Monday, December 18, 2006

First bobcat of Pennsylvania hunting season killed


When Lew Anstadt got an envelope in the mail in early October from the state Game Commission, he first thought he had had received an elk permit.

But, lucky for him, it turned out to be a bobcat hunting permit.

Anstadt wound up using that permit last month to get a bobcat.

“I really didn’t have a place scouted out,” he said. “I tried calling some trappers, like Terry Dincher up near Picture Rocks and Mike Kilcoyne near Pennsdale. My son Eric suggested we go out at night and try to call one in and we went out maybe three times.”

One night, they saw a pair of eyes in the distance. The animal was too far away for them to get a clear shot.

“We didn’t have much luck there, but it was a lot of fun,” he said.

He received a call at about 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 15 from his cousin, Gene Stark of Montoursville. It turned out to be the break he needed.

“He had been out to my uncle’s farm on Reeder Road in Upper Fairfield Township and said he had been hunting wild turkeys and saw the biggest bobcat he had ever seen out there at the farm,” Anstadt said.

Anstadt wasted little time, getting out to the farm by 11:15 a.m.

“It wasn’t a very long hunt,” he said. “I got there, walked down the trail and started scanning a creek bottom that had thick weeds and briars with paths through it.”

He got a mouse-squeaker call and set up near the creek.

“I called for maybe 10 seconds and in less than five minutes, I looked up and there it was coming down to the trail, 50 to 75 yards away from me,” he said.

Surprised at its size, he wasn’t sure what he was seeing.

“I was amazed at its size and thought it was a mountain lion,” Anstadt said. “Then it turned and I saw its short tail.”

He wasn’t sure his gun was powerful enough to take down the animal, but quickly recalled advice a friend had given him that a .22-caliber rifle was enough to dispatch a bobcat.

“I have a Thompson Center Encore and I put a .204 Ruger barrel on it,” he said. “I didn’t want to ruin the pelt, so I decided to hit it in the shoulders.”

The cat came down the trail, out of the woods, crossed a stream and was about 20 feet away, broadside to Anstadt when he fired and dropped it where it stood.

That bobcat weighed in at 35 pounds and was 35 inches long from nose to tail.

According to commission data, most bobcats grow to only 15 to 20 pounds. A 35-pound cat is considered exceptional.

Anstadt said he is having the cat mounted by Chris Laylon of Laylon Taxidermy.

“He told me it is the biggest one he has every mounted,” Anstadt said. “I’m getting a full mount in a way to show off its size somehow, walking downhill on a rock ledge.”

It will take about a year to get the completed mount back, he said.

After taking that trophy, Anstadt said he may rest on his laurels.

“I don’t know if I will ever apply for another permit,” he said. “I’m 60 years old now.

Anstadt said he plans to continue getting furbearer’s permits.

“You never know when you will see a fox or a coyote,” he said.

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