Bobcat control in Texas

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Wildlife biologist and outdoor writer Larry Weishuhn is in search of bobcats to help protect whitetail fawns and rather unusually — wallabies.

“Don’t remember seeing a bump on that log when I sat down here to start calling,” I thought to myself. I kept calling on my mouth blown, dying jackrabbit distress call. I looked again at the oak log. The bump or knot was still there…but now it was about three feet to the left. Ever so slowly, continuing to call, I raised my dad’s 30-30 and pointed it in the direction of the bump. Through the side-mount, Weaver K4 scope, I saw what looked like a log knot morph into a bobcat’s head and shoulders. I quit calling and moved onto the rifle stock and trigger for the shot. I feared the bobcat would hear the loud and rapid thumps of my heart beat!

I centered the crosshairs on the cat’s chest and pulled the trigger.

Moments later on shaky knees I approached my downed bobcat. I could scarcely believe my good fortune. I had wanted to take a bobcat since I was in short britches. Finally, I had taken one, one that I had called in. I was thrilled!

Larry blows enticing sounds of a dying cottontail rabbit on his Convergent Hunting Solutions mouth blown call

I grabbed the 20lb bobcat and took off at a run toward my car, carefully placed it in the trunk and drove to town to show it to my bride of five months. I could hardly wait to show it to her and tell her my story. En route I tried to come up with ways to tell her I was going to have it mounted life-size and how she and I would have to miss a few meals so I could afford to pay the taxidermy bill.

That was quite a few years ago, but I remember it as if it had been yesterday.

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Over the years I have carried on a love-hate relationship with bobcats. They fascinate me! As a wildlife biologist I know they are extremely effective predators on whitetail fawns. As such, I have often helped remove bobcats from the properties I managed for whitetail deer. As a trapper back when bobcat pelts brought good money, upwards of $300 or more per pelt, I had pursued them to make money to help feed my family. As a hunter I have long been calling them with predator calls, electronic and hand-held mouth blown calls of various designs. I dearly love calling them with mouth-blown calls.

I live in Texas where fortunately we have not only a stable, but an expanding bobcat population. This is in part due to low fur prices and because we have had fortuitous rains which created food for a tremendous prey base. This has greatly increased adult and kitten survival. Near many suburban communities, bobcat populations have increased to where these “little lions” have become serious predators on pets, as well as wildlife.

Recently while hunting Sandstone Mountain Ranch for whitetails I learned a large bobcat had developed a sweet tooth for the ranch owner’s wallabies, a subspecies of kangaroo. Beyond being pets, the wallabies were also very expensive meals for a bobcat. “Time to remove some bobcats!” said the ranch owner.

Unfortunately, I had to leave before I had a chance to try calling bobcats. But before leaving I gave Chris Treiber, the ranch’s hunt/ranch manager, my Convergent Hunting Solutions calls, a Bullet HP (electronic call) and a couple of cottontail in distress mouth blown calls (open and closed reed calls).

A couple of weeks later I stopped by the ranch to retrieve my calls before heading to another hunt. “Gotta show you the bobcats I shot after you left, both big toms. Shot them with my Ruger Predator shooting 223 Hornady 55-grain V-MAX.” Before I could respond Chris continued, “Used Convergent’s closed reed cottontail on the first one. I forgot to charge the Bullet HP as you suggested.”

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Chris with the first of two bobcats he called in shot on the Sandstone Mountain Ranch

“I found a place where I could lay down, just beyond the barns from the kangaroo pen. After letting things settle down, I started blowing the call. I blew it off and on for about 20 minutes, knowing bobcats are sometimes slow to respond. I was laying there trying to catch my breath when I saw a big bobcat walk to the edge on the other side and just stand there looking in my direction. I was set up perfectly in a prone position, my Ruger pointed almost exactly where the cat stood. All I had to do was center the crosshairs on the old tom and gently squeeze the trigger.”

He continued by saying he initially thought he had shot the bobcat that was killing and eating kangaroos. But that very night another kangaroo was killed and partially eaten. If he had killed one of the ’roo killers there was a second.

According to Chris, late the next afternoon he set up to call on the other side of the barn next to a dense thicket. This time he was using the Bullet HP, wanting to use sounds different from the cottontail rabbit distress call he had used the day before.

After setting up the call with decoying flag attached, he sat down about 50 yards away and used Bluetooth on his phone to start and vary his calls. “Selected the jackrabbit distress,” he said.

He hesitated, “Have to back up a bit to tell you I checked the feeding activity charts found in the pages of “Lone Star Outdoor News” to find out when the peak feeding time was. I learned a long time ago my calling success is greatly increased when I call during peak and minor feeding times.” He continued, “The time was right!”

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Chris Treiber with the second of two bobcats he called up after bobcats started killing kangaroos

“No sooner had I started the call than two gray foxes charged in. I was tempted to shoot them, but didn’t. Thought if I shot the fox, the bobcat might not come in.”

“The two foxes milled around and a couple of minutes later left. About then I glanced toward the whitebrush (privet) thicket and saw mockingbirds diving at something in the brush below. I had seen them do this in the past when I had a bobcat approaching. I suspected they were doing now.”

“I pointed my Ruger in the direction of the diving birds and waited. Moments later a big tom stepped out of the thicket. I found him in my scope, locked the crosshairs on his vitals and pulled the trigger on my Hornady V-MAX load. When the bullet hit, he jumped straight up in the air, but then never moved after falling to the ground.”

Hornady’s 55 grain V-MAX . 223 fired from a Ruger American Predator is a perfect combination for bobcats

While I photographed Chris with his bobcats I asked him if he thought he had taken the kangaroo-killing bobcats. “I’d like to think so. Both cats were big males, and certainly capable of killing wallabies. But while scouting to set up for the second one, I saw what looked like two different set of big bobcat tracks. If there is another one, hopefully he doesn’t have a taste for marsupials!

I got a call from Chris a few days later. “You might want to come to the ranch, we lost another kangaroo to a bobcat last night.”

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>