Finding Bob: How To Find A Bobcat With Intuition, Determination and Brain Farts
I decided on Sunday night that I was going to go look for bobcats on Monday morning. I wanted to prepare as much as possible so I wouldn't forget anything in the morning. I went outside and put the bike rack on my Jeep. I was planning on trying to cover a 10 mile area and the bike is the best way. I can't let the bike sit on the rack overnight since I don't have an enclosed garage. But I can just throw it on quickly in the morning.
Then I went inside. I pulled out all my clothes and boots for in the morning including my puffy pants (underwear with built in gel pads for those long periods on the bike). I made sure I had all my extra batteries and memory card. I'm always getting caught without the extra memory card. I pulled out my camera vest that allows me to hook the camera to my chest while I'm riding the bike. I grabbed my camelback to stay hydrated. I'm set up for success.
I planned to get there at sunrise and my location is an hour from the house. I set my alarm for 5am. My plan was to arrive right at sunrise at one location and bike about 10 miles to another location where I had actually seen a bobcat in the past. Then I would spend the morning exploring between the two locations.
WELL! I wake up at 6:20. My phone was under my pillow and the volume was down so I never heard it. It was still going off when I found it. So now I'm an hour late. I figured no big deal. I'll get there about 8 and go from there. It was a cool, windy day, so I wasn't really worried about the heat.
I put on some sun screen as it was projected to be a sunny day. I grab my camera bag, my camera vest, my camelback filled with water, my cup of water for the drive home, an extra sweat shirt in case I needed it, and a hat. I really have my shit together this morning. I load everything in the Jeep and get on my way.
About half way there, I look in the rear view mirror and see a strap flapping around. It then dawns on me that I totally forgot to put my bike on the bike rack! Dammmmittt! Oh well. I then decided to just blow off the first location and proceed to the spot where I had seen a cat before and just hike on foot. Unfortunately I'm still wearing the puffy pants. When walking they feel like you have diapers on. :(
I arrive about 8am and start to walk. I pass a couple roads that I've always thought looked like a good location for bobcats. No science here...just intuition. I've never seen them there. But I have another spot in mind to start the morning. Then I stop. I start to think I should go back and really at least take a good look down those roads before I proceed. So I do. Immediately I spot a bobcat in the distance. I'm just 10 minutes into my journey. He's heading my way. I try to sneak to a location for a better look when he spots me and runs into the brush. So I wait here to see if he'll reappear at an intersection where I can see down the road he was on AND down another road perpendicular to it. Within 5 minutes another one comes out on the other road. This is a pretty small one. It spots me and stares for a few seconds, then runs down the road. Then 2 more jump out ahead of him. That's 4 bobcats in 15 minutes. So I stuck around the area and walked around a bit. I ended up seeing 2 more in total later in the day.
Prior to this, I had only seen less than a handful of bobcats in my life. They are one of my favorite wild animals (besides the very rare panther) in the state of Florida. I've been dying to photograph them. On this day I had 6 sitings. I didn't get any award-winning shots as they were pretty far away from me , or in bad lighting, or running from me. But 50% of the fun for me is finding the animals and spending time with them in their environment. The other 50% is capturing their emotion in a photograph. So for me, this was still an awesome day. I ended up spending the whole day there until sunset.
I don't know if this spot will prove to be successful for me in the future, but I sure will be trying it. I will learn their behavior and learn how to make them comfortable with me.
Can't wait to get back out there. So I've learned that no matter how bad your day is starting out and looking discouraging, just stick to the plan and be optimistic. I may have not even seen any if I was on my bike. Who knows?