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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
17

Muskrats & Creeks

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[Q] “You sound like you know a lot about rat trapping in creeks so I thought I’d shoot you a PM, I hope you don’t mind a few questions. The creek is about calf deep. But in a few select holes, it can get waist or deeper. It can choke down to 1ft and widen to 6-8ft. It is a slow moving current with a silty bottom. I’m not sure what you call “vegetation choked” but I don’t think it is. Some people have suggested making bottom edge sets, how shallow can you set these with 110s? I have 11 muskrat traps: (6) 110 conibears, (3) #1 coilsprings, and (2) #1.65 OS coilsprings. To most effectively cover this creek, what sets should I make with what traps and what should it be baited with if needed? Any tips would be AWESOME! Thanks alot!”

[AP] That’s a two-part question you pose :)

First, the available traps sizes and styles you have on hand to work with, and second the trapline conditions that exist. Let’s start with the traps on hand. Your #110 bodygrips are pretty much limited to sets right at den / feeder hole entrances and channels beneath undercut banks, thru thick vegetation along the bank edges, etc. They are too small a window for covering middle runways and current flows in the bigger stretches. The foothold traps are perfectly fine, but limited to shallow water sets where fresh muskrat sign is present and/or bait sets.

Based on your description of the water, I would look for pinch points in the narrows (one foot) stretches that are probably nearer to the ankle deep levels and block them with #110s set on the bottom. If the run there looks slicked up and actively used, don’t be afraid to set two traps within 18″ or 24″ of each other. Double setting three hot pinch points will catch more rats than scattering six traps at iffy locations just to put them in water somewhere.

The footholds can be set anywhere you see fresh sign of rats coming into shallow water: tracks and trails in mud or snow,  fresh piles of droppings on objects above water, any piles of clipped feedings, etc. Make sure they are set near water at least 24″ deep and staked out towards the middle so any catches can easily reach the bottom depths. Do not set those traps in shallow stretches where catches cannot reach deeper water… such locations are limited to your #110s.

Lastly, you can try fresh dug pocket sets along the water’s edge and baited with apple, carrots or parsnips. Apples dry out fast, turn colors and attract raccoon. Parsnips are rather pricy at the grocery store. Carrots are less expensive and offer bright eye appeal to muskrats. You can also dig up cattail roots from shallow water anywhere, and use those for bait in short sections that cost nothing at all :)

Those are pretty much your choices to apply at the location described with equipment available. Good luck, and keep us posted on progress!

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