Let’s Go See


I’ve reached the point in strategizing next season’s trapline plans where it’s time to put my boots on the ground. Booked a trip to the southeast sector of North Dakota for the Memorial Day weekend in May.

At first I pondered the logistics between flying and driving out there for the limited time available. Considering it is +/- 24 hours on the road versus 5+ travel hours with one layover in Chicago, that wasn’t too much of a mental debate. Flight costs and rental car fees were very reasonable… that it’s a one-man show with flexible schedule and itinerary, should be fun ad-libbing my way around.

The trip starts out in Fargo when my plane lands Friday morning. From then to Saturday night I’ll wander my way along thru Bismarck and up towards Minot. Sunday morning finds me leaving the Minot area and on my way to Grand Forks. By Monday night I’ll be back in Fargo preparing for the early flight out next day.

The timeframe of late May should be a decent blend of vegetation just starting to emerge in the waters and row crops alike. That’l give me an idea what to expect for both muskrats and bonus coon trapping opportunities there. Lots of cornfields bordering ditches and water = pack plenty of new Bridger #160s for the trip. I’m all over that if the right conditions are seen :)

Mainly I need to know what to expect, so I can know how to best prepare. I need to see the various waters, the terrain and the soil types to determine my plan of action. First preference would be a muskrat line centered on managed rotation of 100 to 200 colony traps at the core. If I’m able to do that, if existing conditions permit, that is hands down the easiest route to massive catches.

100 colony traps set properly in key travel zones should average 150 – 200 rats per check and some days might top 300+ if it rains during the night. Anything approaching 200 traps maintained on fresh sign and rotated continuously into new water could be a serious problem for the skinning end of logistics.

Maybe I won’t see ideal conditions for colony traps to that extent. Then what? Do I apply the bodygrip traps approach? Foothold traps instead? Blend of each? Blend of all three?

None of those questions can be answered for out there from here. I have to don the hipboots, wade around in the muck and eyeball it in living color myself. I’m completely open-minded about what to expect and how to best approach whatever conditions faced. Doesn’t matter to me what traps or sets or tactics I use… I’ll use whatever appears to be best suited for what’s on site.

I will be taking copious quantities of notes, collecting local maps and contact numbers, categorizing public lands and noting prime looking private ground, things like that. Once I see a few choices on where exactly I’d like to set up shop for muskrats next fall, I can go to work on finding places for lodging, supplies and handling the catches. This trip is not about firming up plans… it is more about creating loose ends that will get tied up later.

Once I take the grand tour late May, then weather conditions and water levels can be monitored summer & fall. Barring any severe droughts or floods, a return trip in September to nail down final plans is in order. Meanwhile I can spend the months in between gearing up and prepping for best course of action.

There is a chance that muskrat populations out there might very well be on the low side this season ahead. For all we know this summer could be the worst drought in 100 years or so. Even if I’m salivating at the chance to go out west and work some distant lands for adventure, I’ll also spend the summer preparing Plan B.

Plan B for me includes muskrat work in the northern zone of NY if North Dakota this fall somehow falls thru. If muskrat populations in both states are low, I’ll switch gears and prepare to work some serious land lines for canines instead. Hopefully my choices aren’t dictated by adverse conditions like that, but one never knows.

So that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. The next step major in planning comes six weeks from now when I’m far from home, driving past and standing in waters I’ve never seen before. From there it all unfolds accordingly. Plan A is a successful, fun-filled water line out west this fall which sets up a return trip for more of the same in spring of 2013. Plans B and C will align as needed.

What I need to do first is see for myself… so now let’s go see :)




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Categories : AP Lines


  1. Dale says:

    Those black dots all over the map must be public marshes?:)

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