Dr. Ralf Fronicke of Berlin, Germany had a Christmas break from his surgery clinic and booked a long-awaited cat hunt to Bearcat Outfitters. He and his girlfriend Annette arrived in Kamloops on Boxing Day.
Days 1 and 2 were spent combing the country for fresh cat tracks. We located bobcat and female cougar tracks, but no fresh tom cougar tracks in the first 2 days. On day 3 we cut a fresh set of bobcat tracks and guide Russ Bouveur and I got off the snowmobiles to investigate. We followed the tracks a short ways and Russ almost stepped on a dead moose. He was a bit startled by the discovery, but we were happy to see that the bobcat had been feeding on the dead moose when we pulled up and had just ran off. We decided to run this cat and went back to the trucks to pick up Ralf, Annette and the hounds. The hounds were released on the fresh track and the race was on. The bobcat pulled its usual tricks of going through nasty blowdown and circling back on itself, but the hounds kept on the trail. Ralf and I were posted in a large opening listening to the chase and following it on the GPS receiver. We were watching the area and then saw the bobcat trotting across the opening about 800 m. to our right. We radioed Russ what was going on and started calling the hounds to where we last saw the bobcat to help them out a bit. They quickly arrived on scene, and were then able to tree the bobcat about 300 m. from where we had last seen it. It took Russ and I about 15 minutes with the binocluars to find the cat in the tree, but we eventually spotted it staring down at us. We then went back and got Ralf where we had left him on the side of the road and got him set for the shot. Cat #1 in the bag!
On day 4 we located a fresh cougar track that we figured may be a tom, but it was too late in the day to chase it that day. We were back in the area on day 5 to try and cut it’s tracks from the previous night and we located it heading north. In doing this search, though, we were lucky to cut another fresh track that was definitely that of a nice tom. The hunt now shifted to this new track and we returned to the truck for Ralf, Annette and the anxious hounds. We went back to the last place we had seen the tom’s tracks and cut the hounds loose. They followed the track a very short ways and we heard them ‘blow up.’ About 1 minute later, they were baying ‘treed.’ The tom was up a big Douglas-fir about 10 minutes after the dogs had been released. The big cat had been sleeping under a blowdown only about 300 metres from where we had last cut his tracks. Cat #2 in the bag!
Ralf really wanted a lynx to complete the ‘cat trick’ and we tried the next two days, but had to admit defeat as the snow was simply too deep to effectively chase lynx. We were all frustrated as there were lots of lynx around, but as with many hunting trips, the weather can often throw you a curve ball and there is nothing you can do about it. We have all been there before. Nonetheless, Ralf and Annette had a great trip and a good start to the New Year.