Bobcat Bonanza!

by Liam Beheler, 12 | Oct 22, 2021 | 0 comments

Elusive, secretive, camouflaged. This perfectly describes the bobcat, one of North America’s smallest wildcats. My first glimpse of a bobcat was from my deer stand one chilly October evening, ten minutes before dark. A shadow trotted up the hill along gurgling Little Pine Creek. What was it? Too small for a wily coyote…too big for a feral cat…too lithe for an ambling raccoon…a short bobbed tail told me it could not be a red fox. The only thing left was a bobcat. I could hardly sit still with excitement during the brief encounter. What a surprise!

A few weeks later, I started a science experiment to compare what types of lures would attract wildlife the best. Of all the mammals here in Indiana, I was hoping to find some more bobcats! I set up trail cameras with different types of lures at two different properties where bobcats had been seen in the last month. Four trail cameras were attached to trees, aimed at T-posts holding the lures. Some wildlife, like raccoons, are attracted to food, so one station had honey mustard sardines in a plastic cup drilled with holes. Other animals, like bobcats and squirrels, are curious and can be attracted to visual lures, so I rigged an old, shiny CD and feathers attached to a stick at another. A wildlife biologist friend suggested using a cologne called Obsession. I sprayed the cologne on cotton balls and stuck them in another cup drilled with holes. Stinky! This would serve as a behavioral lure to attract mammals that mark their territories like coyotes and wild cats. Plus, I set up a control site with just a camera aimed at an empty cup. Was it ever hard to be patient!

Finally, two weeks later, I checked the cameras. At the Ringer property, squirrels played with the CD, raccoons tried to break into the sardines, deer and one nervous coyote investigated the cologne station. Sadly, no bobcats. At the Jewell property, opossums waddled over to the sardines before the raccoons unscrewed the lid to steal a snack. Deer wandered through to take a peek at the strange equipment that had magically appeared in the woods. A coyote hurried to its den. Then a picture of a spotted animal sniffing the Obsession. Could it be!?

“Bobcat!” I shouted. Mom and Dad, who had been in the woods with me, hurried over to inspect the photos. I had a bonanza of bobcat photos! Three separate nights a bobcat investigated the station, trying to figure out who had invaded his territory. On his first visit, we even captured photos of him scent-marking saplings near the lure. Interestingly, other wildlife avoided this site.

Secretive? Yes! Camouflaged? Yes! Elusive? No more!

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