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Archive for Sunday, October 28, 2001

Bamboozled bobcat bites man calling turkeys in Reno County

October 28, 2001

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Through the years, Justin Maley has suffered his share of bad luck while turkey hunting.

He's been spotted by the sharp-eyed birds, had turkeys spooked by other hunters and had turkeys coming to calls abruptly stop out of range.

But on a recent turkey hunt, Maley, of Wichita, truly suffered when he had the bad luck of being mistaken for a turkey by a hungry bobcat.

Maley was hunting on the Cheney Wildlife Area in Reno County, near a grove of trees where he's seen turkeys on scouting trips.

The sun was going down and a flock of birds was answering his calls and getting closer, when ...

"I just let out a little call when I felt the weight hit my head and felt warm liquid running down my face," Maley said. "When I looked off to the side, I saw the bobcat and knew what had happened."

Maley shot the adult bobcat rather than take a chance on a repeat performance and then noticed that the warm liquid was his blood, pouring from four puncture wounds from the cat's fangs.

Maley said he called the proper authorities, who came and took the bobcat. Although bobcat season doesn't open for a month, no charges were filed.

Tests showed the bobcat was not rabid.

"That was good news," Maley said. "I didn't want to go through those shots after everything else."

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks biologists said attacks by bobcats on humans are extremely rare.

Maley is convinced the bobcat he shot didn't know it was attacking a person until it was too late.

"I'd just made a call, he heard it and pounced right at the sound," he said. "That's why he landed right on my head."

The hapless hunter sought medical attention, but he said doctors wouldn't stitch the four deep punctures.

"They said that closing up the wounds might trap in bacteria and lead to infection," he said. "I stayed home from work the next day and it was still bleeding quite a bit."

Realizing the event was a fluke, Maley said he hunted the same area a few days later but was unsuccessful.

He took a bird from another area later. Neither hunt held the excitement nor the pain of his evening with the bobcat.

"I've heard of people calling them up while they're calling turkeys," he said. "But I've never heard of anything like what happened. It was definitely a unique experience."

Michael Pearce, a native of Tonganoxie, is a former outdoors writer for the Journal-World.

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