Awesome topic. Glad I sat and read all of it.. I'm in SE MN. We don't typically get much in the way of big predators, although it does happen. I have my permit to carry, but I do not own a gun.. Perhaps its time to change that.
The ones I come face to face with are the ones that make my sphincter pucker. Not knowing that they are there until after the fact isn't near the adrenaline rush.
A few times in my life have I actually come face to face with a cougar. But many times I have found trails in the snow or dirt behind me to let me know that a cat has been following me. They have always satisfied their curiosity and left me alone. But seeing their tracks in fresh snow or sand lets me know just how close they came.
I have really big hands. XXL in gloves
I've had one Grizzly bear charge me in Alaska. Other than that, the other predators that I have encountered have checked me out and moved on.
They'll run Llamas with the sheep out here because they'll kill coyotes, don't know if they'll take on a cat or not. Advantage to Llamas over mules or burros is you can at least shave them along with the sheep.