SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) - Tracking skills and an electronic call allowed veteran predator hunter Ron Edgerly to harvest his biggest bobcat after 58 years of hunting the Eastern Upper Peninsula swamps.
"It's the biggest one I've ever seen," he said of the 40-plus-pound animal.
And Edgerly has seen plenty of bobcats over the years - something most area residents are lucky to see once or twice in a lifetime. Armed with a photo album full of pictures and a good memory, Edgerly said that when he was younger he would hunt six days a week.
Mike McGee | Sault Evening News
Ron Edgerly of Sault Ste. Marie holds a 40-plus pound bobcat he killed while hunting the Gogomain Swamp Monday. The veteran predator hunter, who focuses his efforts roughly from Sault Ste. Marie to Cedarville before heading to Florida each winter, said this is the largest cat he has taken in 58 years.
"Every day but Sunday," he recalled.
His best year was 1957, for bobcats anyway, when he and a hunting partner teamed up to take 23.
Admitting he has slowed down in recent years - maybe three or four days a week - Edgerly said there is one thing he can't ignore.
"When there is fresh snow, you've got to go hunting," he said.
It was under those conditions that Edgerly recently was cruising the roadways looking to cut a fresh track when he came across one on an unidentified road east of Pickford. Edgerly grabbed his shotgun before heading after it.
"I normally hunt with a .220 Swift, but you can't in the Gogomain - you can only see 35 yards," he said before re-emphasizing his point. "A rifle is no good at all for hunting in the Gogomain Swamp."
Employing his tracking skills, Edgerly said he followed for approximately two-and-a-half hours before finally figuring it was time to set up his electronic call. The rabbit distress sounds brought the animal into range of Edgerly's other hunting partner - a 12-gauge shotgun.
When the woods fell silent, the master predator hunter had harvested his biggest bobcat.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources regulations allow hunters to bag up to two bobcats per season, effectively preventing Edgerly from ever having a repeat of the 1957 season. In fact, he is done hunting bobcats this year as he has already reached his harvest quota.
But that doesn't mean he is ready to hang up his rifle. Edgerly said he will continue to hunt coyotes up here before heading down to Florida later this month, where the coyote population is booming.
The .220 Swift might have missed out on the bobcat hunt, but it will likely see plenty of action in the days and weeks to come.
"Predator hunting," concluded Edgerly. "I really enjoy."