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Nothing happening on my 2 trap coyote line at home. Not that surprising as those 2 traps have already accounted for 10 coyotes.
Nothing in the muskrat traps either.
But I am prepping gear for a 2 pond otter job that I will set after the cold spell. The next couple of nights are going to make some hard water that would disable some of my gear so better to wait for that to pass. Should have some pictures of some water wolves soon though.
The otter traps are set. Just need the otters to show up again. It is hard to predict how long it will be between visits but with all of the sign at these ponds, there is little doubt that they will be back. The waiting game begins.
Water wolves anyone? The third night turned out to be the charm, well, sort of anyway. Had one in a foothold trap on a drowner near a toilet on the back side of the pond. But I saw a bubble trail come out from under a pier that crosses the shallow end of the pond as I was headed to check traps. The bubble trail went right by a pair of traps suspended in a plastic corrugated pipe right beside the pier. Note to self, move the pipe set or add another trap right where the bubble trail was. There was multiple piles of fresh scat close to the pier and the trap that made the catch.
I added a couple more traps at possible pullouts near the catch site. Then I decided to leave the pipe where it was and just add another trap where I had seen the bubble trail. I was standing on the pier getting the trap on the stand right beside the pipe and all of a sudden....whap, splash, splash. I suspect the otter was headed back to hang out under the pier but was startled to see me and tried to duck in the pipe for cover or he could have decided to check out the pipe. Whatever the reason, it was cool to be standing there when the trap fired!
A male and a female. Set everything back and added the extra trap. Will see what a few more days brings.
I was standing about where the trap is laying when the catch was made. The trap was recessed about 6" into the end of the pipe just above the otters nose.
Just one more reason that I enjoy trapping. You never know what kind of cool things you might see or experience.
Nothing moving in the otter ponds since I caught the two. But my two coyote traps at home are still set and ready for action. As I headed out to check the otter sets this morning, I rode by the field to glass the coyote sets and did not even need the binos to see that there was a coyote in one of the traps. A female pup from this year made #4 for that trap and #11 for the two traps combined that are about 50 yds. apart on the edge of the field. Reset the trap in the same trap bed yet again.
Pulled traps at one of the otter ponds. No new sign since I got the two there. Just a steady stream of coons at the otter pull outs. Three in three days in blind sets, no bait or lure. I think there may still be another family group of otter that will cycle through but only time will tell. Still have traps in the other pond if they do.
It is still trapping season and I usually run hard the entire months of January and February. But this monsoon season we are having this year made it miserable to the point that I have quit fighting the mud. Bedding land traps in the mud sucks and keeping them working through the freeze and thaw cycle is difficult at best. The only thing I have out now are the 2 coyote traps at home that I can check from the road with my binos. And looking at the forecast for the rest of February just keeps the mud in place so I am waving the white flag and calling it early this year. And I have kept up pretty well with my skinning and fleshing this year so I am almost done with that. I fleshed the last 2 coyotes I had in the freezer this morning.
And for those who may not be familiar with fur handling, I will share some info on what happens after the catch.
The fur market is very weak but most furbearers can be sold but certainly not for a price that makes trapping worthwhile financially. But I am able to recover some of the cost by processing some of my catches.
Furbearers other than beaver are case skinned, meaning opened at the back legs and then pulled over the body much like taking your socks off. Beaver are the exception and they are open skinned by making a straight cut from the center of the tail to the chin on the belly side and then peeled off the carcass without splitting the legs. Feet are removed and the hide is removed over the end of the leg.
And in the fur market, feet and most of the legs are not left on the pelt.
After skinning, the meat, fat and membranes have to be removed from the leather to allow it to dry. Some critters like muskrats are pretty easy to skin and flesh, others like beaver, otter and coyotes require a lot more effort.
After fleshing, the case skinned are put on either a wire frame or a basswood board to dry. Beaver are nailed to a sheet of plywood to dry.
Fox, bobcat and coyotes are sold fur side out. All other case skinned pelts are sold leather side out. After fleshing, fox, bobcat and coyote pelts are put on stretchers leather side out for a few hours to allow the leather to start to dry. When they are no longer tacky feeling, they are removed from the stretcher and turned leather side in and put back on the stretcher to finish drying. This two stage process is to keep the pelt for rotting due to the excess moisture on the leather immediately after fleshing and causing the fur to slip or pull out of the leather. The drying process is to lock the fur in the leather to preserve it until it is tanned.
Here is a photo of the otters in a previous post on the stretchers after drying a few days. They are ready to be removed and will maintain their shape.
And here are a couple of otter of similar size that I had tanned from a previous season.
And here is a back and belly side pic of the 2 coyotes I fleshed this morning. I will take another pic after I turn them fur out.
Here is a beaver after fleshing on the board drying.
That was a 50 lb. beaver and that board is 32" x 48"
Also, remember I mentioned that the opening cut was a straight line. Where did the straight line go? The head is at the top with the eyes and ears visible and the leg holes are closed and nailed in place so there is no visible hole after drying. Nails are placed approx. 1" apart around the entire perimeter. And it takes around 4 days in 60 degree temps with a fan circulating air for it to dry enough to remove it from the board. The fur is dry when it is fleshed and stretched.
I will see if I have pics of other critters in various stages of processing.
Here are the same two coyotes shown above after the flip as we call it. I will leave them on the stretcher for 4 or 5 days to complete the drying process. Ideal drying conditions are cool temps in the 50s or low 60s with low humidity and a fan running to keep air moving in the area, not blowing directly on the pelts. Too much heat can cause grease burn on the leather that can result in a down grade in the value of the pelt because it causes problems getting it tanned properly. High humidity or lack of air flow can result bacteria growing (rot) that will cause the fur to slip (pull out of the leather).
Well, the season on everything but beaver ends tonight at midnight. It has been mixed season with ups and downs, the worst of which was all the rain and mud it created. I figure it cost me about a months worth of land trapping after deer season closed. But I did get in more land trapping during deer season than I normally do so that helped balance it out some. And I had a couple of sets at home that I kept going through all of the nasty that I could check from a distance that helped keep the itch scratched during the monsoons.
I pulled those traps this morning so I have no traps to check tomorrow for the first time since the season came in in Nov. Now, I will get the equipment cleaned up and prepped for next year. I also need to order tags for the bobcat, otter and fox from this year and also decide what I want to get tanned and what to try to sell. The market sucks right now and we have lost the option of a fur pick up route for the only remaining international auction. I could box it up and ship it to FHA but shipping has gotten crazy expensive versus the likely return.
Until November, beaver damage control and the other occasional depredation permit job will have to scratch the itch.
And hopefully this year we will be able to have the national conventions and the NC Convention and also get back to having some Basic Trappers Ed classes. Trapping, like hunting, is an important tool in wildlife management and conservation.
I have enjoyed sharing my season and hope it has been meaningful to those who have followed along.