About five minutes later, I looked over there again, and what do my wondering eyes behold? Another bobcat walking through the same opening, about eight feet away from the first one! Again I quickly shouldered the rifle, but this cat was moving a bit more quickly than the first and I hit him a bit too far back. He ran, and I heard him crash in the dry leaves and brush a time or two.
A friend and I tracked and found that cat, and he had gone an incredible forty to fifty yards before he'd expired. Among other tracking clues was one speck of blood and a piece of his liver! But there was no blood trail, even at that. Cats don't seem to bleed much, even when shot through-and-through - but they sure can keep going when any other animal would just lay down and die.
The second cat was a male and was noticeably smaller than the first, which was a female. I have no idea why they were travelling together, but the second one must not have been very observant, or else just didn't care that his cohort lay dead in that clearing as he approached.
More recently, I was hunting a stand in north Florida, making some notes on a pad of paper. I looked up from my notes and looked around me, and saw a shadow move. Knowing full well that shadows don't move, I turned and raised the rifle - again, the Marlin 45-70. The shadow became a bobcat, and I fired as it walked away from me and started to disappear behind some brush, but apparently I missed it. I found no sign of a hit, and no cat either.
Two days later I spotted a low ghostly golden movement in the brush nearby, which I am convinced was that cat if not another - but like most of its relatives, it did not linger and I had no chance to get a shot at it.
Some may ask, "Why do I shoot these cats?" I mentioned one answer early on - they eat the game that I like to hunt. Bobcats eat a lot of small game like squirrels and rabbits, along with wild turkeys and even young deer. And there needs to be some check on all animal populations, including predators. Not to mention that most bobcats have mighty pretty hides. And finally, if I was to kill every cat that I see, I would not seriously dent the wild feline population - they are just too elusive and hard to kill.
I've never taken a bobcat when I was seriously hunting predators, but I suspect that the challenge would be right up there with deer hunting, if not greater. One of these days I'll have to give it a shot.
- Russ Chastain