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« Walking In A Winter Wonderland | Main | Wildlife In Southern Appalachia »

December 28, 2010

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Chalmer-Thank you for the great comment! The Florida cats moving north seems plausible to me : )

Tipper


Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia
www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

My girlfriend told me a story today about being at her grandparents farm somewhere in West Virginia and seeing a black panther on top of the chicken house. The dogs started barking at it and her uncle and grandfather shot it twice and it snatched up a beagle and ran off. She swears it was black so my question is it possible that the Florida panther are migrating north up the Apalachian in search of prey?

I was born and raised in Nicholas Co WVa and I saw a mountain lion, bobcats and big black cats. They are there, I have heard more than I have seen.

Loved the post! My 2 cents worth - "painters" are still around. My granmother and I heard one behind our house on 2 occasions, and on one occasion when we heard it, my uncle down the road saw one sniffing around his dog food and upsetting his hunting dogs the same night. I also saw some tracks that looked for everything like a HUGE cat print in my silt filled (used to be) "pond". So, Im a believer!

Exciting Story! Wonderful, i like it. And fantastic photos.

I believe!
I also believe there are Mtn. Lions in WV. My Dad was driving home from my great uncle's house back in wilds of Clay County WV when a yellow streak ran across the road in front of him. He said it had to be a mtn. lion because it was too big to be a bobcat.

Hi Tipper, About 30 years ago, when we lived in central North Carolina, I called my husband home from work one day to chase one of our cows that had gotten out of the pasture. We were only about a half mile from US 64 so I didn't want that cow to become hamburger on the highway. While running through the woods, my husband jumped a mountain lion that was laying in a pile of leaves. He was very specific about the way the mountain lion looked. The two dogs that were with him gave chase for a while then gave up. Every time we hear about a mountain lion sighting, he retells that story. I belive they are few in number but still here.

Tipper, I have hunted by myself in these mountains here across the divide in east tennessee for 55 years now but I have not seen a panther but I agree with Pap,there is no reason there could not be one out there today with all the deer in the woods to keep them fed. However , I must agree with Jim Casada . Here in Carter Co. Tn we have a bear season where there are lots of Plott and Bluetick hounds . I see in today's paper that 34 were killed here in the short gun season in this county. 69 last year. I have however had up close and personal experience with some big bobcats. Not these little spotted ones we see in the books. I had one on my back in Georgia in 1992 and the other one was October 2009 in Lee Co. Va where I was turkey hunting. The cat that jumped on my leg from behind a big tree was a reddish light brown. He was bigger around than my grandsons'fat beagle and longer and taller. He didn't bring blood like the one in Ga. that was on my back but it tore my leather boot when I screamed and it jumped down the ridge. I believe that bobcat would have had a pretty good sized footprint.
Just my take from an old turkey hunter who still combs these mountains regularly. That last cat got a real surprise. Larry
Proffitt

Yes,I believe the big cats are out there. They are just too smart to let us know!

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the possibility of this being a wampus cat. But, since these tracks were in NC and the wampus cat is known to inhabit TN, WV, and VA, I guess it would be unlikely that it's a wampus cat. But wouldn't it be cool if it were?

I enjoyed going for the walk in the woods with you.

When living on our farm in western NC, we had a painter in the area and for a short time in our woods. I never forget it's 'cry'. Bone chilling is the only way to describe it.

Tipper--I'll offer several thoughts on the matter of mountain lions (a.k.a.panthers, painters, cougars, big cats, etc.). Most come from the perspective of an outdoor writer who has done a fair amount of research and some writing on this particular critter.
1. There are unquestionably a few cougars roaming the South (outside of Florida, where they still live in the wilds), but most if not all of these have been released.

2. They are not black panthers. Cougars are a blondish-brown in color.

3. I've generally got to agree with the concept that hunters would see and/or shoot the occasional one if they were around. Also, if they existed in any appreciable numbers at all bear dogs would tree them periodically. Indeed, one of the favorite breeds of dogs for hunting cougars in the West is none other than our own mountain breed--Plott hounds. I was in a business arrangement with an outfitter in Montana for several years who hunted cougars in the winter. His dogs? Plott hounds.

4. Curiously, while you regularly hear of "sightings," you almost never hear of screams. Yet the scream is so distinctive, so chilling, it would be noted if heard.

5. Cougar meat is delicious--just a hint in case you get one:)--I've eaten it in hunt camps out West and the backstrap looks very much like a boneless pork chop. It's a white meat and was a favorite of the mountain men.

6. Clearly cougars were once quite common in the mountains. There are far too many place names using variants of panther for it to be otherwise. Check Bill Powell's N. C. gazetteer (I can't remember the title and am too lazy to dig it out) and you will find dozens of listings. A number come to mind immediately--Panthertown Valley and creek in Jackson County, Panther Creek in Graham County, Panther Creek in Haywood County. Panther Flat Top (Cherokee County I think, though it could be Graham), Panther Spring Gap in Haywood Count (in the Park), Painter Branch in Swain County, etc.

7. I'm basically skeptical (by nature, I might add), but it would be wonderful if panthers did still roam the mountains a bit. Sort of like finding ivorybill woodpeckers in some remote area.

8. I'll conclude by noting that a cousin who is quite knowledgable on the woods and such stuff (he's a national wildlife refuge manager in Florida but grew up in Bryson City) says he saw a cougar in the Smokies some years back.

Great topic and one which evokes lots of opinions.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com

Looks like you enjoyed your walk in the woods. I don't know if there are mountain lions in Appalachia or not, wouldn't doubt it, though. We saw some big cat tracks in the abandoned coal mine area above where I lived as a child. They may have been a bobcat, though.

Tipper like you for many years wildlife experts denied the existence of big cats in Mo. Then they started showing up on game cameras and being hit by cars and then they all of a sudden changed that position. If you don't have a picture of it or run over it with your car then it doesn't exist : )

We see big cat tracks and sometimes I see scat I wonder if it's big cat.

My neighbor swears he saw a tawny big cat one day in front of where we live - he said it had a squirrel in its mouth, crunched once on it, and then ran off.

But, one day GMR and I were walking in our cove, up behind us, and I looked up and saw a big black critter - I wasn't a dog and it was too dang big to be a house cat - it stared at me, I stared at it and then I turned and walked away.

There's lots of things in these mountains that I hope stay hidden - hate to see them killed off for no reason than to say they could do it-won't be for meat.

Your walk reminds me of walks here at Killian Knob :-)

I happen to think there are a limited number, even here in Georgia. I don't have a seen it story but I can tell you that my father has always laughed at me when I told him that a bear ran out in front of me when I was in high school late one night. It was WAY too big to be a dog. He and my uncle said that they aren't here in the foothills like a little further north. But last year, one was hit on the interstate in our county. Hmmmppphhh...imagine that! What do I know?!? There's been cougar killed in middle/south Georgia so I think its likely.

Thank you for sharing your Christmas joy, your gorgeous cold-as-christmas "Winter Wonderland" photos, and the bonus of big-cat-tracks video!
My Daddy used to tell of being stalked at night by a painter, while with a group of other teens, on the way home from a church party, as they trekked through the woods, deep in the Ouachitas of western Arkansas. They heard the screams, but managed to stay ahead, and arrived home unscathed.
I do wonder if there could be any left in Southern Appalachia; or, if they are hybrids, as some here in FL are? Exotic pets on the loose? Another possibility, of course.
I know they have been spotted in the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge/Canaveral National Seashore, where they are certainly protected - but the rangers and officials who manage it will never own up to it, for obvious reasons.

Our neighbors swear they've seen them. Back in the Eighties, word was that the government had released mountain lions in the area -- government sponsored cougars is whht folks called them

My family is from SouthEastern Ohio tri-state area of Ohio, Ky & West Virginia and they've been seen here since my dad was a boy back in the '30's. Still seen in the hills report my family who hunts there.

Happy New Year to you & your family Tipper!

Well I'd say anything is possible with these mountains. But I also know that we have a pretty good sized bob cat close by and if he/she were to walk through the snow, I think the tracks might be a bit exaggerated which could lead one to believe it was a big cat. Panther tracks are really pretty good sized. Really enjoyed the post and the pics.

It is so beautiful, I am really sorry I missed it. I think we have a mountain cat near our house too. I have heard something that sounds horrific and seen some kind of track in my flower garden.

I have always heard tales of mountain lions here in extreme Eastern Ohio. (Of course, we have our share of bigfoot sightings too - lol!) I can't decide one way or the other; like the Deer Hunter, I have to wonder why we haven't had any confirmed kills - could they really be that wily? Still, we do have coyote and fox and bear, so who knows???

People see mountain lions here in the VA Piedmont every year, particularly in my area (Midlothian/Bon Air). We are smack dab in suburbia, so the county government always writes the reports off as nonsense. But there are plenty of deer here for the lions to eat, so I personally believe they're out there.

A bit over a year ago, a friend was starting construction on a new cabin in Brevard. He was on his way to meet the excavation guy when he saw a mama bear and two cubs heading into the woods. He told the excavation guy about and he took out his phone and showed Tom a picture he had made of a critter on his back porch the previous night. Big tawny cat bigger than a large dog with a tail as long as his body. The guy lived in Burnsville, NC. Cougar is only cat I know of that looks like that...

My Granny Salmons grew up in Yadkin County in the late 1800's. She talked of seeing "Painters" when she was a girl.

Well that is one big house cat walkin' behind you then eh? I'm all for assumin that there is one and bein prepared to deal with one. Not in a worry wart like manner that makes things worse, but havin an escape plan, which usual includes takin a brave dog along. We have 'em here, we've not seen them a lot but the evidence and their style of kills, them and bear.

Tipper,
Wonderful pictures! I do believe
the panthers exist cause I can
remember my parents talking about
them when they were young. But the
story that sticks in my memory is
what my grandmother Deliah faced
when she was young and had just
started raising her large family.
One evening her husband and some
friends took their dogs and were
going camping deep in the woods
to get wild hogs for their winter
meats. Just about dark granny said
she heard something that sounded
like a woman screaming. But is was
different somehow so she wouldn't
venture outside. Then a few minutes after, something started
scratching on their old tarpaper
roof. She got the broom and would
bump the ceiling everytime it
started scratching and it would
jump and start somewhere else. She
did this about all night and her
husband and other guys came home
shortly at daybreak. The "thing" was
gone but the dogs picked up the
tracks and all the men followed it
till the dogs treed. There they shot it out and brung it back to the house. Granny said it was long
as a hoe handle and black and had
a real long tail, and thought it
had been watching and waiting.
I have seen those big cat tracks
while deer hunting up at Rainbow
Springs in the snow too...Ken

I've not seen a snow like that in ages. We seldom get snow here any more and when it does, it usually soon melts. Nice pics of it and your family. Those cat tracks are kind of scarry. There have been seen close to here but haven't heard of anyone killing one. Just hope I don't see one close to me.

Tipper:
Love the story and pic's etc from your tracking adventure, Maybe you can post the pics of wild animals your husband captured from his trail cam. I would love to see the Bobcats and Bear. Maybe he should put it back up and we might see the panthers. Really liked the video too.
Steve Allen
Florence KY

I think they are there and those paw prints prove it. i kept waiting for one to jump out of the trees while I watched to video. i could hear the snow crunching while you walked. we have cougars here in florida and i believe every state has them, no matter what they are called.

I bet there are Mountain Lions! I wouldn't be surprised a bit! Around here, my husband and I have seen foxes in our yard, a bear walking along in the woods, coyote in the neighborhood, and tons of deer everywhere!

What a beautiful place to walk! Yes, I think there are big cats around, even around here. My nephew and his wife saw a pair last summer. I always heard my parents talking about them when we were kids living in Eastern KY. Loved the video!!

A great tale, Tipper. I like the way the Deerhunter thinks - logically and skeptically.

That said, I'm inclined to be a believer in terms of there being big cats in the mountains even though I don't have a personal witness story to tell. Here are some older ones, all dating to the 1970's:

A cousin of Jim's and mine, James Burnett, who grew up hunting and fishing with us and now manages a wildlife refuge in Florida, saw a painter while fishing several miles up Deep Creek. He was fishing with a buddy who saw it first, and hollered at James. James looked up the creek to see the cat land on a rock in the middle of the creek, then make another jump to the far side and disappear. Same pattern you described - long tail.

In the same time period (mid-70's),there were two other reported sightings in the Great Smokies Park by very credible witnesses:

1) A park service trail crew worker (and mountain native), Raymond DeHart, saw one up near High Rocks. High Rocks is a remote location on Welch Ridge, which separates the Hazel and Forney Creek basins. High Rocks is just under 10 miles by foot from the closest road (the end of the Road to Nowhere).

2) Park workers over in Cataloochee spotted one (I don't recall the details on that sighting, but I think it was well up Caldwell Fork, in the vicinity of the "Big Poplars")

The place where you and Pap saw one - near Standing Indian - is similar in that it is quite remote.

So here's what you need to do: Set up the Deerhunter's trail cam again, then send Chitter and Chatter up there every day or so and walk past the camera so that if the curious cat trails them, you'll catch photos of it. And hey - if it gets one of the girls, you'd still have one left ;-)

Jackie-no we didn't find my hat : ( The girls said maybe the mountain lion got it : ) It was a Granny original too-I've had it since before I had the girls. I'm still hoping it turns up.

I believe there are lots of "wild" things in our woods. I am fascinated by all the tracks in the snow. Something was after our chickens last night. Two sets of tracks lead to the coop. One I'm guessing was a possum because you can see where it's tail was dragging but not sure what the big paw prints are. Did you find your hat???? :)

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