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Updated on April 26, 2016


photo of black panther
photo of black panther | Source
photo of black panther
photo of black panther | Source


I used to live in the wooded area of Owensburg, Indiana. One late afternoon in October 2003, I decided to take Mike, my red and white Bassett hound, for a walk on our land.

Mike was now lame, when a neighbor's pickup truck struck Mike one morning when he darted into the road. The accident had left him seriously injured. Mike's injuries had dislocated both hips and one injured leg that required surgery..The surgery was successful and Mike soon recovered from his injuries.

Mike was not detoured by his old injury. Soon he was able to run again. He limped with a stiff leg, but could move quickly when he felt like it!

Sometimes we'd take a long walk through our woods. Mike would lead us up a small hill. We would then walk through an open meadow. We loved to play and bask in the warmth of the sun!

Our neighbors lived close to us. They were not within sight.. They lived across the road from us. They had a long winding driveway that lead across a creek to their home.

Our neighbors, Ken and Sue Hawkins had recently bought a double wide home. They now lived on a hill overlooking Plummers creek!

Close to their property, was a hidden ice cave. .I had visited this wondrous hidden cave, a few times, through the years.

It was the only cave in this country that produced ice in the summertime!.I once lead a curious newspaper reporter, Larry Incolligno, from The Bloomington Herald Times, to this interesting cave..The cave was caved in, but it also had a corridor, that lead to a 50 foot drop..

The reporter was fascinated when a neighbor of ours, Joe Creager brought up a handful of ice, from a caved in section of the cave. Its the only ice cave known in America. It's a good place to hide in, for animals and humans alike.

Despite Mike's lameness, and the cold weather, Mike always loved to walk with me. At this time, we owned a couple of acres of land.

We had plenty of land to roam on. Most of our land consisted of oaks, pines, black walnuts, apple, hickory nuts, persimmon trees, and flowers. Our woods were located on the right side of our property. We had a natural spring situated next to the woods. We had a lovely scenic route to explore and travel on. Often we would forage for morel mushrooms and ginseng in the spring and summer.

It was cold and windy, on this particular day. A chill ran through me, as I gathered my scarf around my neck.The trees were bare, except for the large pines, that sat on our small hill. They were fully loaded with pine cones.

We had a man-made pond which was nestled close to this one lovely pine tree that I loved. I enjoyed the view as I walked twenty rounds, around our property,

Mike and I walked from the front yard, to the back and then back around to the front yard..We"d been walking for about 45 minutes.

It was getting near dusk. I decided I wanted to walk just one more lap around our yard.

Just as I was passing around the front of the yard, something caught my attention. Out of the corner of my eye..I saw something most unusual.

I glanced across the road. I saw a large black animal sitting up erect and alert! He was watching me, as he sat by the side of the road. He was at the the very end of Ken Hawkin's driveway, facing our road, on 635 south.

I immediately thought It was "Jake", Ken's black Labrador. I lifted my hand up in greeting, and yelled "HI Jake" Strangely, He did not respond or react to me calling out to him!

He just sat there, quietly, erect, watching us! It was odd because Jake, would always come running and barking happily, across the road to greet me and Mike warmly.This time there was no response !

Instinctively, I knew something was very wrong!. I had a strange intuitive feeling, that I needed to get Mike quickly into the house..As a psychic, I trusted in my intuition. I could feel a sudden apprehension of chill bumps on my arms. Fear!. Slowly at first, I walked Mike across our yard, turning my back to the strange animal, now feeling more fear, sensing danger, in every step..

Mike never saw the strange black animal sitting there at the end of the lane. We covered the distance, across the yard, past our our back porch! Quickly, I took Mike safely into our house.

I told my husband Steve, that something was wrong outside. I stated, "there's a big black animal outside"..He never responded. He just kept watching television.

I bravely or foolishly, decided to once again, to go outside. Again I called out the name "Jake" as I stood near the front of our yard.

This time the large animal did respond! Suddenly and without warning, he sprang high into the air! Stunned, frozen with fear, and amazement, all I could do was stare at him!

He was a Black Panther! He had a long black tail. With his hips arched high, he leaped just once, in front of me, into Ken's woods,

With terror, and shock, I quickly ran back into our back yard, safely into the house!

I was totally stunned..I had heard often through the years, that indeed large black panthers lived in our woods..but to actually see one, that was altogether something else!

I related my story to my husband. This time he did listen! He then deeply regretted that he had not gone outside with me when I first informed him!.I reminded him that our son, Dylan had previously had said, a "panther ran out in front of him, while driving his pickup during a thunderstorm while driving to Bloomfield, the previous summer.

At the end of October, my neighbor Sue Hawkins, had a closer encounter, only a worse encounter then I had.had.. She stated "She was just 50 feet away, from the large black animal that she too, mistakenly thought was her Labrador"Jake"

She said, "her little dog barked at the large black animal".She said, " the panther turned his head around, and growled at her. She stated "He had a large cat head."

Luckily, she escaped into her double wide home, treading very carefully, she said not turning her back on the panther, and with her little dog tucked snuggly in her arms..

I heard the screams of this big cat one summer evening. We were sitting on our front porch. He screamed just like a woman. These rhythmic screams continued for an hour. It's a lonely, piercing sound to hear at night. Its eerie to hear these high pitched screams.

Very unnerving to encounter one, but if you should encounter a big cat, make yourself as big as you can, and wave!

"Just yell loudly, "HI Jake" It worked for me!

Never, run from a big cat. Big cats will chase you! Sue and I, with our beloved dogs were very fortunate to have escaped harm.

After my incident I reported these scary incidents to the Department of Natural Resources in Bloomington In.

They said," They were aware of the big black cats in Greene County". I suggested strongly, they needed to notify the public. I told them, that I was also aware that there was a $3000.00 fine for shooting a big cat in Indiana.

I was concerned about all the children standing at the bus stop, while waiting for the bus. It would get dark on those wintry mornings. I knew the panthers were out hunting in the mornings!

Luckily no one has been injured or killed by these big cats. An article did come out shortly afterwards, in the Bloominton Herald Times, after my report to the DNR, describing the unusual animals of Indiana, including the unidentified large black cats roaming across In.

Another Owensburg resident, our former postmaster Wilma Rollins once related to me, how one day, she decided to lay out in her lounge chair, on a warm summer day.

She stated to me a "Mountain lion walked right by her, side, while looking in the opposite direction." She said, "she froze, terrified; she said, "She said, "I never moved or made a sound."

He never gave her a look. He just walked right past her. After that she said,"she never laid out again on her lounge chair, in broad daylight."

Since that time, many more people of Owensburg, have met up not only with the black panthers, but with the mountain lions!..

Several months ago, on Facebook, another former neighbor, Janet Rush told me she met up not only with the black panther, but also with the cougar!

She's seen both of them. She told me the cougar had been in my own son's back yard. He was walking on his back porch! My son later told me that he found the cougar's tracks in his back yard!

In fact, one big mountain lion was actually photographed by a hidden sensor camera at night. Two mushroom hunters reported a Cougar killing a deer, while they were out walking in the woods." last May 1, 2010.

They reported, "He was about 30 feet away from them. They heard the squalls of the dying deer," when they walked up unexpectedly on the panther." Scared, they hurried home and called the DNR in Bloomington.

Monday May 10, 2010, It was reported from the Greene County Daily World, that a photograph of a mountain lion was caught on infrared-motion activated camera during the morning hours of May 1 in a Highland wooded township not far from County road 450 E in Greene County.

Indiana State Dept. of Natural Resources wildlife specialist and State Conservation Officers continue to receive unconfirmed reports of a mountain lion roaming in a rural area of Greene County.

3 or 4 reports of mountain lions were seen according, to Scott Johnson, DNR's non game mammal biologist and member of the DNR. Division of Fish and Wildlife's teams that assists in reviewing reports having credible evidence.

Johnson made the determination from photographs taken in the area after a preliminary investigation found evidence consistent with mountain lion behavior including a eviscerated deer carcass buried under a pile of leaves. (Its called a cache, when a mountain lion covers its prey under a pile of leaves).

A couple of mushroom hunters heard this squalling sound ,and it was a deer. When they went to see what it was, this mountain lion was on top of the deer. This occurred on May 1, 2010, cameras caught the image of the lion at 2:30 AM.

The Indy channel 6 news reports that a mountain lion on camera was roaming in rural Greene County, according to the Indiana department of Natural Resources. The huge cat was caught by motor-sensitive cameras east of Bloomfield last week after reports of mountain lion activity in the area, according to spokesman Phil Bloom.

Without additional evidence, DNR, said its impossible to say if the mountain lion photographed in Greene county is wild or is a formerly captive cat. Bloom, said, "people should be alert to their surroundings, and try not to approach, corner or run from a mountain lion". Instead, the DNR urges people to stand and face an animal, make eye contact, and try to appear as large as possible. If confronted by a mountain lion, a person should wave their arms slowly and speak firmly in a large voice.

Mountain lions are a protected species in Indiana, but state law allows a tenant or landowner to kill a mountain lion, while it is causing damage to property.

.I heard recently from a former neighbor, "that almost, everyone is now afraid, to walk outdoors. I know, it was an experience that I'll never forget!!!

Paul Harvey, once announced on his radio show, " that only in Greene County, do people disappear, and are never seen again." Now I am indeed, wondering about his comment!




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Submit a Comment
  • Donna Suthard profile imageAUTHOR

    Donna Suthard 

    6 years ago

    Wow, how terrifying, to have a panther, that close to you...I did the same thing when I got on the back porch, never wanted to walk again thru the woods...You and I were extremely lucky, thank goodness we survived...did you ever walk alone again? It was an experience, I never want to repeat..

    What state were you living in? Thank you for sharing, I can well imagine how scared you were!!!

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 

    6 years ago from The Beautiful South

    Several years ago living on 14 acres wooded land I was taking a walk along the edge of a fenced field near the woods and heard a panther only feet from me, giving me a warning. No one was home but me thankfully so I was not temped to yell and I knew not to run but I do think with it being so close that perhaps the fence is all that saved me. Right down below where the panther would have been was a spring where deer went to drink. I got within feet of my back door and then I leaped and bounded. It was a very close call I am sure. If I had seen it I probably would have passed out.

  • Donna Suthard profile imageAUTHOR

    Donna Suthard 

    8 years ago

    It was very scary! It was amazing to see that beautiful big Cat in the air. I realized how quickly it could have jumped on me or my dog.. A Native American in Vincennes told me that the encounter meant my life was going to change drastically. He was so right. I went through a divorce and moved away from Indiana!

  • Tuesdays child profile image

    Tuesdays child 

    8 years ago from In the garden

    How frightening for you and your family and how lucky you felt that insight that something was wrong! I too have heard of the increase of panthers and mountain lions throughout the upper midwest. Very strange. Thank you for sharing your story.


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