Calling all BOBCATS
Great strides have been made with calling systems, and the sport has exploded in the last decade
January 01, 2008
|Before trying a bobcat hunt be sure to check the DNR's rules and regulations. Rick Baetsen photo|
Predator hunting has become increasing more popular in the past decade. There have been great strides made with new calling systems and hunting videos on the market. Plus with the decrease in trapping and the increase in the fur-bearing populations, predator hunting is popular across America.
I started predator hunting in the early 1980s in Wayne and Monroe Counties. I first learned from a long time friend of my Charlie Sant'Angelo. Charlie and I would go out after dark and try calling in fox with an injured rabbit call. There weren't many coyotes back in those days, especially in that part of the state.
We had pretty good success, but you never really knew what was going to come in to your call; dogs, cats, owls and even a deer once in a while. Once while hunting I had a big owl swoop down over my head at what it thought was an easy dinner, I never saw it but heard it in time to duck. It soon realized that it wasn't an injured rabbit and left as fast as it arrived. That will make the hair on the back of your neck stand-up! After that we always sat with our back to a tree.
In 2000, while living in northern Michigan, I started hunting coyotes. I had a Jimmy Stewart call and would hunt in the evenings. I averaged calling in a coyote for every 10 hunts and found it just as exciting as harvesting a big buck. But, it isn't an easy task. Coyotes are very smart and use the wind to their advantage.
I later tried to call in bobcats with little success. I even tried hunting bobcats and coyotes behind dogs, but again didn't have any success.
I have a friend who lives not far from my home in northern Michigan. One day we were talking about bobcat hunting and he informed me that the swamp near his property holds several bobcats. After some further discussion he gave me the o.k. to bobcat hunt his property.
I have another friend who had taken a bobcat a few years ago in the same area I would be hunting. So, I decided to talk to him and try to get some advice as to the best way to approach this hunt. He had placed a beaver carcass in the area he was going to hunt about three weeks before the season started. Bobcats love beaver meat and it was a good method to use to keep a hungry bobcat in the area. Bobcats normally have a wide area that they call home. I felt by using the beaver carcass it would keep any hungry bobcats in the area from roaming and looking for food elsewhere.
So, last year in mid December I placed two beaver carcasses in the area I was going to hunt along with a pop-up blind, concealed well, about 60 yards away. Bobcats are very smart animals and don't rush in, they can take up to an hour to come into a call.
With fresh snow in early January I decided my odds of seeing a bobcat before the bobcat saw me were good. About 3 p.m. I arrived and started playing an injured rabbit on my fox pro caller. It didn't take 15 minutes before I saw a bobcat sneaking up along the opposite riverbank. It stopped behind a tree for what seemed to be several minutes then moved into a small clearing, trying to figure out where the injured rabbit was. Placing my 22 mag. on my shooting sticks the bobcat dropped in his tracks. What excitement, my first bobcat after sitting only 15 minutes!
If you are going to try to hunt bobcats there are a few things you should take into account. The seasons and bag limits are different depending on where you are going to hunt. In the U.P. you can hunt or trap bobcats, in the lower you can only hunt them. You need to buy a fur harvester's license to hunt or trap bobcats. You must tag your bobcat immediately after harvesting it. You must also register your bobcat with the DNR before a certain deadline. You can't hunt bobcats after dark and you must wear hunter's orange when hunting fur bearing animals. I recommend that you read the Michigan Hunting and Trapping guide before you attempt to hunt or trap fur-bearing animals.
While I was hunting I wore an orange facemask and took it off for my photo of my cat. My cat weighed in at 19 lbs. Cats get up to 40 plus pounds in Michigan. If you find yourself with some free time this winter you might want to give predator hunting a chance. Bobcats can only be hunted in certain areas of northern Michigan and the U.P. Coyotes on the other hand can be hunted just about anywhere in Michigan and reside in every county in our great state.
My son has already told me he plans on hunting bobcats New Year's Day, wonder where he plans on hunting?
The author is a retired Michigan Conservation Officer and owner of JP Trophyhunts. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 989-344-9038.