What would you do if you happened to have a rare Florida panther sighting while you were right in the middle of a turkey hunt?
You’ve got a couple of scenarios to consider really.
First, you could do as this turkey hunter does and try to stay as still as possible, attempting to not scare or threaten the Florida big cat. Just sit back and hope that it figures out that the turkey decoy isn’t an actual bird, gets bored, and walks off.
Secondly, if the panther gets upset that what it thought would be an easy dinner is a fake-out and turns its attention to you, things could get pretty tense. You wouldn’t want to fire on the endangered species, but what choice do you have if it decides to charge?
Experts estimate that there are only about 200 (or less) Florida panthers left in the wild. Though that might seem to be drastically low, it is believed that they were down to only 20 in the 1970’s.
Being protected underneath the Endangered Species Act, it would be considered a crime if you captured or harmed them.
Thankfully, as most cats big and small tend to be, this Florida panther turned out to just be curious. Though it was probably a little confused or maddened that the turkey it saw was in fact a decoy, the big cat seems to take the whole thing very calmly.
In the video, the Florida panther runs quickly towards what it believes to be a feeding turkey. Once it gets closer and notices that the turkeys aren’t fleeing the scene, the cat begins to figure things out. It still chooses to inspect a little bit more before it eventually gives up on the “turkeys.”
However, the eyes then dart over to the two hunters who were set up in the brush near the two decoys. The middle part of the video shows the un-breaking gaze of the Florida panther as it stares down the two hunters sitting at eye level on the ground.
The big cat keeps an eye on the two camouflaged turkey hunters as it slowly walks by and exits the open field. Like the old saying goes, it appears that the big cat (as menacing as they can be) is more scared of us humans than we are of them.
I do still kind of feel bad for the Florida panther since it got tricked by the decoy. Maybe that long staring contest with the camera midway through the clip is really the panther saying:
“Oh my gosh, this is so embarrassing. I can’t believe I just got caught in 4K.”
You know, that is if Florida panthers had the ability to talk or form human thoughts and sentences, or were even able to feel embarrassed.
I’m not here to confirm or deny that Florida panthers can feel emotions, but I am here to present this wildlife encounter video of an up close and personal run in with the elusive, rarely seen Florida panther: