By Josh Boyd
Few sights will bring such a level of jovial excitement to a trapper’s morning as that of a bobcat laying in wait as you crest the next rise. For most, the successful catch of a bobcat signifies a noteworthy point in their season, highlighting the pure beauty of this elusive and inquisitive animal.
When trapping for bobcat, success is far from given, as their travels, especially those of males, are wide-ranging and trap sets often go untouched for days or even weeks. According to the National Trappers Association, female bobcats inhabit home ranges that typically span an area of 6 square miles, while males cover territories averaging an astounding 60 square miles in size.
When taking into consideration the vast distances in which a bobcat travels, attempting to coax their paw onto a trap pan of no more than a few inches in size, or their body through a conibear’s internal diameter of well under one foot, can easily seem like a daunting task.
As staggering of a feat as this might appear to be, with a thorough working knowledge of typical bobcat behavior and the trap sets that capitalize upon these subtle nuances, you will be well on your way to a level of feline trapping consistency that you would have never thought possible.
Unlike coyotes and foxes, bobcats are seldom reluctant toward the prospect of entering into a confined place. This comes as an advantage for those looking to decipher which trap set is best suited to their needs. A Cubby set is of great value, as its construction allows a set to be made in virtually any location where bobcat sign is present.
A cubby set is best constructed with the use of rocks or tree branches. The dimensions of your cubby must be adequately sized to allow a bobcat to enter in an unobstructed manner. A structure measuring approximately 24” in depth, 16” in width, and 20” height, or a design of the like, are ideal for bobcat trapping success. Fresh meat placed toward the back of your cubby, as well as lure placed on the upper exterior of the structure, will regularly attract passing bobcats.
A number #2-#3 coil-spring is generally the trap of choice for dedicated bobcat trappers. Once a trap has been selected, it is to be bedded within the opening of this cubby and adequately concealed by sifting debris-free dirt over the trap bed. Small twigs and rocks can be used to guide the foot of a bobcat precisely where intended, as they will seldom step over what they could easily navigate around.
If you have ever heard the saying “curiosity killed the cat”, you likely understand the appeal that is offered by the flat set. Bobcats are intensely curious creatures, seldom passing up the chance to investigate their surroundings. Visual cues are especially of interest to bobcats, which will readily approach what catches their eye.
A flat set capitalizes on this behavioral trait by appealing to a bobcat’s acute curiosity. The most important element when constructing a flat set is the selection of a suitable backing. This backing can consist of a log, a bone, or even a small sapling. This backing becomes a visual cue for any bobcats passing through a given area.
Once proper backing has been secured, a trap bed can be prepared, in which a #2-#3 coil-spring can be seated at a distance of 4”-6” from the set’s backing. Once the trap is firmly seated in the bed, clean, debris-free dirt can be sifted over the trap bed, thereby concealing its location. Both bobcat urine and lure can be placed upon the set’s backing to facilitate attraction.
As a general rule, if something of interest piques a bobcat’s curiosity, it is highly likely that they will approach this item for a better look, no matter the distance they must travel. For this reason, the flag set can be an immensely effective set for bobcats, especially when efforts are focused on open ground, where visibility is extensive.
A flag set is created by harnessing the power of the wind to catch a bobcat’s attention. A dried piece of hide or a turkey feather suspended from a limb, or another elevated point, works wonderfully for this purpose. This is best accomplished in a setting that limits an inquisitive bobcat’s angle of approach, such as a rocky outcropping.
Once you have hung your makeshift flagging from a height of approximately 4 feet, a trap bed can be prepared beneath, or on a direct trail leading to this focal point. A #2-#3 coil-spring is to then be placed and seated within the trap bed. With your trap concealed, brush, rocks, and other debris can be positioned in a way that funnels a bobcat’s approach directly across your trap bed.
Setting For Success
Although bobcats have a reputation for being difficult to consistently locate, once ample sign is found, these reclusive creatures can be caught in earnest when adequate forms of sensory appeal are utilized. By constructing your sets in a manner that induces boundless feline curiosity, you will be treated to full traps and an overwhelmingly successful season on the line.