January 7, 2016 at 9:37 pm
The 2013-2014 hunting season was one of the best ever for Jeff Bartlett. Not only did he harvest the 2nd of his three trophy bucks widely known as "The Smuteye Triumvirate", but he also punched his wildcard by harvesting a bobcat at Smuteye. What "Lucky" Jeff didn't know at the time is that this was no ordinary bobcat.
Jeff delivered the trophy bobcat to local taxidermist, Walter "Ed" Randolph. Ed recalled something unusual in the look of this predator. "I got to working on the cat and seen [sic] somethin' in the way his eyes was lookin'. It was almost like this bobcat on my table was studyin' the other mounts in my workshop," said Randolph.
His suspicions aroused, Randolph called State Biologist Ringo Dugan, the foremost expert on feline predators in the southern United States. Dugan examined the cat and identified it as the shy and elusive Barbour County bobcat (Lynx barbous). "The Barbour County bobcat is unique in that it is the only member of the cat family Felidae that has horizontal pupils," explained Dugan.
The most unusual aspect of Bartlett's bobcat is that it was found on Smuteye Plantation in Bullock County. "Bobcats are known to have a well-defined range of no more than 1-2 miles," says Dugan. "This young female clearly ventured farther from her home than any other Barbour County bobcat we have encountered before. Her wider range suggests possible influence by a larger cousin such as the Alabama Leopard." (Panthera alabamas)
[Note: at press time, Jeff Bartlett had not decided whether to place the mount in his home or contribute it to the Alabama Rare Species Foundation Museum in Elba.]
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