Talucah resident Avery Abercrombie, 12, said Nov. 20 was largely like any other Wednesday night.
He had no plans; just a relaxing evening watching the woods by the family farm. Then he saw it.
“I was out in the woods behind the barn,” he said. “I saw the bobcat and it saw me. Then it started running.”
He raised his .22-caliber rifle and didn’t hesitate. “I shot it in the eye,” he said.
Avery is the first in his family — which is built on generations of avid hunters — to kill a bobcat, family friend Karla Mahan said.
“In fact,” she said, “I don’t know of anybody who has ever killed a bobcat.”
Herbert Fields, president of the Tennessee River Coon Hunters Association in Lacey’s Spring, said the wildcats are not uncommon in the area, but they’re neither often nor easily shot.
“Coon hunters tree a lot of them,” he said, “but they don’t shoot them.” He said it will tire out the hunting dogs.
“When (bobcats) see a light coming, they’ll jump out of the tree and run half a mile to another tree and climb up it. They’ll keep doing that until they find a hole or something to get away.”
Jud Easterwood, district supervising wildlife biologist for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, said bobcats are hard to survey, so his office keeps no hard data on populations.
“They’re very elusive,” he said. “But they’re common. We know they’re common. But they’re hardly seen because they’re just so secretive.”
Hardly seen by anyone other than hunters, that is. That’s because bobcats stick to “wooded areas, grown-up fields and anywhere their food is found,” he said, adding that a bobcat’s diet sticks primarily to rabbits, mice and birds.
Bobcats are in season year-round, Easterwood said, much like coyotes, feral swine and foxes. But unlike the others, he said, a bobcat is no danger to people, pets or property.
“They’re terrified of people,” he said. “If one was really hungry, he might grab a bird from a bird feeder, but as for snatching your poodle, that’s more along the lines of a coyote.”
Fields said he thinks the bobcat population — and confidence — is increasing.
“Back when I was coon hunting every night about 10 years ago,” he said, “we’d see one every five or six nights. Now, I see them from the road almost every night.”
He said they are primarily a nuisance to hunters.
“Deer hunters kill a lot of bobcats because they interfere with the hunt,” he said. “They’ll run deer all over the woods and stir them up.”
Abercrombie said he’s just excited to have killed his first. It was the first he had ever seen, he said, and it makes him one of only three other people he knows who have shot one.
“I’m going to stuff it,” he said. “And put it up in my room.”
Cody Muzio can be reached at 256-340-2443 or firstname.lastname@example.org.