THE BOBCAT AND ITS HABITS
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THE BOBCAT AND ITS HABITS

THE BOBCAT AND ITS HABITS




      

THE BOBCAT AND ITS HABITS




By COYOTE SAM

I HAVE been requested by our Editor as well as a number of readers to write an article on Pussy and its habits as have come under my observation in my many years of experience.

The Bobcat is a very irregular animal, as you never know just what they aim to do next. They have no certain trails as the coyote has, but were on their way. The only time that I ever knew of them following one certain trail is when they travel for water. From the lava beds to some water hole or stream, they will travel an old road if such is in their course, both coming and going. I believe they can do without water a number of days. They will live in a trap for several days in the hottest weather in the lava beds and anyone, who has been in the lavas in hot weather, knows just how hot it can get there.

The lava’s is their natural haunts here in the northwest also in the rocky cliff of the mountains, and you will also find a few along the dense willowy streams. They live mostly on cottontail rabbits, mice, squirrels, pack rats, game birds, such as sage hen, prairie chicken, grouse and those that live on the streams get many ducks. But about four-fifths of them that I get, their stomach content is rabbit.

We Government huntsmen have to report stomach contents of all animals killed. They kill many lambs in the spring and will not hesitate to kill a full-grown sheep. They prefer to kill their own meat and after they take a meal out of a carcass they never come back for the rest nor do they cover it up, but just leave it where they eat what they want. Their hours for hunting food is mostly just about sunset and sunrise, but I have seen them many times at midday along streams apparently hunting for some bird or squirrel. They will on seeing either man or beast drop flat on the ground and lay there for some time. I have walked within twenty feet of them many times before they would run and after they take the hint to beat it, they will keep stopping to look back. I have taken several scalps that Bobby could just as well have worn awhile longer, if he had not stopped to take one more look at me before going into the thick brush.

A good place to find them in the wintertime is on the sunny side of some rock cliff. They will come out on the crevice of the rocks to sun themselves. They can get up in the crevice of rocks where it looks impossible for anything to get without wings. They lay mostly in the daytime on round rocks or in some hollow tree or log — they don't use holes in the ground to any great extent.

They mate about Sept I5th. Their young are born about the l0th of April and on up until May and some even later. They have from one to five in a litter, but the most of the time there are only two. In fact, through last breeding season, I never caught any that had more than two unborn young and those that I caught that were nursing young there were only two teats being nursed.

I have heard old cat hunters argue up and down they never had over two at a litter but that is the fact. I saw in last month's Government Report, where one of the hunters got five kittens from one den and have killed them myself where they had four unborn young.

They have their young mostly in dens in the rocks, butts of hollow trees, hollow logs and sometimes in holes in the ground.

They are not a hard animal to catch in traps. I never set any special set for them, but just sling out my traps as if I was after the old coyote, using the same scent and I clean a country of the cat as soon as the coyote. I sometimes hang up a chicken wing or a piece of rabbit skin about eighteen inches back of my trap. A cat never misses to investigate anything like that and their eyes are much keener than their nose. Here is something that I think I am in a position to clearly give to the readers and that is the general weight of the cat as I have been carrying scales with me on my line for twenty-six days weighing each cat and I think the cats here in this locality are as big as any I have ever killed, in fact, I got one that was the largest cat I ever saw, but it was very old and quite fat. They are not as fat now as they get about November, but the extra fat they put on will not exceed two or three pounds. So I will give their weight and sex just as I have it in my diary. They were all full-grown cats and some of them were very old as you can tell by their teeth and the gray around their heads. July 21st, female 19 Ibs. July 24th, male 23 Ibs.; July 31st, male 37 Ibs. (the big one) ; Aug. 1st, female 21 Ibs.; Aug. 3rd, male 26 Ibs.; Aug. 4th, male 28 Ibs.; Aug. 12th, female 22 Ibs.; Aug. i3th, male 26 Ibs.; Aug. 141)1, male 30 Ibs. (a large one) ; Aug. i6th, male 29 Ibs. So the readers of this article may see these weights, they were an average bunch of cats and as I stated, the one that weighed thirty-seven Ibs. was far the largest I had ever seen. Of course I had no witnesses to the weighing of these cats, but if anyone doubts the catch and the dates, just write me and I will refer you to the U. S. Predatory Animal Inspector whom we send our daily reports to and he will vouch for the kill. Now to those who have been catching those fifty, sixty and ninety Ib. cats 1 wish to say that I believe they were mistaken; it was not cats at all they killed, they were elephants.

Now to those that follow hunting cats with dogs, whether for pleasure or profit, or both — I like a good tree dog one that will tell you often that he is looking Mr. Tom in the eyes up on a cedar limb. But I sooner have a dog that went open so often on the trail. I like a quick yelper, not one that wants to hear his echo across three canyons and one that is extra fast.

There are not many cats but what will take a tree at once if the dog is fast and don't make too much noise. I have known cats to jump out of trees about the time the dog gets there and continues taking trees and jumping out for several times. But the most of them will take a tree and stay there until they are punctured with a bullet or the dog leaves the tree. I don't believe a cat starts to run until a dog gets quite close on them, then they will most always take to the roughest, rocky or loggy place they can find, jumping from rock to rock or log to log and they can sure make some unbelievable jumps and its hard for a dog to follow them in such places.

I am in receipt of a letter from an attorney at Seattle, Washington, who says he hunts cats for recreation and for the benefit of those who have had like experience will give his word for it, and if anyone has had such trouble and has learned how to overcome it, I know Mr. Palmer would appreciate it if you would write and tell him how. I have never personally had such trouble so here is what Mr. Palmer says his troubles have been.

My troubles have been this: My dog would take a cold track, follow it for perhaps an hour or so, and then open up in full cry and perhaps go out of hearing before I could get up to it, and almost invariably they have run out into a burn or onto a dry hill side and I find my dogs working about in every direction, but that is the end of the chase. I have made all kinds of circles around these places, but have never been able to start Mr. Kitten again. I do not know how to explain it, or the cause of it. The cat is not lip a tree for there aren't any trees there and he isn't in the ground for there are no holes; he simply seems to have the ability of fooling the dogs, and how he does it I would like to know. I have never been able to see a cat on the ground, nor have my dog? Ever caught one on the ground? They always put them in trees and I never saw one jump out, but I would like to read or hear a good explanation from one that knows what happens under the circumstances I relate.

E. B. Palmer Seattle, Washington.

Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,

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