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The Bobcat

It was a beautiful morning.  I walked outside around 9:30 and threw the ball for Koda.  A large cat-like animal appeared out from the marshy meadows and stood next to the fence line.  Immediately I recognized it as a bobcat.  JB had told me several days ago that he saw a bobcat in his fields across the road.  I called the dog and sat down to watch the cat.  He was beautiful.  Much larger and more muscular than a big tomcat.Bobcat watching a ground squirrel

The bobcat sat in the sun for a few minutes when something caught his attention.  I looked across the meadows and saw a ground squirrel sitting on his mound.  The bobcat crouched low and made his way slowly in the squirrel’s direction.  He ran along the fenceposts, stopping behind one for several minutes.  He crossed a short span of meadow, then ran low along the side of the nearby house till he was directly in line with the ground squirrel.  At a distance of about 15 feet from the rodent, the bobcat sat perfectly still, watching and waiting.  Bobcat stalking amidst grass

By now the squirrel seemed to have caught wind that something was going on and was back in his hole.  The cat waited patiently though.  I’d been watching all this for at least 15 minutes.  I went inside to use my scope for a better view and try to shoot a few pictures.  Finally, the bobcat got bored and ran off to find an easier meal.

About 5 minutes after the cat left, I glanced out the window and saw the squirrel not just looking around from his hole, but on top of the nearby septic clean-out pipe.  I might be anthropomorphising here, but that squirrel seemed to be gloating to me.Gloating ground squirrel

When I was in California, I belonged to a tracking club.  We met once a month at Abbot’s Lagoon in Point Reyes.  That beach had lots of activity–coyotes, mice, otters, deer, opossums, racoons–but the most reliable tracks were of a bobcat.  The bobcat had an obvious route.  He started out from somewhere in the thick brush and followed a track alongside the lagoon.  There were latrines along the way and always kill sites.  Seeing that that bobcat had a regular hunting route, I wondered if my Wyoming bobcat had one too, and if I had observed him on it.  I have been investigating how to use ‘track plates’ and maybe I’ll try and make some.

Half hour later as I was driving my dirt road, I started thinking about how that bobcat lost his meal.  I wondered what made him give up on the ground squirrel, just shy of it reappearing.

Without warning, a Unita ground squirrel ran across the road.  I tried to veer but he was too slow and I was too fast.  Getting out of my car, I pulled him off to the side of the road, maybe secretly hoping my bobcat would find him.  I was still pretty close to home still and the thought that it was so easy for me to kill this squirrel and so difficult for the bobcat, haunted me.  There was something awfully strange in this synchronicity.  Bobcat print

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One Response

  1. Very cool! Thanks for sharing this. I’ve seen bob tracks but never the cat–especially not sitting in the dooryard!

    Like

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