I've had a lot of weird experiences with strange animals, but the incidences of an enormous unknown cat-like creature that stalks my grandparents' land is the easiest to recall, as in I am not the only person who has witnessed it. My grandparents live on a 300-acre farm on a mountainside in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. My family (mother, father, brother and I) try to visit them at least five times a year, seeing as now they're getting quite old and need a lot of help around the farm. The house itself was built in 1795. With the house being as old as it is and in a very wooded area with lots of vacant land, I always had an uneasy feeling during our visits. But never inside the house. The uneasiness always seemed to generate outside.
One night when I was about 10 years old, I said goodnight to my family and walked down the dark hallway that leads to the staircase to my room. Upon passing a window that faces the front of the house, I merely peeked through the curtains for a moment and saw an enormous dark shape sitting in the yard. To me, through the eyes of a 10-year-old child, I assumed it was a big black dog. Suddenly, the animal leapt from the ground and began running straight toward me. I jumped back, screaming and tripped over the front stair. But there was no thud or any kind of sound that should've been when the animal hit the glass window pane. All rational told me something should've made a sound, but there was none. All rational also suggested that the animal definitely should've hit the glass at the speed it was going.
At this point, my parents had run over, and when I told them what I saw, my dad and grandfather went outside and checked all around for the "big black dog." They came back saying they found nothing and told me I had one hell of an imagination.
That incident was soon forgotten until a few years later. On another visit to the farm, my grandfather pulled me aside and began telling me about something weird he saw in the woods a few days prior to our arrival. He said he had been out hunting squirrel by himself and somehow had gotten himself tangled in some brambles and accidentally dropped his gun. When he got free, he bent down and reached for his gun when he saw, just a couple yards ahead of him, what looked like an enormous black cat crouched in a grassy patch on the forest floor. He immediately grabbed his gun and aimed it at the animal, and yet the cat simply sat there and stared at him with its two huge yellow eyes. He said it looked exactly like a big black jaguar... yet again, rational told him that was impossible. There are no jaguars native to Pennsylvania. We don't even have mountain lions. After a few more seconds of the intense staring contest, my grandfather fired a shot into the sky and the cat slowly moved away, clearly unafraid of the rifle, but disturbed by the sound nonetheless.
A few days after my grandfather told me the story, my brother and I decided to take a walk in the woods. (On retrospect, probably not the best idea, seeing as there was a giant cat on the loose.) When we came to our destination (an old abandoned quarry, which is the perfect place to catch salamanders and frogs) the entire place was very still. Not even the birds chirped. It was extremely eerie, and my brother and I hesitated at the entrance. Then we saw it: An entire deer had been completely ripped in half. On the right was its head with a beautiful display of antlers and some legs and bones. On the left was the rest of the body along with its entrails and lots of blood. Whatever killed it, it must've just happened because it looked quite fresh.
Terrified out of our minds, my brother and I turned and bolted back down the path. We ran and ran until we reached the house, never once looking back. I remember we weren't allowed to hike the rest of our visit and the remainder of the time was pretty boring. A few hunters volunteered to scout the land, but came up with nothing. My grandfather told us it was probably just a coyote. But would a coyote be able to bring down a seemingly healthy buck?
The final incident happened just a few years back when my dog, Abbie, was still alive. My family and Abbie went up to visit during the month of August one year, and while I and everyone else had gone to a local carnival, my dad took Abbie out for a walk in the big wide open field directly behind the house. Abbie was rooting around in a small ditch as my dad stood and watched and then turned, scanning the long brown grass and enjoying the warmth of the sun. That's when he saw a dark shape began moving slowly but deliberately toward him. At first he thought it was a black bear, for they're very abundant in the summer, especially with the blueberry orchards just beyond the mountain. But as it neared, he soon realized it wasn't walking like a bear. It was meandering and weaving through the long blades and had a stealthy gait. As it neared, it seemed to grow in length and he turned to make sure Abbie didn't see it and tear after it. For some reason, she hadn't seen it and was sniffing around the nearby pond. Very slowly, my dad began walking backward and when he reached Abbie, he secured her on the leash and began picking his way back to the farm. The creature soon reached the path and stepped out into the middle, training its eyes on the human and dog heading back to civilization. My dad said it was enormous, whatever it was. Like a great big black cougar with a long tail and two huge yellow eyes. He made it safely back to the house and when he looked again, the creature was gone.
There have been no more eyewitness accounts of this huge cat-like creature, but there are very often strange stories that crop up from time to time in that area. Stories about birds being ripped to shreds and left in pieces in people's backyards. Or strange howling at night that doesn't sound anything near a wolf howl. Every town has their secrets and mysteries. The large black beast of Susquehanna County's wooded areas is just one of these.