Archive for Editor’s Notes


Stretch Run

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Spent a lot of time this week scouting muskrats wherever standing water existed thru the summer. Rats are definitely there… but how many in each spot remains to be seen. It won’t be until sometime mid-October before the annual muskrat houses start going up. I did see one location where a dozen or more fresh houses were built, those shiny black constructions were easy enough to spot against green vegetation backgrounds.

One thing is clearly evident everywhere I look: find a cornfield near woods or water and it is getting pummeled by the local coon. A real dearth of acorns, apples and wild grapes this year comes at the end of a summer season where the various berry crops were thin or totally non-existent. 80sF temps in March, followed by a week in the teens F nightly lows and then endless months of historical drought wreaked total mayhem on local mast crops from ground surface to tree tops.

It’s a case of existing coon populations concentrated on limited food sources this year. The “ridge-runner” coon that comb oak tree woods and fence row thickets for fall mast crops are pushed into cornfields or waterways now. Natural upland foods are scarce to nonexistent. I don’t recall any time in recent memory where coon trails are beaten so heavily into the ground at every corn field or water source edge as they are right now.

Gotta take advantage of fur concentrations when concentrated, and I’ve shifted gears in the thought process of single focus on rats to adding some spur lines for raccoon mixed in. Also, what I’m seeing in the early stages of muskrat scouting is pretty much as expected: lots of mud, limited standing water. For sure I’ve found rats in most locations where stable water existed, but how dense or thin those numbers will actually be is unknown until season actually arrives.

Also see plenty of beaver sign, no apparent shortage of those in the traditional stronghold areas. Considering beaver can either create their own waterways or move great distances to where water still exists, they wouldn’t be hit as hard with drought as muskrats are. So by sheer necessity of fewer rats overall and plenty of coon & beaver available, I’m flexible and poised to pursue whatever fair game may cross my lines :)


A couple of questions and answers from the email inbox…


Well, finally got my footholds waxed today, one less job on the list…

After watching the dvd and thinking about it now and then, I had a couple questions.

First is incidentals—all those 160’s and 210’s in runs have to pick up an otter or small beaver now and then.

We unfortunately don’t have an otter season yet, and beaver season doesn’t start until after Christmas. I figure I’m on borrowed time and will be turning in an otter eventually. Oh, well, the more we take by accident, the quicker we’re get a season, I hope—I guess I’ll find out if there really is a $100 fine for accidentally killing one.

Do you have an otter season in that area? I know at one time they were transporting them down from the ‘Dacks…

Many of my rat places are overrun with beaver, in fact, near home, the best rat places are almost all active beaver colonies. I’m curious what the biggest beaver is one can take in a 160-I know I got a two year old once and have taken several kits.

One other thing and I’ll quit rambling-when you set a coni on land for mink or even rat in a dry trail, do you still turn them sideways? I’ve done it both ways and I’m still unsure which is best. I don’t run enough dry conis for mink to draw any solid conclusions, I guess, but I might run a few more this year-our mink population seems to fluctuate like crazy and I hope it’s better then last year! Think the springs floods really did them in last season.

Well, I have work to do, later, [Loren]

Those are excellent questions, Loren… worthy of sharing in group fashion here :)

I use single-spring #160s and #210s staked lightly (not solid) and every year a couple of them come up missing as in disappeared from the location. They are not stolen, because other sets all around remain intact. Just a completely missing trap every now and then.

Twice in the past I found mangled #210s some distance away on dry land and presumed it was the work of incidental otters releasing themselves. To my knowledge there is simply no way to avoid all otter catches in muskrat sets when you blanket a location in the key locations. In my opinion if you use single-spring traps staked lightly so any otter catch can reach dry land, they will work themselves out of said trap thru brute strength alone. If on the other hand it were staked firmly in the water, some percentage of those would drown before they open up the trap and release.

Other than that, I cannot think of a way to completely avoid otter in all water sets using any size or style trap other than maybe #110s. But the fact that otter exist in places with no open season (same right here at my home area) does not mean trappers must greatly inhibit themselves in turn. If for example our state regulated the larger bodygrips out of use for muskrats due to potential otter catches, they’d darn well better replace that with legal use of colony traps. Or it’d be quite the battle royal involved, for sure.

Knock on wood, I have made literally thousands and thousands of muskrat sets in shallow and deep runs locations using #160s or #210s and never once held & killed an incidental otter. Hopefully the use of single-spring traps and staked light enough for otters to easily pull and reach dry land.


Hello Austin I received the disc and like all the others it would not play in the dvd player. I downloaded the vlc thing and watched it on my laptop. Great info, Great presentation, you are good. I am by no means a beginner, but learned alot. I was just wondering if I could get the newly formatted version as others did to watch down the road without the having to use a laptop. Thanks again [Wade]

Thank you for the kind words and valued feedback. This production was designed to deliver maximum information in a minimal slot of time. I chose to do it in “narrative book” fashion rather than trapline recordings for that reason. The next production to come will be a compilation of video segments from the entire season ahead, all on-line footage. In my opinion that is more entertainment and validation than pure info-delivery… and of course there is a place for that too.

Needless to say I learned about everything there is to experience with things that can go wrong production-wise and postal mailing as well. For awhile we had orders and replacement discs coming & going every which way imagineable. At this point in time we have most everyone in the latter stages of settlement and good from here. If anybody has not heard from me yet in response to emails or other forms of cummunication and need to have something resolved, please email me directly at which ensures I’ll get it, see it and directly respond :)

That’s about all we have to cover for now. Just 25 1/2 days left until the first traps are deployed in the new season ahead. Look for a stady diet of trapline reports and picture here as we chronicle my season’s experience from start to finish. Gonna be a long, busy ride from late October 2012 thru late April 2013. I’m about ready to get started right now… counting down the days until nothing remains except for air and opportunity in front of me! 

Tight Chains


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Students Of The Game

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I just got my copy of your coon book, and I have to tell you that I’m very happy with it. I read the whole book, cover to cover last night. I can honestly say that I learned more about coons from that than I knew beforehand. Never really a coon trapper, but I expect I will have a good foundation to learn from now.

A really big thing that got me was a dilemma that I couldn’t get through last year. Our water season is short, maybe only 9 days like last fall, before freeze up. There is no reason for me to wait for it before starting on coon, but I never knew that. Coon start to prime the last week in october, I’m losing 10 days of coon trapping I never knew about. It all just kind of fit together for me.

Anyway, thanks again. [South Dakota]


Read your coon book this summer, picked it up at the NTA convention from a dealer there. To this point I have been a pocket set man for coon but want to expand into dryland snaring for locations where water is absent. That is particularly the case this year but every season I find coon traffic away from water and try to figure out how to approach that without using #220s because of hunting dogs traffic.

Your book has been instrumental in my preseason scouting efforts already and I have found so many key funnels I never even knew existed before. My only wish is that I’d picked up your books years ago instead of now. Better late than never, I guess! [North Dakota]


Your muskrat/mink book was the difference maker in my trapping for the past ten years. Before then I was one of the guys you describe who tried to catch surface swimming muskrats with #110s on stakes. After reading your book and trying sets on the bottom (with skepticism) it all came together. If your latest dvd is half as good as your books have been, I can’t wait to see it! [MI]


Received the dvd today at long last. Been anxiously waiting for this day to come! As someone who has read all your books, this one picks up right where the muskrat book left off. I see you’ve mad some refinements thru the years which was expected. By far my two favorite segments were your staking method and also the google map tutorial. I’ve done something similar with staking in the past, but never thought of applying it as you do to compensate for any depth of ancher at each location. Simply ingenious!

The google map section was real enlightening, gave me a sense of centering and direction on how to approach a new location. I’d like to see more time spent in that regard for future works, I think your descriptions of how to zero in on prime spots and rotate the lines around, etc is where the real value is. Most of us already know how to set feedbeds and floats and 110s across denholes. I notice you spent no time with that which is wise because youtube is filled with such material. You hinted that another muskrat video will be produced this season, I for one am looking forward to it. Especially if it shows set locations and check results thru all weather conditions including high water and snow covered ice.

Congrats on a successful production. You hit the mark :) Regards, [M.G., NY)]


If you’ve read this far or at least skimmed your way down to this point by now, you might mistake this post for a personal advertisement. It is not. The books you see featured above were written by me in the past but are owned by Sterling Fur Co and I receive no further compensation from them. However, the reason I wrote them in the first place was to share knowledge and information with other trappers on whatever tidbits they might find of value.

Since starting this blog last December and other recent interactions with trappers, a whole bunch of people have told me they picked up copies of these books (and others) I wrote in the past. Substantial feedback thru the years has been positive to outright glowing… but let’s be honest, if someone thought the books sucked they would probably not sit down to author such a letter of feedback. So by no means do I imply these books are greater than anything else anyone else ever authored.

I do hope to make the point here that knowledge is power. All the time we see where guys go out and buy lots of equipment and admittedly don’t really know what to do with it in the actual field. Matter of fact, too many guys buy too much of the wrong equipment and/or stuff they don’t even need in the first place.

Basic human nature compels most people to just dive in first without reading instructions. Lest you doubt that for one second, this is why when you open a package that contains anything with moving parts, the instruction manual and/or quick-start guide are right on top with lots of red ink and large bold fonts to grab your attention. But, most people just toss all that aside and wade right in to start hooking up cables and pushing buttons asap.

Knowledge is power. In the world of trapping, knowledge is cheap, too. I have a growing collection of books and dvds thru the years that is substantial, with total cost less than $1,000 overall. That decades’ long collection of educational material doesn’t even equal my best single day’s catch of muskrats last season alone. What price can be put on education and the ability to do more, faster and with less?

The purpose of this brief note is encouragement, maybe even firm prodding for you to invest a little bit of money and time in yourself. Pick up one new book or dvd on the primary animal you intend to target this season, or the one you understand least about right now. Arm yourself with a bit more knowledge than you have right now. Build upon that from day one of season to the end. Repeat the same process next year.

That’s how you take yourself from where you are today to where you wish to be in the pursuit of trapping. The same rule of building knowledge with new books and dvd applies to me like everyone else. And you can be real sure I’m applying what I preach in actual practice right now, myself :)

Tight Chains

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Learning Curves

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My copy of the American Trapper magazine arrived in the mail today… with picture of Holly holding a “bouquet” of muskrats on the cover :)

It’s been said before that she’s not a trapper. Which is not actually true. Holly tagged along on traplines prior to our time together, and she’s joined me on various lines thru the years since.

The period in time of that photo sequence was way back in 2003 – 2004 when Dustin & Dylan were still kids instead of the nearly-grown men that they are today. Not only did everyone pitch in with the setting & checking details, Holly insisted on handling all skinning chores that given day. I think our total catch was 40ish muskrats, a mink and a beaver.

Considering she’d never skinned a mink or beaver before, I opted to take those on myself. But all of the muskrats we piled up were skinned family style… with Holly handling the bulk of those by far. Dustin skinned a few and if I recall correctly Dylan skinned maybe half a muskrat before he whined about it and mommy took over the task from her baby.

No doubt Dylan kept busy screwing around and hamming it up for the camera, as usual back then. These days he is adept for either end of the camera… my go-to photographer when needed and also keeps himself quite busy on the modeling end while sporting various big bass in hand angled during local tournaments on his boat.

Those learning curves for the present family are some of my all-time fondest memories afield. I guess life is little more than a collection of experiences, learning curves and memories when its all boiled down.

After having written and self-published several how-to books on trapping in years past, I figured there would be some similar lessons involved with DVD production as well. And I was right… very much so, in fact.

The process seems easy enough. Record the material, produce said recordings into usable video format and farm out the printing – copy process to those with experience in the field. How simple is that? Well, that all depends. I’m experienced with creating and editing video productions to enough degree that creating a finished product to my specs is simple. But for my first DVD production I turned over the printing = copy process to a local company that advertises for just such services. Well, what I expected as a finished product on the first 100 units and what I received in my hands two weeks later than promised were rather different degrees of quality.

So with that said, I quickly found a professional-level production company out of California who specialize in printing and copying DVD products on a commercial basis. Another glitch arose when I discovered my choice of formatting from raw video footage to viewable production was not the preferred format. That meant reformatting the raw recording data to a different finished format style.

Long story short, the first DVD production of what I expect to be more was quite the learning curve for me in many ways. Despite considerable planning and research on the production side, what seemed to be so simple has been anything but. Good news is, a high-quality finished product is due be shipped this week ahead… the very same day I receive the new shipment they go right back out in the mail to awaiting trappers who are ready to insert and push “play”

This instructional DVD is not the usual trapline-setting collage of clips and scattered bits of info. That type of thing has its place and I intend to produce a lot of that this season and others to come. But the product we have available now is a heavy dose of technical, nuts & bolts info on what muskrats do, how to set for them via where = when = why and how to streamline trap-stake setups for maximum time efficiency afield in all water type conditions. And much more :)


Holly, myself and my cameras are heading to the north country along St Lawrence seaway next week for a couple days of summertime R&R. She works a lot, and decided it’s time to play. Part of that trip includes half a day in kayaks paddling thru some traditional muskrat waters. We’ll see if there’s anything filmworthy to share with readers here upon my return.

Other than that, just counting down the weeks and days until it’s time to string steel again. Thursday, October 25th is d-day here in NY. 82 days and less with every tick of time off the clock. Not to rush life away for anyone, but I’m ready for the arrival of fall and the morning to come when the canoe is loaded and cutting a v thru the morning mist at 7am eastern time to start.

Tight Chains


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Off “Vacation”

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I find myself starting each day in the same general fashion: sit down in my office, have a cup (or three) of coffee and watch summertime life unfold straight out the windows in my backyard pond.

No fewer than four family groups of resident geese along with twenty-some juveniles from last year are loafing on the grounds. Various mallard drakes and wood duck drakes grace our presence at dawn each morning. A kaleidoscope of songbird colors is spread across our acreage everywhere.

But most enjoyable of all is our family of resident muskrats. Every morning, every evening and sometimes midday in between they can be seen cutting their distinctive slow-v across the surface once they emerge from denning and before they submerge to the distant destination.

If I sat here every day for a thousand years watching nature’s show unfold in front of me, I’d never tire of that for one single moment, at all.


The bulk of this month in May was spent chasing turkeys in two states with a little bit better than mixed success. Two of my three tags were filled, one left to go with no free time left remaining to hunt within. Soon it’s off to a short week of sight-seeing and early strategizing in North Dakota for next trapping season’s work in earnest.

I have a written list of preseason tasks to complete, and it’s solid but manageable. Depending on what I see with my own two eyes in the scouting trip to ND next week determines my approach on what to gear up with. If that includes colony style traps, I’m prepared to buy half the number needed as 7″x7″x24″ commercial folding style. The other half I’ll make from 1×2 inch mesh with dimensions of 6″x8″x36″ to cover the wide areas runs.

Still need a big batch of footholds for spring floats and toilets work, but that can wait until late summer of fall. Need to build those floats, which is an outdoors summertime project. Leave all that pine sawdust from the kerf downwind and in the grass rather than messing up my indoor shop.

Been cutting sumac stakes, got a couple hundred put up, time to cut a couple hundred more before they all get leafed out. Not that it stops the process any, just easier to handle without leaves. Those will be used for footholds muskrat sets here in NY.

Need to decide on exactly which staking system I’m using for bodygrips… either 1/2″ x 1.5″ slats or furring strips. The #150s and #160s will get 4′ lengths while #210s get 6′ length wooden stakes. Flat wood is lighter and more compact than fiberglass fence posts which are great for footholds but less than ideal for bodygrips.

Along with speed-dip treating and tuning several hundred new traps of all styles, gotta set up some new #2 coils for winter canine work. The bulk of this season ahead will be muskrats from fall thru winter ands spring, but I do intend to enjoy some wintertime fox lines in late Dec thru January when reds are perfectly prime. I won’t go out of my way to target coon specifically this year, but will set for them where their paths cross mine.

The canine lines will stretch across a mix of private and public lands. No need to do much scouting or prep work there… same zones I’ve worked for the past two decades and counting. Just a matter of laying out the steel when the time for that arrives.

Also looking forward to some spring beaver work, which may possibly include a trip to North Carolina in Feb and then up north here in NY when ice-out occurs. There are a lot of beaver in the north country, and plenty will remain by next spring in the spots most guys aren’t willing to hit. Had I targeted beaver instead of muskrats up north in March, it would have been a daily canoe-swamping event.


It’s almost summertime convention season, too. I plan on making the PA and NY state shows, and definitely the long road trip out to MN in August for the NTA convention. Also in the mix is a summer rondy in early July on the opposite side of NY from me, where I’m invited to give a demo on muskrat trapping. I’ve already outlined the framework for that presentation, and we’ll do our best to pack a bunch of key info inside the one-hour block of time allotted.

The main reasons for my attending whatever conventions possible is to fellowship with other trappers, stock up on supplies and gear found nowhere else, and take a big pile of photos for some pictoral articles here. Truth is, most active trappers out there cannot make many shows and I’d opine most newer trappers don’t attend any conventions at all. So we’ll do what we can to bring a glimpse of that experience to the web via pics and video clips in hopes of sharing the experience with everyone.

Speaking of pics and video clips, I’m also in the very first stages of producing an in-depth, detail-oriented instructional dvd on muskrat trapping. Still laying out the framework for that and completing the bulk of filming and recording next month, with a target date of early July on production and release.

What I have in mind this time around will be somewhat different than anything on the market right now, and I think it will be well received. Of course if I didn’t think that, why go thru all the time, effort and up-front expense involved to begin with? I guess we’ll let public perception and feedback on the finished product decide all that for itself :)


Hi Austin,

I likewise enjoy this site and your writing. I too am wondering if there is an email alert list or something of that nature we can sign up on? Also, is there a forum on this website? I was active [elsewhere] but I am off that site. I am looking for a web forum that attracts “modern trappers,” not people who have not advanced their thinking past the late 1800s.

If trapping is going to survive in the future, trappers have to adapt to the culture we live in, at least, as far as is necessary to insure we don’t get voted out of existence. There are a lot of smart, savy trappers who recognize the need to avoid giving the Anti’s more ammunition, and I want to have conversations with them. [withheld]

This is a general question I get all the time. Readers wonder if there are plans for some kind of message board forum attached to our website. The answer to that is “no” for a number of reasons. First, there are probably too many trapper forums in existence already. With the widespread use of Facebook, new “group” pages pop up every other day for trapper chat of some sort or other. The number of new active trappers is by no means keeping pace with the number of new FB group pages vying for chit-chat attention.

Secondly, the amount of time and energy needed to moderate any public message board is more than I care to dedicate. Right now I need a couple extra hours each day just to get my current workload done. There is no time left to babysit a mixed group of people making sure everyone minds their manners properly :)

That said, you can expect a fresh season of posts and articles here covering the off-season aspects of trapping, along with some Q&A pieces that profile well-known, lesser known and even relatively unknown people in the outdoors world. Stay tuned!



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One More Time

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When the biologist told me a permit to trap muskrats would be in the mail that same day, I almost fell out of my chair in surprise.

A number of years ago, right about this same exact time of the year I drove north to the Perch River Wetlands preserve near Watertown NY seeking spring muskrat action. Little did I know it was a permit-only region, nor did I perform any research to find out otherwise. I’d been told the muskrat houses were dense enough there to walk from one to another without getting your feet wet.

That wasn’t much of an exaggeration: when I found myself standing on the dike that separates Stone Mills Pool from the Upper & Lower pools, I could easily see in excess of two hundred (200) muskrat houses and feeder huts sprawled out in all directions, far as the eyes could see. About the only thing that wasn’t visible was any hint of survey tape… with muskrat prices topping ay $2+ for the very best back then, nobody was interested in trapping them at all.


Fast forward to this year. I had called several times since in the fall to secure a permit (limit of 25 per fall and 25 per spring seasons) for trapping the wetland preserve. Each time I was told the permits were fully subscribed. So I almost didn’t bother calling again this year… specifically for this spring. When I did call on a whim and heard the biologist say there was room left to sign up and he’d take my info over the phone, I was pleasantly shocked.

My hope was to find a similar muskrat population today as before. The area is managed for waterfowl and in turn offers excellent furbearer habitat. So that was the basis of my intended first-week spring season trek northward, along with some other potential areas to supplement or fall back on as needed.

I arrived on location at the Perch River area Monday morning, around 9am. By then it was mostly ice-out with a few remnant areas still coated with skim. A few other trappers were present and much of the general site was already setup by local trappers. But the most glaring reality for me was a definite lack of muskrat houses and huts. Matter of fact, there was a dearth of active feed beds and cuttings, bubble trails beneath areas of skim ice, fresh mud in active runs or any other sign of highly populated muskrats.

Considering the number of active trappers there was greater than the number of visible muskrat houses from any view off any road, I continued northward towards the St Lawrence River to check on a few spots there. Ice was still covering all but the waters with direct current so I really didn’t get a close-up view of what’s going on there.

After that, I turned back south and followed the eastern shoreline of Lake Ontario and spot-checked several locations… none held enough fresh sign or quite frankly even aged muskrat sign to warrant setting up shop in serious fashion.

The first leg of my intended three-week northern quest turned out to be a bust. I ended up on the road for twelve hours, logged 350+ miles on the aging truck and never wet a single trap anywhere. So it goes.

Next week I’ll regroup, repack and reload for another trip elsewhere for muskrats and beaver in earnest. The destination will find me three-plus hours from home, and I’ll be staying there in that area for the week regardless of weather or populations. I’m either gonna catch some fur or check lots of empty traps… but by God I’ll be out there every day regardless!

More details on all that coming soon.


It is with great pleasure I announce the site sponsorship support from two well-known companies in our industry. Minnesota Trapline Supply and Kishel’s Scents & Lures are now valued and much appreciated supporters of our online production here. I’ll have much more to say about both of those fine companies tomorrow, too.

For now I’d like to publicly thank Rob Caven and Kevin Kishel respectively for helping us provide the content present and future to you. There is much more to come, way more than we’ve done so far… and it’s only possible thru joint efforts between us and valued site supporters alike.

That’s about all I had to share with you tonight. Quite a bit more to say over the next few days between now and Monday morning, when the truck pulls out well before sunrise to distant waters from where I sit tonight. A little or a lot doesn’t matter to me at all: so long as there is wild fur to be found and harvested, I’ll be a happy man :)


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Spring Things

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First off… a hearty and sincere congratulations to all of our recent contest(s) winners!

They are:
$100 “Best-Guess” contest
Dale Frank 3,834.00 = Minnesota Trapline Products
Teal Fysken: 3921.29 = Minnesota Trapline Products

$50 “Winners” contest
Cody  Petersen = McCourt Munitions LLC
Matt Byrnes = FNT post
“FishinHank” = MTP

I will get with all five of our dual contests winners tomorrow and get everyone settled on their prize money to spend with allotted outdoors equipment suppliers of their choice. Congratulations again to all, and I do hope each of you will share pictures of your purchases with us :)

The contest was loads of fun, best few dollars I’ve shared with fellow trappers in a very long time, and I look forward to doing it again in the future. With a little bit of luck, a lot of hard work and many miles on the road… we might just do it again real soon!

Spring season for muskrats is almost upon us. I’m using every spare minute of time to prep gear for one more round of serious muskrat trapping this year. For sure the #160s will see much use in their usual locations, but this time of the year demands plenty of footholds set at strategic locations. Natural toilet sets like this are akin to whitetail deer scrapes in the prerut and rutting season for bucks. Every rat in the general area will check out these key spots, and you can be sure I’ll have mine well guarded at every approach for traffic coming & going.

My personal preference runs toward bigger foothold traps, with 1.5 coils and #2 longs or coils the choice with their combination of jawspread and weight. I want solid front leg or preferably legs secured between those jaws, and I want some heft there to keep those catches submerged. Even in relatively shallow water, muskrats succumb quickly when held by solid front leg catches. Big coils or longsprings well-tuned at the pan & trigger make that happen.

So in order to make that happen on a regular basis soon, I’ve been going thru all of my existing foothold gear along with some various used traps purchased from different directions. They all require pan – dog tuning, chain checks and wires added, new nametags and boil-clean processing to remove old wax, gunk and grime.

It’s way too cold for treating traps with any type of dip product or painted finish, so I’m simply going to dip them in wax to speed up lock times and wait until the heat of summer for further surface treatments. They’ve got much work to do between now and then. So do I ;)

Once the footers are prepped, gotta go thru the #110s and #160s and #210s to sort for broken triggers, broken stakes and little things.

After all the gear is proclaimed good-to-go,  I need to cut and assemble roughly 100 floats. Now I might not run that many floats and I just might at that. They will be ready to go, regardless. While I’m doing all this prep work, I’ll be sure to chronicle it for pending articles coverage in here.

Like I said before, “next season” officially began last week. My work up north will be as much about preseason scouting for next year as it is mass production for this year. I might spot-hop a bit, might take a friend or two long to enjoy some fun, might do a lot of things. But one thing is for sure… I do fully intend to hammer the muskrats in 2012 – 2013. Regardless of populations, weather and pelt price, I will be out there doing my very best to get it done.



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Why Not?

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“Ok Austin… what’s the catch?

“What’s in it for you?”

I fully expected a number of emails asking that in so many words about why we’d give away $100 to a random stranger in a guessing-game contest. And with little surprise, a few people did ask exactly that.

Well, I can think of a number of really good reasons to give a little bit of money away, and the best news is there is no downside for anyone at all.

Direct Advertising
Traditional printed paper magazines and periodicals spend many thousands of dollars per year in efforts to attract more readers. In turn, they must charge you a yearly subscription fee just to help cover postage and printing costs. By the same token, their fees for advertising ain’t cheap… at all. Do you have any idea how much your favorite company or companies pay for just a single half-page or full-page ad in print magazines these days?

A lot… not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just all part of the process for growing a printed paper magazine that hasn’t changed since the advent of printed magazines.

Surely we here will look to spend some advertising dollars in traditional ways to attract readership just like any other publication. And equally assured is the fact that we’ll direct even more dollars in direct advertising fashion such as contests like this with no entry cost to you involved. I expect to do plenty more just like this… and hopefully with bigger prizes to boot :)

For us to promote some fun-filled contests anyone can join with equal chance to win is little more than inexpensive advertising on its face. But to me it’s also much more than that.

Share The Experience
Right around this same time last year I cleaned out my trap shed and gave away a bunch of steel to several youth trappers. It felt good to do that then, and it felt even better when pictures and feedback arrived from successful trappers taking part in that program. An old cliche` states that it is better to give than to receive. I don’t know about that… maybe it’s as much fun on either side. I sure do like receiving gifts and presents and surprises myself. I like to win things, too. But I also know how much fun it is to experience something vicariously thru others. The idea of someone out there doing something in the outdoors that we played a small part in here is rewarding on many levels.

Free Public Plugs For Your Favorite Company
The act of each participant selecting and naming their preferred prize money certificate from is also free advertising for any & all companies named. I have no problem with that… and you must admit, a lot of bang for our proverbial buck (or in this case a hundred bucks) is circulating thru the outdoor world here. Hopefully the promotion of all different outlets for various outdoor products will help bolster business for them. It cannot possibly hurt, that’s for sure.

Nothing Captured, Nothing Shared
All entries for this contest run thru our website in order to document who each person is. No chance for three different Bob Smith’s to confuse which one actually voted what. We have IP address documentation of who is who all the way. That said, under no circumstances is any personal information being captured or recorded. No addresses, no phone numbers, no emails… nothing. The sole contact between us here begins and ends with this specific contest. No one else will ever contact you about anything else, I can assure everyone of that.

At No Cost
We’ve said plenty of times before what will likely be repeated again: at no time in the future will there ever be any cost for readers to read our publications. Ever. Maybe we will offer advertising space to select advertisers sometime in the future, and maybe we won’t. But one thing I know for sure is, our virtual doors will be always open for everyone free of charge.

A Good Life
In a nutshell, I had a very good year on the trapline. It was far from any record catches… but that’s the least of why anyone including me can’t sleep at night before it’s time to run each line tomorrow. I’m more energized and motivated about next season’s turn of events than I ever have been before. Those who care to stop by and visit with us as time permits will get an inside view at what it takes to make it all happen from beginning to end.

The outdoors life is a slow paced, soak in your surroundings kind of life. It’s a good life… a life worth living and sharing with others. So that’s off to our inevitable winner to be determined this Sunday. Good luck with your guesses one and all, and we hope you share pictures and maybe a brief note about how your winnings will be invested in God’s great outdoors :)


Sunday, Feb 19th Fur Sale Contest… no strings attached [click on link to enter]

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Let’s have some fun :)

Someone is going to win $100 towards the purchase of hunting, fishing, trapping or outdoor gear of their choosing… with no strings attached. Here’s how it works:

We have 300+ finished muskrat furs headed for the local Genesee Valley Trappers Association auction (link here) on Sunday Feb 19th.

Whoever can guess closest to the nearest penny what the auction sales dollar amount is (before any commissions or deductions) for this entire lot will win a $100 gift card or purchase order to any outdoors store of their choice.

That’s it… that simple. The person who guesses nearest the actual sale results wins $100 gift card, certificate or credit to their outdoor store of choice.

The only way to enter is by comment reply at the bottom of this website entry stating your first name and either last name or initial, your one guess at the dollar amount of sales (for 300+ muskrats only) and the name of your selected store of purchase. Here are some examples of a qualified entry format…

Austin Passamonte


Austin P
Bass Pro


John Smith
XYZ Sports Store


Sally S
Gary’s Gunshop


That’s it… simple and with no strings attached. Simply cast your vote (aka best guess) according to the format above in the comments section of this website post. Not in Facebook… not by email… not by passenger pigeon… the only valid entry format is right here in the comments thread below :)

The lone winner by nearest final price to the penny will be notified here and awarded a $100 gift card, gift certificate or credit purchased towards whatever outdoor oriented gear they choose. This contest is open to all, no restrictions other than one vote per person. Contest ends Sunday morning at 9:00am eastern time. All entries past that point in time are null & void. Tie-breakers will determine a single winner from any potential “ties”.

Remember, the only valid entry which counts is a name, dollar amount of fur sales and name of where your prize money will be spent. Other than that, good luck to all and I look forward to awarding $100 to the best (lucky) guess!

Have Fun :)

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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

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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 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, 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. 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


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