In the forests of Mississippi, large predators are few and far between. We don’t have grizzly bears or wolves, and contrary to what your friend Robbie says, there hasn’t been a confirmed panther sighting in decades. What we do have are wildcats.
What is a wild cat?
With a scientific name like Lynx rufus, the lynx is a true native of Mississippi. Full-bodied and about twice the size of a large house cat, they are easily identified by their bobtail knot. Yellow / gray to red in color with broken black striped horizontal lines and small ear tufts, they resemble the lynx to which they are closely related. The bobcat is muscular and its hind legs are longer than the front legs, giving it a characteristic rocking gait.
Life is hard for a wild cat. While some bobcats have lived to be 32 years old in the safe confines of captivity, where food for regular animals and predators does not exist, the average lifespan of these plumed-eared felines in the wild is about half , and most don’t even make it to a decade. . Coyote preaching about wildcats occurs although MSU studies have shown that they can coexist in the same area as long as the food supply is adequate. In addition to coyotes, young kittens have to worry about eagles, hawks, foxes, and raccoons.
They grow fast and by their first birthday, provided they make it, they can weigh up to ten pounds. Typically, in Mississippi, large adult cats caught by hunters and trappers weigh 15-20 pounds and are up to a yard long, although they may grow much larger. These bad boys get huge in the northern states and in 2009, an 18-year-old man weighing 52 pounds was kidnapped in Minnesota.
Bob’s Habitat and Habits
In a 1989-92 study that MDWFP conducted on captured, radio-placed, and released adult lynxes, they found that these short-tailed sneaks live in almost any environment, but they tend to slightly prefer farmland and pine plantations to others. areas. Bobcats are the absolute nemesis of wild rabbits, voles, cotton rats, and squirrels in the Mississippi forests. Your best bet for finding wildcats is to find an area covered in brush with the above. Eventually old Mr. Bobcat will try to move out and establish a residence. Once they do, they will establish a den and move within radius of it, marking their area. Although you may smell strong urine or encounter the occasional lynx droppings, be aware that they often wade into the water to relieve themselves, especially if there is a healthy population of coyotes in the area. Often times, males are also observed to use stream banks as travel and hunting lanes, so you may be able to find footprints in those areas if they are muddy enough. Remember that even though they have five toes on their front legs, only four will be present on their footprints.
Bobcats are twilight, which means that they are active mainly during twilight. This puts the stalking time to a few hours before and after sunrise and sunset. However, during the cold winter with short days, especially in December and January, bobcats break this normal habit and often appear to forage during normal daylight hours.
Tips and Tricks for Hunters
Most Mississippi athletes get their best luck with Bobs by catching them, but some make good sport hunting these guys. It’s not uncommon for bloodhounds to take out these felines during a deer or hog tour and remember, if it’s open gun season, bobcats are fair game too. According to MDWFP, there are no daily limits or possession or minimum size of bobcats from November 1 to February 28 of each year due to the predatory nature of these bad boys. Any caliber from 22LR and up is a good bobcat round, but if you’re looking for a good mount, shotguns might be a bad idea.
You can specifically target these cats and call them to a post using mouse calls and rabbit calls, but make sure you are in close contact with their camouflage, as their eyesight is almost as good as a turkey’s. If there is no answer to your calls after about an hour, move to another area and set up again.
Remember, old Mr. Bob, aka Rufus, is a wary forest cat, but each one you manage to collect saves a legion of rabbits, a few fawns, and makes an interesting mount.