Another Bobcat Sighting in Area

Another Bobcat Sighting in Area
Journal Review
By Don Bickel

“Heard any bobcats lately?”

“I tell you whut, Donald, yeah, I did hear one about a week back. And I tell you this, hits good to know they’s sum around. Them wild things is whut makes livin’ here in the country so good.”

“Well, Hal, the bobcat stories sort of perked up a couple of weeks back, but now I don’t hear much said. About the time that bobcat got killed on the road, there was a phone/camera picture of one taken in the area of State Road 47 and Little Sugar Creek.”

“You don’t say. Wal now, thet puts sum distance between that bobcat killed on the road jist east of Alamo and the one you jist mentioned. Mebbe a momma bobcat moved into the area with a couple of near-growed young uns. I ‘spect they's found their way up the Wabash and then up along Sugar Creek.”

“That possibly may be how they got here. And now with deer hunters and trail cameras in the woods, quite likely there will be another sighting. But there still is a question or two about the road-killed bobcat. The one that was in the picture with my column was picked up by Conservation Officers just east of Alamo about a mile or so.”

“But I have heard several reports about a bobcat killed on State Road 32 both east and west of Yountsville. No firm evidence of this has shown up, so it could be that “Someone told me ---” or “I heard about a bobcat that was killed ---.”

“Now, Donald, you know as well as I do, thet if one was killed on the road and sumbody picked it up, they’s in a world of hurt if the law find out. Live or dead, you don't keep a wild bobcat in Indiana. Or even a part of it. Now you might bring a bobcat hide or skull back from some western state, but you better have sum papers thet say where you got it.”

I had driven down to Hal Bench’s place late in the afternoon. The primary reason for the trip was to look for deer in the harvested fields. There is little corn standing and it would seem the soybeans have all been combined. In the last light of the evening, deer will be in the fields eating what little grain remains after harvest.

The combines today are extremely efficient when it comes to getting all of the crop. In the case of shelled corm, there is little need for the human gleaner to walk the fields looking for missed ears of corn. If some of the corn stalks were flattened by wind prior to harvest, there may be some missed ears.

There was a time when some of the corner corn rows were missed. But now, the combine/sheller follows the rows so precisely that nothing is missed. To compensate for this lack of wildlife food, my friends, the Cains at Cain’s Homelike Farms deliberatly allow one row of corn standing if it adjacent to a field or strip of prairie grass habitat. Likewise, the soybeans are left in a threerow strip. Those outer rows are seldom the producer that rows six or eight in area. A few years back, that row of corn, even if it was one of the better in the field, at a 1/4 mile in length, produced about $25 of shelled corn. For hunters in the family or hunting friends, this is a small price for a crisp November day in the field, with dog and gun.

And the game birds depend on it. Our ringneck pheasant did not evolve on the prairie, they were brought her from the Orient in the late 1800s. While our prairie grass fields and strips provide shelter from weather and predators, the pheasant may have a hard time finding enough of the very small seeds which the grass produces.

If mixed into the prairie grasses are some errant weeds — ragweed for instance — the pheasant will find a banquet table awaiting. But since giant ragweed is not favored adjacent to a cropfield, the one row of corn or three rows of soybeans more than make up the difference.

Bobwhite quail did evolve with the prairie and for them there is a good food source. However, they also appreciate the presence of the one or three rows of grain. The bobwhite quail does have a problem with a thick stand of prairie grass. They can’t fly out of it. Our planted stands of native prairie grasses are probably thicker — more dense — than those the bison grazed. By adjusting the seed mix and planting primarily little bluestem and sideoats grama, the quail can venture into the stand and fly upward and out if danger threatens.

“Hal, why to you suppose, in the evening it seems more deer are seen in the bean fields than in the corn fields? Are they eating just the beans they can find or do they eat the residue left from the leaves and stalks? It is just about dark and when I leave, I’m pretty certain to see a lot of deer in the Offield bottoms in soybean fields.”

“Wal, I can’t answer that, but I know hit’s the case. Say, why don't you bring your crossbow out sum late afternoon and set in thet stand down by the creek. They’s been a couple of does and a yearling or two crossing shortly before dark. Mebbe if you got sum deer meat in thet freezer of yourn, your luck would change.”