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Bobcats!

Some of my bobcat hunting experiences.

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Bobcats.

That one word can evoke a wide array of remarks and emotions, from love to hate and everything in between. Some folks are thrilled to see cats in their hunting area, and others get downright ticked-off when they spot a wildcat. Me, I don't much like them, mainly because they eat a lot of game that I would rather hunt and eat myself. I've seen several of them over the years, and I've taken a few as well. They are tough, elusive animals and some of the most die-hard critters I've ever dealt with.

The first bobcat I ever saw in the wild crossed a trail in front of me many years ago. It was moving like all bobcats seem to move - like a furry, sharp-toothed, razor-clawed ghost, and it was fairly close. I was carrying a Ruger 44 magnum carbine at the time, and the cat spotted me about the time I saw it. It ran; I missed.

Several years passed before I saw another bobcat. I was perched in a tree stand waiting for deer when I saw the cat slinking through the woods. That cat never saw me, but it may have decided that something was up - or it spotted somethig good to eat - because it abruptly changed directions and stepped out of sight.

One morning a few years later, I was again in a climber, watching a clearcut with a borrowed Browning BAR 30-06 rifle. Again I spotted a cat silently approaching, this time on the open trail along the edge of the clearcut. I put the scope on him and fired, and I know I hit him - but he was very lively just the same. He ran into the clearcut and did a few crazy flips while I tried to get the scope on him for another shot, then he made a beeline for the thick woods nearby.

I swung the rifle with him and fired at him on the run - only to discover that I had hit a pine tree dead-center as I'd swung the rifle, and the cat was gone. I found some small pieces of meat in the trail where I'd shot him(!), but no blood - and I never did find that cat.

The next hunting season, I was again hunting with the 44 rifle. I was in a climbing tree stand on a miserable day... the wind was howling through the pines and it was COLD up there in the wind. I glanced down just in time to spot the cat ghosting through a small opening in the brush, and I just had time to get the rifle on him and kill him. He was a big one with a beautiful hide, which I saved.

It was five years before I saw another cat in the woods. I was hunting with a bow for deer and hogs on a friend's ladder stand when I heard a squirrel barking to beat the band, back in the woods behind me. I stood and turned and got ready for whatever was approaching. It was a bobcat, one of the biggest I've ever seen.

That cat, too, ghosted through the woods as if he really were just a spirit and not a wild animal. But when I put an arrow completely through his lungs he acted real enough - he jumped and ran back in the directions from which he'd come. I tracked him to a thicket of briars and vines where he'd holed up, but I could not recover the cat from the deep dark thorny snarl he'd gotten himself into. He didn't have any business going that far after being shot completely through with a broadhead-tipped arrow, but he did it just the same.

(Continued)

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