Tactics for Bobcat
By Justin Merrill

The allure of hunting entails the challenge and thrill of the chase. Bobcat hunting fits the bill perfectly. Trying to fool the most wary of predators – the bobcat – has got to be the toughest challenge of all hunts.

     The most important task is to find where the animals are aplenty. You'll be wasting valuable time if your setting baits, ambushing or calling where there are no bobcat tracks, scat mounds, markings on trees, kill sites and more. The first place you need to scout should be nearby rivers, streams and swampland. Every trail camera picture and bobcat I have killed was taken near water. Bobcat's love riparian mixed deciduous and coniferous forestland with dense cover. Your best friend will be the trail camera. Set a dozen or more trail cameras in areas you believe to hold bobcat. Cameras should be at least three feet above the ground and angled downward. Gather all the information on the bobcats travel patterns before establishing plans “A”, “B” and “C” for killing these deer-eating predators.

Make sure the season is open and that you have the proper license or tags in your state. The first tactic I'll share has fast become the most popular method and that is using distress calls also known as “predator calling”. The raspier the rabbit or hare distress calls are better. My go-to distress call is the fawn or deer type calls when other calls dry up. To every one bobcat I call in using hare distress calls, I call up three or more using fawn distress. My favorite part about targeting bobcat when out predator calling is I can do it during the warmest part of the day. Bobcat are more diurnal than people think. I've only ever gotten two or three nocturnal pictures of bobcat and when baiting bobcat they always showed up to eat between nine 'o clock in the morning and three or four in the evening.

     Baiting! A deer carcass is best if you can get one. Collect them from all your buddies who have harvested deer, save your own, call your local butcher shop and collect road kill. I've killed a bobcat coming into a hanging bait in a bag. I don't know if this stuff still exists, however, I had found “bait in a bag” from Cabela's and used it to kill a bobcat.

     Location is key. Where you place a bobcat bait must be decided first. This bobcat I shot using hanging bag bait was located right in a wetland nearseveral beaver ponds. Remember! Riparian forestland will be your starting point. I love to place my baits on top of ridges running parallel to a stream bottom. My second best choice would be placing bait near a stream or brook in a shallow ravine and establish your sit spot above at about fifty or more yards behind a make-shift or commercial blind. Prepare your meat-icicle (meat scraps frozen in a bucket of water with a rope) a month ahead of time and collect all the carcasses from friends and butchers that you can. Tie everything down so coyote don't drag everything off. Hang some – bobcat are extremely “visual hunters” - and tie off carcasses to trees. Make darn sure you have a way to enter your blind quietly and without getting spotted. Behind my house bobcat visit my bait sites anytime between eight and eleven in the morning and I've walked in on bobcat at the bait as early as two 'o clock in the afternoon. You won't need to head out at ten at night and camp out in below zero temps until three in the morning like you do for coyote.

     It's not all that common but some hunters have success ambushing the bobcat. This tactic will work great once you have established the bobcats exact hunting routes. Find those territorial scratching posts with fresh scat nearby and find the best vantage point for your ambush. It wouldn't hurt to purchase the bobcat urine from Antler Ice along with some scent wicks to increase your chances. One geographical area to look for when setting out to ambush the bobcat would be river bottoms with lots of deer and dense cover nearby. Bobcats love deer!

     So you want to shoot a bobcat? Try these tactics – calling, baiting and ambushing within bobcat habitat to get a crack at one. Always remember that you are wasting your time if the sign, food, cover and water doesn't exist. If you think about it, for a second, it's the same rule that applies when hunting everything else. It's that simple. Best of luck out there. Take lots of pictures and share at www.facebook.com/wildmaineoutdoors.

Justin has over 25 years of hunting experience. He is one of the Host's for the TV show, “Wild Maine Outdoors” found on the Hunt Channel and the Outdoor Adventure Network (OANTV). You may learn more by visiting www.WildMaineOutdoors.com.


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