Bobcats are good Porcupines are bad

Bobcats are shy elusive animals, so you don’t often see them. But they are plentiful throughout the state. I only saw them a couple of times on my woodlot, but noticed the tracks almost every time I snowshoed there.

One winter in our backyard, at the bottom of a large apple tree, I found the feathers of a turkey along with bobcat tracks. From the snow, I could tell that quite a ruckus had happened there. Turns out the bobcat had sat in a crotch of the tree, and when the turkey had walked by, the cat jumped on it and killed it, dragging it about 20 yards back into the woods and eating most of it.

The diary of Daniel Haywood a Parmachenee guide at Camp Caribou, Parmachenee Lake(1891) is a fascinating account of hunting and trapping above Rangeley in 1891. It includes this story about porcupines (hedgehogs).

I once saw a hedgehog swimming in the lake and killed it. It crossed from an island ¼ mile distant, and was near the shore when I saw it. I never knew any good to come from a hedgehog, and there is no end to the trouble which comes from them in localities where they are plenty. Besides their quills and then gnawing of articles left around camps, one hedgehog will reduce a shade tree to ruin, be it poplar, elm, birch, maple, beech or any other hardwood tree, in one night; therefore I always expend the contents of my revolver on one, where I meet it, and I think I take no charms from these woods by doing.

I did the same thing! I once had a dog that just never learned. Several times I had to pull quills out of him, until one day he got a big load of them in his mouth and I had to take him to the vet to get them extracted. Because porcupines are so destructive to trees, I shot them whenever I saw them in the yard or on my woodlot. There is a group of big boulders on my woodlot where porcupines live in the crevices underneath the boulders, and I’d often find them in the trees nearby.

One fall, I saw a porcupine on the front lawn, hunkered down on the ground next to one of our apple trees, so I loaded a single shell into my .22 rifle and walked right up to it, aimed for the back of its head, and shot it. Imagine my amazement when it sauntered away, crossed the road, and continued on into the woods. Yes, they are some old tough!

DIF&W posted an interesting column last week about porcupines and fishers. You can read it here:


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.