Canada Lynx in full winter fur

Small Felines. Part I: Genus Lynx

Felines have historically carried a strong emotional significance to us humans. Paradoxically, the yellow and black spots of a leopard act as a sign of danger, while the purr of a domestic cat is one of the most pacifying sounds in existence. You simply can’t remain neutral to feline hunting. For some, just the very idea of killing a leopard or lion is a sacrilege. For others, it’s a lifetime dream. But big cats (with the possible exception of the cougar) are something that is very distant, both geographically and financially, for most hunters. How about smaller felines?

The Genus Lynx

The genus Lynx includes four extant species of felines that are about halfway between a domestic cat and a leopard in size. Some other species of felines, most notably the Caracal, a native to Trans-Saharan Africa, may be mistakenly identified as “Lynx” as well.

Two species of Genus Lynx – the Eurasian Lynx and the Iberian Lynx – are native to the Old World. The Iberian Lynx is the rarest, with only about 300 animals remaining in remote corners of Spain. But the Eurasian Lynx lurks in the woods everywhere from Scandinavia to Kamchatka in decent numbers. The Eurasian Lynx is the biggest of the Lynx species. Unlike its North American cousins, who seldom prey on creatures bigger than a Snowshoe Hare, Eurasian Lynx can easily handle Roe Deer and Musk Deer, and in many areas these ungulates make its stable food.

Lynx on the snow
Eurasian and Canada Lynx are adapted to living in cold environments and are seldom found outside the taiga belt

Biologists believe that the Eurasian Lynx colonized North America about 2 million years ago. As the glaciers stopped the passage through the Continental Divide, animals that lived to south of it become isolated from other Lynx populations, and ultimately evolved into the Bobcat. The Bobcat is the smallest of the genus, and probably the most numerous. It is highly adaptable and can thrive in various habitats from boreal forests to semi-deserts. Its distribution covers almost all of the Lower 48 (with the exception of the Midwest), Canada just a bit to the north from the border, and the northern half of Mexico, and hunting opportunities exist from British Columbia to Arizona.  

The modern Canada Lynx descends from populations that remained to the north of the Continental Divide. It is similar to Eurasian Lynx, but smaller, and depends heavily on snowshoe hare. True to its name, Canada Lynx range covers most of Canada, and parts of Alaska. The populations of the Bobcat and the Canada Lynx overlap at about the US-Canadian border, most noticeably in British Columbia

Lynx and Bobcat Conservation Status

The Iberian Lynx, as mentioned about, is critically endangered. Eurasian Lynx is listed as Near Threatened, but this mostly refers to populations in the south of the range. The north-eastern populations, especially in countries like Latvia, Estonia and Russia, are healthy. Canada Lynx is listed as Least Concern at global level, however, it is considered threatened in the USA on the federal level, and is listed as endangered in some states. Bobcat is also listed as Least Concern, although local population may be threatened by habitat loss and competition with other predators. Where Bobcat and Lynx populations overlap, there may be specific hunting regulations in place to prevent accidental harvest of Lynx.

How to Hunt Lynx and Bobcat

Like all felines, the members of the Genus Lynx are far from easy to hunt. Being not the apex predator, but also prey for wolves and coyotes, the members of the Lynx genus are always on the alert. Good luck tracking them in the snow, for instance. These cats are small enough to evade a human easily in the dense forests the Lynx calls home, and yet their population is spread thinly over large terrain, and big, trophy males are few and far between. Lynx prefer to kill their own food, and won’t be easily drawn by dead meat posed as a bait. They climb trees easily, which helps escape the beaters in the course of a driven hunt.

Bobcats are more common and less nocturnal than other feline species, and sometimes can be quite successfully harvested simply by still-hunting the likely places with a rifle at the ready. Another very efficient bobcat hunting method is calling. Prey in distress works well on them. Canada Lynx and Eurasian Lynx are not as easy to call into range though. A screaming match between two Lynx toms is hair-raising, and this type of vocalization could work well for trophy hunting. However, Lynx begin to mate in early spring, when hunting season is generally over.

Bobcat in Arizona, calling hunt
The Bobcat can live in a variety of landscapes, including semi-deserts of Arizona, where calling is an effective method of hunting them

But by far the most exciting way to harvest a Lynx is with packs of hounds. It works for Bobcat, Canadian and Eurasian Lynx equally well. In the first stage of this hunt, the hunters must find a track of a suitable animal. Correct track identification is essential, as Bobcat shares habitat with other felines. So is the snow: you need some to locate the tracks, but at the same time not so much that it impedes with your movements.

When the track is identified, the hounds are released and the pursuit begins. A Lynx can escape just as far, and over just as difficult a terrain, as any other quarry, and the hunters will have to really sweat it before they can come to range. The actual act of harvest, once you’ve approached the area where the hounds keep the cat at bay, is not so difficult – if you can control your fatigue and excitement, that is! But overall, to follow the hounds across all kinds of impossible terrain, to stalk the cat when they bring it to bay, and to make a careful shot overcoming fatigue and excitement is much, much easier said than done.

Seasons and Prices

Historically, Lynx was mostly pursued because of its fur, and hunting seasons are focused on the time when the fur would be in its prime. A hunting or trapping season for Lynx typically start in November and may last until the end of February. By contrast, Bobcat hunting seasons depend on whether the animal is treated as a furbearer or a predator. In states where it is treated as a predator may be generous and can run from August to March. In the more northern parts of its range, where it is considered a furbearer, the seasons are similar to the seasons for Lynx.

The most affordable bobcat hunting opportunities are predator calling hunts in the southern part of its US range; these can go as low as $350 a hunter a day. A 5-day outfitted hunt near the US-Canadian border, with lodging and meals, will set you back by $4,000-$5,000. You can find a Lynx hunt in Eastern Europe for under $2,000. Lynx hunting in British Columbia may cost between $6,000 and 9,000. The most expensive offers combine Bobcat with Cougar and/or Lynx hunting over hounds; these can run into $10,000 and more.

Finally

You can often read that the members of Genus Lynx have been hunted for their its soft, beautiful fur. Every real hunter knows it’s only a small part of the story. It is the emotional connection with the felines, and the challenge of the pursuit that attracts people to hunting Bobcat and Lynx, and the fur it much more valuable as a material token of the whole experience. If you should want to go hunting any king of the Lynx, check out Bobcat and Lynx hunting offers on BookYourHunt.com!

Continue to Small Felines. Part II: Africa

 

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