Bobcats are a slow and secretive animal, one you can’t hurry. When you call cats you do so on their terms. This takes a lot of patience by the hunter. The biggest mistake callers make is quitting too soon. You have to stay with it a least twenty-five minutes or longer for best results. I have had cats respond to my calling forty-five minutes after I stopped calling.
A bobcat is no harder to call than a fox or coyote. But, it takes more patience and time to deceive a bobcat; bobcats are not as plentiful nor as widespread as other predators, and it lives in a different type of terrain; and probably most important of all, the character of the bobcat makes it hard to tell if you actually called one in or not, especially in daylight.
This is because of the cat’s ability to use native cover to its best advantage, moving very slowly and always staying hidden. A bobcat might come in close, look the situation over, see something that looks out of place, and move away, never being seen by the hunter.
Bobcats are widespread throughout the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico. They are found from southern British Columbia down to northern Mexico, and from Nova Scotia to Florida, both lengthwise and crosswise the continent. Cats favor dense brushy habitat, the thicker the better. When calling in daylight look for them along streams, which are flanked with heavy brush and trees. Occasionally at night you can call them on flats; but brushy terrain is better. If you are in a spot where you can see no more than thirty feet in any direction, you are in likely in a good place. Bobcats do not roam over a lot of country, being animals of limited range. If a bobcat is sighted, you can be reasonably assured when returning to the same area that the cat will not be far off.
A bobcat can be destructive at times, killing livestock and pets. For this reason most landowner’s welcome hunters wishing to pursue cats. Bobcats follow trails and along roads, and these are likely spots to look for signs, droppings and tracks. Another prospect is around water. The best time to call at a waterhole is just after dark, when they go to get a drink.
Once you have prospective spot pinpointed, search out a place near the edge of dense brush, where the bushes thin out somewhat, and are separated by enough patches of clearing to make the cat show itself should it answer the call. A good spot, which offers the best possible vantage, and where you are less likely to be detected, is the low fork of a tree. Ground blinds are another good option.
Blow on the predator call just as you would when hunting coyotes or foxes, but stay at it longer. Carefully watch your surroundings for the movement of a cat, but be careful that you do not move too much and get noticed. Look below bushed for the slightest movement. A cat is probably the easiest of all predators to call within range, because when a cat approaches as close as it intends to come, it will, more often than not, sit down and look around, staying there only for a very short period of time, not moving, making an inviting target.
The most important thing to remember is to call steadily for at least 30 minutes. Check your watch and use it as a guide. Thirty minutes is longer than you might think. It is easy to quit calling too soon if you do not check the time. Sometimes a cat will answer right away, like the fox, but only if it is close by when you start to call.
Another point to keep in mind is that the bobcat depends on eyesight for its primary defense, not its nose, as do the fox and coyote. This is why concealment is particularly important when calling bobcats and the caller should remain as still as humanely possible. A bobcat might cross down wind and ignore the danger signal, but let it catch the flash of a casually turned rifle barrel, and it will make tracks, not towards you as you hoped, but in the opposite direction.
In daylight, camouflage clothing is almost a must, even down to the head net which covers the face. The subtle blend of browns and greens in camouflage patterns does a good job. I would not attempt to call in a cat in the daytime without it. I am convinced that camouflage clothing makes the difference between a successful hunt, and one that is not. A predator is not like other animals. It knows that it has to either kill or be killed. You do not outwit one by being careless. Camouflage clothing is an aid the hunter can put to his advantage.
- The more people you have on a hunt, the less are your chances of success. Try to keep it to just two hunters, with three being the maximum.
- Always wear camouflage. Once a predator is bought in by your calls, and you fail to connect it will be hard to fool that animal again. Make it count the first time.
- If you plan on calling an area several times in a short time frame change your calls. Begin with a coarse call, one with low pitch and tone. On your next hunt use one with a higher pitch. On the third hunt use a very high-pitched call, like the squeals of a mouse. Then maybe a wounded bird call.
- When hunting in the snow wear an all white camouflage outfit. This also means putting a white wrap on your weapon. Sunlight reflecting off a blue barrel will send predators running.
- Wear suitable clothing for the weather. It is better to over dress than under dress. The uncomfortable caller is a careless caller.
- When using an electronic caller always make sure you have good batteries, and take extras with you. Also, have mouth calls at the ready if all else fails.
It is the little things that will make or break a hunt. Never take anything for granted. Calling any predator is a real challenge that you must work at, both manually and intelligently. To have it any other way would be downgrading the sport.
Fred Eichler has some good advice in this video if you are interested in calling in bobcats during the day.