By Leigh Ann Bodenchuk, Editorial Assistant
A European subscriber recently requested our assistance in finding an inexpensive bobcat hunt, eliminating the well-documented hound hunts in western Canada. That led us on a search that quickly became more complex than we had imagined initially. Here’s what we found.
Bobcats are common in the US, though densities vary. In general, the farther north you go, the fewer cats, but there are exceptions.
Here’s where things get goofy. Bobcats are listed as furbearers, and the only way to harvest one in a number of states is with a trapper’s license—even if you’re not going to use a trap. Because bobcats are one of the few furbearers with significant commercial value right now, licenses may be limited and nonresidents may be shut out. In some states, anyone can get a license, but a tag is required, which must be applied for and obtained before the trapping season.
Additionally, most states require a CITES permit for any bobcat, and a CITES tag is required to export the pelt from the US. Since our request came from a European subscriber, the availability of a license and CITES tag is critical. California, for example, has a lot of bobcats, but voters recently approved a measure prohibiting commercial use of bobcats, essentially precluding CITES tags from this state. The list of states starts to dwindle.
Finally, our subscriber specified a bobcat with a good pelt. Some southeastern states have incredible numbers of bobcats. While Hunting Report Editor-at-Large Mike Bodenchuk (my dad) was trapping beavers for the government in Mississippi, bobcats were so common that about 25% of the beavers caught were stolen by bobcats. However, MS bobcats have short hair and are not well marked, so trophy value is limited.
When predator calling, you need enough cats to provide a reasonable expectation for success. Texas, for a lot of reasons, rises to the top of the list as a bobcat destination, offering high populations and decent pelts. West of the Pecos River and the entire Texas panhandle north of Abilene gets cold enough to produce good fur in the winter. Texas bobcats are considered nongame, meaning that a nonresident can hunt on a five-day nongame license for less than $50 and harvest as many bobcats as he wants. Although the season is year-round, CITES tags are issued to cats harvested only during the regular furbearer commercial harvest season, Nov. through March, which is when the pelts are best. Finally, there are a number of ranches that offer predator calling, including a few outfitters who specialize in this during the winter. Hunts offered in Jan. and Feb. (after the TX deer season) are popular, affordable and could be scheduled around the big hunting conventions in Dallas and Las Vegas.
Mike Bodenchuk recommends two outfitters for Texas bobcat hunts. “Both publisher Barbara Crown and I have hunted with Magnum Guide Service (325-853-1555; www.magnumguide.com). I have never hunted with Texas Specialty Hunts (214-707-5833; www.texasvarminthunting.com), but I know the country he hunts, and it has good bobcats.”
Another option is Arizona, especially north around Flagstaff (where you can hunt with snow on the ground) or in the higher country in the southeast part of the state. Bobcats can be hard to call on public land due to hunting pressure. There are a lot of mountain lion outfitters who can run one with hounds, though bobcats are tough to hunt with dogs. Their feet are small, and they leave little scent, making following one on dry ground a difficult proposition. The price of the hunt reflects the effort required.
Mike Bodenchuk tells us, “In AZ, one outfitter who specializes in calling is Predator Exclusives (928-315-5889; https://predatorexclusives.com). Some of the best hounds in AZ are run by Dieringer Outfitters (928-322-2627; http://dieringeroutfitters.com). They offer dry ground lion hunts regularly, but you may have to talk them into a bobcat hunt (or book a lion hunt with a bobcat/coatimundi combo). This is probably more expensive than a TX hunt and likely less successful, but these guys are the real deal.”
If you are looking for you own dream bobcat hunt, our database features 24 articles featuring bobcats and 41 reports with bobcats listed as a sought species. Of those 41 reports, 11 are exclusively for bobcats while all others were combination hunts with other species. The bobcat reports we have are from Texas, Idaho, British Columbia, California, Michigan, Arizona, Maine, Sonora, Wisconsin and Missouri. Seventeen reports mention using hounds. If you’ve hunted bobcat in North America, please file a hunt report.