Archive for January, 2012

Jan
28

Two If By Sea

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Cold and windy. Windy and cold. That pretty much describes today, tonight and tomorrow. But… we’ve got some weather changes on the way, and they are most favorable indeed!

We’ll talk about that in just a little bit. But first, some admin tidbits to cover :)

First off, I have said numerous times that we have not even gotten off the ground yet with this online production for trappers. I don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver anything, so I try not to say too much. But I will say this much…

My discussions and coverage on topics will not be muskrat myopic forever, and not even a whole lot longer. That happens to be the mode I’m in right now because it is mostly what’s left available for me to trap. And there will be much more to profile on muskrat trapping to come. Also, I’m preparing for some in-depth discussions on trapping coon, fox and coyotes, too. We’ll look back at some photos from the past and pictures taken in the near-future for that. We’ve also have plenty fo chat about when it comes to traps, gear and preparation, gathering bait, all-season scouting and myriad other things that pass thru a fur-addicted trapper’s mind.

Nor will I be the only voice here sharing information. In addition to Redbonechick’s expanding role ahead, we have a growing library of article submissions from individual trappers already. I welcome all that will come in the future.

There will soon be brief video productions added, too. Lots of them over time. Much of our future productions will be video conversations in addition to pages in the web. Expect a mix of trapline conversations, related topics such as preseason scouting and bow fishing for bait all the way to interview snippets with trappers, dealers and vendors at trapping conventions this summer.

Speaking of pages on the web… our very next step forward here is the addition of newsletter email format, should be available for opt-in sign up on Sunday. In a nutshell, we will send out current website posts in email format each Monday and Thursday evenings. That gives readers a chance to download and view by phone or ipad, print out and keep on paper or whatever else they prefer. In addition to that, there will be a once-monthly “magazine” edition that’s apart from the website and exclusive to the email newsletter only.

There will be other benefits to being a newsletter reader, which will unfold in their own good time. Suffice it to say that we have a variety of topics and viewable choices coming your way soon. What you see right now today, you will barely recognize in the near future ahead  :)

Now speaking of what’s to come in the near future…

It is prime-time, mid-winter muskrat time. Pelts are 100% peak primeness and fur quality will never be better. Rats and beaver are right at peak apex condition, right now. Three big males I boarded today are classic examples of that. Thick, leathery hides. 17+ to 18+ inches long. Luxurious fur coats. Just what those anxious consumers of muskrat products in China (and elsewhere in the world) are waiting for. Many of us on this side of the world are doing our very best to oblige.

A legitimate 18″ to 19″ muskrat on an industry standard stretcher is nearly good as it gets. I do have a couple of bonafide 19+” specimens stretched and packed in the freezer… but they are not clear hides. Usually when you get jumbo-jumbo rats like that, they are battle-scarred warriors with crescent-shaped bite mark scars in various vintage from months, weeks, days and hours ago.

Anyways, our mid-term weather forecast here is cold for the next two days… and then moderate warm-up with temps in the upper 40sF with sunshine. That will finish the job of opening up enough remaining ice to permit me launching the “muskrat chariot” canoe by Tuesday at the latest.

I have two different moving waters available to float. One is tougher to navigate, but supposedly has not been trapped by anyone this year. Muskrat and beaver sign are both abundant. I’ll pack in a pile of #160s and blow the dust off a dozen #330s for this trip. Most of the public water beaver in my area were hit hard by other trappers before December 1st. It will be nice to actually set some castor mounds and slides where beaver remain present and fully prime. Looking forward to the smell of castor in my boat!

Should this rather unseasonable weather hold out for two weeks, I’ll attempt floating both locations and expect to haul some heavy loads out. But let’s not count hatching chickens before the eggs are even warm yet. I can pretty well see my future from now thru next weekend, and it looks pretty favorable from here. One week to float is all I could reasonably ask. Two if by sea, and I might just need to order another batch of boards post-haste :)

Tight Chains
Austin

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Jan
28

What’s In Your Landline Kit ?

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We all have different tools in our tool shed, and I am sure my trapping bag looks different than yours. I am going to share with you a few of my must have’s in my land trapping toolbox.

Let me first start with the carrier. Some use a bag, some use a bucket, some even a pack basket, not me. My carrier of choice is a plastic tote(not the big square kind you are thinking). The tote I use is originally intended for carrying horse grooming stuff, but basically it is a 2 compartment container with a handle in the middle. This is not a practical method if you walk a long distance between or to sets but it works for what I do. I put baits and lures on one side.. Hammer, sifter, and gloves on the other along with anything else scent free… My stake driver, and trowel go in the handle.


The trowel I use isn’t currently set in stone. I plan on buying a good trowel this year that will last. I try and buy one better tool each season so I can better the quality of tools without breaking the bank all at once. My ideal trowel will have a wider digging head that is a little longer than standard, a long handle is a must with a D handle at the end. For now I have just been using and abusing the $12 show special and it does the job.

The next thing I do not leave the house without is a good hammer. There are a lot of nice ones on the market these days, my hammer is the lifetime hammer from DCTM. I have the smaller version of the hammer and really like the balance of it in my hand. How a hammer feels is very important if you plan on having in your hand for hours at a time. My hammer also has a digging blade on the back. Why I like DCTM’s design more so than others is his blade comes straight off the back instead of at an angle, this way the dirt doesn’t get scattered around as much when making a set.


Another tool in my arsenal is my sifter. I have a lifetime sifter from Dead Coyote Snares. It has nice angular sides for scooping up soil and a coarse screen that really grinds up dirt clods well. I have gone through a lot of sifters by stepping on them or just tossing them around and this one really has passed the test.

The last two seasons I have used wolf fang anchors with great success. My driver for them is also from DCTM. Jason made me a custom length extra long driver out of hexagonal stock, with a hardened driving tip. I like my driver a little on the long side so I can drive anchors standing up. This driver had gone two seasons and I can easily see it lasting at least two more, DCTM’s tools are top notch.(yes purple tools work better)


Last but not least are my gloves. In years past I was a big fan of the jersey cotton gloves, I have really grown to like the nitrile coated knit gloves. They really hold up well, and have a tight fit for better feel. I find by having a rubber coated palm and fingers the gloves really help with scent control and moisture blocking. These gloves can be found at most hardware stores, at a inexpensive price.

I try to buy tools of a high quality as I rely on them so much in the field. I always keep a back up of each tool in the truck but rarely have to dig them out, because the tools I have are built to be used and abused. That about covers my tools, my bait and lure choices will fill an entire other article so I will save those for a rainy day

Happy Trapping :)
Danielle

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Jan
27

Hoofbeats Of A ‘Ratter

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“It was a dark and stormy night.”

No, seriously… it was.

Last night brought the umpteenth bought of freezing rain changing to all rain which ended up soaking the previously frozen ground with roughly a half inch of fresh, warm water. Warm water mixed with frozen ground yields greasy mud. That’s pretty much the gist of what my truck tires churned thru today. Any attempts to walk on that remains of the rotten, waterlogged ice are even more slick and adventurous yet.

That all made for a mild but wind-whipped afternoon as the next little cold front rolled by. From what I see on the local weather report this evening, it is nothing but much more of the same.

We can count on winter rains and semi-thaw conditions to swell waterway levels. Rising water levels = water animals on the move. If a half-inch of rain is forecast, smaller flows will rise several inches first. That of course depends on various terrain and elevation variables, but for the most part small flows are first to rise and likewise first to receded. What they flow into is next in line for levitation, followed by the bigger flows they feed and on down the gravity-fed watershed line.

We’re left to play the in-between game here, fourth week and counting. Not enough ice to walk on, too much ice to float in water. At this point in the season with muskrat prices what they are, all of the easily-reached spots within driving or even walking distance are well combed. I’m left with little pockets of water here & there which are a bit too small or a bit too far for others to deal with. Hiking in with a dozen #160s on stakes isn’t very efficient for big numbers by any means… but the only means for now is chipping away at the stone.

Flowing water means open water. Open water was due to rise overnight. So I spent part of yesterday scattering sets at the usual strategic spots in some local ditches and creeks. I’ve worked these waters for many years. Sometimes they hold bountiful muskrat populations. Sometimes not. This year was one of those “not” due to months’ long summertime drought. Small water rats simply ran out of overhead cover when most of the creeks around here ran dry.

This time of the year begins the earliest waves of displaced muskrats moving out of bigger bodies and into smaller bodies of water. Breaking ice on the big waters washes down thru and scrapes off muskrat houses built on edges of the flow. Those surviving rats now find themselves homeless, and the generally swim to other locations where bank den shelters are readily available.

That type of winter and spring flooding along with natural breeding season dispersal is how areas void of muskrats become resupplied.

Guarding the high-odds traffic patterns in these small waters are effective for traveling muskrats from now into late spring. Funny thing is, the very first stop on my short line today showed the very first set with a catch submerged. Water was murky from runoff and the #160 was staked solid in a clay bottom run. I could easily make out the brown shape of a catch… one that appeared to have a furry tail.

One thing I’ve learned over and over and over again thru the years is how rising water tends to push mink off the banks more than usual. Invariably, my take of incidental mink always increases right along with increased water flow. Either the hunting is good or traveling is easier… in any event, rain-soaked  weather systems + rising water levels = mink on the bottom.

This young male was one more example of that. As a passionate muskrat trapper myself, I’m always pleased to help reduce this primary predator of rats whenever possible. But on the other hand, mink (and weasels) are animals that have always fascinated me. As I’ve told the story many times in many places before, my very first exposure to any furbearing animal was a big male mink placed in my hands when I was five years old by a long-time family friend, (the late) John Magel. John was a big-numbers trapper here in NY state long before my time.

John and his brother Carr hunted deer with my dad, and one Saturday late in the season John had picked off a male mink in a trap check well before daylight on his way to our family’s house. He left the mink with me in our basement while the men went deer hunting. I’m still somewhat surprised there weren’t bald spots on that critter by the time he got back from my non-stop handling of it.

To this day I can recall seeing, feeling and smelling that big boar mink. If anyone is to blame for ruining me as a lifelong addicted furtaker, said blame lies squarely on John’s shoulders. Rest in peace, John… we’ll share some trapline stories again one day, I’m sure  :)

Anyways, I digress. The next set alongside that first held a muskrat, too. Both animals were pointed upstream, against the current flow. This is something I have noticed as a predominant pattern for decades now. Out of the countless thousands of muskrats and hundreds of mink collectively caught in bodygrip traps set blind in current flows, the vast majority were heading upstream at the time of capture.

I have come to believe that muskrats and mink spend a lot of time swimming on top of the water when heading downstream… but find the path of least resistance, the slowest current (due to pure properties of friction) right on bottom’s edge. And that’s where they tend to swim, and that’s where I strategically and purposely pick them off.


At another location down the line, we come to a spot where the same modest ditch meets another small ditch drainage. That particular ditch is on private land where access is unavailable. Wouldn’t you know it, the rat houses there are stacked thick as ticks on the neck of that male mink we picked up earlier from upstream?

I guarded either side of this juncture with a pair of #160s above and also below the “T”. This is the downstream view of those joint flows. Flagged stakes in twin middle channels of the current blocked all muskrat access up or down.

Wouldn’t you know it… both traps met success with both traveling rats headed… yup, you guessed it… upstream along the bottom.

And so it goes in this strangest of seasons where fall never ended, winter never began and early spring is struggling to arrive. I’m listening to rainfall outside while sitting here in this visit with you. Tomorrow brings more flurries, more cold and more wind. Trappers around here at this point in time have two basic choices: put some miles on the bottom of your boots while hoofing it into pockets of accessible muskrats (and beaver) or go and do just about anything else under the sun.

The choice for me is easy, if you can even call it a choice. I’ll be out there slogging thru the slush, wind and mud. The hoofbeats you hear will be those of an addicted ratter, seeking his fix from one filled #160 at a time :)

Tight chains
Austin

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Jan
26

Shoulder Shrugs

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before: today began with temps in the low 20s F and snow on the ground and ice. Or at least what’s left of what we accuse of being ice cover, anyway. Temps rose to the upper 30s F, whereupon it began to rain. Temps dropped back to near freezing, and the rain picked up its pace. Now everything is a nice little glaze of ice.

But not to worry… temps are forecast to rise thru the night and into tomorrow, only to fall below freezing once again. Below freezing is forecast for the next couple days to follow, whereupon the mercury rises right back to above the freezing mark early next week.

Someone please ask me why I bought a new high-dollar ice saw and new-age spud for winter muskrat work. Why did I drain the bar oil out of my little Stihl farm boss and fill its reservoir with non-freeze windshield washer fluid? Did I honestly think there was a chance we’d see hard enough ice to actually walk on, let alone need to cut thru? If that idle thought ever crossed my mind last month, it has surely died of loneliness since.

My check & pull of twenty sets today yielded one male mink… and nineteen unsprung traps. The mink came from a standard “channel edge” set where smooth path of travel rounds the inside curve in a point of land that juts out in water. Long before anyone wrote about bottom edge locations, such places were the staple of bodygrip trappers in water. In time you will develop the knack of looking at such spots from a distance and knowing for a fact without shadow of doubt that traps will find resting homes there. Only a matter of how many to set… not a question of if set locations await you there.

Wherever the muskrats were before, they no longer are today. This is a zone where I’ve caught many as 50+ from the general area in years past. But not this year. For whatever reasons known only to them, they did not set up housekeeping there this winter. A bit further out in the marsh reside some clusters of active houses. Not that it matters, they might as well be on far side of the moon when it comes to accessibility.

I did try walking into one shallow pothole area this afternoon, with shallow being a relative term. Followed a path from the roadside turnoff out into a sea of cattail strands, curiously parted in some unknown manner. It looked like a two-foot wide path made from something pushed or dragged thru, other than human footsteps. The water depth varies from pure mud to six inches, max. Said path leads to an open area with traditionally two – three feet of water and myriad muskrat houses. This year it’s maybe a foot of water, with a decent number of active houses scattered about.

Anyways, I got to within twenty yards of the first house and could see it was still active. Nice peaked dome, not flattened or torn apart by fox or coyotes running the ice, clear ice and bubbles visible from the distance. That was also near as I ever got, because the very next step on rotten ice over six inches of water hid three feet of bottomless swamp silt and muck.

Went in with both feet up to my waist, and the suction immediately stuck me right there. If not for the leverage of my trusty aluminum handled potato rake to press my way up & out, those waders might still be left behind there. I’d have made quite a sight to passing traffic, slogging my way out in socks and fleece wader pants minus any boots.

It wasn’t all bad. Somehow or other I wound up with 24 sets in enough water with enough decent muskrat sign to reasonably ensure the smell of muskrat glands will waft thru my truck tomorrow. For sure I won’t be setting any records with catches… but at least I can pretend there is still a game on for now.

Nineteen days left in our season to go. No real sign of steady cold and hard ice to walk, no sign of enough sustained warmth for complete thaw. I guess this winter is all about weather in limbo, for the most part. Maybe that means the spring season ice-out will start in early March and furs will remain good enough to harvest for awhile. Not much you can do but shrug your shoulders, work with current conditions at hand and look forward to the active days ahead :)

Tight chains
Austin

 

 

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Jan
26

Trapping.. Gone To The Dogs?

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I have been reading about using dogs on the line on a few of the forums I frequent, not only as a companion but also to find better or more natural trap placement.

Those of you that know me know that my dogs are a big portion of my life, so I jumped at the thought of having another reason to load them up and put them to work(can’t feed them for free!).


As I took a walk with my hounds while scouting this fall, I read there body language. Watching them take in every scent with there noses planted on the ground, meandering through the tall weeds and around corners, in a seemingly random path. I never before paid too much attention to where my sidekick Ruger decided to mark a tuft of grass or noted the side of the field they preferred to travel while trotting around, but this season I did.
I didn’t set every spot they mulled around, who knows if it was an everyday travel path. I set the spots that I would normally set, within the areas that excited the dogs and it seemed to be effective.

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Just watching my hounds run around doing there k9 things also brought some perspective on other things as well. Like how the feet fall in comparison to the nose, or how a male dog approaches a place to mark his territory, even how even our domestic dogs have an everyday routine. These things cannot be far off from there wild counterparts, can they?

These are just my observations, but from where I sit there is a lot to learn from the tail wagging biscuit eaters right in front of us, Just watch.

Happy Trapping ;)
Danielle

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Jan
25

Room For All

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While I prowled around the local area scouting for available spots to set this morning, I met a young man who’s just getting started in his first year of road-line trapping. Turns out he’s targeting mink with muskrats on the side while covering a network of creeks, ditches and spring flows at culverts or other accessible points from the road.

At first he seemed a bit sheepish for running a water line thru “my area”. That was quickly laid to rest as I assured him there was plenty of room in this town, this county, this part of the state for someone else. Ideally, we would all like to have every available acre reserved all to ourselves. That’s just basic human nature of fear = protectionism (greed) at work. Realistically, we have to share our world with those around us of like kind.

I grew up working waterlines across public ground, for the most part. That’s pretty much where the expansive flows and dense furbearer populations reside. For sure there are a number of private lands where muskrat, beaver and other animal populations are dense. But most if not all of those have been reserved at some point for family members, friends or long-time trappers well established in that given area.

New Territory
Our new project here with ModernTrapper.com continues to grow readership on a daily basis that, quite frankly , both surprises me and surpasses my early expectations. I am not new to the internet publishing world, by any means. It’s something I’ve been part of in many facets thru the past decade plus. But the rate at which trappers spread the word to other trappers is remarkable. For those people out there who think we are backwards by nature simply because we are backwoods by choice, they could not be more wrong.

We get a lot of email questions from all directions about all sorts of topics. By far the largest percentage is words of encouragement and accolades from our readers. Those of us here contributing to the input thank you very much for the positive feedback, and rest assured it motivates us that much more to be even better than before!

One general part of that inflow wonders just exactly what we are doing… or more aptly what we intend to do here. In a nutshell, ModernTrapper.com exists to educate, entertain and enlighten others about all aspects of the wild furs world. We have no limitations from there, but we exist solely for the purpose to reach others and share information accordingly.

Now the way we’ll share information is thru electronic mediums only. To answer the questions already being asked about print magazines, let me assure you there are plenty enough good publications in existence already. I personally get all of them, I read all of them and I love all of them. It would sadden me greatly if even one current print magazine in the trapping world ceased production ahead. But as for me entering that arena of information? Not ever going to happen.

“Print” Format
However, our next step here is to meet that desire in the middle, part way. ModernTrapper.com is a website based ezine that will soon be available in newsletter format emailed directly to subscribers. In order to receive our newsletter email service, you must opt-in to an email service subscription. Hopefully the term “subscription” doesn’t infer it will cost anything at all, because it won’t. Our services to readers will always remain open and free of charge. Always :)

A couple of emails stated to the effect that they hope we don’t intend to “ruin” our site with advertisements in the future. Now I’ve heard that sort of thing here & there online before, and I’m pretty sure it comes from those who visit sites that are an unprofessional clutter of visual overload in banner ads. Rest assured, THAT will never happen in our little corner of the world here.

But I do take exception to the errant thought of ads being something negative for magazines. Let me ask you this: can you imagine any printed trapper’s magazine without ads for traps and equipment, fur buyers and fur auction houses, bait & lures, books and DVDs, supplies in general? Seriously now… where would trappers and fur takers just starting out ever find what they need to work with in the first place?

And just between you and me, let me admit something personal. I tend to read, study and look forward to the advertisements in print magazines more than I do their published articles. Oh sure I read the stories eventually… but I’ve been around this game a long time. There is not much new that I haven’t seen in some form or fashion before. What I do find fresh and exciting are new offerings from fur takers to fur takers. New books and dvds. New traps and revised styles of traps. Clothes and clothing articles. Fur finishing supplies. Who is offering what for sale, in general.

The very first thing I do whenever I receive a monthly or bimonthly publication is to flip thru quickly, scanning the ads. I want to see who is selling what that might just make my life on the traplines easier, more productive or both. Once I’ve satisfied that personal curiosity, then I turn attention to who has what stories to share.

So I guess that’s my long-winded way of saying we will accept and promote advertisements from all walks of the wild fur industry… in the exact same manner you currently enjoy inside today’s paper printed magazines :)

Now back to the newsletter subscription service. Everyone who subscribes to our (free… did I mention that?) newsletter can rest assured we will never, and I do mean to emphasize NEVER share said email address with anyone outside of our delivery service. There is zero chance of unsolicited email offers or “spam” showing up in your box from being part of our subscriber base.

The MT newsletter service will be twice-weekly mailings… usually Mondays and Thursdays… and will consist of what is currently published on-site. We’ll continue to use Facebook as one outlet of updates distribution as we do right now. The fact is, more people => more trappers are not on Facebook than that which are. So FB is a part of how we spread our word, but only one part.

A lot of people prefer to read something in email format, which includes from the convenience of their smart phones or handheld devices. A lot of people like to print certain segments of a newsletter for posterity sake to refer on paper, later. A lot of people simply find themselves too busy, too distracted and otherwise forgetful in frequent website monitoring.

For each and all of these people alike, we’ll begin to offer a newsletter production via email of your choice, destination your designated email inbox starting next week :)

Elbow Room
The world-wide-web is unlimited in scope. Here in our little segment of the wild fur industry world, its potential hasn’t even been surface scratched yet. When we all look back in hindsight, ten years, twenty years from now we’ll remark at how it was impossible way back then (which is right now) to have foreseen what’s to come.

World history has always worked that way. It always will.

Having spent more than a decade in the website = online world myself, I know full-well it takes a lot more than most people think (i.e. hope?) to create a long-lasting, successful online venture. But there is no limit to the room available for everyone here alike. I’m a firm believer in working really hard for as long as it takes to create something of value for individuals. That done, individuals become the masses served.

That’s what our cumulative efforts inside here… past, present and especially the future are all about.

More = Strength
Rather than viewing the world thru a perspective limitations and scarcity, I see the world as one of limitless opportunity. I see a vision of people helping people, trappers helping trappers = fur-takers helping fur-takers deep into the 21st century. The more we band together and share, the more we read about one another, the more we help one another in all venues and aspects, the stronger we all shall be.

Tight Chains
Austin

 

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Pursuit of the mighty k9 has intrigued many trappers for many years. Some of us who try and outsmart these cagey critters are often discouraged when we trappers are the ones getting outsmarted. Maybe a little variety is all you need to jumpstart your line.

I myself like to experiment with my sets in many different ways. Every location presents a different set of circumstances, between type of habitat, to wind direction, and even different levels of human pressure are the things I take into consideration. If you go into the same location year after year or even a new location and plug in the same sets throughout you will find the catches on k9s will start out really strong then die out just as quickly, this is where variety has it’s strength.

A Dirthole is a very effective tool for catching all varieties of k9s, a few variations on them are even more irresistible! A few of my personal favorite variations are, the double dirthole, the post hole, the trench, and the bank hole( or what I call the reverse dirthole).

Double Dirthole

The Double Dirthole is just as the name says two dirtholes one set. Now there are variations within this set that can keep it from getting old. The first is the side by side holes, dug at the typical 45* angle deep and baseball sized. The holes should be placed as such so if you were to draw a line straight out from each hole they would intersect exactly over the pan.

You can change this set up a few different ways. You can make the holes directly across from each other, or just change the angle and size of the holes. All variations of this set do one thing bring two points if interest or curiosity to each set, what goes down the hole if anything at all is left up to you.

Post Hole Set

The Post Hole set is new to my line this year but will be on my agenda each year. My version of this set is a 8″ to 12″ hole dug straight down as if I was going to put a fence post in. I have found that it works at multiple depths but I would recommend a minimum of 12″ deep. As you are digging the hole pile the dirt 3/4 around the hole leaving a gap to place your trap bed. Dig your trap bed at the top edge of hole facing downwind. Bed the trap and cover as you would for any dirt hole.

To bait this set I make two to three small holes in the side wall of the post hole with my stake driver and put a little bit of a curiosity or call lure in each one. When the animal approaches it will look for the easiest access point which is where the dirt is not piled, and voila you have a catch! There are many different variations on this set as well, just make it your own.

Trench Set with a log covering
 The Trench Set seems to becoming more an more popular with some of the top coyote trappers in the U.S. This set is basically a Dirthole opened up, a tunnel with no roof. With this set I dig my trap bed and with my digging hammer chop a trench straight back into tall weeds or grass, don’t be afraid to make a mess. At the end of your trench you take a stake driver and punch two small lure holes and apply lure. Sometimes I take a log or rock and place it over the very end so it needs to be worked harder. This set creates the illusion of an animal that tunneled into the weeds and looks like an easy meal to any unsuspecting k9.

Top View of Reverse Dirthole

The last but not least of my Dirthole variations is the Bank Hole set or what I like to call the Reverse Dirthole. This set can really trick the keenest of k9′s. I use this set on river banks or in gravel beds, as they present the best natural terrain for this set. Once you find a cut out steep bank that was just made for this set, dig a hole about 2′-3′ from the top of the bank. When you dig a hole don’t just dig a mouse hole, dig a hole that a coyote can see, make a mess!

Front View of Reverse Dirthole

At this point I always bait the hole so I don’t need to travel down the bank twice, I always use a good amount of a loud bait. Make your way to the top of the bank without disturbing to much and dig your trap bed directly in line with your hole 6″ from the edge of the drop off. Blend in the trap an walk away. Any k9 that catches a whiff or spots the hole will first investigate from the top of the bank, and the rest is history.

It is easy to get stuck in a “rut” making the same old sets season in and season out. You will see a difference adding sets like these to your line. There are many more k9 set types to get creative with, these are just a few that have worked for me. Keep those k9′s guessing!

Happy Trapping :)
Danielle

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Jan
24

Pasture Creeks?

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Austin, I am a transplanted water trapper to the Nebraska panhandle, just moved here two months ago. I have secured permission to trap some ground and somehow managed to get a piece with flowing water. I would love to set for mink and rat but I have a problem that I have never faced before. This particular creek flows through a cattle pasture and has no cattails and a little bit of long grass on the banks. On the other side of the road, where I can’t trap, it’s your typical brushy, long grass creek banks. I am assuming I can catch a few mink running the edges and probably some coon, but how do I go about catching rats? What types of things would they eat out here? Grass roots etc? Any help on how to trap a pasture creek is greatly appreciated.

Best, Dan Turvey Jr

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Hi Dan, and thank you for writing. That’s a somewhat unusual situation, but I’ve run into it several times before. The creeks that I trapped inside cattle pastures were all loam or clay bottom, slow moving waters. There is a natural propensity for these type of creeks to have undercut banks, and banks that collapsed to create island hummocks = side channels along the main current.

Both of those specific locations are what I targeted: bodygrips in channels, bodygrips submerged at undercuts or footholds dry beneath undercut banks. I’m also a big advocate of “setting on sign” for muskrats, but oftentimes these pasture creeks have nil sign even when critters are there. They are feeding on grasses and grass roots primarily, which washes away easily without leaving much visible evidence behind.

Setting the culvert area where creek passes beneath the road would be first order of importance. Setting any side channels in “bottom edge” fashion if possible, or footholds on flat rocks if shallow.

I would expect heavy catches from such locations, but a few rats from numerous small locations add up to pretty impressive catches over time :)

Tight Chains
Austin

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Jan
23

In-between The Line’s

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As I worked in my shop today finishing up some fur tanning, I thought … “it is time to prepare for my 2nd trapline of this season.”

My maiden NY land trapping line is now just a memory, the traps are pulled and piled waiting for next seasons trap preparations. The freezers of fur are getting near the bottom as each pelt is put up and ready for the market. Spring water trapping is on the horizon! I am now ready for the next trek into the wild.

This year will be a bit different in my years past. In CT most all trapping was in the water due to regulations. This year they are two distinctly different lines. I do normally enjoy running both types of sets at the same time in order to cover trapping locations more effectively, this seasons line just didn’t make sense that way. Therefore I decided early on in the season I was going to run them seperately.

Before I put my waders on and hit the marshes and swamplands, I will spend the next couple weeks hard at work. Double checking water traps, scouting areas and picking up new areas that have yet to be harvested by a fellow trapper, and a little bit of rest and recharging from my k9 line.

So I will sit here tonight pondering my next move, counting muskrats as they swim through my 110′s as I drift off to sleep.

Happy Trapping :)
Danielle

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Jan
23

The Light Came On

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The Light Came On [by Rod Gipson]

One Saturday Nov. 26, 2011 Momma (my wife) said to me “we need some extra cash for Christmas” to which I replied “I guess I could go set a few water sets”

Upon hearing this, my youngest son’s (14 yrs. old) eyes lit up and Momma said “do it”. Well after not running a trapline for almost a decade, having quit from being burnt out on long-lining for the coyote and fox live market since the late 80′s or early 90′s, I thought what the heck, a few water sets will be fun and the boy will enjoy it.

I went to the shed and grabbed a 1/2 dozen mixed small traps, a roll of wire, a pair of hip boots (that I hoped didn’t leak from dry rot) and what trapping tools I could find laying around. I figured a 1/2 dozen blind sets for mink might work out. I had taught a few younger guys how to land trap in the years that I had “taken off”…made a couple of phone calls and instantly had permission to get to it. I also asked if I could reclaim some of the gear I had loaned them over the years.

My son and I headed to the creek and I made 6 quick blind sets with the boy watching and learning. It was no big deal that night and I slept good, not even thinking about our sets. Nov. 27th at 7:00am we walked to our first set. I looked under the root wad and there sat a buck mink staring back, held securely in a 1.5 coilspring. Something happened at that moment like an electric shock or something and all those old feelings that I had not felt in a very long time rushed back into me, it was amazing.

I imagine my son could see the joy of life rush back into me that had been missing for so long. You see I have been very depressed along with some other physical problems for the last few years. I have been in a “dark place” as I call it and at that moment life was definitely worth living. 

The next set held a boar coon. We immediately went and skinned, then drove to gather up my loaned-out gear. The guys were giving me lure, bait, dry dirt and etc. They also gave me back my old trapping areas that I had turned them onto so many years ago. They were as excited as I was to see me back in the game so to speak.

I stayed small, didn’t use much gas and after two weeks on the short line my small freezer was full. We sold fur on Dec. 11th, we had caught = 7 buck mink, 1 female mink, 1 male otter, 1 tom bobcat, 1 dog red fox, 11 coon, 2 beavers, 7 muskrats and 4 possum. They brought a nice price and we were happy as was Momma.

Tomorrow my son and I will get up before daylight to run a lot of sets, how many I won’t say but most of them are water sets. You see, I’m back in the game with a vengeance, and it doesn’t take long to fill the freezer up now. I would like to leave you with a couple of pics from the short line and my re-finding of the joy of life. Trap on and tight chains my friends!

Rod Gipson

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