Bonus Bobcats - Part II
In the last issue I talked about the crossover between cat and coyote knowledge. This issue continues the discussion.

As I learned the country better every year, I caught cats that I had expected to catch somewhere else, maybe a few miles away. Western cats can travel big distances, and at times I've seen them return to a specific location only once in a season. Being able to intercept these welcome additions made my day many times over the years. I gladly packed out cats along with my coyotes.

Sagebrush country was crossed by small creek drainages, and these waterways were where the sage and other brush grew the heaviest. Being a big-bait snare man for coyotes when the opportunity exists, I searched out and found quite a few places that would hold bait, and allow me to cover the general area with trail snares. Here again the edge factor came into play, where the sagebrush hit the prairie grasses. Coyotes found the baits quickly at times, and I enjoyed some great catches when the baits were getting visited on a regular basis, especially during or after a storm front. It sometimes took a while for a cat or two to show up at these locations, but the bait and extra bird and animal activity (canines, badger, skunks, magpies, ravens, etc.) was enough of a factor that I sometimes saw in the snow where cats would double back and venture through the area a few times. They sometimes never really got too close to the bait, but they still had interest in the area.

Many times I have set snares on a single coyote track that crossed in a place that allowed me to set a snare or two. I call it 'opportune snaring'. Many times over the years, especially in snow, I've noticed where coyotes and cats will be following the same basic tracks. Let me tell you, it's a great feeling to pull on a stretched out snare cable that leads to a hump in the snow, and have it materialize into an unexpected bobcat. And, to be honest, I've had it work the other way, when a coyote or two decided to hunt a brush patch that I had set up with the expectation of a cat, after seeing their sign.

Bobcats will work canine sets too, and I've often told people that you can't keep them out of good coyote or fox sets. (The opposite isn't always true.) One of my favorite canine sets, a T-bone set with a small smear of lure or bobcat-meat based bait, will produce lots of cats. A blocking behind the trap and opposite the attractor, to create a walkthrough effect, will help cut down the misses that you will have to deal with at times. But that is easily done. Urine of any type is of interest to cats, and in my opinion, fresh coyote gland is as good a cat lure as you can get for big toms. A little of either (or both) on the blocking will help the set.
Dirt holes are cat catchers, too. I'd hate to think of how many cats are caught in them. The eye appeal, the curiosity factor, and the smell of the lure and/or bait make a combination most cats can't resist. I don't like the traditionally accepted method of feathers, wool, or fur scattered at a set, as I find that they will eventually disappear, or at times end up on the trap pattern. I prefer to let the smell(s) attract them and do their part. If I do use some fur, I secure it in place with a spike or nail, and place it at the bottom of the hole. The raptor factor is enough for me to all but discontinue doing that, but if you live in an area where that isn't an issue, a patch of fur can make good eye appeal.

I prefer to set snares in the trails I find, but at times I will make foothold sets along them, too. I am also leaning towards naturally narrowed-down spots more and more every season, for foothold sets. It doesn't have to be a real tight place, just a spot where the animal is forced down a bit more than the area around it. I don't always use lure or urine at these places, but if I do, I use it sparingly. I gang set a lot of places, and I'm thinking as much about the second and possibly third animal hanging around and getting caught in the trail snares as I am about the first catch in the foothold. Here again, a good piece of cover or location might be getting visited by more than just coyotes. Cats will find their way through them, and having the bases covered will help keep the catch numbers up.

Bobcat catch circles are especially attractive to canines, and even if a coyote refuses to get caught in one, you can use the smells to your advantage and make a set or two close by. I rarely see a coyote avoid a cat catch circle after a few days of the wind on it, so I almost always re-set after an accidental cat catch. Many times I've had to release a pre-season cat, and grumbled about the money being released, and then caught a few coyotes in the remake.

I even collect the cat droppings on the edge of the catch circle and put them to use. Any 'wet spots' can be scooped up with your trowel or shovel too, and planted at another set. The more cat smell the better.

Being a predator, and a curious one at that, will entice a cat into working a set where a canine has been. I do catch some cats in coyote catch circles, and from time to time fairly soon after taking a coyote. Usually it's a big tom, but I've seen all ages of cat show up. And I've had some cat/coyote doubles with the animals pretty close to each other, too. Here again, all that smell just makes the location that much more attractive for future use.

Any way you approach it, either in a combination type trap line, or simply taking advantage of bonus cats appearing on your canine line, cats make your season more profitable and enjoyable.