It’s fairly common that traps set for bobcats remain empty for a while, (at least it’s common for my bobcat traps to remain empty for a while,) as bobcats are nomads and may pass through your chosen area only once every few days. So it was no surprise to me that the traps I was checking were indeed empty again. However a weather front was forecast to move through that night so I wanted to be certain the traps were as they should be in anticipation that the approaching weather would incite critters to get out and roam. I was back off the beaten path a couple hundred yards in an L-shaped wooded pasture through which a brushy dry creek wound like a writhing snake. Where I was, the pasture made a right-angle and for 50 yards or so the creek crowded the fence line leaving a scant 10-foot trail between it and the bordering alfalfa field. The land owner had taken advantage of the creek’s bone-dry state and cut lots of the brush and trees along it, simply toppling them into the creek bed, making it a perfect bobcat hunting ground. I usually check traps from the pickup window or four wheeler seat unless given a good reason to walk up to them, like tonight. In the narrow trail described above, a cow path cut into the ground on the rim of the creek and at one spot a big rock lay across the path. I get a dandy trapping magazine called “Trapper’s Post” and the most recent issue seemed dedicated to bobcat trapping with articles on the subject by several experienced trappers around the country. One article described and illustrated a good set for bobcats that involved making them step over an object laid across a trail. Coyotes are just wary enough that they often shy away from obvious objects placed in their path for them to step over and around, but bobcats can be guided and shown where to step with ease. The article showed how a bobcat can be guided to step directly into traps placed on each side of the object laid across the trail. It seemed to me that the rock across the cow path was an ideal spot to try that trick for the first time. The rock stuck out of the ground three or four inches, just enough to cause any critter traveling the cow path to step up and over it. I bedded in a trap on each side of the rock directly in the center of the cow path, surrounded each trap with natural looking sticks to force the cat’ to step directly into the trap, dusted the traps over with a little grass and placed a couple long sticks along the edges to be sure any traveling critter stuck to the path. I climbed from the pickup to walk toward the apparently empty traps, and a flash of fur caught my eye. God robed bobcats in an amazingly beautiful coat that blends with nearly any color scheme found in His Creation, and that, coupled with a feline’s crazy ability to flatten itself to the ground, had hidden this bobcat on the other side of the rock. Only when I began walking toward it did it feel threatened enough to give up its position. Ever since my brother and I started trapping as kids, we’ve had this sometimes idiotic desire to try every new idea that comes along. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. But nowadays I have to guard against doing quite the opposite; when I find something that works, I stick with it, which is sound wisdom, but I easily become closed-minded to new ideas in the process. Allow me to offer some advice to outdoorsmen and women, no matter your chosen sports. When you find ways and methods of doing whatever that work for you, by all means stick with them. But always remain open to new ideas and every year try a few of the ones that make the most sense to you; when all is said and done, you’ll not be disappointed! Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.
Steve Gilliland is a syndicated outdoors columnist, and can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.