Polk county panthers debate part II

Published 11:26am Thursday, May 19, 2011

Winter/spring 2006: “We live on Hunting Country Rd. near FENCE. We walk our dogs there every day.

One day I look down a path maybe 150 yards and see a large black animal sitting on its haunches. A dog, maybe a Lab? My three dogs are running around and don’t see the animal. It stands up and moves quickly into the woods.

It has a long tail and does not move like a dog, but more like a cat. I’m sure it was not a dog but it couldn’t be a cat that size.

About a month later I’m at the top of FENCE with my dogs. They alert on something, I look expecting to see a deer, but I see a flash of black go under a fence rail toward a power line. Once again I chalk it up as an interesting experience.

Late May, we are on our front porch, and the dogs start barking at something in the pasture across the road. There is a family of deer we watch there regularly. I see no deer so I get my binoculars and scan the wood line. A dark shadow catches my attention, I focus on it and crap, it’s a very large black cat! Maybe 3-4 ft. in length with a tail about the same. It’s maybe 300 yards from me and there’s no doubt what I’m looking at.

It fills the field of view in the binoculars. It stops, looks at me with its mouth wide open and the dogs barking.

I called my wife to watch it while I went for the camera, but it was gone before I got back. She said it followed the fence line, jumped on the top rail, walked a few steps, the disappeared on the other side. I am not making this up, and no I was not drinking at the time.”

This is one of many stories I received after my column on panthers in Polk County last month. Here’s a few more.

1994: A man and his family with a very reputable reputation who live in Green Creek tell of his two teenage boys seeing a smaller black panther one evening on their farm. The very next day they see a bigger one in the same area. Leading them to believe they saw a young panther and maybe its mother.

Early 1960s: “Growing up in the Hunting Country we did hear the sounds like a woman’s scream at night. One particular summer kids were kept close as dusk approached. The big cat was not always in the area, but was heard often enough that everyone was on alert.”

Circa 2007: “I did see one on Green River Cove rd. it was a young cat with a tail as long as its body. It was a black mountain lion for sure!”

I still don’t have proof of panthers in our area, but one thing’s for sure, those who say they saw it are 100 percent convinced there are.

It’s strange to me that every sighting I was told of except one was of a black mountain lion. I could not find any evidence that there are any black mountain lions, only the possibility. Most if not all, are a tan color.

The main thing that stands out to me are the reports of the tail being as long as its body, kinda eliminates a bobcat.

I did not answer my own question from last month of whether I believe they exist. Well, I guess I want them to exist, and honestly, I do catch myself looking for them whenever I am in the more remote parts of the county, especially near dark, hoping for a glimpse of something, but until then…

Rob McComas is a licensed North Carolina fishing guide on Lake Lure and Lake Jocassee in S.C. He has been a guide for 11 years and fishing for more than 30. McComas lives with his wife, Amanda, in Sunny View and runs Robs Guide Service. He can be reached at robsguideservice@gmail.com.

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