The African caracal is a small cat similar in size to the bobcat. They are well recognized by the tufts of hair which grow on the points of their large ears. They have eyes which are oversized in relation to the rest of their head. Males weigh in the region of 35 pounds when mature and have a body of 30 to 40 inches long. Hunting one of these shy animals is extremely rewarding and takes a good amount of patience, with luck on your side.
The African caracal can be hunted throughout South Africa; they are listed as least concern in South Africa so a permit is not needed. They can also be taken in Namibia, but permits need to be issued from Namibian authorities and thus needs to be applied for beforehand. The African Caracal can also be hunted in Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Mozambique has put a ban on the hunting of all small cats as from 2010, so the African Caracal may not be taken there.
Hunting The African Caracal is not easy; they are very shy cats and keep their presence unknown. In order to successfully hunt these cats, one needs to outwit them in what they are good at. Many Outfitters hunt Caracal by calling them . A FoxPro or similar device mouth call is used to make distress calls of small game which will entice the cat to come and have a look. Although this method is successful to an extent, it is not very reliable as a cat will only come in if it is close by in the area, It also needs to be done at night. You may be very lucky to bump a caracal while out hunting something else; you will need to shoot very quickly and accurately, as they do not waste time when making an escape.
Baiting for caracal is also very tricky and usually only works by chance. Baiting for caracal without any fresh sign of the animal is a shot in the dark. In order to successfully bait one needs to find a fresh caracal kill from the previous evening and then build a blind and sit and wait for the cat to return. During the times that small antelope are lambing, Caracal are very active and finding such a kill is common- if the cats are in the area.
Another method which has proven itself is the use of dogs. The dogs will be sent on a scent of a Caracal until they come into contact with the cat. A Caracal will immediately climb into a nearby tree when in danger from the dogs. By the use of GPS collars on the dogs, you can track them and of course hear their howling. The hunter will then need to catch up and shoot the cat while it is bayed in the tree. This is a physical hunt but extremely rewarding and seeing the dogs work is amazing. Hunting Caracal with dogs is illegal in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Namibia.
In South Africa it is legal to hunt Caracal with dogs, as they actually are a pest to small stock farmers in the areas in which they occur. In Zimbabwe the African Caracal may only be hunted with the dogs on privately owned land, and not on a hunting concession. Hunting caracal at night by calling, or sitting in a blind is legal in South Africa, providing that the land owner has the necessary night hunting permit in hand.
When targeting African Caracal, the best caliber to use is a small centre fire calibre, in order not to damage the trophy. If hunting Caracal with the use of dogs, a shotgun can also be used as shots are close by and need to be taken really quickly.
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