Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Predator Calling Cats, Cross Country Skiing and Ice Fishing Efficiency
Sportsmen looking for a unique challenge should try their hand at predator calling for bobcats. Being primarily nocturnal, sporting a well-camouflaged coat and possessing the ability to sit motionless for long periods of time, bobcats are elusive creatures and despite years in the woods, many sportsmen have never seen a bobcat in the wild.
Most harvested bobcats are incidentals, shot while hunting other predators like coyotes. To specifically target bobcats, hunters need to know the particular habits of these crafty and methodical felines. The first tactic to employ when hunting bobcats is to locate where they are hiding. Territory sizes vary widely, measuring up to thirty square miles for males to about five square miles for females. This means hunters must employ good tracking skills, identifying areas that hold bobcats or use game cameras to find where cats are most concentrated.
Bobcats have short attention spans when it comes to erratic prey sounds, so an effective technique is to turn on an electronic call and letting it play constantly. Popular sounds for luring bobcats into shooting range include a variety of bird and rodent distress noises with wounded woodpecker being a personal favorite. Bobcats will typically use heavy cover and their impressive stealth to slowly slink to within feet of unsuspecting prey before bolting the final distance to strike. Because of this, electronic calls are superior for bobcats, over hand held calls, as they alleviate the necessity of the caller to attempt to blow on a call for long amounts of time. Additionally, bobcats will not be able to stalk the caller but rather the remote electronic unit, allowing the hunter a better chance at a shot opportunity.
Motion decoys and visuals work well for cats as they rely on their incredible patience and eyesight more than their noses when stalking prey. Decoys need not be overly complicated and can be as simple as a turkey feather suspended from a tree branch with a piece of thread and allowed to move in the breeze.
When you are done with your calling sequence, just don’t get up and immediately crash out of your set location. Instead, stand up slowly, look, take a few steps, look and then look some more. Cats won’t necessarily run away like coyotes and foxes and when startled may freeze and hold tight, offering you a shot opportunity.
Success at calling in a bobcat is an incredible undertaking and any sportsman able to accomplish the feat certainly deserves a pat on the back. The last chance to shoot a bobcat is Feb 14th, so use the Birch Hill Road to check out the swampy thickets around Crawford and Pocomoonshine Lakes (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 36, D-1) for your chance at harvesting one of these incredible predators!
Cross Country Skiing
The American Heart Association recently released a report that provided statistics showing that in a mile run, kids today are about a minute and a half slower than their peers 30 years ago. This means, kids today are roughly 15 percent less fit than their parents were as youngsters. Kids today are spending a majority of their time partaking in sedentary activities and aren’t running around, playing, biking and doing enough physical activity. This is obviously a major contributing factor to the nation wide increases in heart disease, diabetes and the obesity epidemic raging across the United States. As parents we have control over what our children do and instead of buying my children an Xbox this Christmas, I bought them both cross country skis.
Cross-country skiing is a fun family orientated activity and a fantastic way to remain physically active and healthy throughout the long and sometimes oppressive Maine winter. Many opportunities exist for those wishing to enjoy the sport of cross-country skiing this winter season.
Washington County is a maze of snowmobile trails and frozen lakes like Meddybemps (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 36, C-5) that offer skiing opportunities in just about everyone’s backyard. Favorites also include the Moose Horn National Wildlife Refuge (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 36, D-4) with over 50 miles of trails open to cross country skiing and the Down East Sunrise Trail (http://www.sunrisetrail.org) offering an additional multitude of possibilities.
As I get older, it seems harder and harder to maintain the same level of excitement and enthusiasm, as I once did in my youth, at the prospects of waking before dawn, stumbling into the deep freeze and driving to my favorite ice fishing destination. To combat this problem and continue to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes, I have begun to become very efficient in my expenditure of energy when ice fishing. This includes bringing hot food and drink, a chair, portable ice shack and on cold days even a heater. These key pieces of equipment ensure that even on the coldest and most brutal of days ice fishing I can stay warm, dry and comfortable, conserving my mental and physical energy, increasing my enjoyment of the experience and the length of time I am able to stay on the ice.
Having small children, these pieces of equipment are almost mandatory as they provide kids with a sheltered spot to warm cold fingers and toes and drink their hot cocoa. As you head out to the ice this winter season, consider reviewing your ice fishing activities for efficiency, it may mean you spend more time on the ice and ultimately catch more fish!
Looking for an “efficient” lake to fish this winter, check out the easy access on East Musquash Lake in Topsfield (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 45, E-4). The fishing from the picnic area on route 6 is descent and on cold days you can fish right from your car!