KIRKSVILLE, MO. — Michael Sharpe was sitting in his tree stand on private land in Lewis County at 1:30 p.m. New Year's Eve when a large, adult mountain lion appeared.
Sharpe, 18, had opted to "hunt" deer with a video camera instead of with his bow, and he documented the big cat's passage on tape. It wasn't until he viewed the video tape that he realized he had seen a mountain lion.
Conservation Agent Gene Lindsey, who has chased down his share of mountain lion reports that couldn't be substantiated, watched the tape and visited the scene of the sighting before declaring it "irrefutable."
Lindsey said the cougar appeared to be hunting. The undulating landscape, with a mix of crop land, pasture, hardwood forest and cedar thickets, harbors a thriving population of white-tailed deer, the mountain lion's primary prey.
Sharpe's sighting brings the number of confirmed mountain lion reports in Missouri in recent years to five.