Basics of Bobcat Hunting
Trail Cam Picture of a bobcat, Fort Hancock, TX
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.