During my trip to Africa, I focused primarily on big game species but any of you that know me know how much I love predator hunting. So when the opportunity came up to hunt a caracal cat, I was all about it.
In Africa they hunt the caracal much like we hunt our mountain lions here in the states. It’s all about having good dogs and moist scent conditions for the dogs to stay on the trail – and that’s exactly what we had. The rain that had pushed through on our Nyala hunt left the next morning with a heavy dew on the ground. I met up early that morning with two different houndsmen and their respective packs of dogs. What looked to me like a bunch of walker and blue tick hounds, much like what I had seen in Colorado on a failed lion hunt.
Being a houndsman in Africa is serious business and is a pretty prestigious position amongst the tribes people. They hunt these cats every day to keep them from killing the bushbuck as well as the ranchers livestock. The most popular way to hunt these animals is to let the houndsman find the cat and come back to harvest it once it’s been treed. I wanted to see what the action was all about and elected to follow one of the hounds groups.
We released the dogs and they took off. We had not even walked a mile when we received a call on the radio. The pack we didn’t go with was hot on the trail of a cat, so we rushed back to the vehicle and drove like crazy to get to the other dog pack. We had to hurry because these dogs are not just trained to tree the cat like they are here in North America, these dogs are ready to kill the cat if possible.
We could hear the hounds as we bailed out of the truck and rushed up a small hill and down into a big box canyon. When we arrived there it really was a chaotic event. The cat was up about 9 feet in thick brush, the dogs were barking and growling everywhere, and here is this houndsman speaking to me in a different language while loading a double barrel 12 guage that was older than my granddad… it was AWESOME! I snuck in closer to the cat with the houndsman. Then he grabbed a small stick and pointed it up at the tree. I just assumed that meant shoot the cat. I was right Boom went the double and the cat fell.
Before it even hit the ground, the houndsman practically caught it out of the tree using the small stick he had pointed with. Otherwise the dogs would have eaten the trophy. The hounds started howling more of a victorious howl and just like that we had harvested a nice male caracal.
It was a beautiful animal, much like our bobcat, definitely a hunt I won’t soon forget.
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