CALL IN A COOL CAT

Field and Stream - - THE MIXED-BAG CHEAT SHEET - —W.B.

For many hun­ters, a bob­cat mount over the man­tel is as prized as a white­tail buck, and late Novem­ber—when bob­cat sea­sons typ­i­cally open—is a prime time to call one in. Bob­cats are no­to­ri­ously reclu­sive, but com­pared with coy­otes, they’re eas­ier to call. The prob­lem is antsy preda­tor hun­ters of­ten change sets be­fore giv­ing a bob­cat time to re­spond.

Get Out: Bob­cats pre­fer re­mote, rugged coun­try, so set up on the fringes of the thick stuff. Dark hol­lows, dense clear-cuts, and brushy canyons far away from civ­i­liza­tion hold the most cats. If you can scout ahead of time for tracks and scat, you’re ahead of the game.

Take Cover: When I’m hunt­ing coy­otes, I like a good field of view in an open area to catch them cir­cling down­wind. But cats rarely cir­cle or charge straight into a call­ing setup, so you can sit tighter to cover. Usu­ally, a bob­cat will slink through the brush all the way to the call, and show it­self at the last sec­ond, when it ap­pears to pounce. A bob­cat may take an hour to com­mit to a call­ing setup, so be pa­tient. At­ten­tion Grab­bers: Use small-prey dis­tress sounds— rab­bits and birds—and keep the elec­tronic caller go­ing con­stantly at medium vol­ume to fix a cat’s at­ten­tion. A turkey feather tied to a string and staked out over the caller, or a mo­tor­ized preda­tor de­coy, is very ef­fec­tive. Scale Down: Bob­cats aren’t as tough as coy­otes, and their hide is very soft. Fran­gi­ble bul­lets from high-ve­loc­ity varmint ri­fles can do more dam­age to the hide than a taxi­der­mist can re­pair, so opt for a bul­let with more con­trolled ex­pan­sion. When hunt­ing at close quar­ters, use a shot­gun or down­size your ri­fle to a .22 Hor­net or a .22 WMR.

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