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.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fair Chase

By Duane Fronek
I see this little phrase come up from time to time. What I’m about to write might infuriate some and please others and leave others thinking about  where they stand on this little phrase. My thoughts on the phrase  “Fair Chase” in a nutshell is basically, has got to be the most dangerous word to outdoor men and women and our pursuits in the wild when it comes to hunting, trapping and fishing. The phrase in my opinion is probably the most responsible for hunting, trapping and fishing rights lost over the years, pitting one outdoorsmen and women against another. Simply put fair chase is basically not just a phrase but an attitude and a tool to justify ones way of doing things, while sacrificing those of another. We see it all the time when issues come up such as the use of cross bows, high fence, hunting with hounds, trapping and the list goes on. The animal rights groups love that little phrase, because they have it figured out, and know those two words are their meal ticket for pushing their agenda. Their agenda, banning all forms of hunting, trapping and fishing, period.

  I’ve heard it said many times before, don’t know who the originator of it is but it goes something like this; “in order for a hunt to be fair chase, we would have to hunt with what we came into this world with, naked and our two bare hands.”  And that would be true in my opinion. Animals survive with what they were born with, necessary to survive. Man on the other hand were born with a thinking brain, to solve problems to give us an edge. When it comes to hunting, we surely can’t run as fast as most animals, so man thought of ways to do the running for him, spears, bows, traps, guns etc.  If we were to take a step back in time with our modern hunting equipment, we most likely would be worshipped on what we had to make our hunting more successful, that edge so to speak. Man has always used his most important weapon, his brain, when it comes to hunting, trapping and fishing. Because that’s our biggest weapon in order to survive and to equal out our physical short comings to the game we pursue.

  I’ve heard so many arguments over the years on what was fair chase, things like running coons, cats or coyotes with hounds not being fair chase, or baiting is not a fair chase practice or high fence hunting isn’t real hunting, or trapping isn’t fair chase because the animal doesn’t have a running chance. To all that I say hogwash.  Hunting with dogs is more than just turning dogs loose, there’s training, breeding and basically one’s way of life or way of doing things, they have a passion for it and they’ve figured a way to use man’s best friend to aid him in hunting, using the dogs as a tool. Baiting is just another form of hunting, no different in my opinion than placing out doe in heat or sitting on a corn field, your using the animals needs and instincts against them in order to gain an edge, same as just sitting on a ridge where you can see several yards and perched on the ridge with your trusty 300 mag. To reach out and touch one. It wouldn’t make much sense to sit there with a pistol or slug gun, no, we utilize the tools we have, to give us that edge. Now a deer walks up to within 40yds and you have the 300 mag in your lap are you gonna pass up the deer because he’s not 300 yds out, I don’t think so. Same with high fence, some say it’s not sporting or fair chase. Well think about this, a lot of high fence are 100’s and  even 1000’s of acres, where the deer roam where ever they will in basically in the same settings as their wild counter parts, just better taken care of. there are quite a few hunters out there that don’t have the luxury of time on their side to enjoy the outdoors the way a lot of us do, their business men and women with busy schedules or locked in a city with no land they know of to hunt on or the time, but yet have a love and a passion to hunt just like the rest of us. I’ve heard it said trapping doesn’t give the animals a sporting chance, well most of that comes from those never doing it, just like I suspect with the other claims of why this or that isn’t fair chase. Trapping involves knowing your target well, well enough to put his foot on a pan or trigger no bigger than  say 3”x 3” in order to get caught, you need to know their habits, what makes them tick just like pursuing any other thing like hunting or fishing.

  So why condemn something or tactic another uses? Could be a number of reasons , jealousy, greed, or just plain stubbornness because that’s not how I do it. And each time we attack another’s legal way of doing things, we in essence are driving a nail in our own coffin for future use by the anti’s. Take for example your on the front lines in a war, and all the tall guys are getting killed. Everyone gets together and says, lets not use tall guys in this fight, it’ll eliminate anyone getting killed. So they do and go back into battle and now the medium height guys are getting waxed. So they have another meeting and decide, ok lets just use short guys, to prevent any further damage and fatalities. Now the enemy has the advantage of less troops in the  ranks and basically over runs the troops and wins the battle. And in essence that’s what we are doing to ourselves when we start acting under the guise of fair chase. We essentially are sacrificing another’s way of doing things in order to preserve our own, but in reality we are destroying ourselves and our numbers in the ranks that allows us to be over run by the opposition..

  We may not agree on everyone else’s way of hunting or pursuits, but know this, everyone of us that hunts, traps or fishes has a love and passion for what they do, just as much as the next guy or gal, even if his/her way is different than ours.. Ben Franklin once said; “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”  No truer words have been spoken when this country first began, and feel those words hold true for the outdoorsmen/women of today.