this area as it was rich with prey. Looking back it seems that the cat was more trying to get us to leave its territory then it was looking to hurt us.
That was my first and only good view I have had of the cat, but in time I hope to have another one as close but with a camera so I can get some good pictures.
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