I just returned from a hunting trip to West Virginia where one of the high points was watching a bobcat hunting through a woodlot where I was aloft in a tree stand. The wind was blowing in such a manner that the first 20 or so seconds that the cat was in view, it did not detect my presence.
But eventually it came across my scent, and the bobcat immediately made a U-turn and quickly departed from the area. A few minutes later, a spike buck came through and, I believe, detected the scent of the bobcat and quickly fled. All in all, it was a fascinating 10 minutes or so, as I observed the reactions of both a predator and a prey species when they winded something that they felt was dangerous to them.
The sighting of the bobcat made me think of a recent episode in my high school English classroom when a student asked if I thought that mountain lions lived in Virginia. My answer was no and I explained why...that is, that no one has yet been able to confirm that wild mountain lions have become established in Virginia.
Many people who think they have spotted cougars actually have glimpsed bobcats, I believe. Although, cougars are some five times the size of bobcats, people so very much want to confirm the presence of the big cats that they let that desire overwhelm their better judgement. Not only is there a great size difference, but the mountain lion boasts a much longer tail than his smaller relative. A bobcat's tail is just a little stub of thing.
Maybe one day, the mountain lion will become established in Virginia and West Virginia once again. But as for now, county me as a skeptic.