By MIKE CORN
PALCO -- Gail Marcotte knows what he saw, and furbearer biologist Matt Peek wasn't able to convince him otherwise.
"He could be right though," Marcotte said while watching Peek position a full-size mountain lion cutout in the same spot where Marcotte took a photograph of a cat that he and others were convinced was a mountain lion.
"Yeah, that's definitely a bobcat," Peek said. "No doubt about it."
Peek, with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, points to a white patch on the animal's ear, with black tips, as evidence. Same with the lack of a tail, especially prominent on a lion.
Peek -- in Hays for an annual pronghorn survey -- traveled to Palco to take a closer look.
He didn't find anything to change his opinion.
Marcotte spotted the cat as it walked near his house southeast of Palco last week, rushing inside to get his camera.
The animal was not more than 30 yards from his house, before crossing a road to a wheat stubble field.
"I walked outside and stood by a tree," he said. "I whistled at him a couple times. He would stop and put his head up and look at me."
Marcotte snapped two pictures, the first one of which shows the animal in a clearing in the stubble field.
"He was walking north," Marcotte said. "That was the best I could do. I had my camera zoomed all the way out."
The cat was about 40 yards away when he snapped the photographs.
"That's where I last saw him, going up the railroad right of way," he said.
It's the first time he's seen what he believes to be a mountain lion, although he's heard of other people in the area who have seen one.
"What you see in the picture is what I saw," he said.
A lack of spots on the cat concerned Marcotte, but Peek said that's possible.
"I think that's what you call a rabbit back," Peek said of bobcats that either lack spots or have spots that aren't very prominent.
"I don't know," Marcotte said. "I'm not the expert."
But he was unrelenting in his opinion.
"So I was wrong?" he asked. "I wasn't the only one that was wrong. There was a lot of people seen it. It got out on the Internet pretty quick.
"If I see another one, I'll get a better picture."