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  #41  
Old 01-29-2010, 05:15 PM
Knothead Knothead is offline
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Default Mystery cat

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?

Last edited by Knothead; 01-29-2010 at 05:29 PM.. Reason: additional text
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  #42  
Old 01-29-2010, 07:54 PM
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Carolina Boy Carolina Boy is offline
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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.
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  #43  
Old 01-29-2010, 08:16 PM
elkhaircaddis elkhaircaddis is offline
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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
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  #44  
Old 01-29-2010, 08:37 PM
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PeteCz PeteCz is offline
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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...
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  #45  
Old 01-29-2010, 09:00 PM
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Carolinaboy,
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).

Jeff
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  #46  
Old 01-29-2010, 09:31 PM
elkhaircaddis elkhaircaddis is offline
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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...
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  #47  
Old 01-29-2010, 09:32 PM
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Carolina Boy Carolina Boy is offline
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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.
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  #48  
Old 01-29-2010, 09:33 PM
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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
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  #49  
Old 01-29-2010, 09:38 PM
Speck Lover Speck Lover is offline
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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.
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  #50  
Old 01-29-2010, 11:46 PM
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Quote:
. 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.

Jeff
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