null Skip to Main Content
Florida Turkey Hunter Films Startling Encounter With Rare Panther

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Florida Turkey Hunter Films Startling Encounter With Rare Panther

Posted 2024-03-27  by  Stephanie Mallory

The man was attempting to call in birds when the wild cat approached instead

A turkey hunter says he was happy to have returned home unscathed after filming his close encounter with an endangered panther while hunting in South Florida.

According to NBC2 News, Jason Francis of Punta Gorda was hunting in the Babcock Ranch Preserve Monday, March 11, 2024, when he came face to face with the elusive wild cat.

“I hear a stick break and turn around, and the panther's walking right toward me,” Francis said. “I had my shotgun in my lap, and the first thing I did when I saw it is I went and grabbed my phone first, only because I was like nobody is going to believe me!”

Francis said he was calling in an attempt to attract a longbeard when the big cat approached 10 to 15 feet away from him.

“It had to have been around 200 pounds at least,” he said. “My adrenaline was going pretty good. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

The footage shows the cat stop and stare in Francis’ direction before it calmly retreats into the woods.

Since there are only approximately 200 Florida panthers remaining in the wild, such sightings are rare.

Francis said he’s seen other panthers while hunting in the preserve, but this is his closest encounter.

Exit off-canvas