I’d been chasing what had become a nemesis species for me, for three long years. Finally, on a rough three day (and night) hunt in West Texas, The hunting gods smiled on me A picture of my cat with friend and owner of Poorboy Outfitters Cody Brunette. Cody is a successful competitive caller/hunter and we’ve hunted together a fair bit. We’ve called in lots of coyote, but this was the first cat I got a chance at!
I flew into DFW on a Wednesday afternoon and collected my bags, then rolled out to met my hunting buddy and cameraman on this hunt Eric Henderson. We were working on an air gunning DVD and were driving out to West Texas for a few days of hunting. The plan was to go after predators and varmints hunting with another friend of mine, competitive predator hunter and caller Cody Brunette. Cody owns and operates Poorboy Outfitters, which is a guide service specializing in Predators. He has thousands of acres of prime predator territory to hunt, but these days likes to focus more on competition than guiding.
I’ve hunted many times with Cody, and he always produces. However, for some reason that I cannot explain, bobcats had become my nemesis species when it came to airguns. I’ve taken a lot of predators (coyotes, fox, and bobcats) with firearms, and several yotes and fox with airguns, but bobcats had continued to elude me. Iâ€™d been out to Texas 6 times to try to take one, and I’d gotten everything but a bobcat. I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time, had the wrong gun, was at the wrong range, and on a couple occasions just plain missed. Itâ€™s not that cats are impossible difficult, I just couldn’t seem to put it together.
For the DVD we needed to get some rabbit hunting in, then move on to the predator segments. On the first day Eric, Cody, another friend of the group Chris Hayes and I loaded up and headed out to do some calling.
On the second set we were sitting on the side of a hill tucked into some heavy brush. Chris had set up the fox pro caller in the desert about 50 yards in front of us and started up with a rabbit distress call. After about 15 minutes we spotted a coyote running towards us from the right he circled around behind the decoy and started back towards us. He got to about sixty yards and held up for a minute, then looked like he was about to bolt. I twisted around and held the crosshairs about an inch over the dogs back. I was using a Roduner modified Bigbore 909 and BHD 200 grain bullets. Eric was behind me filming as I touched off the shot. The dog spun around in the blink of the eye and took off hell for leather across the landscape. I though maybe I shot low even though I was locked on and solid in my rest. When we got back and played the footage back in slow motion, we still couldnâ€™t be sure; you see the bullet arcing towards the coyote on the proper flight plan, then it just seems to drop down right in front of him. Not in a continuation of the arced trajectory, but rather and abrupt drop. I can only speculate that I hit a branch or twig in front of him and it deflected the bullet but the outcome was the same, I missed.
I was still up, a dog coming in on the second set is a good start, but then it got deadly slow. We hunted that day and into the night with nothing to show for it. I wont go into the play by play for the next couple nights other to say it was cold and it was slow. On the second night I hunted hard until 2:00 am and other than a pair of foxes we couldnâ€™t get into range didnâ€™t see a thing. So Eric and I went to sit in the truck to thaw out, while Cody and Chris made a set â€¦â€¦ and nailed a very large bobcat that came inside of 20 yards to the call!! Eric and I went out for another hour and didnâ€™t call in a thing. What was really troubling me at this point though was that we had only seen a couple of rabbitâ€™s the whole timeâ€¦.. Day or night. This is the same area where a couple years before I shot 20 or more in a couple hours and stopped because Iâ€™d had enough not because of any shortage of opportunity. There were rabbit everywhere, but now we were hearing from all the ranchers that they had disappeared. Many thought it was due to the growing coyote population, Iâ€™m not sure why but am sure the population is the lowest anyone can remember.
On my last day/night of hunting, Eric, Cody and I started out in the early afternoon on our way out to make our second set we pushed a coyote form the caliches pit we were walking to, and called but could not get it to come back. On the next set after 20 minutes of calling we spotted a dog streaking down a hillside towards us. I was using the Marauder .25 caliber and wanted to take a close range (inside of 25 yards) headshot to show this gun is capable of cleanly taking a predator at short range. But the dog hung up at 80 yards before spooking. Still I was in a great mood because after two slow days things seemed to be picking up.
By this time it was starting to get dark, so we decided to have a sandwich and let night fall before we got stated. On our second or third set we saw the red glow of eyes under our red lamps (night hunting predators is legal and a preferred method in Texas) at about a hundred yards. We started squeaking the yote into shooting range and he hung at about a 100 yards out. I switched guns and at the same time whispered down to turn off the call so we could continue squeaking the dog in, but the wrong button was hit and the call blared out causing the coyote to take off like a bat out of hell. Oh well, stuff happens.
We decided to drive across a highway to another part of the ranch (we were on a little 51 section / 50 square mile spread) so Eriic and I climbed down off the turret stand in the truck to ride over, and left the rifles strapped down in the rack. As we bumped along the washboard road, we hear a loud thump and jumping out of the track found the .25 caliber Marauder laying in two pieces. The action made it through OK, but the wood and the scope were done in. This meant that even though the main objective was to capture the Marauder in action on predators, I still had the Bigbore 909 to continue the hunt with.
On the next strand, we started a distress call as we spun around on the turret sweeping the area with a red filtered lamp. We called for about 10 minutes before picking up the red glow of eyes behind a low lying bush. He didnâ€™t move, so we turned off the electronic call and started squeaking. The eyes moved in tentatively, stopping and looking before he moved on. I was looking through the scope, but couldnâ€™t see what it was. Eric whispered I think itâ€™s a raccoon or maybe a fox, but as he said it the animal stepped out from behind a clearing and I could see it was a cat. It is a bit hard to gauge distance in the dark and I hadn’t ranged landmarks in the direction the cat was coming from, so I lined up the crosshair on the neck, figuring if the poi was high it would be a headshot, and low it would take the cat in the chest. But as it worked out, the shot hit exactly where Iâ€™d aimed, and the cat flipped over. Cody hopped out of the truck and started walking out to the downed cat, which did not require a coup de grace, followed by me quickly running out. The 200 grain .457 bullet went clean through the cat from front to back, and had anchored him on the spot.
I was more excited about this animal than just about anything else I’d ever shot. I’ve taken many coyote, fox and bobcat with firearms in the past, and over the last several years have been shooting them with airgun. At least coyote and fox. But, bobcats have eluded me. I’ve made six trips to Texas to get a cat over the last three years and something always went wrong. Things went wrong on this trip as well, but I had a lot of fun and I finally got my cat!!!