Original version (2000)                                  Re-release (2009)

First published back in 2000 by Blackhill Books (later reprinted by Ghostwriter Publications in 2009), Guy N Smith’s chapbook ‘Hunting Big Cats In Britain’ was written and published in order to take an objective look at the very real possibility that dangerous big cats could be living and breeding in the UK to this very day.

DLS Synopsis:
The thought that there could be big cats, wild in Britain today is quite a controversial issue for a number of reasons. Many are sceptical of such a possibility.  After all, if there are dangerous cats living in our reasonably close vicinity, then how come no one has shot or captured one?

The next logical question would be, if there are these big cats living wild here, then where are they, how have they remained undetected for so long, and (possibly more importantly) are they breeding?  Following the introduction of the Dangerous Animals Act 1976, many owners of big cats (who had them as domesticated pets), chose to let the animals loose in such places as the Scottish Highlands, rather than face prosecution.  This led to one of the first confirmed sightings and captures.  Although Guy muses, such cats could not be properly classed as ‘wild’, unless they had truly reverted to their natural ways.

When the facts and figures are laid out, the evidence slowly begins to point towards the distinct possibility that big cats could indeed be living wild across Britain.  And if we entertain such a notion, then it raises further more pressing questions.  What should we do about it?  Are such big cats a threat to us?  Could they become a threat if we don’t act now upon their presence?  And what types of cat could be living here?

Then there are other questions, such as how do you go about spotting and identifying a big cat?  How can you capture one?  How can you kill one?  What is their natural lifestyle?  And what should you do if you see one.

All these questions are confronted by author, gun editor and big cat enthusiast – Guy N Smith - in an honest and open examination into the subject…

DLS Review:
Guy is certainly no stranger to rural living.  He’s lived out in the rural outback, along the border between England and Wales, for the better part of his life.  Furthermore, not only has he written a number of non-fiction books on a variety of aspects of country living, including the use and collecting of guns and cartridges, but he’s also been the Gun Editor for Countryman’s Weekly since taking up the position in 1999.  He’s also a firm believer in the existence of big cats living in the wild today in Britain.

From the beginning of the chapbook it’s clear that Guy knows his subject matter.  From his lifestyle and hobbies, he’s become quite an authority on the matter.  Although, as you begin working your way through his chapbook, it becomes increasingly obvious that the argument being presented is somewhat of a biased view.  And when I say ‘argument’ – to be honest, Guy puts forward little to no defence for there not being any such big cats in the UK.  He believes wholeheartedly in their presence.  He’s possibly witnessed first-hand one such cat.  And through this chapbook he plans to present a good portion of the evidence to support his stance.

As such, what you have with ‘Hunting Big Cats In Britain’ is an incredibly well-informed overview on the subject, along with a reasonably persuasive argument for the existence of such big cats.

The format and overall structure is well-thought through.  Kick-starting with a brief introduction where Guy lays down his stance on the matter and provides interesting thoughts and opinions on why he’s so firmly convinced, he then takes us through mistaken sightings as well as examples of potential real sightings (and supporting evidence).  Following this Guy details the different species of big cats that could be living wild in the UK (Malvern Leopard, Puma, Lynx, Caracal), what we should do if confronted with a big cat, and then discusses our options on the matter and the potential repercussions of not acting.

All throughout the chapbook Guy provides numerous examples of real life sightings, often from first-hand experience or from someone he knows well and is clearly happy to vouch for the authenticity of their sighting.  There are also a number of quite surprising facts and figures to accompany the argument, although on a few occasions, Guy does make some reasonably bold leaps of faith in reaching a particular conclusion.

But for an insightful read into a subject matter that many of us will have little to no prior knowledge on, Guy’s chapbook offers a good, solid starting ground and overview on the subject, from the perspective of someone who firmly believes in their existence.  Whether you believe or not, Guy’s reasonably short overview on the subject is still incredibly informative, well-written and an incredibly interesting read.

The chapbook runs for a total of 42 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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