Bobcats are widely found throughout Vermont in habitats such as dense forests, mountains and farmlands. They are rarely seen due to their keen eyesight and hearing and they avoid danger at all costs.

 Male bobcats weigh in at 20-25 pounds, females at 15-20 pounds.

Bobcats have short tails that average six inches in length, ears that are tufted, and coloration of red, grey or brown. Bobcats have retractable claws, which do not show in their tracks, making them easy to identify.

Bobcat tracks can be found in old roads or trails. Their track pattern is usually a straight line, round in shape and clawless. Sign can be located on ridges, in swamps, along rivers and in or near ledge areas.

Bobcats breed in February or March and only after reaching the age of two. Gestation is 60-70 days, and 2 or three is usually the litter size. The female runs the male off at birth and cares for the litter on her own. Litters can be found in hollow tree trunks or rock dens.

Bobcats have a keen sense of hearing and smelling which aids them in finding food. Rabbits are their choice of chow. Bobcats will attack farm animals and leave clues as such by eating the ears, nose and lips first.

Bobcats can run to get their catch but normally wait in silence and ambush their prey. As said before rabbit is a high priority but will also eat mice, squirrels, beaver, muskrat and birds.

Traps used for cats are the 1&2 coil springs and 2&3 long springs. Cats can be caught in cage and body grips, although the later is discouraged.

Cubby sets seem to work the best to catch cats. Cubbies can be pre-built out of anything the forest has to offer. Rocks, stones, anything that a square box can be made out of will work. Cubbies should be 12-18 inches at the mouth and taper to the rear. Fasten fresh bait to the rear of the cubby, even pre-baiting helps out. Traps should be placed at the entrance to the cubby with stepping sticks on each side.

Cats are curious by nature so using a good calling card will help. I take a bird feather and tie it above the cubby so it will flutter in the slightest breeze. This will grab the cat’s attention, bring it in close for the inspection, where it will smell the bait and the rest is history.

A log crossing set also works well. Most cats hate wet feet and will do anything to avoid them. A log crossing a stream will be used to “cross the stream”. A notch cut in the tree to bed the trap, a few drops of urine to make the cat stop to investigate and you have a cat.

Den sets can be used also but I try to avoid these. The idea of cat trapping is to get the biggest and the best and trapping at a den will get you the small ones too. Small cats have little value and should be released, and a released cat is a educated cat, making it hard to catch down the road.

Once caught you need to make the decision to take or release. If you like what you see a 22 cal. Round to the bottom of the ear at the side of the head will do the job with minimal pelt damage. A sharp blow to the top of the head will do the trick but remember “teeth and claws”.

If you choose to release a snare pole is a safe bet. With the pole you can control any animal out there, well, almost any. Most animals caught in traps are pretty docile and it is amazing what you can and cannot do. I usually like to pet what I have, while the pole is on. Petting and talking quietly to the animal will calm it right down. Besides that, you can brag the rest of the day that you had a bobcat in your hands this morning. Not too many folks can lay that claim.

When you release, have your fire arm ready though. Even though you just held that animal there is no guarantee it will not try to dine on you as a parting shot. Mother Nature is unpredictable and it happens.

Bobcats should be combed clean as soon as you get them home, or should I say the shed. As with all critters, most come with critters attached. Before you bring it in to show the family; do yourself a favor and tuck it into a plastic bag and fog the inside with a good flea killer. It saves yourself, the family and your pets from a lot of digging and scratching.

Bobcats are case skinned and usually require little fleshing as they are not a fatty type animal. They actually skin quite easy and you should only have to use a knife to start the cuts and then around the ears, eyes and face area. Once cleaned, the cat should be put on a stretcher with the fur on the inside until the pelt gets a leather feel to it or dry to the touch. The pelt should be then turned fur out for the finish dry. Wire or wood stretchers can be used and do not forget the belly boards if you use wood.

There are many more sets for cats so do your homework and lay some steel. This writing should get you started but remember “teeth and claws”.

Keep your waders patched your lures in the shed and take a kid outdoors.