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Bobby Tomek

big bobcat & the bullet that killed him

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For a few months now, my 20" heavy-barreled .308 WCF has been unscoped, and while I don't shoot it much anymore, it was always nice to know it was available if needed. So I began watching for an appropriate scope for it and found one just before Christmas. It was a Bausch & Lomb Elite 3000 3-9x40, and the shipped price of $120 was too good to pass up.

 

I got it sighted in yesterday, put my shooting light atop it and was going to give it a shot at hogs if they decided to show themselves. On my first try, nothing was moving, so I took the opportunity to fine-tune the light and set the scope to 8x as it seemed I got the best combination of detail and target recognition at this magnification. Later on, I tried again and again saw no hogs, but I did pick up a single eye in the huisaches. It seemed to be a coon milling about, but I wanted to get a good look and began lip-squeaking as loud as I could to see if I could generate a response. It seemed to have no interest in my calling, but about 30 seconds later I picked up a set of eyes well behind this creature, and it was moving my way.

 

The gait and way the eyes reflected the light told me it was a bobcat. The eyes stopped in a grassy patch around 200 yards, but I didn't have a clear shot and also didn't have a feel for the size of the animal just yet since that was just a bit far for my scope/light combo. I did not want to take one of this year's young but was hoping for the mature male that we'd seen before.

 

A bit more temptation from lip-squeaking got the cat on the move again, this time going parallel to me for about 50 yards until he stopped almost in the center of the clearing I use for my target range. After hesitating a few seconds, he was on the move again and stopped at what later proved to be just over 150 yards. At this point, I knew this was a mature cat, but I also knew my shot opportunities would be restricted if I did not want to damage the pelt. The 150 grain Ballistic TIp churns up 2770 fps at the muzzle and was capable of a large exit if not properly placed.

 

The cat was now facing me and doing the typical raising-lowering of the head in an attempt to get a better look at the free meal ahead. In a few seconds, however, his head appeared even with the body, and I knew this was my chance for a shot. I had the rifle rested on a large shooting bag, and when I touched off a round, I was pretty certain I heard a bit of a "smack" sound -- the typical sound of bullet hitting bone on a smaller animal. Sure enough, the bullet caught the kitty a quarter-inch from the eye, tore through the bottom edges of the spinal column in the neck and ranged back through the vitals before stopping between the last rib and hip. The bullet was the classic mushroom, weighed 100.8 grains and was actually visible right away as there was a definite bump beneath the cats prime fur. The only actual damage to the pelt was collateral and caused by the roof of the mouth collapsing under impact and sending bone fragments and teeth into the lower jaw. While a bit messy and bloody, the damage to the pelt under the bottom jaw was absolutely minimal.

 

 

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Nice going, Bobby. Just about any other shot placement with that .308 would have resulted in a pretty good exit wound. About the only other option you had was the frontal chest, but it worked out fine. Heck of a price on that scope, too. You broke it in on a good-looking animal.

 

Jerry

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Thanks. I've used the frontal chest and also a "going away" with the .308 and 30-30 AI on cats with similar (good) results. But this was the first at night, and those glowing eyes helped give me a more defined aiming point.

 

The only other one I recall taking with a shot through the head and into the body was a long shot with the 30-30 AI and a 150 grain Ballistic Silvertip a number of years ago. It entered just above the eye and exited near the back leg, but it was no bigger than a dime. That one was a big, chunky cat and the only one I ever had mounted. But the shoddy taxidermy work on him still boils my blood a little...

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It has been skinned, and the pelt is frozen. What used to take me just a few minutes went on forever last night. My RA and neuropathy decided to simultaneously wreak havoc with my hands, and between the pain, weakness and numbness, I considered giving up several times. I thought about taking the pain meds I have (and hate due to side effects), but I didn't want my senses dulled when working with a sharp knife. It was already too late to wake anyone for help, so I just stuck with it and finally got it done as I could not bear wasting that beautiful animal. It was probably close to 3 a.m. when I bagged the hide and put it in the freezer.

 

I haven't checked prices, but messing with shipping a single hide isn't really worth it, so I may have it tanned for the wall or maybe trade someone for some loading supplies, as I did with the last one.

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Great looking cat and excellent story . Last one I shot coming at me , didn't have much left behind the shoulders . Was using a 6.5 Grendal with a 129 grain SST . Devastated the cat .

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That is a pretty cat and the perfect shot

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Nice cat!
Congrats!

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Great cat! Congrats! I'd never heard of a .308 WCF until I read your post. Very interesting. What sort of velocities do you get? Is that a Nosler Balistic silver tip bullet? Handload?

 

Sorry for all the questions but I'm surprised it didn't blow right out the back of the cat. I've had great luck with those frontal or going away shots with .204 and even .223 but I've always been scared to use my .260 or my 6.5 Creedmoor on cats because I hate ruining the hide. Maybe I should try them. I'm about to start working on some 6.5CM loads with 140gr Nosler Ballistic tips and with 143gr Hornady ELD-X. Going to curious to see how they perform on cats.

 

Again, congrats on a great cat. Great to hear that you're fighting through the pain - keep it up!!

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Thanks, guys.

 

SouthTXBowhunter-

 

The load I used in the .308 Winchester (I stille use the WCF/Winchester Center Fire designation) is the Nosler 150 grain Ballistic Tip driven by a mid-range load of IMR-4320 . I certainly don't consider it optimum for pelts but can work if you are careful. This was an unusually close shot for me on cats as most have been taken during daylight and in the 2-300 yard range. I generally use my mild-mannered Contenders in 6.5 and 7mm with select bullets driven in the 2600 fps range. The pedestrian speeds along with the extended ranges translate into absolutely minimal pelt damage -- if any. I've found the high-vel .22s and newer .204 to work OK most of the time, but when they blow through, it's usually an ugly mess with lots of damage to the pelt.

 

I've also used the 30-30 AI with both 150 grain Ballistic SilverTips and 150 grain Accubonds on cats with excellent results, but again, MVs were around 2550 fps and the ranges longer. I took a big chunky tom a few years ago with the BST load. He was 297 yards away, and I managed to put the bullet into the facing cat. It entered near the eye and exited near the left hindquarters, leaving only a dime-sized or smaller hole in its wake.

 

As to your 6.5CM loads using the 140 grain BT and 143 grain Hornady: both possess enough sectional density that stopping one within a cat will be difficult, and with the attendant velocities, you are likely looking at a large exit unless the range is extended and no bones other than ribs are encountered.

 

With that being said, a few years ago I took a double with a 26" MGM Encore barrel in .260 pushing the 120 grain Nosler BT at a bit less than max (2879 fps, if memory serves). The first cat took it behind the shoulder, and the exit was nickel-sized. The second cat sniffed the first and began to walk away when I launched another 120 grain Nosler. It did not exit. The ranges were 293 and 294 yards.

 

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If I could still be mobile and get out there and call, my favorite cartridge for 'cats has always been the little .22 Mag. Inside 100 yards, it worked perfectly for me back in the 80s and 90s when I used to do quite a bit of calling.

 

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Another mild cartridge that worked very well for me was the 25-35 in a 23" Contender. In the photo below, took a double on bobcats from 270 and 274 yards using the 100 grain Ballistic Tip that clocks 2660 (at 15 feet) with a load of LVR. I shot the female first. I shot her in the appendage where the neck and chest join as she faced me, and the 100 grain BT traversed the length of the body and lodged under the hide just in front of the hips. It completely pulverized the heart, wrecked the lungs and took out the liver, stomach and some of the intestines along the way. I’ll post photos of the recovered bullet tomorrow.

The 2nd cat – the male – came out a few minutes later and was on the trail of the female (at this time of year, if you spot a female, the male won’t be far behind as it is the height of mating season here in south central Texas). This shot was tough as well. I put the bullet into the neck – about 2” in front of the chest -- and it exited the center of the opposite shoulder on the quartering animal. The exit was less than half the size of a dime, so there was no damage to the pelt.

 

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Out of the last 20 or so cats I have taken, I have used a 25-35 WCF, 6.5 Bullbery IMP, a 26" .260, a 7mm Bullberry, a 7-30 Waters, a 30-30 AI and a .308 WCF. Only one suffered damage significant enough to downgade the pelt. The shot was facing me, and the 150 grain Accubond from the 30-30 AI penetrated the length of the animal. The actual exit of the bullet was small, but as chance would have it, the cat had an overly-full stomach, and the sheer hydrostatic shock from the bullet centering it forced a long rip in the lower abdomen.

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Heck of a write-up there, Bobby. Lots of good information for anyone using those calibers. Your close-up photography, not surprisingly, are top-notched. I also especially like the b&w photo...lots of character in it.

 

OP

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Thank you, Jerry. I appreciate it. That B&W photo was a little tough to do as it was a self-portrait, and I had to rely on a timer and a tripod -- and a lot of guesstimation was involved. At least on my screen, it looks like many of these images have been softened by compression on Photobucket. They no longer look sharp to my eyes.

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