After a fairly uneventful flight from LA to Dallas and then to Midland, we collected our luggage and stepped outside the terminal to find Randy parked along the curb waiting for us. We loaded our bags and rifles into his truck and climbed inside. Once we were in Randy turned around to ask, "Ya'll ready to go shoot some bobcats?" We knew instantly that we were going to like and Randy and undoubtedly going to have a great time.
First we headed off to Wal-Mart to see if we could locate some 3" 12 gauge shells and a couple of other items we would need to stay warm over the next couple of nights. Jeph and I were both shocked to see that the local Wal-Mart sold bullets, powder, primers, dies and even 2 different brands of reloading presses! This was a shock to us as here in CA the Wal-Mart's won't even sell firearms.We made our way to to Randy's place and unloaded our stuff into the little apartment which he has built into his shed. (The apartment was much nicer and more spacious than any hotel room that I've ever stayed in!) Randy gave us a quick tour and then showed us the 100 yard range he had setup so we could fire our rifles to make sure they hadn't been knocked around during the flight out. After Jeph and I both ensured our rifles were still on we started getting ready for the nights hunt.After loading the truck, grabbing a bite to eat, and picking up Mike we headed out to an area which Randy said had a good population of cats. True to his word, it wasn?t long before Randy had spotted a bobcat at about 200 yards from the truck. As Randy began to lip squeak Jeph watched as the cat closely quickly closed the gap to 100 yards before he began to slink through the under brush. The bobcat continued to close the distance as Randy squeaked and as the bobcat stepped into the open and provided an excellent broadside shot Jeph closed the deal with his 223. Congrats to Jeph on his first bobcat!!
Next I was up in the chair with Randy driving and Mike in the back with me running the second light and doing the calling while Jeph manned the 12 gauge for any close up shots. We were driving and running the lights (which IS legal in TX) while looking for another good stand location when Mike spotted another set of those huge glowing bobcat eyes. Randy killed the engine on the truck and we came to a stop while I got the rifle up and on target. This bobcat was no more than 30 yards off the road and in some pretty thick brush. Despite my best efforts, I just could not get a clean shot on this cat as it slowly slinked off. After several minutes of not being able to get a shot and our growing sense that this bobcat was about to disappear Mike and Jeph got down out of the truck to stalk up on it with the intention of taking it with a shotgun. As they walked past the front of the truck towards the bobcat it actually spooked the bobcat back in my direction and finally provided me with the shot that I had been waiting for. I took her in the chest with my 22-250 at about 40-50 yards which left no exit hole! After seeing her leopard like spotting I quickly decided that I would be getting this one mounted.
Jeph is again up in the chair and we are back tracking through an area we?ve already called with me on the shotgun and Randy driving the truck when Mike again picks up the eyes of another bobcat. (Mike has got eyes like a hawk!) This bobcat is probably 70 yards out and is doing a belly crawl on a bunch of quail as we watch to see if Jeph?s shot is going to connect. Jeph fires the 223 and puts an end to this bobcat?s quail killing career.
When we actually call it a night and head for home we?ve seen a total of 7 bobcats and have had several misses on both our parts. It was a learning experience which I will get into more at the end of this story.The next night we head to a different area when Randy said we would see grey fox and possibly ring tail and coyotes. Again I was up in the chair with Randy calling as we pulled up to a corral where that brush had been trimmed back or trampled by the cattle out to about a 100 yard radius. As we pulled up Randy leaned over and told me to watch, that he would get a fox to run out across that open ground.True to his word, within just a few minutes Randy directed me to a set of eyes he had picked up. As I turned the chair in that direction and looked through my scope I saw that we had a fox that was quickly closing the distance on the distress sound Randy was making. Seeing it charge in the way it was I thought I would let it come so Jeph could take it with the shotgun which would be much easier on it than my 22-250. It checked up at about 70 yards quartering slightly towards me and I couldn?t help myself ? I shot my first grey fox.
The next and final animal taken during our trip was another grey fox that was nearly turned into a double for Jeph. Randy was calling for Jeph when Jeph picked up a set of eyes that was closing on us. It eventually hung up in thick brush and refused to come in. Randy fired up the FX3 with the sound of an aggressive bobcat and soon a SECOND and bigger bobcat was closing on the first.While Jeph was waiting for a shot on one of the bobcats Randy picked up the eyes of the grey fox which was circling the truck and quickly turned Jeph and the chair in that direction. The fox stepped up onto a rock and was emptying her bowels as Jeph got her in the scope and pulled the trigger. She rolled backwards off of the rock with out completely finishing what she had just started.
As soon as Jeph took the shot Randy turned Jeph and the chair back to the bobcat that was still there. The bobcat cat would not budge so Jeph took the best shot he could and unfortunately missed.I was again back up in the chair when Randy and I both saw a set of eyes that was coming in from in front of the truck. It checked up behind a tree and stayed where it was. After I took a shot Randy, Mike and Jeph went out to look while I held a light on the area where the animal was last seen. I watched as the beams from the flash lights started moving off to the right. Pretty soon one light started to move pretty quickly which was followed by a few pistol shots. The lights kept moving and were eventually followed by a few more shots. It turns out that Randy had picked up a bobcats eye shine in the beam of his flash light while looking for the animal that I had shot at. Here?s the cat that Randy took with his pistol in 17 HMR.
I wasn?t there to see what happened, but apparently Randy had been in an all out sprint as he chased this bobcat through the brush. (Hopefully Jeph or Randy can tell you more about this particular bobcat.) When he got back to the truck with his bobcat he was tuckered out and needed to break!
Unfortunately we shot at and missed more animals than we brought back. I did however learn a few lessons that I will share with you. First, I had sighted my rifle at 100 yards and could tell you how high or low it would hit at distances beyond 100 yards. I had not shot it at any closer distances to see how it would perform at distances less than 100 yards. When shooting at a 4 inch target at 30 yards I should have known how low that bullet was going to hit to prevent from shooting directly under the animal.It was cold while we were there, on the last night it was down to 17 at one point with a slight breeze. When you?re sitting 12 feet up in the air on a moving vehicle in that temperature it doesn?t take long to get cold. Jeph and I both should have had warmer gloves. Next time we will have better cold weather gear; getting cold will make you miserable and spoil a hunt quickly!If you hunt grey fox I can?t recommend the grey fox distress sound highly enough. The particular sound we used was by FoxPro and I watch on two different occasions as a grey fox that had spotted us and was high tailing it out of there was called back after the grey fox distress sound was played. If you hunt grey fox and don?t have this sound you?re doing yourself a disservice!The experience that Jeph and I had with Mike and Randy was absolutely exceptional. These two guys worked hard to get us on the animals that we wanted and were more than happy to share their years of knowledge with us. It was evident to Jeph and I that these guys loved what they were doing which really helped to make they experience that much more enjoyable. The entire weekend was top notch and we both are looking forward to making it back down to TX for our next hunt with Randy and Mike.