The Feral Cat - the tough nut to crack...

Apparently feral cats (Felus Catus) kill 75 million native animals every night in Australia. A chunky and sombre statistic, derived no doubt from all sorts of feral cat population stats, kill rates, stomach samplingÖThis fact did raise half an eyebrow though. I mean, is there a nightshift and dayshift cat thing going on? Because I call for foxes during hours that give me shoot-able light, maybe Iíve only ever been sorting out feral cats on the dayshift? Semantics aside, fact is, thereís no shortage of them out there. Whatever the feral cat/native animal predation maths is -theyíre bad news - pretty well as bad as it gets. We all know they are extinction bad if youíre a small clueless marsupial and Australia has the monopoly on them. Feral cats really should be on top of every bowhunterís list of ferals to target. But how does the ethical bowhunter specifically target ferals cats? Iíve been successfully hunting them for years and I still donít knowÖ

Itís mid-morning and Iíve already got two foxes on the ground and Iím on my last stand for the day. Itís the best one on the property - it never fails to produce a fox or two. Arrow on the string, I punch sound downhill and away from the direction I expect foxes to come from (this trick funnels them in on the direction that suits you). Mid-call a big black cat jumps over rocks on my right. Yeehaw - I didnít expect that!

I shut down, giving him nothing to work with. Watching him, Iím size up how bold he is ñ itís pretty clear to me he owns this place. Iím golden, no nerves, this is a big cat thoughÖ decisionsÖ call him in real close, risk him seeing me but guarantee shot placement or shoot him out a bit and give him no chance to clock me. I decide heíll look real big at 20m, so Iíll let him get to 20 and then heís done. He looks away and I give him a lot of sound. Heís sauntering in slow over the open ground. Halfway in, a rock blocks his view and I anchor up. A few more steps, heís half turning and stops to look downhill. Iíve been holding on this spot since I came to full draw... that sound, a good hit. Now heís scrambling back the way he came over those rocks. Not looking too good though. Downhill for quite a way he runs, now heís disappeared - rabbit holes. So Iím digging him outÖ

The short of this story is I ended up spending an hour winkling him out of a rock cave after he made an escape from those same rabbit holes. Iíd blood trailed him to rabbit hole it turned out he was too big to get down and from there he did his last bolt. The rock cave he holed up and late expired in meant a trip home for me to get bolt cutters, high tensile wire, a 2m length of 20mm retic pipe to make a snare pole like the dog catchers use and lights to lamp up his hole. And after all this effort, this big fella went RC at 7 15/16dp and it looks like itíll take the #2 spot in the WA ABA Record Book. Fox hunting at its best is when you call a big cat in.

If you look at the photos from the WA Red Card hunts, youíll count roughly 20 foxes to every cat that falls with the spotlights and guns at night. We donít seem to find cat hotspots on our wheatbelt farms either. So, really, I have no better advice to offer than youíd better get good at calling in foxes as every so often youíll get a nice surprise with a decent feral cat bounding in. The good thing about this method, itís the big, brave cats that respond to the predator calls ñ cats big enough to mix it with the foxes.