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Mar
01

Gaining New Ground

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As a trapper, one of our most important needs besides equipment is the properties or locations to trap. Without private land we would be restricted to state land only; sometimes it is not the best option. Asking for permission to trap can be a tedious task and at times discouraging. I have found a few things that seem to work for me when I get my permissions ready for the upcoming season or as I see new locations throughout the season.

One of the most important things when asking for permission is your appearance. When I approach a landowner I think of it as a job interview. You don’t have to dress up by any means, but you must look presentable. This means put on a fresh pair of jeans and a clean shirt. First impressions are everything and after all it is a start of a partnership between you and the landowner. Depending on the part of the country you are from some landowners may or maynot be accepting of a “trappers” wardrobe, it is best to use you judgement for each or always play it safe.

So you are all dressed up for your “interview” what’s next? Another important thing you need to take into account is the timing of when to ask. Asking permission in the late spring or early summer seems to be the best timing. This is the time of year when all of the furbearers are the most active due to reproduction and, taking full advantage of abundant food sources. What this means is that the animals are noticed more by that landowner and more likely than not causing some sort of inconvenience. In the fall and winter (during the season) trapping is on our mind but not the landowners, the popular saying seems to make sense “out of sight, out of mind”. I personally like to be preparing way ahead of the season so I can scout and plan for my sets anyway. Asking early has always been common practice for me.

Now comes the hardest part of getting permission, posing the question to the landowner. It’s the right time of year and you are dressed to impress its time to ask. Being fully prepared is the best way to get this done and done right. The way you word it is not the important part, I find that a simple question like: May I trap your property? Can be all it takes for a yes answer and you officially have a new trapping location. You must also prepare yourself for the other side of that, the just plain no. If you do get the no answer make sure to be polite and thank the land owner for there time but still offer your phone number if they change there mind. This sometimes will lead to a call a little later in the year, especially if you make a good impression. I always try to be prepared with a simple business card with all of your contact information, along with “Fur Trapper” somewhere on the card so your intentions can be remembered. When it comes to asking for permission it usually isn’t an easy yes and a plain no, you must also prepare yourself for the tough questions that may be the difference of you getting sent down the road packing or getting to set steal in the ground during the season. Most of these questions are asked by people that couldn’t really care either way but if it makes sense they will answer in your favor. The land owner may ask something like: “tell me more about trapping? What kind of equipment do you use? What are you trapping? How can the animal affect me? Will your traps affect me?” You can answer most any one of the questions that may come up by understanding two things, you must know the target animal or animals, and know your equipment and methods. This is why you need to think about what you are going to be asked and think ahead to the possible answers, if you are prepared for the tough questions you won’t be surprised when they come up. Confidence shows competence and that is what most land owners are generally looking for during the first impression.

Getting permission is not always easy but once you have it you want to keep it. Be sure to respect the landowner’s wishes and property. Remember word travels quickly, if you are well received and do your job you will get permission to more locations just by recommendation. I always try to keep my relationship active with the land owner year round not just when I need them. By staying active our partnership will stay intact for the trapping season and, many more seasons to come.

Happy Trapping :)

Danielle

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It seems these days everyone is trying to come up with the latest and greatest earth anchor. I have come to find they all have their positives and negatives, and certain ones work best under certain circumstances. I will give you my opinion on a few that I have tried.

Heavy Duty Berkshire Stake

Let’s start with one of the originals “Berkshire” stake. Very effective holding device in the right conditions and the most economical. The makers of this stake advertise it as disposable, this is very true as once you use them they rarely get multiple uses. I personally have rocky soil conditions, so they can be tricky to drive in the soil without a pilot hole. The driver for the Berkshire is very simple and you can modify a piece of rebar if you lose/ break a driver, this is a major plus. The driver is a sharpened piece of round rod that rests on the end of the driver, it is not secured on the driver in any way so it can slip off. I do still use these stakes on my water line for coon.

Super Stake

Another earth anchor is the “Super Stake”. This is a heavy duty anchor that is very effective. Super Stakes are on the high end of the price scale as far as earth anchors go, but are reusable many times over. These stakes are suitable for just about any soil conditions. The driver like the Berkshire is a fairly simple design and can be improvised for if needed. The round rod driver with slightly sharpened end slides into the stake, preventing it from falling off the driver. The other neat thing with Super Stakes is the ability to use chain or cable to attach the stake to the trap. Chain holds up much better for pulling the stakes out to reuse, so the ability to use chain is nice. I would say one draw back to these is they can get plugged up with dirt, so you need to clean them out after each use.

Wolf Fang

My go to anchor most recently has been the “Wolf fang” anchor. This is one of the newer ones on the market and is a good product. This anchor is on the low end as far as pricing goes as well, but is much sturdier than some of the others in this price range. The driver for these anchors is slightly more complex than the previous two. The Wolf Fang driver has a channel that the anchor slides into, this keeps it from slipping off while driving into the soil. This anchor is set up for cable only, they can be reused if your cable ferrules are strong. These anchors hold up well to reuse.
There are plenty more left for me to try out on the market. We all have different conditions and circumstances where one may work better than another, that is why there are options out there for us.  All of the above anchors do the job they were made for, it is up to you to find what works best on your trapline.

Happy Trapping :)

Danielle

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Feb
09

Getting My Feet Wet

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Yet another beautiful February day in Upstate NY! This sweatshirt weather with grass showing and water flowing is not a typical trapping season.

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Today I decided to head to the swamp close to my house and see if there were any water critters moving about. Since I was not setting or planning on getting in to the swam too deep, I threw on my knee boots to do some scouting( hind-sight is 20/20).
I find a gap in the brush and start my trek. The swamp looked very promising flowing water with narrow channels, tufts of swamp grass, and some old beaver chews. I thought to myself these are great signs of what’s deeper in this swamp. Doing your homework before a mid-season scouting trip like this really pays off, so before I made my outing I took a peek at some areal maps on my computer to find the best route.

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I continued my mission searching for any bit of evidence of life, not seeing to much besides a broken down beaver dam and an old hut, not a trace of any furbearer that I am after.

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I decide to go a bit further before I give up my quest. I cross one of the feeder streams that meanders through the humps of grass… Or attempt to.. Word to the wise when scouting in a swamp always opt for the waders over knee boots, and never trust a swamp grass hump. The good news is once the water in the boots warms up it isn’t too bad!

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I figured I had done enough damage for the afternoon so I decided to head for the trees, and take the dry way home. As I get closer to the other side of the swamp I spot a few signs of life, a set of fisher tracks and a few sets of k9 tracks, they will have to wait until next season.
All in all I had a great day outside. Just remember when in doubt wear waders, and never trust swamp grass humps no matter how sturdy they “look”.

Happy Trapping :)
Danielle

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      The end to yet another busy week has arrived. My taxidermy shop has been very busy all week between taking in bounties from this season for tanning, to prepping mannikins from the past deer season I have not had much spare time.
    When you have so much to do it is hard to even know where all the time went! I do enjoy being busy as I find it rewarding to wake up every morning and go to bed tired every night.
Spending time tanning and working with fur got me thinking I should write a little about the process of a small scale tanning operation like mine.
     It all starts with you the fur trapper, you make a catch and decide that this catch is going to be on your wall! From this point on it can go one of many ways… You can skin the animal process it and put it up just like any of your other catches, then ship it or deliver it to my door( I like to have visitors.) or you can bring the animal to me whole, or I will also accept fresh frozen hides. I will take in a fur for tanning in just about any form you want to bring it with the exception of slipping or still breathing!

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     Now the fur is in my hands what’s next? If the fur is dried it must be rehydrated until pliable, if green it is ready for the washing process. All fur goes through my rigorous cleaning/ degreasing procedure. First the pelts are placed into a degreasing wash with a commercial solution, they are hand washed making sure both the hide and fur are fully penetrated. After this the pelts go through a cold water rinse and a few minute drip dry while I prepare the next wash. The next wash is a odor eliminating wash along with a second wash of the fur, it is very important to start with a clean fur so the end product can be it’s best. The pelts will once again go through a cold water rinse and be hung to drip dry for a couple of hours.

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    Now the pelts are prepped to enter the tanner. My tanner is a 22gal auto tanner from TASCO company. The tanner can take a good amount of fur depending on the size of the pelts. This tanner works off of a pre-mixed commercial chemical solution, water, and 50lbs of air pressure. Once the pelts are loaded into the tanner it is kind of a set it and forget it operation (for the moment), the furs are in the solution for a minimum of 4 hours as the tanner slowly turns to tan the entire batch evenly.

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    When the tanner has finished it’s cycle my hard work begins. All hides must be drained, then rinsed and hung fur side out to drip dry. I will blow the furs out individually to speed up the process, then place them on a stretcher fur side out over night. The next day I invert the pelts to skin side out and place back onto the stretcher. The drying process takes the longest, about 2-3 days for the 70% dryness I am looking for.

    The skins are now starting to look leather like and are ready for the next step. I oil each skin by hand and roll them in order for the oil to sweat into the hide, this takes one night. It will ensure the best flexibility on the finished product.
    Once the hide has absorbed the oil it goes into the breaking process. I break all hides by hand at this point, hope to have a tumbler soon but, I work with what I have. Each pelt is rubbed over an edge to stretch the skin fibers and bring back flexibility and suppleness. It takes about 30 min average, some larger pelts more, smaller pelts less always using the the same process.
Once the leather is flexible the skin is once again inverted fur side out. Each pelt is then blown out and brushed to make it as pretty as they can be.

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     A commercial tannery has a lot of tools that make these processes more efficient so more fur can be processed in a shorter period of time. The biggest difference from my small scale tanning to the big guys is the turn-around time, I can have your fur back in your hands in less than a month, the big guys have a 6 month plus time frame. In the end you always have a beautifully preserved fur that holds the memory of your catch and will last a lifetime.

Happy Trapping
Danielle

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Jan
28

What’s In Your Landline Kit ?

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We all have different tools in our tool shed, and I am sure my trapping bag looks different than yours. I am going to share with you a few of my must have’s in my land trapping toolbox.

Let me first start with the carrier. Some use a bag, some use a bucket, some even a pack basket, not me. My carrier of choice is a plastic tote(not the big square kind you are thinking). The tote I use is originally intended for carrying horse grooming stuff, but basically it is a 2 compartment container with a handle in the middle. This is not a practical method if you walk a long distance between or to sets but it works for what I do. I put baits and lures on one side.. Hammer, sifter, and gloves on the other along with anything else scent free… My stake driver, and trowel go in the handle.


The trowel I use isn’t currently set in stone. I plan on buying a good trowel this year that will last. I try and buy one better tool each season so I can better the quality of tools without breaking the bank all at once. My ideal trowel will have a wider digging head that is a little longer than standard, a long handle is a must with a D handle at the end. For now I have just been using and abusing the $12 show special and it does the job.

The next thing I do not leave the house without is a good hammer. There are a lot of nice ones on the market these days, my hammer is the lifetime hammer from DCTM. I have the smaller version of the hammer and really like the balance of it in my hand. How a hammer feels is very important if you plan on having in your hand for hours at a time. My hammer also has a digging blade on the back. Why I like DCTM’s design more so than others is his blade comes straight off the back instead of at an angle, this way the dirt doesn’t get scattered around as much when making a set.


Another tool in my arsenal is my sifter. I have a lifetime sifter from Dead Coyote Snares. It has nice angular sides for scooping up soil and a coarse screen that really grinds up dirt clods well. I have gone through a lot of sifters by stepping on them or just tossing them around and this one really has passed the test.

The last two seasons I have used wolf fang anchors with great success. My driver for them is also from DCTM. Jason made me a custom length extra long driver out of hexagonal stock, with a hardened driving tip. I like my driver a little on the long side so I can drive anchors standing up. This driver had gone two seasons and I can easily see it lasting at least two more, DCTM’s tools are top notch.(yes purple tools work better)


Last but not least are my gloves. In years past I was a big fan of the jersey cotton gloves, I have really grown to like the nitrile coated knit gloves. They really hold up well, and have a tight fit for better feel. I find by having a rubber coated palm and fingers the gloves really help with scent control and moisture blocking. These gloves can be found at most hardware stores, at a inexpensive price.

I try to buy tools of a high quality as I rely on them so much in the field. I always keep a back up of each tool in the truck but rarely have to dig them out, because the tools I have are built to be used and abused. That about covers my tools, my bait and lure choices will fill an entire other article so I will save those for a rainy day

Happy Trapping :)
Danielle

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Jan
26

Trapping.. Gone To The Dogs?

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I have been reading about using dogs on the line on a few of the forums I frequent, not only as a companion but also to find better or more natural trap placement.

Those of you that know me know that my dogs are a big portion of my life, so I jumped at the thought of having another reason to load them up and put them to work(can’t feed them for free!).


As I took a walk with my hounds while scouting this fall, I read there body language. Watching them take in every scent with there noses planted on the ground, meandering through the tall weeds and around corners, in a seemingly random path. I never before paid too much attention to where my sidekick Ruger decided to mark a tuft of grass or noted the side of the field they preferred to travel while trotting around, but this season I did.
I didn’t set every spot they mulled around, who knows if it was an everyday travel path. I set the spots that I would normally set, within the areas that excited the dogs and it seemed to be effective.

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Just watching my hounds run around doing there k9 things also brought some perspective on other things as well. Like how the feet fall in comparison to the nose, or how a male dog approaches a place to mark his territory, even how even our domestic dogs have an everyday routine. These things cannot be far off from there wild counterparts, can they?

These are just my observations, but from where I sit there is a lot to learn from the tail wagging biscuit eaters right in front of us, Just watch.

Happy Trapping ;)
Danielle

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Pursuit of the mighty k9 has intrigued many trappers for many years. Some of us who try and outsmart these cagey critters are often discouraged when we trappers are the ones getting outsmarted. Maybe a little variety is all you need to jumpstart your line.

I myself like to experiment with my sets in many different ways. Every location presents a different set of circumstances, between type of habitat, to wind direction, and even different levels of human pressure are the things I take into consideration. If you go into the same location year after year or even a new location and plug in the same sets throughout you will find the catches on k9s will start out really strong then die out just as quickly, this is where variety has it’s strength.

A Dirthole is a very effective tool for catching all varieties of k9s, a few variations on them are even more irresistible! A few of my personal favorite variations are, the double dirthole, the post hole, the trench, and the bank hole( or what I call the reverse dirthole).

Double Dirthole

The Double Dirthole is just as the name says two dirtholes one set. Now there are variations within this set that can keep it from getting old. The first is the side by side holes, dug at the typical 45* angle deep and baseball sized. The holes should be placed as such so if you were to draw a line straight out from each hole they would intersect exactly over the pan.

You can change this set up a few different ways. You can make the holes directly across from each other, or just change the angle and size of the holes. All variations of this set do one thing bring two points if interest or curiosity to each set, what goes down the hole if anything at all is left up to you.

Post Hole Set

The Post Hole set is new to my line this year but will be on my agenda each year. My version of this set is a 8″ to 12″ hole dug straight down as if I was going to put a fence post in. I have found that it works at multiple depths but I would recommend a minimum of 12″ deep. As you are digging the hole pile the dirt 3/4 around the hole leaving a gap to place your trap bed. Dig your trap bed at the top edge of hole facing downwind. Bed the trap and cover as you would for any dirt hole.

To bait this set I make two to three small holes in the side wall of the post hole with my stake driver and put a little bit of a curiosity or call lure in each one. When the animal approaches it will look for the easiest access point which is where the dirt is not piled, and voila you have a catch! There are many different variations on this set as well, just make it your own.

Trench Set with a log covering
 The Trench Set seems to becoming more an more popular with some of the top coyote trappers in the U.S. This set is basically a Dirthole opened up, a tunnel with no roof. With this set I dig my trap bed and with my digging hammer chop a trench straight back into tall weeds or grass, don’t be afraid to make a mess. At the end of your trench you take a stake driver and punch two small lure holes and apply lure. Sometimes I take a log or rock and place it over the very end so it needs to be worked harder. This set creates the illusion of an animal that tunneled into the weeds and looks like an easy meal to any unsuspecting k9.

Top View of Reverse Dirthole

The last but not least of my Dirthole variations is the Bank Hole set or what I like to call the Reverse Dirthole. This set can really trick the keenest of k9′s. I use this set on river banks or in gravel beds, as they present the best natural terrain for this set. Once you find a cut out steep bank that was just made for this set, dig a hole about 2′-3′ from the top of the bank. When you dig a hole don’t just dig a mouse hole, dig a hole that a coyote can see, make a mess!

Front View of Reverse Dirthole

At this point I always bait the hole so I don’t need to travel down the bank twice, I always use a good amount of a loud bait. Make your way to the top of the bank without disturbing to much and dig your trap bed directly in line with your hole 6″ from the edge of the drop off. Blend in the trap an walk away. Any k9 that catches a whiff or spots the hole will first investigate from the top of the bank, and the rest is history.

It is easy to get stuck in a “rut” making the same old sets season in and season out. You will see a difference adding sets like these to your line. There are many more k9 set types to get creative with, these are just a few that have worked for me. Keep those k9′s guessing!

Happy Trapping :)
Danielle

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Jan
23

In-between The Line’s

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As I worked in my shop today finishing up some fur tanning, I thought … “it is time to prepare for my 2nd trapline of this season.”

My maiden NY land trapping line is now just a memory, the traps are pulled and piled waiting for next seasons trap preparations. The freezers of fur are getting near the bottom as each pelt is put up and ready for the market. Spring water trapping is on the horizon! I am now ready for the next trek into the wild.

This year will be a bit different in my years past. In CT most all trapping was in the water due to regulations. This year they are two distinctly different lines. I do normally enjoy running both types of sets at the same time in order to cover trapping locations more effectively, this seasons line just didn’t make sense that way. Therefore I decided early on in the season I was going to run them seperately.

Before I put my waders on and hit the marshes and swamplands, I will spend the next couple weeks hard at work. Double checking water traps, scouting areas and picking up new areas that have yet to be harvested by a fellow trapper, and a little bit of rest and recharging from my k9 line.

So I will sit here tonight pondering my next move, counting muskrats as they swim through my 110′s as I drift off to sleep.

Happy Trapping :)
Danielle

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To me that is what the outdoors are all about! Nature has a way of bringing people from all walks of life together, as it gives us a common factor to enjoy together. Although I enjoy most facets of the outdoors, trapping to me gets you as close as you can be.

Hello fellow outdoorsmen and women my name is Danielle. Some of you may already know me through my many ventures, others will get to know me through my blog posts and future articles. For those of you that don’t know me or don’t know my background I will bring you up to date. It all started years ago(we don’t need to know the exact number)my dad instilled the love of the outdoors within me. We would spend our weekends camping, fishing, hunting, and trapping among many other outdoor activities.

Trapping has captured my attention from day one and hasn’t released it yet. From a young girl running a weekend trapline up until now alot has changed. I have since moved from a small town in CT to an even smaller town in upstate NY, and now run a full time trapline.

Besides trapping I breed and raise champion redbone coonhounds(hence my internet handle)and, just started up my own taxidermy studio. So if you cannot already tell my life revolves around the outdoors through hobby and profession. I am very excited that Austin has invited me on here to share my experiences with all of you, and hope to hear your experiences along the way.

So here is to making new friends and lasting memories on the line, and back in the shed.
Danielle aka Redbonechick

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