We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
What a cool picture. In 40 some odd years of hunting in the mountains I only saw a cat once. To have a pic like this as a memento of a hunt would be indescribable for me. Mountain lion/cougars always fascinated me.
The guy looks so calmly triumphant, does he even know the nice kitty is there, slightly behind him. Cougars attack from behind, they say, leaping on the upper back and biting the neck. There are more than a few joggers on forest trails who have found this out, to their dismay.
No - not 'Shopped - look at the kitty again - you see branches in front of the kitty's left leg. The angle of the flash on the trophy is the same as that on the kitty. That's hard to do and keep a low resolution photo from looking all icky balooky. If it were 'Shopped, with the low light and artifacts from .jpeg compression, you'd see other issues.
The kitty beast from hell look is strictly angle as I've pictures of my dogs that look very similar.
I'm with phil -- I'm guessing these folks first realized who was nearby when they saw the image later.
A cougar is an opportunistic ambush predator like most hunters. A large human, or especially two large humans, would seem like a threat and I'd expect the animal to stealth away.