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For Better Hunting, Don't Shoot The Female Bobcat

bobcat huntingThe predator caller that goes after a bobcat should know the habits of this feline.

Female bobcats are not good mothers, especially when one compares their maternal instincts to those of coyotes and fox. A female bobcat does not prepare any sort of den or nest for birthing as do canines. She might drop kittens under an overhang or next to a log. Litters number two to five, usually on the low side. Most bobcats mate in late winter or early spring, though I have seen half-grown kittens practically every month of the year. Survival rates aren’t good. Some females, if threatened, will abandon their babies rather than fight. Some even eat their young if they are hungry enough. All of this considered, it is easily understood that while bobcats are distributed all over the east, they are never in great abundance.

The male, commonly known as the tom, is a prime example of a deadbeat dad. He breeds the female and leaves. He is not there when the young are born and does nothing to help support them. Conversely, he instinctively knows the general area of the female’s home range and will later try to find her for a very specific reason. He wants to eat the kittens, which will fill his belly and result in the female going back into estrus so he can breed her again. What a dirty old man!

Several males may roam the general area of a female’s home range. They keep tabs on females for all the reasons mentioned above. Females are almost always noticeably smaller than males, thus I never shoot what I deem to be a “small” cat because I don’t want to kill a female. When a female is killed, the males in the area will likely leave to search out areas where there are females. Some districts are completely devoid of bobcats simply because the females in that area have been killed. It is not an easy task to recognize the female before pulling the trigger, but sparing her will vastly improve the chances of a better bobcat population.

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