Bobcat Prowl

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Published on: Aug. 2, 2005

Last revision: Nov. 22, 2010


and under rock overhangs.

Hunting for Bobcats

About 3,000 bobcats are taken each year by hunters and trappers. Where bobcats are plentiful and in the counties where the practice is legal, they often are hunted using dogs.

Missouri bobcat hunting and trapping season begins Nov. 15 and closes Feb. 15. See the Wildlife Code for regulations.

In Missouri, bobcats used to be restricted to the Ozarks and the southern area of the state. Now, Hamilton reports, “There are between 12,000 and 18,000 bobcats in Missouri. They are increasing dramatically.” He explains that years ago, when there were many farms, farmers shot any bobcat that happened upon their land, thus reducing their numbers.“But over the years, as families left the farms, bobcats increased and expanded their range in Missouri,” says Hamilton. “Bobcats have increased all over the Midwest. There’s a small but growing population in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.”

Bobcats are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active in the few hours before and after sunset and sunrise. Mostly they remain on the ground but easily take to a tree if chased by dogs, charged by deer, or in need of a rest. They swim well but don’t like being in the water.

Bobcats are curious animals. If you followed one, you would see it make a zigzag trail as it investigated its environment.

If you were to find and measure a bobcat track, you would see that it is 2 inches long and without claw marks. Your pet cat’s paw print is much smaller—only about 1 inch long. A bobcat’s claws retract when not in use, but when hunting and defending itself, they extend to grab, hold and rip.

Territories are important to bobcats. They mark their territories or home ranges with scent contained in scat (feces) or urine. They may urinate on a tree or object, in a scrape in the dirt they made with their paws, or on a small mound of leaves and twigs to create a scent post. They also may leave scat in prominent areas. These markings both tell other bobcats, “This is my territory, do not enter!” and help attract mates.

One scientist found 31 scent posts and two scats in less than a quarter of a mile. No mistaking that bobcat’s territory! Bobcats sometimes sharpen their claws by scraping them against a tree or log near a scent mark. This is a double warning, “Do not trespass!”

Although they usually remain quiet, bobcats can

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