First Bobcat of Fall

With the foxes last weekend and the coyote a few weeks before, I am in full swing for predator season. I have been avoiding some of my coyote hot spots, hoping to save some for the FoxPro hunting contest this year. So in the mean time I have been doing a lot of scouting and a little calling.

Saturday morning I went out to Unit 22 with my buddy Don. We went into a spot on Sycamore Creek that had been closed for the past few months due to the Sunflower fire. We were a little late getting out there but we put in three 20 minute stands without anything coming in. We also didn’t hear any howls in response to our calls. Last year I regularly got a great response to group howls in that area. It could have been too late in the morning, or maybe there just weren’t any coyote around. We spent the rest of the morning driving the back roads looking for scat and tracks with little success.

Sunday night I was having a hard time sleeping, so about 4am I gave up and decided to get out and do some calling for a few hours. I headed about an hour north of Phoenix in Unit 20b. I went to a place where I had done some calling a few weeks back and had a few coyotes howling back to me.

I hiked into a wide wash with my FoxPro Hellfire and my R-15 until I found a fairly open area with a clear hillside overlooking it. I set up my Hellfire in the middle of the clearing right in the middle of a dead staghorn cactus. From here there was a clear line of site in every direction for about 40 yards. I climbed the hill and set myself up about 60 yards from the caller, I could see just about every route to the caller, but there was a palo verde tree right in between me and where the caller was setup. This is a good thing because I think I tend to watch the caller and decoy if I have a totally clear line of sight to them.

I started the call at about 25% volume and turned it up over the next two minutes to just under 50% running cottontail distress. I was facing West and the sun was coming up behind me but I was still in the shade of the hillside. About 2 minutes later I heard a series of howls off to my right, at least a pair of coyote, maybe more, but a long way off. About two minutes after those howls I decided to switch sounds to reach out to those coyote. I grabbed my remote, highlighted the sound I wanted, and looked up just in time to see a bobcat coming in to the call from the right.

It was standing tall but creeping in to the caller. I put my scope on it and was shocked by the spots on its back. Most of the bobcats I have shot were almost completely solid orange on their backs but this one was covered in tan spots. I had not planned on taking any bobcats this early I the year, but I have an idea for a project in my head and really wanted these spots.

At about 70 yards I took a broadside shot, the cat flipped about 10 feet in the air, took three steps, and collapsed. I kept the call running for another 10 minutes with a mix of sounds before going over to check out the cat. It was thinner then I had thought, but tall, by far the longest legs and body of any bobcat I have shot. The spots looked great too, I can’t wait to get this one tanned.

I skinned the cat in a big mesquite tree and was back in town by 8am. Pretty great way to start the day.

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