by Mark Walters
Last week I wrote about the challenges of hunting bobcat with hounds while hunting with The Northland Houndsmen out of Bloomer. Even though these guys did not know me, today would be the fifth day on three separate experiences that up to five trucks of hardcore hunters worked the northwoods country of Rusk and Chippewa Counties helping me to fill my first bobcat tag.
Thursday, January 22nd
High 31, low 20
It takes just under three hours to reach Flater’s Resort (my northwest Wisconsin headquarters) from my house. When I arrived this morning it was not long and our first genuine bobcat track was soon found and thus the real adventure would begin.
Three round trips, two others cancelled and by God we had a cat to chase. I had been told all along that if a cat track was found leading to a certain cedar swamp that I would be in for a challenge and today a cat track was leading to that certain cedar swamp that is HE double toothpicks to walk through.
First, Don Naset and I are heading in deep as we follow Elwood a Redbone, Conway a Plott and Sailor a Walker on the actual bobcat track.
At first we are walking on a creek with some pretty scary ice. The ice proved weaker then the weight on it when Don Naset broke through and toughed his way out.
My buddy, Mark Tomasovich, had told me that I would be tested to see what I could physically handle and holly molly was he ever right. Don Naset is a hardcore, in shape outdoorsmen and we moved fast, real fast to try to catch the hounds who at times the GPS told us were 750 yards a head of us.
I was told that the actual dense part of the cedar swamp was the size of two football fields and it was difficult to negotiate because a storm had gone through 20 years ago leaving many of the trees laying on the ground and still alive.
Don Naset is a no nonsense kind of guy and when we reached the blowdowns, visibility was no more then five-yards. To travel, you either crawled under or over cedar trees and everything had powdery snow on it so I really had to protect me Remington 1187 so that when it was needed it would actually work (the guys really got into making fun of my worn out shotgun).
Here’s the plan! I have to climb up a horizontal cedar tree and let Elwood, Conway and Sailor work the cat around which should be going in circles.
Back at the creek, many of The Northland Houndsmen are patiently waiting for whatever results may happen. The hounds come through barking. It is so dense I cannot even see them. I pick openings that are no bigger then a square yard where if a cat appears I might see it.
I pick other openings to watch where I think the cat may appear if I cannot take a shot at first sighting.
I feel insecure, this isn’t easy folks, I am gonna be a hero or a zero. I move twice to what I hope will be a better view. I can barely balance myself on my perch, stand and aim. I see movement, O my God it’s a bobcat. I pick an opening 20-yards away, cat appears, gun goes boom, cat vanishes.
It takes me a full five minutes to get to where the cat “might” be. Ye haa! Dead cat. I am about to pick it up and a crazy hound grabs my trophy and does not want to let go. I get the cat from the hound that chased the cat to me. Hound literally, leaps and pulls the cat out of my hands.
Pictures are taken, we hike out of the swamp, blood is running down my back (I love it) lots more pictures and high fives. I am really happy that I did not shoot my cat out of a tree and fully realize what an incredible sport it is to hunt cat, coyote, and bear with hounds.
Last autumn, I said that my goal was to film my stepson Joey harvesting his first black bear with a bow and arrow, fill my wolf tag and fill my bobcat tag. This complete goal was met and obviously the bobcat was thanks to my good pals out of Bloomer, The Northland Houndsmen.
The cedar swamp experience was insane! Sunset
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Hiawatha National Bank