2006-10-28 / Outdoors

Trapper achieves longtime goal

Ralph Brown (left) realized one of his trapping goals recently when he hooked up with local guide Jeff Colwell who helped him locate this bobcat. The Homer City man then made the best of his bobcat permit. Ralph Brown (left) realized one of his trapping goals recently when he hooked up with local guide Jeff Colwell who helped him locate this bobcat. The Homer City man then made the best of his bobcat permit. One of the features that makes the "Pennsylvania Wilds" truly wild is the presence of the state's only truly wild cat, the bobcat.

These clever, elusive and captivating animals are especially adept at eluding their only natural predator -- humans -- and their numbers are low enough that the Pa. Game Commission (PGC) has imposed strict limits on hunting or trapping bobcats.

A Homer City man, Ralph Brown, was fortunate enough to have his name drawn for a bobcat tag three years ago and once again this year. The first foray afield for the 75-year-old Brown, who has a heart condition, was unsuccessful. So, when Jeff and Janet Colwell from Hicks Run Outfitters heard about the popular old-timer's good fortune in being awarded a bobcat tag for 2006, they were anxious to help.

With more than six decades of trapping experience, Brown knew the ins and outs of the hobby, but he was uncertain where he might stand a good chance of attracting some attention in the local PGC wildlife management unit.

The Colwells were more than willing to oblige. On the first day, Brown set six traps in three locations and returned to his Wykoff Run Road camp to wait out the night.

The next morning, Brown and a companion returned to the first site and immediately noticed that something was amiss. Having spotted a huge porcupine the previous day, Brown assumed that, unfortunately, he had probably snared that prickly forest denizen.

Suddenly, he heard the chilling, deep growl sound that could mean only one thing. As they rounded the corner of laurel and rocks, they instantly spotted the biggest bobcat either of them had ever seen.

"This is the lifelong dream of an old trapper, finally coming true," Brown said.

Naturally, the men took the 33-lb. cat to the Colwell residence. Not surpringly, Brown will have the feline mounted for prominent placement above his mantle.

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