Of Waffles and Bobcats
By Tim Titus
My oldest son, Hank, was home for the holidays. The last morning of his visit, he shot a coyote off the patio and had bear sausage for breakfast—a hardcore morning. He could hardly wait to get back to SoCal and tell his buddies and girlfriend about his morning. There was a reason they called him Hank "The Mountain Man" Titus in the Marine Corps!
A very relieved young man and his first bobcat of the year.
This morning my youngest son Ben and I woke early for a bobcat hunt. Ben grabbed a box of Reeses Puff cereal for his breakfast. I suggested that we had some leftover waffles he could heat up--a manly breakfast. No bear sausage in them but definitely more hardcore than Reeses Puffs! After our manly breakfast we hit the road with CCR playing “Run Through the Jungle” on the stereo and a glow in the eastern sky. This was gonna be a good day.
I've taken two bobcats this season so we were trying to get Ben his first 'cat of the year. Our first stop was a rim I had located during my deer hunt this fall. The trail across the top was littered with 'cat scat. It was the best bet we had to call in a bobcat for Ben.
The first stand was a blank but the rim is over a half mile long, so I suggested we move down the rim and set up again. It's a great rim with boulders strewn along the hillside below it—ideal habitat for a desert bobcat. We set up quartering one of the boulders. We set the Foxpro Fury and Jack Attack decoy 65 yards upwind in case a coyote came in and I started the Foxpro with my usual bobcat standby, Adult Cottontail. After a couple of minutes, I gradually increased the volume to almost max then backed it back down. Then at ten minutes I switched up to the Baby Cottontail sound and a couple of minutes later Ben says he's got a 'cat spotted.
It's coming towards us along the bottom of the rim, but for some inexplicable reason (who can figure 'cats?) it climbs to the top of the rim and comes down the top. As it slows, I call the range to Ben: 220 yards, 215 yards... I tell him he has a right to left wind then I correct it and tell him to hold zero wind. The wind is coming straight at us. The cat stops and Ben shoots but there is no sign of a hit. The bobcat flinches but doesn't run off. Ben is cold and a little Bobcat Fever has set in. Now he doesn't know what to do and the 'cat moves further down the rim then stops with just its head and neck visible. It actually beds on top of the rim still close to 215 yards away.
Turns out Ben decided to hold a little wind after all and probably just parted the hair on the right side of the 'cat. I see Ben's head shaking and I think he's shaking his head in disgust at having missed the shot, but I realize he's actually shaking that bad. (He later described it as convulsing!) Between the cold, Bobcat Fever and his nerves over having missed his first chance of the year on a bobcat, he's having a hard time holding it together.
The cat remains bedded for several minutes. Ben wisely chooses not to try the head/neck shot under the circumstances so we wait on the ‘cat to make a move. Thankfully the sun finally makes it over the ridge and the warmth starts to relieve some of Ben's shakes. I switch the sound to Lucky Bird to try to make something happen and the bobcat gets up and starts moving further left and closer to us. It hesitates only once, but not long enough for Ben to squeeze off a shot, then disappears from view.
Now Ben thinks he's blown it completely as the cat doesn't show up for several minutes. I change sounds back to Adult Cottontail while Ben in his own words is "praying his head off" and I see what looks like the cat sitting on top of the rim at just over 100 yards. Ben confirms it is the cat and slowly moves his rifle almost 90 degrees to line up again. This time it all comes together and Ben looks like Tim Tebow pointing to heaven saying, "Thank you, Lord!
A well-timed prayer can really increase the faith of a young man!
Back at the truck we put on our victory song as we head out, CCR’s “Fortunate Son”. Yeah, it’s a good day... and it’s a good thing he had his waffles or he probably couldn't have pulled it off!
Epilogue: The cat was a nice female. We estimated her to be around 22 pounds. The .17 Fireball did virtually no damage to the hide so we're hoping she will bring enough to cover a chunk of the cost of a new range finder for Ben.
Tim Titus has been calling coyotes for 35 years. He lives in the coyote rich country of Southeast Oregon where he and his son spend their winters calling predators and their springs and early summers shooting varmints. Tim owns and operates No Off Season, an on-line predator and varmint hunting store and guiding business. You can check it out at No-Off-Season.com.