Red Gold In The Snow


I spent the past two evenings putting up the last few muskrats for this season. Really no big hurry to get them done… other than the fact that what they sell for will be directly applied to new steel purchased for muskrat season 2012-13 and beyond.

While I have some fairly big plans for next season in the water, my thoughts continually turn towards land.

Three different times in my past I have caught ten fox in a day. Never more. Now that of course comes from the fact that I never ran exclusive lines for fox alone. Nor will that happen anytime soon. My land trapping in the past always began with coon alone for the first two weeks until fox began to show signs of primeness.

Even then by early November here in NY, the mane and flanks have barely begun to fill out. It seems such a shame to catch nice clear reds while they’re flat, when just a few weeks later they’ll be all puffed out with that gorgeous underfur and long guard hairs.

This year I’ll definitely make some time to work the local canines… local being a relative term as I’m sure my travels will wander thru bits of four – five counties in the process. Canine trapping here is a much more wide-open opportunity than water trapping. Lots of public land, and a lot of that public land has little human travel at all once deer seasons close.

Most area farmers and deer leases will throw their gates wide open to the first (and sometimes second) trapper who shows any interest in catching coyotes. Private permissions are not hard to get, although current fox & coyote prices may change that a bit come next season.

But for me personally, I can wrangle enough mixture of public and private ground to keep myself busy for a few weeks with winter fox. From early December thru early February, I’ll be working in a good bit of fox trapping along with under-ice muskrats. Trappers who work hard and know what they’re doing can really rack up some heavy catches of heavy winter rats. But I’ll be rolling with them in this state or another from the end of October until freezeup. No doubt I’ll be ready for a mental break, a change of pace.

It’s not that I love muskrat trapping more than any other. I really enjoyed my years longlining coon and would happily do that again. Alas, between changing land use and urban sprawl here along with trap restrictions and disease-riddled coon populations, what used to be no longer is. A person can still rack up some numbers of coon around here, but that’d be more in the style of taking it to them around feeding areas such as cornfields or waterways versus trapping the trails while the coon come to you.

Full-time fox trapping would be great, but I cannot take full time away from work to devout solely towards trapping. Even 1,000 fox season wouldn’t make the difference in that regard for me, and nobody is going to catch anywhere near 1,000 fox in the state of New York. Because my primary working hours are 8am thru noon est, muskrat traps holding expired catches under water is the most user-friendly approach for me. That said, I will make time to run a few dozen canine sets for a few weeks next season.

Winter-time fox trapping has always had a special place in my heart. Nothing like stepping out on a frigid morning at first light, burning your lungs with the first few breaths of air while fresh snow glistens and sparkles underfoot. You know for a fact that the frontal system which just rolled thru had canines moving on the prowl, and you know there will be some red gold curled up in the snow waiting for you somewhere on the trapline ahead.

Much as anything else that waits to unfold in the next fur season ahead, I cannot wait for mornings just like that :)



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