I had the lovely opportunity to enjoy another hunterʼs meal, and as expected I came away with some fresh stories of mystery beasts from the woods of Illinois. I managed to get some information on mountain lions and wolves in Illinois, and more supportive testimony on the potential for large carnivores to exist out of sight and undetected for lifetimes.

Shortly after I entered the room I spotted a high-school friend, who - after I questioned him - gave me some interesting information. Kyle was able to tell me about not only of a mountain lion sighting but also a possible readily-available source of food for the animals. Kyle told me that he was traveling east on Illinois Route 116 late at night, and he witnessed a big cat what appeared to be a tan-coloured cougar at the side of the road. It was dragging a road-killed deer, and as he passed the mountain lion, he saw it move quickly away from the road with its food and drag the carcass across the ditch and into the woods. This brings forth the idea that in addition to plenty of land and live game, the population of large mysterious predators could easily find a food source provided by the highways with road-kill.

The next person I interviewed was a friend of my Father. His name was Dennis, and he is a farmer in the area as well as being a local deer hunter. Dennis told me of how about 15 years ago he had been hunting during shotgun season and saw a black mountain lion crossing the game trail about 50 yards down the trail from him. Dennis couldnʼt remember exactly when he saw it and unfortunately I cannot remember what part of the locality that he saw it. But he also told me about sheep that had been killed in a very particular way and partly eaten. These sheep had been killed about 25 years ago. Unfortunately the locality is still somewhat sketchy. I do not mean to taunt my readers with false hope, but Dennis did think he could possibly help provide the CFZ with credible pictures of a Mountain lion from my area.
His son had also seen one of these big cats while hunting. The case gradually becomes more obvious but the chase does not feel like it gets any closer.

In my area of Illinois it seems to be common wood lore that Mountain lions inhabit the state and every one I asked had 1 of 3 answers. "NO your crazy", "Yes I have seen them", or "No I have not seem them but I have heard of them all my life".

When I asked Dennis about the Shawnee Forest theory, he told me that he went to school down by there for college in his younger days, and up until as recently as 30 years ago, the Shawnee forest was totally impenetrable totally full of swamps and bottoms and glens with thick brush and tall trees. Dennis also told me about another interesting bit of information that Farrell hogs and Farrell Horses that live in the trees and bogs. So in addition to the already plentiful game there is still another food source. Dennis told me with as deep and as thick as the Shawnee forest is he sees no reason why the isolated relic population theory would not stand. He also believes that there could very well be a population of the recently rediscovered black bear.

Later that night, I spoke with another witness but his name escapes me at the moment, and he told me about seeing a pair of mountain lions while in his deer stand. And how he too could tell me where to look. He knew someone who might be able to produce credible trail camera photos. The man confided to me that he was looking for somebody to talk to because he had talked to the Illinois DNR and they told him to keep his mouth shut. The man also told me that he believed the Shawnee population theory as well. He also believed that near Henry, Illinois there was a surviving pack of great lakes wolves.

So I managed to come up with some interesting stories from the hunterʼs meal but the strange stories of uncanny carnivores seem to be common wood lore for most country folk. As I am relating interesting stories I have some more stories.

After making a post to a hunting group, no-one had any knowledge of mountain lions, but bobcats seem to be coming out of the wood work literally here with local raccoon hunters in Illinois constantly running them up trees or catching them in traps. As I have said before, the bobcats in Illinois started out as shady deer camp stories told by hunters enjoying a beer after a long day, but now they appear to have not only taken a foothold in Illinois but that they are a thriving population.

I also got a very interesting response to a video that I posted on youtube about my involvement with the CFZ. The young man Cory told me about how he was about 13 he was on an ATV on his familyʼs land near their timber when he ran something tan move out of the field toward the woodline and he thought it was a deer because of its size but then he saw the tail and knew it was a cougar when it stopped at the edge of the field about 50 feet in front of him, and he could clearly see it was a cougar. He says he turned around and rode away making sure it did not follow him away from the place. Orchardville was the place of this sighting. Cory also told me that everyone in his family had seen the cats black and tan big cats, and he may be able to get a hold of trail camera pictures of the face of a cougar. I will be reviewing any pictures with a fine tooth comb to insure their authenticity.

With what I know about predator biology and animal behavior some of these sightings could be the same animal because the Puma has a large range and could easily cover 20 miles in one day. So the actual population density is very uncertain.

Some other interesting stories to come out of my recent research also include more support for the sasquatch population that could survive in the swamps and trees of the Shawnee forest. Another cryptid that could exist in the Shawnee is escaped or released captive large snakes along with possible populations of American Alligator that may have come up the Mississippi river and survived the temperatures by hibernation in the bogs and wetland of the Shawnee forest. I have heard stories of hunting dogs being dragged under water by alligators. Though I do not have proof of the stories I would not be surprised. Also I have heard rumors of a 'gator body that was found in the swamp.
I will continue on the track of mystery Animals in Illinois. And I will attempt to track down more witnesses, and possibly verify these trail camera Photos. I must admit I have encountered quit a few very apocryphal stories in my research but I do my best to sort out the truth or what I judge as the truth. I Hope that yet again my meager research has in some small way helped the CFZ and I will continue to do my best.