Here on the farm, there’s plenty of deer hunting — by us…and unfortunately, also by the avid hunters known as coyotes. Last year’s fawning season took a big hit because of them, so when I was approached by a local trapper, I jumped at the chance to have him take some of the coyotes off the place using traps that don’t harm any animals (even a paw as small as a raccoon’s). I also had a rule: only take the “new residents”: the coyotes and armadillos. Nothing else. The foxes, opossums, bobcats, raccoons and even wandering dogs have been here long before we ever got to this place. They’re a key part of this ecosystem and, well, they just belong here. The others are relatively new here and have wrecked havoc since they arrived.
Trapper Jack (that’s what my boys call him) sent me a story and pictures of an encounter he had over the weekend. With his permission, I’m sharing it with you. It’s a rare chance for us to see an elusive creature who shares his home with us…
I caught a good size tom bobcat last Sunday morning and thought I would share some pictures and the story with you. I went out early to check traps so that I could make it home in time for church. I have 3 traps set along the runway area and usually check those first. That morning I was alone and arrived about 0600, well before daylight. My plan was to drive in along the road and use a spotlight to check two traps that were on the far side of the runway.
At the first one, I saw a pair of eyes looking back at me. They were not moving and it looked like whatever it was, was lying down. I said to myself, maybe a raccoon, but also I was thinking bobcat. I decided to drive on and check the other two traps and deal with it on the way out. At the next trap there was a big coon waiting. I just drove by again thinking I will take care of it on the way out. At the next trap I saw eyes again and thought another coon. I got out with a flashlight and my catch pole and walked over. It was a coon which I released with no problem even though it was tricky in the dark. I reset the trap and went back to the next one. He was the typical fighter and it took a few minutes but he was released unharmed and I reset the trap. I do not believe either had been in the trap long, because the trap circle was not disturbed much at all.
Then I went back to the first trap. It was just beginning to get light and I walked across the runway with just the catch pole. As I got closer I saw nothing and was wondering what happened to the animal. Then when I was 15 feet or so away I saw a slight movement and realized there was a big bobcat laying there starring at me. I moved a little closer and saw that he was caught good and then went back to the truck to get my camera.
I waited a little while for better light and took a couple of pictures. Then I retrieved a plastic tub that I carry extra traps in. I use it for bobcat releases. The plan is to get the tub over the cat and then work the leg with the trap out thru a slot in the side of the tub, remove the trap and then after the bobcat calms down I tilt the tub up and it runs away. This usually works out very well…
It took a couple of attempts but I got the tub over it and the paw with the trap was sticking out so I just rotated the tub around until the notch was around it’s leg. Piece of cake! I removed the trap and he pulled his leg back under the tub. I sat there on the tub for a minute catching my breath and thinking “this big boy made me work up a sweat already”. Then I got up and walked away quickly and picked up my camera and catch pole. I planned to give him a few minutes and then take my rake and tilt the tub up.
Well the cat started moving along with the tub still over it! He went about 20 yds and stopped. Then took off again and after a few yards, the tub turned up on its side and rolled away. I expected the cat to run away but it just stood there looking around. Then it walked over to the tub and got inside it! It kept trying to get deeper in the tub and then started rolling the thing backwards. Looked like a hamster in a wheel.
This went on for several yards and then the tub flipped upright. I was trying to get pictures of all this and at this point the cat would peek out at me and then duck back down.
I got a few pictures and then tried to scare it away by waving my arms and making noise. It just curled up and laid down. I didn’t want to take an unnecessary chance so I went and got my truck and drove up to it. It still did not want to leave. Finally I bumped the tub and it stood up and looked out then jumped out and ran in the woods. Hope you enjoy the story and the pictures..
Thank you, Jack! We so seldom ever see the bobcats — and this guy looks fat and healthy. It’s a treat to see. (And you can send in a story anytime! Love it!)