Basics of Bobcat Hunting

Trail Cam Picture of a bobcat, Fort Hancock, TX

Bobcat track
Bobcat track

The bobcat is one of North America's wild cats and has for centuries roamed the vast continent. The bobcat (lynx rufus) is an elusive predator and makes for some challenging hunting for those who enjoy hunting predators. Although a difficult hunt the reward of taking such a beautiful and elusive animal can be at times overwhelming with excitement.

The bobcat's territory, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (2007), can be as large as 126 sq miles. This of course depends on a variety of factors such as prey distribution and gender. Depending on these factors the territories are commonly in a 25 - 30 sq mile range and as little as 8 sq miles for males, 5 sq miles for females. They mark their territory with feces, urine, and by clawing trees or large shrubs.

Bobcats can survive in a variety of habitat from woodlands, forest, and swamps to deserts. They prefer their habitat to have areas were they can conceal themselves from danger. They search for territory where they can have a number of different shelters with one being the primary den. Bobcats look for hollow logs, rock ledges, small caves, brush piles, and thickets for shelter. Their prey mainly consist of, rabbits like the cottontail, rats, other rodents like mice, squirrels, birds like quail, raccoons, possums, reptiles, and occasionally deer. Bobcats are well capable of bringing down larger prey than themselves. According to National Geographic (2010), the bobcat can range in length from 26 to 41 in. long and anywhere from 14 to 24 in. tall. They can weigh from 11 to 30 pounds.

Because bobcats are extremely elusive and great ambush predators they can be challenging to hunt. Bobcats are highly unlikely to come running down a clearing when being called like a coyote or fox would. Instead they will pursue a very cautious and hushed stalk through cover and shadows. Often times hunters will feel as though they are being hunted. Bobcats are most active during and right before dusk and continue to be active till midnight and then again right before dawn until a few, usually three, hours after dawn. Here are a few tips to consider when hunting bobcats:

Use scent eliminators and cover scents. Bobcats have an extremely keen sense of smell, often times a bobcat will sneak his/her way within close proximity to a hunter and smell the hunter, thus leaving cautiously or staying out of sight with the hunter unbenounced.

Use the correct ammo. Be prepared to take long distance shots as often times that will be the only opportunity. Examples of good ammo are: .22-250, .223, and .25-06.

Be extremely stealthy when approaching your hunt location; any noise will alert animals of your presence, hence bobcats, if not alerted already, will be alerted by the other animals behavior. Birds can give your position away quickly!

Elevate your position so you can see in all directions and so they can be seen coming in.

Play the wind to your advantage. Wind can carry scent and if your scent is in the wind surely the bobcat will be alerted.

Do not over call, keep calls at maximum between 10 to 20 seconds long and about 5 to 8 minutes in-between.

Use the camo pattern appropriate to your surroundings and time of year.

Hunt as close to sunset as possible. Arrive at least two hours prior to sunset.

Scout prior to your hunting date; look for tracks, feces, and other evidence like shelter. Look for prey distribution and water holes.

Learn to identify tracks, behaviors, and the smell of bobcats.

Try summertime hunting when the majority of predator hunter have hung it up for the season.

Finally, try different calls. Many predator hunters recommend using a rodent or woodpecker distress call. Remember often times foxes and coyotes will appear before a bobcat does. BE PATIENT!!! It can take up to an hour to call in a cat!

Hunting for bobcats, as mentioned above, can be rewarding for those who choose to stick it out. Bobcats are elusive animals and have thrived in North America for centuries. According to National Geographic (2010), there are estimates that there could be over one million bobcats in the United States. As can be seen from that statement there is no shortage of bobcats but failure to follow some of the tips mentioned above means your hunt will more likely end before it even starts.

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Comments 14 comments

Mike 6 years ago

Cool article

linda 6 years ago

Loved the article, That Bobcat sure does look scary.

More articles please,

Loreva13 profile image

Loreva13 6 years ago from El Paso, TX Author

Thank you guys!!!

Joey Bennett 6 years ago

This is a very interesting hub. I can not say that I have ever gone bobcat hunting before. What type of guns would you recommend for this type of hunting?

Loreva13 profile image

Loreva13 6 years ago from El Paso, TX Author

I'd recommend a .223, .222, 22 hornet, .243, and maybe as big as a .25-06. If you can get then close enough a 20, 16, or 12 gauge will work with buck shot or even No. 2 steel shot. Good luck if you give it a try.

jay jackson 6 years ago

they the size ranges from 11 to 30 lbs. is a 41 lb. michigan bob cat possible?

Loreva13 profile image

Loreva13 6 years ago from El Paso, TX Author

If the cat is well feed or has a steady supply of prey, I wouldn't be surprised to see a 41 pounder.

Patrick 5 years ago

Me and my friend have called in two Bobcats in, in the last week, we have only killed one, I was wondering if we went back to the same spot and set up better, would it be likely we could call it in next weekend also? I am 18 years old and I find this so much, fun, if you are looking for something that gets your blood pumping it is this. It feels as if you are the hunted!

Loreva13 profile image

Loreva13 5 years ago from El Paso, TX Author

In my opinion it is possible. Like you said set-up better or just sneak to another close by spot and you should be able to get it done. Good luck!

Jeremy 4 years ago

Factoring wind for bobcat hunting isn't necessary because bobcats aren't spooked by human scent as coyotes, or deer are. I have been out hunting coyotes and have a bobcat show up on my downwind and it just sat there watching me. I don't think they are as skittish about your form or motion either. They seem to think they are the king of the woods.

Loreva13 profile image

Loreva13 4 years ago from El Paso, TX Author

I think you have a valid point. I have also heard various people say the same exact thing. I heard a few stories where the bobcat came in and sat 20 to 30 yards from a hunter for a few minutes. I've also had many people tell me they get get them into bowhunting range!

ShootersCenter profile image

ShootersCenter 4 years ago from Florida

I've had coyotes and bobcats both come within about 10 ft of me when deer hunting. Bobcats do get very large in the right habitat, I'm sure that I've seen several over 35lbs. Another good, well informed article.

Brandon 3 years ago

Old article, but still wanted to comment on a sighting I had. I'm in my early 30's and last year was my first year actively hunting. I had gone out squirrel hunting with my grandfather once or twice when I was a kid, but never shot anything. I live in eastern NC and we supposedly have a huge bobcat population in this area. A friend of mine took me to his hunting club as a guest. I saw several deer in the morning, but nothing I could shoot at. So after lunch I got put in a box stand in the corner of a tree field that had just been clearcut. They thought it would be a better area for deer. I didn't see a single one. But about mid-afternoon I had a bobcat walk out of the woods about 200 yards down the lane from my stand. He popped out and just walked toward me for a few yards and then disappeared again. I was so excited. I'd never seen one in the wild before. About an hour or so later he popped out again, this time much closer, about 50 yards away. He walked right in front of my stand and sat down not more that 20 yards away on a mound of dirt and just started scratching behind his ears. He sat there for about 5-10 minutes and just looked around. He even sprawled out and layed down just like a cat would. He then got up and just kept on going the way he had been going. He was a gorgeous animal. It was amazing! When my friend came to pick me up I told him what I had seen. Even he was excited. We got back to the club and he was telling everyone what I had told him and come to find out, no one in that club had EVER seen one in the area. At the time, I had considered shooting him, but I had no use for a mount and didn't know anyone else who really wanted one. I had five people tell me they would have paid handsomely for it since they had never seen one. Fortunately I didn't take him because as it turns out, I was shy of the beginning of the season by a couple of days. It really was that cats lucky day.

Loreva13 profile image

Loreva13 3 years ago from El Paso, TX Author

That's a really awesome experience Brandon! Sometimes I like to go sit near my favorite hunting spots without my bow or rifle and see what pops out of the bush. It is such an awesome experience to sit and watch wildlife in the wild and to have experiences like yours. For me hunting is not always about the kill but rather the experience of watching nature at work.

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