Monday, April 25, 2011

Busy Spring so far

Spring is finally here, I think. Been cold, snowy, rainy. But it hasn't slowed the predators down. Still working on a coyote job where a family of coyotes setup camp in the middle of a game farm waiting for the annual fawn crop to drop. Unfortunately, they won't be there for the special occasion, for they had reservations made for them by yours truly and now are chasin' deer and bunnies in the great beyond. Still have the steel set for any intruders that may find there way there being that there is a vacancy open now. Young males tend to travel now seeking a suitable home that will tide them over till they find a mate of their own.

  It's been interesting, I managed to catch a red fox twice in one week. First time he got caught by a front foot, the second time a week later he submitted a back foot to the set. Both times he was released unharmed. If I keep catching him I might just have to name him. I like red fox, well I like most animals, but the red fox is cool. These days their numbers are low around me. I use to trap a lot of them up until 1996 when mange ran through the fox population here. They never recovered their numbers as the coyotes moved in and took over. Now when I catch a red fox I usually turn him loose in hopes that maybe they'll come back like they once were.Skinning a red fox is a lot easier than a coyote any day.

  Doing this kind of control work takes some skill and woods savvy.During fur trapping your basically taking the cream off the top and it really isn't that hard. But when you target 1 animal or a certain few, you need to read sign, and be able to detect even the subtle stuff. Sometimes these critters will quit using woods roads altogether where finding tracks is the easiest. You may walk deer trails looking for scat or tracks on top of deer tracks or a small mud spot. Ttrapping techniques are a little different, relying on more territorial lures or just plain coyote pee as compared to food type lures and baits. Coyotes are very defensive of their territory during this time of year, intruders are quickly persuaded to leave. The area they will usually defend is usually only 2-3 square miles. So trapping these problem critters requires getting in close to the denning site or at least inside their territorial boundary this time of year. Trapping techniques are subtle, usually a trap buried in front of a clump of grass and a shot of urine as if another came through marking territory. Sets like these tend to end the resident coyotes killing days. As with this couple, they were a veteran pair, being chased by a few trappers the past few years, but to no avail. So they were educated to the trapping world and highly pressured. When I came in, I set heavy but stayed away from the traditional stuff and went subtle and simple, no big flashy dirt hole sets which do attract coyotes, but these two seen it all. So I'd find where they were traveling and plant a trap just off to the side of tracks they left behind and give a shot of pee or just a small drop of gland lure from that of mink. Ole wiley comes trottin down the trail, he see's nothing out of the ordinary, then all of a sudden a faint whiff of a mink hits nose, he stops and immediately his nose is honing in on the smell with his feet in toe, and as he turns on the trail to get a better whiff of this new odor, his next foot fall lands on the pan of the trap and he's bagged, his mate fell for the same trick, but her nose picked up the scent of another coyote that left his calling card along the trail. Their nanny a 1 year old pup from last year fell for the same trick momma did on the same day. A pair of adult coyotes usually will have a female pup from the previous year hang around to help with puppy care duties.

  Now that the trio were taken out, the challenge remains to keep another pair from setting up camp. So far it's been quiet, with just a red fox who was a slow learner and a bobcat that was released unharmed.

  Tonight I get another call from a beef farmer with calves dropping right now and coyotes are starting to come in like flies. So will be checking that one out tomorrow. Seems to be a little bit of a surge in coyote numbers around here. The year before distemper or parvo had gone through here and killed most of the pups and the trapping season was slow with mostly older coyotes caught. But their making up for it. Most of the young of the year this past fall consisted of mostly females, if these females that made it through the season get bred, we could see another surge and fear we'll see mange to follow. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Got some beaver work coming up as well. So thought I'd get a blog in before I get busy with that the next few days as well.
 The Alpha female
 The helper female
 The red fox who still runs free
 The Alpha male
 A Kodak moment with my little friend
 She cheered up once I let her go.
A vulture that seems to be following me around for some reason.

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