My wife, the Comely and Buxom and Easily Terrified and Suddenly Ailurophobic Boudicca, found what appears to be a print. It looks like something with four big toes pressed into the soft mud as it was rising up and jumping into a run. It's roughly the size of my hand.
I do not have small hands.
Being that I'm taking this whole thing way too seriously, I got down on my hands and knees and looked around the print. I figured that, with it being spring and the beast's toes having sunk into the mud deeply enough to leave prints like that, there might be some hair.
I found two definite hairs, probably three, and three more things that could be hair or could be grass. We also took several pictures, with my hand and with a ruler in the picture for reference. See, watching all those episodes of MonsterQuest and reading Cryptomundo, where the hosts and experts always tell you to put down something for reference when photographing curious "evidence" have finally paid off.
None of the aforementioned puke was left on the patio. There's a...residue, for a lack of a better term. I did find what may be claw marks on the edge of the patio, three of them, not exactly evenly spaced. We photographed that as well. Could be anything from incriminating claw marks to the results of a mindless jackass and his mower.
I'll be calling the NC Wildlife offices tomorrow. Apparently, they're very interested in this sort of thing and may be open to my sighting report. A friend of mine at work sent me a link where someone else sighted a cougar in 2007 near Jordan Lake, which is south of Durham. Something's beginning to shape up here. That's four people who have seen three cats in three different areas.
I keep peering out my back window, hoping to see packs of feral beasts. So far, I've seen a red-bellied woodpecker for my troubles.
UPDATE to the Update: This morning, while staring out my kitchen window, I saw a red-shouldered hawk kill something by the stream and then carry it off. So, while the cougar has yet to reappear (if it ever will), my nature viewing pleasure continues to go on.
4 hours ago