Getting to be that time of year again, pheasant season opened this past weekend and it sounds like hunters are seeing better bird numbers than predicted! Furbearer hunting and trapping kicks off this coming weekend which will be a welcome sight for our family as we will get out to start a couple of trap lines. For the beginning part of the trapping season I will taking my son along who is now two, so I will be running a little more accessible trap lines than normal. Our son loves the outdoors and loves being in the woods, he has been out with us squirrel hunting numberous times however he still doesn’t understand that the more he talks the less we will see. Trapping coons on dry land or in ditches required a little less quiet ans stalking through the woods.
Getting a start on trapping this year I have had to buy all new traps as I havent been trapping on my own before, I have been with very experienced trappers a few times while checking their trap lines and since have done a large about of reading up and self educating myself. Three main sources for learning have been the National Trappers Association, Minnesota online trapper education manual, and Youtube, though not all things are credible on youtube there are a significant amount of videos and how tos produced by trapping companies and well-known trappers. As far as traps go I purchased an assortment or traps in which some I haven’t used before but I’m excited to give it a try. My traps all made by Duke Traps are as follows:
(4) 220 Conibears
(3) 160 Conibears
(3) Homemade cubbies to dogproof
(4) DP dog proof traps
(12) #1 1/2 Coil Springs
(1) #2 Coil Spring
(1) #1 Longspring
It may be a little more than what the average trapper will do but to help me learn i have made up a couple of trapping logs, as well as a notebook to bring along in the vehicle to log things from trap used, set type, location and bait to things like miles driven each day, temps, weather, and time taken and well as other notes i might jot down along the way.
Trapping, when done correctly, is a very practical and humane way of managing certain types of wildlife that are overpopulated, under hunted, of impossible to hunt using traditional methods. Conibear traps as well as foothold that are set in water as a drowning set will dispatch the animal very quickly, and dry land sets using foot holds or dog proof traps do not physically hurt the animal other than holding their foot, hence the name “foot hold”. Great strides are taken by many trappers to add such things as swivels, rubber padded jaws etc. to keep the animal more comfortable until the trapper can arrive.
Conibear traps are a newer design compared to leg holds but have also be put under much criticism as they can easily injure and sometimes kill a dog if it happens to get into the trap as the trap is designed to be set off when an animal sticks their head through the trap. For smaller animals when a trap is set off around their heads it produces a sharp blow to the base of the skull as well as blocking the windpipe. For dogs, which are typically larger headed than the intended game animal this isn’t such and instant death and in many cases un-educated hunters / dog owners make the problem worse trying to get the trap off of their animal. Many states have set various restrictions on the use of these traps, none outlawing them but some being restricted to only underwater sets. Minnesota has restrictions relating to size, locations around buildings and cubbie requirements which prevent dogs from getting their heads through the trap.