View Full Version : What was that??
01-26-2010, 09:28 AM
Hey Y'all, so I was driving home from Knoxville, where a girl I date lives, on Sunday. I left late around 10:30 pm and drove through the park (441) I was about 5-10 minutes from Newfound Gap on the TN side when I came around a slight bend in the road, although I think I know what I saw I am looking for some confirmation. Running down the small shoulder of the road coming towards me was a large cat, not a small bobcat, I mean large he would have come up to at least my upper thigh or even waist, Beige or tan in color, and had huge paws it ran like a tigetr or cat and as soon as it saw me it sprung up to the right as the contour of the land sheered up from the road, it sprung like a cat and was gone. I would say it was no more than 15 yards from me and had a very large head and again huge paws. Do we have mountain lions and are they really just rare? There is no way it was a bobcat and I have looked and apparently there have been other sightings in the area I was, anyone else out there seen em?
01-26-2010, 09:59 AM
We still have them here in Fla. but they are referred to as panthers....saw one several years ago along the interstate driving back late from a football game....when you see one its like nothing else out there....my cousing claims to have seen one in the park years ago....
01-26-2010, 10:06 AM
I understand that officially there are no mountain lions in the Park. In the 1990's I and two friends were camping at Cataloochee. We had Coleman latern going. Just before turning in for the night, I went to the restroom. When I came back, my friends ask if I saw it. I said saw what. They claimed they saw a large tawny cat jump up on the table in the next camp site. It then jumped down and moved off toward the restroom. It had a long tail, moved like a cat, not like a dog and was large. I thought they were joking, but no one was smiling and they never retracted their story. We were all in our 40's. I never saw or heard a thing, I'm just recounting what I was told by two lifelong friends. Regards, Silvercreek
01-26-2010, 10:39 AM
I believe there are large cats in the park. I have wondered if a large cat
was involved the the case of the Martin boy who disappeared in the park.
One night on Chilhowee lake I heard what sounded like a panther squalling.
01-26-2010, 11:14 AM
I watched a show about this a while back on The Discovery Channel - I think? They were documenting the viability of large cats witnessed and photographed by people across the US. It was odd that the scientists said all of these sitings were false and that there a few cats left in isolated areas.
It made me very curious to what these people were actually witnessing...
01-26-2010, 11:15 AM
Did it have a tail and if so how long?
01-26-2010, 01:15 PM
I live in Northern Kentucky. Officially, the state says there are no black bears in the wild around here. They have made that claim with the absolute certainty of a man who states the Earth is the center of the Universe and the Sun rotates around the Earth. They have repeated it so many times that it has become the mantra regardless of how many sightings have been reported.
That was until about 2 years ago when a woman not only saw one (like so many others) but she saw it as it bounced off of the front bumper of her car. Hair samples stuck to the grill proved to be black bear.
Now, the state is saying it must have been an escaped pet.
Painters, Mountain Lions, Cougars, whatever you want to call them are very secretive animals, from what I've read about them, they are largely nocturnal and they try to avoid people. As many people who visit the park one would think sightings would be common, but one has to consider humans frequent a very small percentage of the land mass and cougars, by nature, are not as densely populated as would be a bear.
So, I would think that if you think you saw a cougar, you very well may have seen one. You know better than any of us, and you would have no reason to make up such a story.
Cool sighting whatever it was.
01-26-2010, 01:26 PM
i have seen one in the vicinity of cades cove.....reported sightings have been in greenbriar and roaring fork areas as well as up 441.....in the '70's 4 rangers reported a sighting in catalooch
so, while they are not here, they are here
01-26-2010, 01:35 PM
my grandfather was raised near Black mountain Kentucky. I remember him telling me that two mountain lions were killed by hunters there back in the 30's and pictures were actually printed in the local newspapers. He recalls hearing them at night and he described the noise as a woman screaming. He was not the kind of man to make up a story like that.
I also recall another story, in the National Geographic I think, about the tremendous hunting ranges that mountain lions out west are said to had. Tagging on in one state and having the animal turn up captured or dead one or two states over is not uncommon. Anyways, they had a map of known ranges, approximate historical ranges, and areas where mountain lion bones, carcasses, or stool had been found and documented. That area my grandfather was raised in in Kentucky fell under that last range where documented evidence had been found.
My opinion is that they are out there.
01-26-2010, 02:08 PM
Carolina Boy--You quite possibly saw a cougar (or mountain lion, or panther, or painter--whatever name you choose). Your size description fits, but another key question is: Did it have a long tail?
Wildlfie biologists consistently deny the presence of panthers anywhere in the Southeast except Florida, yet there have been credible sightings by Park employees, a cousin of mine who is a national wildlife refuge manager in Florida (but grew up in the Smokies and saw the cat there), and plenty of folks from the general populace.
Yet the consistent explanation (or denial) from wildlife authorities is that they didn't really see what they saw or that the animal is a pet which has been released to the wild.
In my personal opinion, and it comes from someone who is not a wildlife biologist but who has read a good deal on the subject of the big cats and even eaten panther backstrap (now there's a novel foodstuff--it was a favorite of the mountain men and is a delicious white meat), I think it quite likely a few of the cats exist in the Smokies. Years ago I heard a sound on the headwaters of Deep Creek which, if it wasn't a panther screaming was either a woman in her death throes or I'm delusional.
Have you notified Park authorities? It would be interesting to see what they have to say.
01-26-2010, 03:06 PM
I read that a panther scream is called a caterwaul. I have also heard
panthers referred to as catamounts.
01-26-2010, 03:38 PM
Did it sound like this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zk1mAd77Hr4
If you want a good adrenaline rush, be walking in the woods before daylight with nothing but a longbow and hear that from just up the hill. Thought I was going to need a change of britches!
01-26-2010, 04:04 PM
Well I haven't contacted the park. It had a long tail that seemed to go downward, it didn't drag the ground but certainly went downward. He took about 2-3 strides forward before he saw me or my headlights and he sprung upward to the right. As he moved forward he moved like a tiger almost where his upper shoulders or whatever were clearly deffined and could be significantly seen, when he sprung up from the road shoulder to the higher ground next to the road my eyes were drawn to his paws, which were really large. With that said he was a bit crouched as he moved keeping sort of lowered to the ground. I have had all sorts of animals wander up on me, or me on them, in the wild as I am sure all of you have, flyfishing seems to increase this likelyhood. I have seen bobcats and fox, this thing wasn't a little kitty or a lost pet, this thing was big like what you see in a zoo. I have read today online where other sitings have occured in the New Found Gap 441 area in the past which is where I was, whatever it was it was a pretty cool encounter!
01-26-2010, 05:09 PM
I don't believe in big foot or sea monsters, but to think that a small population of cougars living in what was once their historical range is quite possible. The natural environment supported them once and there's no reason they would not live there now.
It may be natural migration, a remnant population or an act of man (releasing of pets to the wild or intentional stocking) but to dismiss the possibility is just kind of thinking inside of a very small box.
50 years ago, it would have been unheard of to see a coyote in the park, but they are there. 50 years ago, it would have been rare or unheard of to see a turkey in the park but one can't walk through Cades Cove without stepping on one now.
As little as 25 years ago, deer were present in my area of Kentucky but they were fairly uncommon and one had to "go somewhere" to hunt them. Now they are a pest and destroying flower gardens in the suburbs.
Given time, nature tends to heal the scars of man. Look at photos of the devastation that logging left behind up Tremont and other areas in the park. The hills were stripped clean. Now, unless one really knows what to look for, the evidence is nearly invisible and over time, the hills will reclaim most evidence of what man did to them as long as the hills are protected from the ravages of man.
I believe you saw what you think you saw and it's really cool to think these beautiful wild creatures exist in the area.
You got to see something that most of us will never see and that is a rare treat indeed.
01-26-2010, 05:12 PM
Thanks Jeffnles1 I am pretty stoked about it, kinda feel lucky!
01-26-2010, 05:21 PM
Jeffnles1--A couple of additional thoughts. One indication of just how prevalent cougars (pantehrs) once were is given by place names. There are panther names all over the area--Panther Creek (feeder of Abrams Creek), another Panther Creek in Graham County, NC, Panthertown Valley and Panthertown Creek (headwaters of the Tuckasegee River in Jackson Count, NC), etc. Wm. Powell's North Carolina Gazetteer lists no less than 29 locations with the word panther, and there are painter uses as well.
On a personal note, some of my favorite tales from my grandfather involved pnathers--hearing them scream and he killed one.
While they were admittedly far less plentiful than is today the case, there were turkeys to be found in the mountains prior to the pre-restoration era. You'll find a number of mentions of them in Sam Hunnicutt's Twenty Years Hunting and Fishing in the Great Smokies (mostly accounts of famed angler Mark Cathey hunting them) and in Wiley Oakley's books. Still, they were rare. My 100-year-old father only encountered them once in pre-Park years and despite being afield constantly in my youth I never saw a single one.
01-26-2010, 05:34 PM
I agree. So many of the animals we see as being common were quite rare to spot just a few short years ago. Some, like coyotes were not even here but have expanded their range as other competing predators have been eradicated and they have just continued their natural range expansion.
Like you said, and after reading your book, I have come to know about you, you spent your entire life in the woods in this area and you didn't see turkeys while you were a boy. They were there, but rare. Now they seem to be as common as starlings (OK, not really, but darn close).
A wild and beautiful place like the smokeys deserves wild and beautiful animals like panthers. I believe CarolinaBoy saw one as he would have no reason to make such a thing up. His description sure sounds like panther's I've seen in the zoos.
I always get kind of sad when I see an animal like a panther in a zoo. They are so wild and beautiful, they need to be in a wild place like the Smokeys.
However that cat managed to be on that road at that time, I'm sure glad he is there and I hope he stays away from the roads. It would be incredibly sad to read of on getting killed by a car.
Just reading this thread makes me remember how sad I was the last time I saw a cougar pacing back and forth in a cage at the zoo. The hope that some of these are roaming the woods in SE Tennessee somehow offsets the "please get me out of here" look I saw in that other cat's eyes.
01-26-2010, 05:41 PM
I live in lower middle Tennessee and It seems like every year, around where I live someone or several someones see a cougar/panther etc. And while I find tracks sometimes that look too big to be a bobcat I find it hard to accept that with the literally hundreds of trail cameras that are out all over the place in the richest game areas that no one has gotten a picture of one.
I fully accept that they could be where I live but why aren't we hitting them with cars, finding them dead or getting pictures of them.
01-26-2010, 06:06 PM
To follow what Jeff said I only posted this on LRO message board as a result of being on here for years and knowing the quality of the people who post here. I would imagine the news of this would send some idiots to newfound gap with either cameras, nets or worse weapons. I figured I would get an intelligent response regarding the matter here. I hope that what ever I saw lives a long free life uniterupted by man, just happy I got a glipse of it!
01-26-2010, 06:15 PM
there is a guy who takes panther sightings very seriously....i cannot remember his name but he has two books...one on mammals of the smokies and the other a naturalist view of the smokies...don something....i'll get it and post after i go back to work thursday
01-26-2010, 06:19 PM
Cats of all types are about as stealthy animal as you will find. There is a lot of territory in those mountains. Heck, some soul goes hiking and gets lost. They send out all kinds of folks looking for someone who is not particularly trying to stay unseen, and they still cannot find them even with some idea of where they are. Now imagine an animal that moves as quiet as fog, and is largely nocturnal. I think it is highly possible.
01-26-2010, 06:20 PM
don linzey...out of maryville rf knoxville...here is some info on him
01-26-2010, 10:08 PM
Several years ago my friend Andrew and I were hiking from Mt. Collins to the Dome and we came across cat tracks in the snow that were as big as my hand. Mixed in with them were deer tracks and you could see where the deer had skidded and changed directions in a hurry. There was also a long mark in the snow that looked like the cat's tail had been on the ground. We are sure that it was a panther that was after the deer. I called the park service to report it and they asked a lot of questions but were noncommunicable about my questions. So, I believe you saw what you saw.
01-26-2010, 10:20 PM
Found you a wampus cat. If you were outside Newport I'd ask, was it the black one, or yellow one?
01-27-2010, 09:19 AM
Years ago they said that Mountain Lions were endangered in CA because people did not see them very often. Anyway they ended up outlawing hunting mountain lions. Now I have never been mountain lion hunting, and have no desire to do so, but you can only have so many news stories of hikers/runners/back packers getting killed by mountain lions to realize that they actually have an overpopulation problem now. They even had mountain lions stalking school children at recess in schools in the foothills. I spent countless hours in the Sierra Nevada mountains as a youth, in areas were there were documented populations without ever seeing one. I have no doubt that there are mountain lions in the smokies....you are just not going to see them unless/untill they are overpopulated.
I am jealous that you got to see one. Great job!
01-27-2010, 10:53 AM
Thanks John, I really didn't realize that the exsistence of these animals was disbuted until sometime yesterday. The NC Wildlife magazine issue from Dec 09 actually has a article "The truthiness issue" where it disbutes the claims of those lucky enough to see one in Western NC. Funny thing is that they say it is either a bobcat or a red fox with mange, I can assure you what I saw was neither. I figure if the State acknowledges their exsisitence somebody would be forced to do something so it may be easier and actually better for the creatures to deny their esistence here? I contacted a proffesor in SW Va who talks about the subject so that was interesting to. I guess I can thank the NCDOT people for taking their time clearing the gourge!
01-27-2010, 11:33 AM
Carolina boy what makes your sighting so nice is that it is a perfect description of what a mountain lion would look like.A good friend who is a wildlife biologist in the Adirondack Mts of NY(ten times larger in area than the smokies) told me what turns so many state biologists off is that about 80% of the reported sightings are of "black panthers". There has never been a documented case of a black mountain lion anywhere. They do not carry the gene for black coloration.Jaguars and leopards can be black. My neighbor here in the mountains of the NC Tn. boarder will swear he saw a 'black panther" behind where we live. Your sighting as I have said is accurate and you are lucky.
01-27-2010, 11:52 AM
Crap! I've been gone from the board for about 2 months and when I come back I have something new to worry about the next time I head into Upper Deep Creek (beyond bears, boars, guns, snakes, deranged individuals, falling, etc). Now I have to worry about Panthers too...its enough to give you the "willys"
All kidding aside, CBoy that's an awesome sighting....glad you were in the car!
01-27-2010, 11:57 AM
Thanks Canerod, this thing was tan or light gold, O fcourse my hi beams were right on it as it was on the shoulder on the side of the road I was on (right) so there is no mistake there. To be honest I didn't know all of these animals (cougar, puma, panther, painter, mountain lion, were all the same animal. I was quite ignorant until the last day or so and I actually expected the response to my intial post here to be " yea we have all seen em" so its been quite a interesting and informative response/experience. I will say that with the way this thing leaped from the road to the higher ground, well above the height of my SUV's hood, it is no doubt that these things can take down a deer, not an animal I would want to anger.
01-27-2010, 11:58 AM
my dad is one of those that has seen the black panther. I have to believe him, he's my dad! He gets a little irked at those who say it doesn't exist. I can't blame him. I'd be mad too if I know I saw something. And in this case, some thing that "doesn't exist". so Carolina Boy even though what you saw "isn't real" I believe you.
....there are critters that aren't documented, so therefore they aren't supposed to be there. For example, (I think it was) Green Frogs weren't officially documented in my county, so therefore they didn't exist in the county. I'd seen 'em before, but it wasn't "official".
01-27-2010, 12:28 PM
Well I think a gentlemen that posted earlier put it best when he said somehting like "we have hikers who get lost every year in the park, we know where they were at, we know they are lost, we know they want to be found and we still can't find them, here you have a animal that ( I love this part) that moves like the fog and only in darkness" Kinda cool I thought, as far as what you said Petecz, rest easy friend if this thing was tracking you, or any of us I doubt we would ever see it coming. ;)
01-28-2010, 05:44 PM
Carolina Boy, You aren't the only one to see a cat near the border recently.
01-28-2010, 07:48 PM
I really hope that I am the next person to see one. There are areas of the park that see little to no human traffic... they are there.
01-28-2010, 08:24 PM
On one hand I think it would be neat if there were still cougars in the Park. On the other hand, I don't think so. In the late 1980's I was camping In Idaho with some friends. The guy who owned the campground, Tony, had his nephew or grandson, I can't recall which, staying with him for a while. The kid was in his early teens. His hair was cut very short and he had scars all over his head, neck, face and arms that we could see. He clearly was not in the best of health. We assumed he had been a car wreck or something of the sort, but we were too polite to inquire. Turns out he had been hiking with his family and had fallen behind. A mountain lion got him. The family heard his screams and managed to drive the cat off. He was lucky to survive. I doubt a child would have. Silvercreek
01-28-2010, 09:10 PM
I would love to see one and wouldn't be surprised if there are a few in the park.
Here is a map of some confirmed sightings across the US:
01-29-2010, 03:47 AM
...years ago, my wife and I were driving in the park just past Elkmont on Little River Rd. It had become dark, so our headlights were on. As we were driving a large cat suddenly appeared in front of our car. It was coming down the mountain at a slow run and was on our left. It hesitated for just a moment, but long enough that we could both see how large it was and that it had a long tail. It also snarled at us and took off to the right of our car as it continued on down the mountain.
Cougars or panthers have incredible range and with all the abundance of habitat, not to mention food, that is available in the park, it would only seem reasonable that if there isn't a good population of them, there are at least some. Here in Florida as part of the efforts to restore the panther population, a male was released several times in the Ocala Forest area. The reason he was released multiple times was due to the fact that as soon as he had been released, he would meander up to Georgia to the swamp in order to visit with a female cougar that he was evidently sweet on.
01-29-2010, 11:10 AM
Carolina Boy, did what you saw look something like this?
Hope I'm not violating forum etiqute by jumping in here with my first post; but I've been interested in this subject ever since my neighbor and best fishing buddy saw a panther while hunting just south of Warner Robbins Ga several years back. Most people didn't believe him (I did), until this showed up in the news this year about a hunter in west-central Georgia actually shooting one:
I have a friend living down near Apilachicola, who has sent me news stories of two panthers being killed by cars driving throught the Apilach Nat Forest. He makes the good point that there are very few roads and little traffic through this large tract; if two had been hit by cars, how many must be out in the brush unseen?
01-29-2010, 03:20 PM
Yes sir, like I said before what I saw looked like what you see in a zoo, I drive a large SUV, and this thing leaped effortlessly from even ground level to a height such that i was looking up at its rear legs and tail, that is got to be somewhere around 7-10 feet in distance. if there can be confirmation of these cats in NW Ga, which I have read about online, and these things can have ranges of several 100 miles, well there you go. Although everybody on here, and thats like 40 posts and over a 1000 views, has been supportive and belives me which is appreciated, I think that one of the most important facts is that I had no idea that these cats were a controversy here until several days later. There is one unconnected detail of my night that I kinda forgot, within a few minutes of seeing this animal I did see a parked suv, at a pull off on the right, with a longer haired fellow standing beside the truck with a full sized shovel he actually waved at me, now the animal and all that has obviously consumed the discussion of the evening. I actually remebered this fact when I was telling the story to a woman I work with who's husband is a reptile dealer (no thanks), she said the guy was most likely digging ginsing. The only reason I bring this up is that I hope and am sure he is fine. But I can't help but thinking this dude was within a mile or 2 from this thing, it doesn't really have any bearing on the story but I figure somebody upstairs was looking out for that guy that evening. Cause boys this thing ain't no fox!
01-29-2010, 03:33 PM
when I take my sons out...first I worried about hornets, then bears, now killer kitties!
Seriously though, I don't think a full grown man has much to fear, but little people...that's a different story. I'd say by tourist season the kitties are more away from folks. Unlike bears, I don't think you can give cats handouts and make 'em hang around.
01-29-2010, 05:08 PM
Well if you watch the video john posted the site for where the "kitty" takes down a deer, well I am a 200 + pound guy that lives in the gym, and I really don't think any of us would stand a chance if this thing locked its jaws around your neck and just waited for the kicking to stop, not to mention the fact you would never see it coming. I don't know if they fear or shy away from humans, but I ain't gonna be the one to find out.
01-29-2010, 05:15 PM
Did you stop to see what the tracks looked like and what size? Pays to carry a camera. As others have said, what was the length of the tail? An outdoor magazine had an article about unconfirmed sightings as far east as northern Illinois.
Jross, you are probably safer in the park than in your own neighborhood. I can deal with wildlife as I can pretty much predict their behaviour. Try that with someone hopped up on the latest chemical escape from reality.
Interesting post, huh?
01-29-2010, 07:54 PM
Let see 1. I was in my truck at midnight on top of the world, I would have needed a police car mounted camera and i always have a camera in the truck 2. As i said earlier its tail was several feet long, and not at all bushy or furry (and I got a great look at it), 3. There is no way I would have ever dreamed of getting out to look at this things tracks 4. From what I have seen on many wildlife gone bad shows and videos "I can predict wild animals behavior" is usually the last word, or thought process, just prior to disaster (there isn't any u in the word behavior by the way ;)) and finally 5. By trade I am a substance abuse clinical specialist, and I wouldn't choose a 100 plus pound wild animal fighting to survive or escape, over a human no matter how jacked up they were. I do however find it interesting that a few people on here have expressed the notion that the animal I saw would not be dangerous. It is possible that I described it poorly, and if so I apologize. All that said I received a reply from a certain doctor/biologist who has written books on the topic and the park he not only explained that what I saw was most likely a mountain lion he informed me that there have been very recent reports of a lion a bit further down the tn side of 441 and that this may well be the same cat. So for the sake of argument if we say that this was a mountain lion, then we have to acknowledge that these animals when scared provoked or whatever attack by going for the throat of their victim, they are very efficient in this manner and are known to stalk there prey watching for the perfect spot to pounce, once the jaws of this thing are clamped down on your neck like a vice grip it is just a matter of waiting till you stop kicking. So having seen this thing and its eye-opening agility,for a few seconds I would caution anyone who sees one, or tracks, to head the other way. I would think that trying to get close to one of these things would make the idiot summer tourists in cades cove that run up to bears look intelligent.
01-29-2010, 08:16 PM
that map convinced me that they have walked through the area a time or two, probably a lot more. Wont be long before were covered up with em
01-29-2010, 08:37 PM
CB, I'm with you on this point in particular: I do not want to count on the "predictability" of a mountain lion. I lived in Colorado where there are quite a bit more of them roaming around and they are an animal to be feared and respected.
While several folks out West have been killed over the years by them, its still an extremely rare occurrence (I believe you are more likey to die from a bite from a rabid skunk or a fall in your bathtub than ever seeing a Mountain Lion [panther, cougar, etc]). However, to get out of your car after seeing one would have been about the stupidest thing anyone could do. We are not at the top of the food chain. Several of the folks that were killed in Colorado were stalked and attacked in a very predatory manner. Much like house cats stalk mice.
Its quite unnerving to think about. That being said, its not likely that any of us will even see one in our lifetime. CB's sighting is very exciting and he handled it in exactly the manner that he should have: from a distance-without provoking it. Getting a picture or measuring its prints would have been foolish. These are goats in a petting zoo...
01-29-2010, 09:00 PM
Discretion is always the better part of valor.
Chances are by the time you stopped your truck, got out and made it to where it had been standing, the cougar would have been 300 yards up that hill and putting more distance between the two of you with every leap.
On the other hand...
As for being a threat to fishermen I don't see that happening unless food gets short, it was injured and couldn't hunt or some other unusual thing happened to it.
I don't know much about big cats other than what I've read and seen on nature shows. But watching the worthless bag of fur ally cat that has decided to call my house home, I've realized cats are interesting creatures.
Our cat is a brownish orange color (not nearly as camouflaged as a cougar) and it can disappear in 6" tall grass. I'm serious, I can know approximately where it is and still have trouble spotting it. It can sit as motionless as a tree stump and then spring out of nowhere to attack a butterfly or a piece of yarn on the end of my leader.
I honestly believe if a cat knows you are there and it does not want to be seen, you're not going to see it.
Who knows, some of us may have been fishing 10 feet from one and never even knew it was watching us.
My ally cat has nowhere near the wildness and skill of a cougar, but even as domesticated as it is, the thing is a ghost when it's outside. It moves silently, if it does not want to be found, it's not going to be found.
I bet a cougar could sit in a mountain Laural patch and have 100 people walk by within 10 feet of it and never be seen.
Carolina, you are one fortunate man to have seen something that most of us never will.
If I'm ever fortunate enough to actually see one, I hope I'm in my car and not out fishing. If I were to see one while out fishing, it meant he didn't mind me seeing him and I'm not too sure that would end well (for me).:smile:
01-29-2010, 09:31 PM
that alley cat probably has quite a bit of wildness in it. Ive seen crawl spaces where feral cats were living and they look like boneyards...
01-29-2010, 09:32 PM
I hear ya Jeff, I have to say that I would take less offense to someone saying that I did not see what i saw, than i do to those that would down play the serious and potential danger of wild animals. All of us who post here regularly know that we get new people weekly who come on to the board and are new to either flyfishing, the park/area, or both. I in some way feel that we have a responsibility to not only our new fellow anglers, but also the animals who's homes We enter to pursue our beloved pastime and sport. I know the moron tourists don't realize cades cove isn't a petting zoo, their morons, but if we don't speak intelligently regarding proper behavior in the wild then we are in fact fostering this type of behavior. I would hate to think someone new to the area would see a huge cat and think that it is somehow safe to approach it simply because of a careless post seen here. I firmly believe that many animal attaks are a result of a surprise encounter and reactionary strike. And I am by no means trying to scare anyone. But i would be willing to bet that many of the experienced anglers here have had at least a few potentially dangerous encounters with animals that have ended up just another fishing story as a result of their intelligent actions. It would seem that we would offer the same respect and dignity, we so willing extend to our finned friends, to all animals. Whether you love, respect, or don't really care about wild animals, it is above all best not to fool with them.
01-29-2010, 09:33 PM
Right you are Jeff about not seeing them. A couple of years ago there was a great tv show on one of the nature channels about the increasing conflict between people and cougars as people moved into their range. There was a fantastic video of people jogging by some bushes. The focus shifted from the people to the bushes and then back into the bush. There sat a cougar watching the people go by. It was an incredible piece of footage Maybe it was staged; I don't know. Kinda gave you the willies to think about it. I'm a big admirer of the cat family--from a safe distance. Silvercreek
01-29-2010, 09:38 PM
In early May of 2005, a group of us were camping and fishing out of the Proctor Campsite on Hazel Creek for a week. One night at approximately 10:00 p.m., one of my buddies and I decided to go searching for kindling for the next morning up in the woods straight across the Hazel Creek Trail from the Proctor Campsite. Both of us were using Petzl headlamps, and we went about 50-75 yards up in the woods looking for kindling on what was a very dark night. Our headlamps simultaneously shined on a pair of eyes that looked red from the light's glare and appeared to be in a crouched position. He and I were both convinced that we had seen a set of big cat eyes and startled to say the least. That's the last time that he or I have ever ventured off looking for kindling in the dark. There's not much in this old world that spooks me, but this event did. My buddy that was with me was a veteran state trooper with 20 plus years of service, and he was as rattled as I was. I still gouge him about it.
This is a very intriguing subject for me. So much so, that I called my brother-in-law tonight, who retired a couple of years ago as a Ranger with the National Park Service. At one point in his career, he spent 5 years in the Smokies, working out of the Twenty-Mile Ranger Station. While working in the Smokies, he did a lot of week-long backcountry patrols looking for poachers, and too also try to control the wild boar population. He told me tonight that while he had never actually seen a big cat while on backcountry patrols in the Smokies, he had seen their tracks at two different areas on two different occasions. According to him, a maintenance worker with the NPS whom he knew had actually seen one "nesting" in a big tree in the Park. I'm most definitely a believer of the big cat's existence in the Smokies. I'm going to pick my brother-in-law's brain a little more about the subject next time I get to see him.
01-29-2010, 11:46 PM
. It would seem that we would offer the same respect and dignity, we so willing extend to our finned friends, to all animals. Whether you love, respect, or don't really care about wild animals, it is above all best not to fool with them.
More true words have never been written on this board!
I'm a firm believer that most critters would just as soon leave us alone and move on. Only ones that are sick, injured, very old or very hungry would actually attack a human for food. Sometimes, they will, on the other hand, attack us when we're being stupid.
Like CB said, the animal attacks I've heard about have mostly involved some harrassment of the animal, a surprise where the animal just "reacted", or some blatant act of stupidity. Unfortunately, it's the animal that suffers for the human's stupidity in most cases.
I think it's just too cool that these beautiful creatures are living wild in the Smokeys. To me it just makes the place a little more special than it already was.
If man leaves them alone, they'll go about being wild cats like they have for thousands of years. I hope they are there for thousands more years just being what they are, beautiful animals that represent something free and wild.
CB, if some joe tourist said he saw a cat, I'd probably think it was a big alley cat like the bag of fur that is sitting next to me right now.
However, a fisherman spends a lot of time in nature. He has seen a lot of criters and knows when he's seen something he has never witnessed before. We have trained ourselves to be observant and notice things like a fish rising to flies, subtle differences in current, subtle differences in weather patterns, that erie silence you noitce in the woods just before you hear "hey, you catching anything".
CB, for what it's worth, I believe you.
I'm glad you posted this.
01-30-2010, 12:36 AM
Thanks Jeff, i really like what you said about training ourselfs to notice things. I think those who can understand this realize that we can thank flyfishing for that. After reading your comment, "We have trained ourselves to be observant and notice things like a fish rising to flies, subtle differences in current, subtle differences in weather patterns" I emmediately was taken back to when I caught the largest brown I have ever caught in the park. I was in the middle of a large-wide strech of water, the water was stained and up from rain, it was Oct. I knew i was gonna pound the banks with a big (8) rubber-legg-prince and was actually tying on this monster bug to begin fishing when literally out of the tip-top of my eye the slightest goldish flicker right up on the bank caught my attention, it was nothing, and yet i knew exactly what it was. It was a fish, I didn't know the size the water was like creamy coffee i surely couldn't see him, but he couldn't see me! I stripped my line off the reel and cast about 15 feet right on the long flat bank. I admit I used a indicator that day, why not i was waist deep in coffee, the indicator sank and i set! I was ready i knew there was a fish there. I was not expecting the weight that I felt on the other end, and I instantly knew that this was not a typical fish. Although it may be rather mellow dramatic but the fight was short and not in any way remarkable other than seeing his gaping jaws open as he came to my hand. I didn't even have a net (a mistake i make a lot and have a weird jinx thing with that I may just post about) I bellied the fish and holy sh:eek: the fish was beautifull golden brown dressed in spawn colors, he had a hook jaw like no other fish i have caught to date. He streched from my arm pit to the end of my middle finger. he actually cut me with his teeth as i removed the fly. I kissed him (yea i do that sometimes :rolleyes:) and seconds later he was gone. I had been there ten minutes, not even. I was bleeding from my hand and it took me a while to really process what had just happened (another topic i need to post about). to bring this all around the thing that I really remember most is the snap shot of the fly in this beast mouth, and the gold flicker I spied out of the top of my eyes. I can see it as clear as if it just happened. To further your point Jeff i believe that those of us who are the most succesfull anglers, are those who are not only the most observant, but the ones who can go into a bit of a trance or zone where we habitually register all that we take in every time we wet a line in order to maximize our ability to advance. I would very much like to fish with you one day Jeff, email me anytime and thank you for your kind words!
01-31-2010, 10:35 AM
September of 2008 I was alone fishing the Campbell River in British Columbia and came upon this sign along a foot path.
The date on the notice was Sept. 2nd, the day I was there was Sept. 5th.
Let me tell you, I beat feet out of there LOL!
02-01-2010, 12:02 PM
I didn't get to read over all the previous posts, but I'll respond to my last reply.
I don't think a full grown, healthy person has much to fear. I don't think for a moment that anyone could "beat up" a cougar. I would never say that. What I mean is that if it's a person or a squirrel, the cat would pick the smaller critter. So therefore, by myself I wouldn't fret too much. But natural order of things, my little boy is an easier target than I am! Since this is a cat, I'd say one would rarely see it and never be able to approach it....
Unless the approacher is on the menu of the approachee!:eek:
02-01-2010, 12:23 PM
C'boy, I didn't mean to make it sound like you were to enter into what could be a dangerous situation. Personally, I would have noted the site and come back the next day to look for tracks, hair on branches, etc. After all, you know what a bear does in the woods.
02-01-2010, 02:55 PM
Being from out west I have no doubt as to what you saw, and you are truelly lucky!
I have spent many many days in the mountains and the last animal to be scared of is a couger, mt. lion etc. You will almost always see a bear coming, and most likely will hear it too. as far as a lion, they are the greatest hunters of all, and most reports of attacks say they never saw it or heard it before it was too late! I have two cats myself and even at 10-14 lbs. they are amazing hunters- I couldn't even imagine a cat that weighs 200+, so I don't think any of us should lose any sleep over these wonderful creature, just be mindful as to your actions and all will be fine.
This has been a great read with lots of great info.
02-01-2010, 03:34 PM
I just wanted to provide a little cautionary statement to some of the posts about this particular wild animal. I am from out west, and Mountain lion's are one of the few predators in the US that can and do at times stalk and hunt people. While I agree that most wild animals that we encounter would just as soon leave us alone, and for those animals problems with people generally can involve someone doing something not very smart. This is not the case for a Mountain lion. You will not even know it is there before it attacks you, and it will not be an accident. Please do not get me wrong, I am not trying to say that you need to be afraid to go into the woods, I was in the woods out west with a much heavier and more dense population of them, I am just saying it is not quite correct to say that an animal/person run in with this particular critter would just be because of some moron doing something stupid. You don't accidentally sneak up on a cougar, or accidentally suprise one. Unless you classify what we all do as moronic (i.e. being out in the woods fishing, hunting, hiking, running, biking, etc) then any possible cougar run in would more than likely be the result of a cougar stalking a meal, and ambushing it at the right moment.
02-09-2010, 02:39 PM
Ok, which is worse...Cougars in the park or coyotes in Manhattan?
02-09-2010, 03:02 PM
Here is my account of an encounter that I posted on SEFF a couple of years ago. I too, like many here have a fascination with the existence of big cats and why the Park Service won't officially recognize that they exist but will tell you they are there unofficially.
Here is my brief summary that took place a couple of miles up Slickrock.
When I started this thread, I was surprised at all of the folks that had witnessed what they thought was a mountain lion. Now that this thread has been rekindled, I reluctantly report that I have had a sighting of my own this past summer. I figured that all the naysayers would immediately call BS since I started the thread, so I have only told a few since I was alone and did not have a camera.
But now, I will publicly state that I know what I saw this past summer, and it was no bobcat. Here is a brief summary for those that are interested:
A group of friends and I were camped out along Slickrock Creek fishing and all of them returned that Saturday afternoon and I had already told the Mrs. that I would not be back until Sunday so I decided to stay one more night.
I usually don't camp alone but I did not want to give up the yard pass I had already procured and I had been skunked already and did not want to go home with a goose egg. As most of you know the water levels were extraordinarily low and I decided to hike down closer to the mouth to break my own drought.
It was approximately 6:15 pm and I was on the trail heading back towards the lake when I reached the first set of campsites you come too when you hike in. The stream was to my left as was a 7'-8' drop to the stream and to my right was a sheer face up. Suddenly I caught a glimpse of movement to my left and noticed the catamount about the same time it noticed me. The cat had stopped in the middle of the stream and jumped back to the bank closest to me.
The cat was 7'-8' below me, but I could not see it, so with my heart racing I continued forward a few more step and shook my long rod in the brush to try and spook it, but I did not see it again. I stayed put for an additional 3-4 minutes , but did not want to push my luck and I headed back to the campsite across the creek and had the rest of the evening to think about what I had witnessed.
It was a longtailed cat that was no less than 75-80 pounds.
Y'all don't know me from Adam's housecat, but that is what I saw on Slickrock creek.
BTW- I still got skunked.
02-09-2010, 03:06 PM
I think that there are mountain lions in the park and think you probably saw one, just as I believe that Carolina Boy saw one. Thanks for the information and the post.
02-11-2010, 10:18 PM
You saw a mountain lion, no question in my mind about it. And, picking up on something you've reiterated a few times, I bet you saw a young male. The paws; they were big for the body? That's common in any juvenile cat. And a juvenile mountain lion would still be as big as you describe.
I've seen bobcats in the wild while hunting; they get big enough to pull down a deer, but they never have a long tail, and their pointed ears are very noticeable.
Male mountain lions establish ranges that push other males along, like dominoes. A few years ago, some game biologists radiocollared a young male mountain lion in the Dakota Badlands, almost 500 miles from where it was unquestionably identified, squished dead on the tracks in a Kansas City rail yard.
Now, how did it get there? It might well have been an escaped pet. The fact that you saw it in the dead center of the park is suggestive to me; there are plenty of rednecks with mountain lions in the TN/NC area, and the time to dump one would be right around when a youngish cat started getting too big to feed. Where would you dump it? Why, in the middle of the Park, right? In other words, at Newfound Gap.
Does it matter if it was a released pet? Nope. Mountain lions are by no means domesticated or even domesticable. Releasing a pet would be the same as reintroducing a wild cat right back into its native habitat. Keep in mind, the Smokies historically supported not only mountain lions, but actually even Eastern elk (and I believe bison. I know West Tennessee had native bison less than 300 years ago). We're not talking about the Pleistocene; white men killed these animals out.
And they'll be back. It's just a matter of time before migration (like coyotes) or reintroduction via redneck release winds up establishing a breeding population. With hunting on the wane, deer populations booming, and the rewilding of vast swathes of national forest and national park in the East that were previously logged off, we're prime for the cats to come back and explode in population (for them - as everyone says, they're thin on the ground in the best of times).
02-19-2010, 11:25 PM
Take a look at this pic from today near cades cove.
02-20-2010, 11:25 AM
steamnsteel, I think you have a bad link posted . . . .
02-20-2010, 12:18 PM
MarkHansen--It didn't work for me either.
02-20-2010, 02:09 PM
I went to the site. Sure looks like a cougar to me.
02-20-2010, 04:49 PM
Fixed the link, it works now.:frown:
I just don't understand why this cat didn't run, maybe it was along range pic.
02-20-2010, 05:09 PM
Played around with the photo a little to enhance things.
02-21-2010, 10:40 AM
Tail looks a little short for a cougar, but I have never seen a cougar in the wild. The mystery lives on!
02-21-2010, 11:48 AM
Pineman--I totally agree on the tail, and I have seen cougars in the wild and have even eaten cougar backstrap. Unless this is a tame cougar which had its tail "bobbed" (I assume that can be done), something is amiss. The body shape and color are right.
02-21-2010, 11:51 AM
It's not so clear that the tail is short. There is something that could be blocking it on the left.
02-21-2010, 12:01 PM
Here is another enhancement of the photo where I just adjusted the brightness and contrast to bring out the cat with less alteration of the colors.
02-21-2010, 04:19 PM
the head is not the right shape for a bobcat. my guess is a cougar
02-21-2010, 08:13 PM
I think that photo is a bobcat, guys. Not just because of the docked tail (who would dock a cougar tail anyway), but because the ears show a coloration change (as does the tail, which would not be true of a docked cougar).
Note how drab the coloration on this cougar's back is:
Now look at the ears, tail color, and general length of tail on the one photographed in the Smokies:
Finally, look at the white color patch on the back of the ear. Here's a bobcat in a zoo:
Now here's the best shot I could find on the internet of a cougar ear seen from the same side.
I believe there are likely to be cougars in the Smokies, but I don't think that's one.
02-21-2010, 08:37 PM
I think it's a bobcat.
02-21-2010, 09:03 PM
I think its a bobgar cougcat...a rare crossbreed and apparently documented only recently from the efforts of that all taxa bio diversity study to find what really does exsist here the smokies...
02-21-2010, 09:17 PM
Looks like a well-fed bobcat to me.
Although I've never seen a cougar in the wild (but have seen a bobcat a couple of times).
02-21-2010, 11:12 PM
Hard to tell what it is other than some type of wild cat. The photo is at a bad angle for really telling. It doesn't have any spots but I suppose not all bobcats have the spots and their winter coat may be heavier.
Without having been there, it's really hard to say.
I think what CB saw that started this thread sure sounded like a cougar.
I've seen several bobcats in the wild but never seen a cougar in the wild only seen them in zoos (which always made me kind of sad as they should be out in the wild).
Regardless of what it is in the photo, it's a rare sighting and wish it was me who saw it.
02-22-2010, 05:26 PM
Not to belabor the point but what I saw had a tail that was like 3 feet long and hung very low down to the ground between its legs.
02-22-2010, 07:08 PM
Its a chupacabra!!! yep definately a chupacabra. :biggrin:
02-22-2010, 07:30 PM
Carolina Boy--You almost certainly saw a cougar. Getting officials to admit as much might be problematic, but all your descriptions ring true, and a mountain lion's tail is precisely as you describe it.
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