Bobcat hunting to expand in Muscatine County

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A Muscatine man lives to talk after a close encounter with a bobcat.

This survival story represents a growing and shifting population for these animals. It's one reason why bobcat hunting will expand into rural Muscatine County this November.

They call Jim Huber the "Critter Gitter."

"Oh, it was a ferocious roar," he recalled.

A bobcat almost got Huber while he was mushroom hunting in Muscatine County last year.

Huber runs an animal nuisance control business in Muscatine, but this incident threw him for a loop.

"There was no doubt in my mind what this was," he remembered. "It sounded as big as an elephant."

Adrenaline and instincts kicked in between man and beast. The "Critter Gitter" got out of there pronto.

"I knew to just back out of there," he said.

While Jim Huber's bobcat encounter is more the exception than the rule. there have been a few recent sightings at Wildcat Den State Park.

Once endangered, the bobcat is a conservation success story. They're secretive, nocturnal animals about three times the size of a house cat.

Now, the bobcat population is growing and moving. It's on the move enough to allow limited bobcat hunting in Muscatine County.

"The bobcats are expanding their range in Iowa," said Conservation Officer Ed Kocal. "We decided to allow more counties."

The season begins in November for those with a fur harvesting license. It will include nearly half of Iowa's counties.

"Hunters are already accidentally trapping these animals," said Muscatine naturalist Dave Bakke. "That gave them the indication the population was starting to increase."

That's just fine for Jim Huber, considering his brush with the bobcat.

"I feel lucky," he concluded. "But I also feel lucky that I got to have that encounter. It was an experience."

It was quite an experience for the "Critter Gitter."