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A female bobcat in a grassy field

The Story of Notch

Almost 6 years ago to the date, I first met Notch. While photographing some owls hooting above me, I took a quick look behind and spotted a bobcat sitting far away in the field. Eventually got up and slowly sauntered out of sight, leaving me with nothing more than a brief sighting and a few far away images. But little did I know that this would be the start of an incredible journey with this bobcat.

3 months later that very same year, I finally spotted her again - but she wasn’t alone. She had three young kittens with her. An amazingly efficient hunter, I’d regularly see Notch catching squirrels and gophers for her young. She raised two of these kittens successfully to adulthood - and this was the first of 4 litters I’d watch her raise.

Despite being one of the smallest bobcats out there, Notch was incredibly bold - she walked around on the trails like she owned them. This unique personality of hers made it possible to observe her up close for extended periods of time - giving a truly unique view into the life of a bobcat.

I’ve had over 300 sightings of more than 30 bobcats in the last 6 years, but Notch held a special place in my heart. During high school, I’d spend every free second I had on weekends or after school looking for her. When it came time to apply to college, my main essay was a letter to her.

A little over 2 years ago, Notch disappeared. I last saw her crossing the trail right in front of me, then disappearing into the brush like she had done a hundred times before. Except this time, I would never see her come back out.

Although a variety of anthropogenic factors could have resulted in her disappearance, I’d like to believe it was natural causes due to her age. She was 8 years old at the time, which is old in bobcat years. Part of me likes to imagine she’s still out there on new territory, although I know this is very unlikely.

2 years after her disappearance, I’m finally ready to share her story. Notch changed my life, and I believe by seeking a closer connection with nature, all our lives can change for the better.

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