Somewhere In BetweenBy
The month of March is always a time where late winter is reluctant to release its grip on early spring. I heard the other day that our local record high temp in March was 86F just a few years ago. The record low is likewise single digits tied for all-time just last year. Quite the range in mercury potential, for sure.
A day or two of 60ish F is transitioning back to 30s and 20s again… for a brief spell. Forecast is low in the 20s to high teens Saturday night. That means anyone with water sets out on Saturday will be checking iced-in sets Sunday morning. Highs in the upper 50s that afternoon, followed by a week of above-freezing temps at night should get the spring thaw rolling in earnest.
Speaking of which, I’ve been in a standby mode for the past two weeks, trying to time the start of my spring water-trapping efforts near optimum conditions. Not sure that’ll be the case, but the gear is all prepped, truck gets packed and starts racking up some highway miles real soon. Got a start date in mind, locations in sight and it’s full speed ahead at whatever full speed will be.
I expect every possible scenario. My expectations range from competition so thick and/or rat numbers so low that it won’t be worth setting in some places. I expect I may have to cover lots of water and move around. I expect my average catch per trap to be lower than usual. I expect more inclement weather mixed in for good measure.
I’m also prepared. Prepared to catch some rats. Prepared to set for beaver and/or otter where fresh sign is found. If my spring trip becomes more about beaver and otter than muskrats, I’ll gladly live with that :)
Prepared to work over a fair number of different locations in various northerly directions from home. A couple of those are too far for regular commutes, falling into the four – five days stay category. But if the fur is there, the time spent having fun will be worth it.
My spring season will last until fur quality degrades to a point where it’s not respectful of the animal to continue. Seasons officially close April 7th for beaver & otter, April 15th for muskrats and mink. I expect to be shut down before then, but I’m prepared to work right into the closing bell if fur quality permits.
The idea that breeding season has begun and females may be bred has nil impact on populations. The exact same individual female rats or beaver taken in late October, November, December, January or February would have been equally removed from the gene pool then or now. Right or right?
One thing about rodents and big-water networks: no man or men can impact populations thru modern-day trapping pressure alone. Matter of fact, some of the most heavily-trapped areas are those with healthiest, burgeoning populations next season. I know that runs against common logic and reasoning, which is the emotional slant most people operate from. Fact is that spring trapping does no more harm to overall populations present or future than any other time of the year. If water tables are normal to high this spring thru fall with no real floods or droughts, animal populations will be there next year regardless of human interventions :)
Other than that, this is a time of waiting in between. Too early for overhauling gear ahead of next season. The annual trapper’s conventions season is a few months away. Hunting seasons have ended and fishing seasons have not fired up in force just yet. Probably the quietest time of each year for me, right now. Good news is, time leaps forward on the clocks this weekend. I’ll be glad to have that extra hour of daylight to work with. You can be very sure I’ll put every possible hour to good use. The game (re)starts one more time this year!