What about all those black panther sightings lately?

Published 12:04 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2018

What about all those black panther sightings lately?

Hunting for help and fishing for answers on the home front.

Q. People tell me that you don’t believe in black panthers. How in the name of common sense can you not? We hear them out here all the time.
True Believer
A. We know dogs exist. It is a fact. It is not a matter of belief. Unicorns, tooth fairies, and ghosts are things some people believe in. They aren’t known or proven to exist.
I have been told many times about how they scream just like a woman. Doesn’t it seem odd that none of the known and documented cats of the world scream just like a woman?
Yet the legend persists. Odder still is the curious fact that no one ever wondered if these screams might have actually been women.
How do these believers justify not calling the sheriff’s office just in case it may really be a woman?
It is amazing what decades of lead, mercury, and DDT, have done for the imaginations of good folks, not to mention the maniacal influence of Brother Jack Daniels. Even worse is the contagiousness of a mob.
Screech owls are the usual pranksters in these parts where the occasional mountain lion could possibly wander through, and where an escaped or released melanistic phase leopard or jaguar could be present, and especially where all manner of long-tailed dogs of many colors are running rampant over the countryside appearing black in the twilight or in the fog of tying one on.
The scream of these little barn owls can make a marble statue shudder, and can make the next thing you see look like this animal that does not exist.
One believer told me about actually seeing a “three quarter growed” black panther. His absolute knowledge was impressive. No one has ever caught, killed, found dead, or photographed a black panther.
That he knew the size of a “full growed” black panther was nothing short of magic or perhaps a “three quarter gone” fifth of Brother Jack.
Savvy old women told me years ago about black panther screamings of the night being followed by black eyed women the next day. The old men also told me of prohibition-era stills being protected by screaming panthers.
That’s right! People often will believe a crazy story because the truth isn’t as exciting.
But yes, the screech owl probably started it all. Other denizens of the dark can make some scream-like noises too. Foxes, bobcats, raccoons, deer, people and squirrels all make some hair-raising sounds.
I have camped in the open air and in tents throughout the South up to four months at a time. There were times I heard noises that I couldn’t figure out, but never once found a need to declare the sound maker a unicorn or a black panther.
Champion hounds have been shot. Betty Lou Thelma Liz has been treated in the emergency room for falling up the steps to the corn crib and getting stomped by the mule at midnight.
And Paul Ott’s $10,000 reward for proof of a black panther has not been collected or even applied for. Maybe Bigfoot and the chupacabras ate them, bones and all.
What really scares me, though, is the spate of black panther sightings about to happen this week. Just call one of your friends and ask them if they heard about the screaming panthers on River Road last night.
Be sure to ask them if they were “full growed.”

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