Monday, November 5, 2012


Trapping is one of the skills that built this country.  Some would consider trapping inhumane, and dangerous.  As with all hunting and fishing pursuits, there are those who don't take the time and do things right.  These give all outdoorsmen a bad name.  Trapping, when done right, is a great way to control local populations of furbearers.  Every state has it's own rules, so make sure you contact you're local wildlife enforcement division (Game and Fish, Department of Wildlife Resources, so on and so forth), and get the official rules on what you can and cannot do. 

I think that anyone who considers himself a renaissance man is really just interested in being self sufficient.  One part of being self sufficient is finding ways to make a little extra money to fund those side projects that you can't justify on your current salary.  You're never going to get rich trapping fur.  (You may, but I don't think anybody wants the socioeconomic changes that would entail).  You can make some extra money, and maybe have a little fun doing it on the side. 

I'm lucky in that I have a wooded area behind my house to trap.  Since I don't have a lot of time, I will be concentrating on this area during the week, and on the weekends I may run a few sets at the local Wildlife Management Area.  I'm primarily going to target raccoons.  Raccoons are supposed to be pretty easy to trap, so we'll see.  A good first set for raccoons is the bucket set.  You must be careful for with this set though, it's called a killing set.  If your neighbors have cats or small dogs, do not use this set.  It is unforgiving.  It will kill the target animal.  You have a little more leeway on public ground, every has the right to use it, and you have to right to trap there.  But still you must use common sense.  If you know that some guy has been hunting rabbits in the area with beagles, don't set you're traps there.  While this is perfectly legal, it's unethical.  You wouldn't like it if you're neighbor injured or killed your pet, now would you? 

If you're like me, you want to try you're hand and trapping without a huge investment.  You may like it, you may not.  I would suggest starting out with a dozen traps, and a dozen square buckets.  I just bought some and they set me back about $125.  I figure that if I can trap around 25 coons, I should be able to make my money back.  Set your sights low, and you won't be disappointed.  I think with a dozen traps, and a season that lasts about 120 days in my state, I should be able to trap enough coons to make the traps pay for themselves.  If I like it, then I can buy more traps, and increase my target catches.  One thing I would love to trap are bobcats and coyotes.  While coyotes aren't worth much, a nice bobcat can bring in some nice cash.

Coyote populations are exploding at alarming rates in many states.  Coyotes are opportunistic feeders.  By trapping coyotes, you will help out all the local species that you might like to hunt.  Coyotes will kill deer, rabbits, squirrels, turkeys, and many other species.  They can also be very bold, there have been reports of coyotes killing pets.  By all means please trap them.  I could write a whole article on why killing coyotes is a good idea, but I won't.  Suffice it to say, that they have good qualities in small quantities, but in large quantities they are a scourge on American soil.

What follows is a simple bucket set.  You will need a trap, and a square bucket.  There are several different sizes of traps.  A lot of your trap selection will depend on what your local regulations prescribe.  Where I hunt and trap, the largest trap I can use is one with a 6 inch jaw spread.  This means that I can use #160.  I went with Dukes, but there are several manufacturers out there.  Just google for it, and you will find several places that will sell you traps.  This trap size is just right for raccoon, possums, and muskrats.  It will also work for bobcats, and some foxes.  Again, this is a killing set.  Keep that in mind, when you decide to start trapping.  While the raccoon trapping season around here opens in September, I can't make this set until November when the rest of our seasons are open.  While my chances of catching a bobcat or fox are low, they are still high enough, that I don't want to get caught with out of season furs. 

The next thing you are going to need is a bucket.  You can use round buckets, but conventional wisdom states to use square buckets.  You can find square buckets in lots of places, but I'm lazy, and just paid an extra $25 for mine when I ordered my traps.  If you want to try and scrounge some up, ask around at local eating establishments.  Lots of condiments come in square buckets, butter, mayo, pickles, and so on.  You can probably get a lot more than you will need for trapping.  The good thing is that plastic buckets always come in handy around the house.  So you can never have too many. 

Once you have a trap and a bucket, you will need to make a small notch in the bucket to hold the trap.  Place the trap in the notch, set and you're ready to go.  Of course, trapping is harder than that. You need to set the buckets in places that animals are already going to be, and you will need some bait.  There is a whole industry built around trapping baits, and there are more articles online about that special bait than you could probably read in a lifetime  For my raccoon trapping, I've been stocking up on sardines from the grocery store, and I'll also buy some apples.  Raccoons love fish, and fruit.  I've also read that apples are good for muskrats.  Sardines can also be used for bobcats.  This should give me a wide range of catches. 

Finding a good place to set a trap for an animal is hard work.  You will need to do lots of scouting to find just the right spot.  The only tip I can give you right now is to do like I do.  Find an area with a with a stream or creek in it, and set you're traps there.  I've trapped a few coons and possums in my backyard with a live cage trap, so I know that they are using the ditch behind my fence as a travel way.  I've seen tracks at my local WMA around some of the creeks, so I know this will also be a good spot to set traps.  Other than that, you will have to scout hard to trap wild animals. 

I will get some pictures up later this week.

Election Day 2012

I'm sure that if you are still reading this blog, you are probably as sick of the campaigning as I am.  Bear with me for a few minutes.  I'm not going to tell you who I'm voting for, I'm not going to campaign on behalf of any party, or political candidate.  What I am going to do is tell you why this election matters. 

This election matters, but not in the way you think.  I'm sure that the only thing on your mind is Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.  I'm here to tell you that honestly you should vote for the candidate that you believe will do the best job, but I'm also going to tell you that your vote for the president almost won't matter.  Don't get me wrong, all votes count, and you should really should vote.  But the important elections tomorrow aren't for the president.  The important elections are local.  I'm sure that you will be voting for local judges, state senates, state representatives, mayors, even alderman.

I've struggled with these thoughts for a long time.  How can I change the world?  What can I, as one person do, to make the world a better place.  And I'm here to tell you that local elections are the place to start. 

Barack Obama didn't wake up one day, and find himself in a political campaign to be President of the United States of America.  No, he woke up one day and wanted to run for the Illinois senate.  After that he decided to run for Congress, and finally to run for President.  Maybe this was his plan all along.  I'm sure it was at some point in his mind, that he wanted to be president of this country.  What kid doesn't want to be president one day.

The local elections are more important in the short term and long term.  Tired of that road to the interstate full of potholes?  Then call you're local mayor, and tell him to fix it.  Call your state senator, and tell him you're county needs more road money.  They may not listen to you, but this is where local elections matter.  You can vote against him, and they will know why you voted against them.  You can call the other candidate, and ask him what he intends to do about your bad road.  He may still lie to you, but at least you can hold him accountable to his promises.  You can't hold national offices accountable.  I wish you could, but you are just one of millions of people.  Neither Obama, or Romney actually cares about you.  They can't.  There are too many millions of other people to think about. 

I've read that we should think globally, but act locally.  That is why this election matters.  If you hold your mayor accountable, who knows maybe one day he'll be able to run for president, and then guess what he will care about you.  He'll care about millions of others also, but he will know that without the support of the local community, he would still just be a local guy. 

In closing, make sure you vote tomorrow.  Vote for every office that is on the ballot, but don't just vote because the person has an R or a D next to his name.  Go home tonight and look up the local candidates and vote for the one that will do the best job for you.  (And if he doesn't, go to his office and explain why he's failing at serving you, he might just change his mind). 

Next week:  I'll be talking about trapping.