Gardner kills big bobcat

Published 12:01 am Sunday, November 27, 2011

NATCHEZ — Natchez City Engineer David Gardner set out to kill a deer Nov. 19. As the morning progressed it did not appear that luck was on his side on the opening day of deer season at the Greenfield Hunting Club. But, just before Gardner was about to pack it in, luck showed up in the form of a target more rare than a buck.

“I was in my stand, and I didn’t see any deer” Gardner said. “Then a bobcat came out at the opposite end of the field. It went to a puddle of water and took a sip and sat down. I was amazed at how big it was.”

Gardner said he watched the cat for a while and knew that he wanted to get the opportunity to take a shot at it, but the timing was not right.

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“I had been wanting to get a bobcat to tan the hide and make a rug out of it. I thought that would be pretty cool,” Gardner said. “But I didn’t want to shoot him that far away, because it could tear the hide up, so I opted not to shoot.”

Gardner said at the time the bobcat was approximately 120 yards away, and soon after Gardner decided not to shoot the bobcat went back in the woods.

Thirty minutes later, at approximately 9:15 a.m., Gardner was just about ready to call it a day when the cat reappeared.

“It came out right in front of my stand, about 20 yards,” he said. “It was so close and it was at the end of my hunt, so I thought it was a good opportunity to get the bobcat.”

Gardner said he would not have shot at the cat if he was not about to pack up and leave, because his main target was deer and a shot earlier would have scared the deer away. He said the fact that the bobcat showed up later in the morning was one of the reasons he was able to shoot. Also, Gardner had another reason to want to get the bobcat, he said.

“I am a big turkey hunter, and bobcats eat turkeys, so it was all the more incentive, plus it was in season.”

Gardner said once he got close to the male bobcat after he shot it, he was even more impressed with its size.

“I was amazed at how big his paws were, they were huge,” he said. “He is going to make an excellent mount. I can’t wait to get to the taxidermist.”

Gardner said he sees approximately three bobcats each year at the hunting camp, and he cannot remember a year that he did not see at least one. But, the bobcat is still a rare creature to see when deer hunting, he said.

“You don’t see them very often, they are real shy,” he said. “It’s something you don’t see very regularly, so when you do get to see them it’s memorable.”

Last weekends experience was not Gardner’s first with bobcats. He said he has killed approximately five in his life, and even been hunted by one before.

“I was turkey hunting (once), and I was imitating a turkey, and I remember I called one up,” he said. “It was stalking me and looking at me. It was a real freaky experience.”

Gardner said many of his hunting buddies made a big deal out of his kill, but the most important reaction came from his 4-year-old daughter Nella.

“She thought it was pretty cool,” he said.

Gardner said Nella is turning into a hunter herself, and he is very glad she is. Gardner said he took her hunting for the first time last year, and he was impressed with Nella’s reaction to the deer he killed.

“I shot, and she wasn’t scared,” he said. “She sat on the deer, and I guess she claimed it. I knew I had a little hunter on my hands.

“I have four girls and for my youngest daughter to say that to me I realized I finally got my son. She’s going to start early. She’s going to hunt.”

Gardner certainly did not start his hunting career as young as Nella, he said. In fact, he said he was a bit of a late bloomer.

“I was a late starter,” he said. “My daddy took me in Winona, and I remember it was cold, like 0 degrees, that day and it was raining. I was about 11. I remember how cold it was and thinking that hunting was kind of tough.”

Soon after Gardner killed his first deer and has been hunting ever since.

Gardner said he loves deer and turkey hunting, has recently picked up duck hunting, enjoys salt water fishing, but he will pretty much hunt anything.

“David Atkins (Assistant City Engineer) always says, ‘if it runs or jumps, slides, slithers or swims I’ll hunt it or fish it.’

“I’m not that extreme, but close.”

Gardner said he hunts with hunting buddies throughout the United States, even Alaska. Gardner went moose hunting in Alaska in 2007, he said.

Gardner said his job keeps him away from hunting quite often, but he still hunts when he gets the chance. He said he looks forward to the continued development of Nella as a hunter as well.