Nutwood Big Cat (2012)
Add to that the eerie atmosphere of dense woodland at night and it is enough to make the hairs on your neck stand on end.
But, that is what greeted two men who were out on a shooting trip in an East Yorkshire wood.
So, the fact that not one rabbit could be seen in the area one particular evening came as a surprise to Phil Miles and his friend Jordan Green.
A local farmer, who knew the men, had warned them of the possibility of a wild cat hunting in the woods during the night, following recent reported sightings.
Mr Miles said: “We were told by a farmer. We knew there had been some sightings of a large cat in the area but we never thought we would encounter it.”
The pair first saw the cat, which is believed to be a puma, standing about 30ft in front of them, on a path leading through the wood.
Mr Miles, of east Hull, said: “We have been shooting in the woods a number of times and there are usually lots of rabbits in and around the wood but, on this occasion, we didn’t see one.
“We began walking towards where we normally shoot from when we heard a snarling noise, like a cat hissing at you.
“I shone my light and I could see a pair of eyes looking back at me but I couldn’t make out what it was.”
Mr Green then used his rifle sight to get a closer look at the animal.
“We were both shocked when we saw the size of the cat,” said the 28-year-old.
“It was about the size of a domestic dog, like a Labrador or Alsatian.
“We didn’t know what to do and thought about shooting close to where it stood to try to scare it off but we didn’t want to aggravate it.
“Luckily, there was a privet hedge and some other bushes between us and the cat, so it couldn’t get directly to us.”
The cat then darted behind more bushes and out of sight.
Mr Miles and Mr Green then set off walking down a path towards the edge of the wood to pack their rifles away.
As they did, they heard a loud noise that caught their attention once more.
Mr Miles said: “There was a really loud squealing noise, the kind that foxes make when they are shot or injured.
“We both looked over towards a nearby field and saw the same cat running back into the trees with a fox in its mouth.”
Mr Miles reported the sighting to police on Saturday, shortly before 10pm.
A number of calls were made to the police with similar sightings that night and they are now investigating.
Police and local farmers are urging people to be vigilant when walking through the woods and report any further sightings of the animal immediately.
Hull Daily Mail ‘Hunters spot ‘puma’ in East Yorkshire’s Nut Wood’ [Wednesday, September 05, 2012]