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October 24, 2007

Hunter says lion on the prowl in Greenbrier

BIG ROARING CREEK, W.Va. — The king of the jungle just might be playing king of the mountain in a remote area of Greenbrier County.

While bow hunting last Wednesday on his 40-acre plot of land at Big Roaring Creek at the foot of Cold Knob, Jim Shortridge of Frankford says he watched a full-grown male African lion, complete with a four-foot-long tail, pace around his hunting shanty for about 40 minutes before running off into the woods.

Shortridge was at the homemade hunting shanty before daybreak, at about 5:30 a.m., and was in the process of transferring his gear to the building when he first heard the animal. His only weapon at the time was a bow that was still in his truck a few feet away.

“He started growling at me and I hollered and it sounded like he was running away,” Shortridge said. “So I put my lunch box down and went back to my truck and got my bow.”

“He started growling again,” Shortridge continued, “and when I went back in the building and sat down, I turned the light on him. He was about 10 to 15 yards away, and he kept walking back and forth and was huffing and puffing at me.”

Shortridge, 72, a lifelong hunter of bear, deer, turkey and other wildlife, estimated the animal weighed between 250 to 300 pounds. With only a small flashlight to shine on the animal, Shortridge said it was hard to determine whether it had a full mane. But he will never forget the sounds the big cat was making.

“He was doing medium growls, but they kept getting louder and louder,” Shortridge said. “I’m not afraid of anything, but I’m a lot more cautious now and I don’t get out of the truck until daylight, and now I take my rifle with me.”

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