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´╗┐Title: Steel Traps - Describes the Various Makes and Tells How to Use Them, Also Chapters on Care of Pelts, Etc.
Author: Harding, A. R. (Arthur Robert), 1871-1930
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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STEEL TRAPS.

  [Illustration: NEWHOUSE TRAPS--ALL SIZES.]

STEEL TRAPS.

Describes the Various Makes and Tells How
to Use Them--Also Chapters on
Care of Pelts, Etc.

BY
A. R. HARDING.

PUBLISHED BY
A. R. HARDING PUBLISHING CO.
COLUMBUS, OHIO

Copyright 1907
By A. R. Harding.



CONTENTS.

  I. Sewell Newhouse
  II. Well Made Traps
  III. A Few Failures
  IV. Some European Traps
  V. Proper Sizes
  VI. Newhouse Traps
  VII. Double and Webbed Jaw Traps
  VIII. Victor and Hawley & Norton Traps
  IX. Jump Traps
  X. Tree Traps
  XI. Stop Thief Traps
  XII. Wide Spreading Jaws
  XIII. Caring For Traps
  XIV. Marking Traps
  XV. How to Fasten
  XVI. How to Set
  XVII. Where to Set
  XVIII. Looking at Traps
  XIX. Mysteriously Sprung Traps
  XX. Good Dens
  XXI. The Proper Bait
  XXII. Scent and Decoys
  XXIII. Human Scent and Sign
  XXIV. Hints on Fall Trapping
  XXV. Land Trapping
  XXVI. Water Trapping
  XXVII. When to Trap
  XXVIII. Some Deep Water Sets
  XXIX. Skinning and Stretching
  XXX. Handling and Grading
  XXXI. From Animal to Market
  XXXII. Miscellaneous Information



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

  Newhouse Traps--All Sizes
  Mr. Sewell Newhouse
  The First Shop
  Old Newhouse Trap
  A Well Made Trap
  Limb Growing Thru Jaws
  "Bob Tail" Trap
  Defective Pan Bearing
  The All Steel
  The Modified All Steel
  Poor Setting Device
  Double Jaw Without Dog
  The Duplex
  The "No Cross"
  German Fox Trap
  English Rabbit Trap
  Awaiting The Trapper
  Wisconsin Trapper, Furs and Traps
  Mink, Trapped Under An Old Root
  No. 0 Newhouse Trap
  No. 1 Newhouse Trap
  No. 1 1/2 or Mink Trap
  No. 2 or Fox Trap
  No. 3 or Otter Trap
  No. 4 or Wolf Trap
  No. 2 1/2 or Otter Trap With Teeth
  No. 3 1/2 or Extra Strong Otter Trap
  No. 21 1/2 Without Teeth
  Offset Jaw Beaver Trap
  Detachable Clutch Trap
  Newhouse Special Wolf Trap
  Small Bear Trap
  Small Bear Trap With Offset Jaws
  Standard Bear Trap
  Regular Bear Trap With Offset Jaws
  Grizzly Bear Trap
  Bear Trap Chain Clevis
  Steel Trap Setting Clamp
  No. 81 or Webbed Jaw Trap
  No. 91 or Double Jaw Trap
  A Morning Catch of Skunk
  No. 1 Victor Trap
  No. 4 Victor Trap
  No. 1 Oneida Jump
  No. 4 Oneida Jump
  A "Jump" Trap Trapper
  The Tree Trap
  Tree Trap Set and Animal Approaching
  Animal Killed in Tree Trap
  Stop Thief Trap
  Method of Setting Stop Thief Trap
  Trapper's Cabin and Pack Horses
  Trapper Making Bear Set
  Washing and Greasing Traps
  Putting the Traps in Order
  Traps and Trapper
  Marked and Ready to Set
  The Sliding Pole
  A Staple Fastening
  Shallow Water Set
  Hole Set Before Covering
  Another Hole Set Before Covering
  Hole Set After Covering
  Wrong Position Set
  The Three Log Set
  Marten Shelf Set
  Big Game Set
  Ring or Loop Fastening
  Caught Within the Limits of Chicago
  Fox, Wolf or Coyote Trail
  Fox, Wolf or Coyote on the Run
  Muskrat Tracks
  Mink and Opossum Tracks
  Wisconsin Trapper--Knows Where to Set
  Profitable Day's Catch
  Snowshoeing Over the Trapping Line
  Once Over the Line--White Weasel
  Caught Just Before a Cold Snap
  Bait Stealer--Bird
  Northern Trapper With Pack Basket
  Some Northern Furs
  Nebraska Trapper's One Night Catch
  Night's Catch by Colorado Trapper
  Both Trappers--Father and Daughter
  Part of Connecticut Trapper's Catch
  Eastern Trapper's Catch
  Caught Where Scent Is Much Used
  Young Trappers Discussing Scent
  Teaching The Boy Art Of Trapping
  Trapper's Home In Colorado
  A Few Days' Catch
  The Inside of Northern Trapper's Cabin
  Coyote Trapping on the Cattle Ranches
  Eastern Mink--November Caught
  Muskrat House
  Wolf Caught at "Bank Set"
  Lynx Caught in Steel Trap
  Marten Caught in Shelf Set
  Shelf Set and Fastening
  Squirrel Caught on Stump
  Raccoon Caught in Oneida Jump
  Red Fox Caught at Dry Land Set
  Opossum Caught in No. 1 Newhouse
  Black Skunk in No. 1 1/2 Victor
  Baited and Caught at Cubby Set
  There To Stay-In A Newhouse
  Mountain Lion Securely Caught
  Beaver, Trap and Trapper
  Large Otter Caught in No. 3 Newhouse
  Muskrat Caught in Double Jaw
  A Morning's Catch of Rats
  The Black Water Marsh
  Just After the Season Opens
  Deep Water Set Trap Fastening
  Skinning a Bob Cat
  Single and Three Board Stretcher
  Some Stretching Patterns
  Dakota Trapper's Method
  Holder For Skinning
  Wire Coon Method
  Wire and Twig Coon Method
  Size of Stretching Boards
  Pole Stretchers
  Fleshing Board
  Stretching Frame
  Skin on Stretcher
  Hoop Stretcher
  The Home Shanty
  A Line Shanty

  [Illustration: A. R. Harding.]



INTRODUCTION.

To those that have followed the setting of Steel Traps there is a
fascination or "fever" which comes over them every fall about the
time of the first frosts. The only remedy seems to be a few weeks on
the trap line.

While some look upon trapping as an unprofitable business, yet the
number is becoming rapidly less, for more and more people are yearly
deriving pleasure, profit and health from out-door life such as
trapping, hunting, etc. There are thousands of trappers scattered
over America who are reaping a harvest of fur each year from their
Steel Traps valued at hundreds of dollars in addition to the
healthful sport they enjoy.

In some parts of Canada and the Northwest a trapper in a year catches
fur the value of which together with the bounty brings him $1,000.00
to $2,000.00. It is said on pretty good authority that a trapper in
British Columbia a few years ago caught upwards of $6,000 worth of
fur, principally marten, in one season.

There are many thousands of trappers scattered from the Gulf of
Mexico to the Arctic Ocean and from the Pacific to the Atlantic that
make hundreds of dollars each year with Steel Traps.

There is also a vast number who trap only a few weeks each season.
This includes boys and farmers after the busy season.

The actual number engaged in trapping is not known. Neither is the
actual value of the raw fur catch, but it is thought to exceed
$10,000,000 yearly. Is it any wonder then that so many want to know
more about Steel Traps and Trapping?

Considerable of the information herein in regard to traps, scent,
decoy, etc., is gathered from old and experienced trappers from all
parts of America as well as from the great trap manufacturers, Oneida
Community Ltd., so that readers can rely upon the information
imparted in this book as being trustworthy. Some books, purporting to
be of value to hunters and trappers, are written by men who have
never followed a line of traps or been in close touch with trappers.

The author of this work has been engaged for many years in trapping
and collecting furs and has come into close contact with many of the
leading trappers of the country.

Steel Traps are far superior to Snares or Deadfalls from the fact
that they can be used for both land and water trapping while Snares
and Deadfalls are adapted to Land Trapping only.

  A. R. Harding.



CHAPTER I.

SEWELL NEWHOUSE.

Mr. Sewell Newhouse, the inventor of the Newhouse Trap grew up
surrounded by the Iroquois Indians of the Oneida Tribe; that tribe
which alone of all the Red men cast in their lot with the Americans
in our great struggle for liberty.

  [Illustration: MR. SEWELL NEWHOUSE.]

At an early age he learned the gunsmith's trade. In those days guns
were all made by hand, and in small shops. Mr. Newhouse soon became
very skillful both in making and shooting the rifle. At that time
"Turkey Shoots" were very popular, and Mr. Newhouse was always sure
of his bird at sixty to eighty rods. It was a puzzle to many of the
old hands how he managed to shoot so accurately, even when the wind
was blowing "half a gale" till it was finally discovered that he had
fitted his rifle with an adjustable wind sight. This was one of his
early inventions that has now come into common use in target
shooting.

The Indians were very fond of shooting at a mark both with the rifle
and the bow and arrow, but they would seldom try conclusions with
"Sewell"--as they all called him--for he could always out shoot them
with the rifle, and very few of the tribe were as skillful as he with
the bow and arrow. In wrestling too, a favorite game of the day, Mr.
Newhouse was more than a match for the best men of his time both
white and red.

Some time before the year 1840, Mr. Newhouse undertook the
manufacture of traps and so popular had his traps become that in 1842
they were well known to all the tribes of the state, so that about
this year, when a large part of the Oneidas moved to Green Bay,
Wisconsin Territory, an essential part of this outfit was a stock of
Newhouse's traps. Thus their fame spread to the West.

It is related that a delegation of chiefs from one of the Algonquin
tribes of the Great Lake region once called at Mr. Newhouse's Shop.
They had used some traps from a rival manufacturer but were much
disgusted with them for in the intense cold of their country the
springs would break. "As breaks the pipe of peace in war time." They
looked over his stock of Traps, pressed down the springs with their
moccasined feet, grunted and shook their heads in disapproval. Then
Sewell went out to the frozen creek nearby, the savages watching in
silence. He chopped out a huge piece of ice, and bringing it to the
shop broke it into pieces which he threw into a large tub of water,
then setting half a dozen of the Traps he plunged them into the
water, and in sight of the astonished and pleased Red Men he sprung
them all off.

This severe test was enough for the visitors, and at his own price
Mr. Newhouse sold them his entire stock of traps. The affair greatly
pleased the neighboring Oneidas for well they knew when their
"Sewell" made and tempered a trap spring by his secret and "magical"
process it would stand up to its work under any and all
circumstances.

  [Illustration: THE FIRST SHOP.]

Early in the fifties Mr. Newhouse removed from his home at The Oneida
Castle up the Valley to a spot now known as Kenwood. Here close by
the bank of the rushing Oneida he established himself in a little
smithey and began to make his famous traps on a larger scale. He was
soon after assisted by some of the mechanics of the Oneida
Association--as the old Oneida Community was then called--of which
Mr. Newhouse had become a member. In a few years it became evident
from the increasing demand that the business must be enlarged and a
small factory was built for the purpose.

Still the demand continued to increase as the Community began to send
out an agent to solicit orders in the West. The great Hudson Bay
Company sent in some large orders a custom by the way, which they
have continued annually from that early time until the present day.

More shops were erected, water power and special machinery were
introduced but still the demand outgrew the supply, till finally the
Community was obliged to build on a much larger scale at the present
site of its factory, where the waters of Sconondoa Creek furnished
for a long time ample power for the business.

Here Mr. Newhouse for many years after he ceased to work at the bench
and forge, spent his time in perfecting the manufacture and in the
general oversight and inspection of the work. With the eye of a lynx
he was ever alert to see that no trap bearing his name went out of
the factory except in perfect condition. Here before he left this
world for his long, long rest he carefully educated and trained a
number of men to continue the business with the same painstaking
spirit he had so long maintained.

The Trap illustrated here is one of the earliest made by S. Newhouse
after the business was established in the Oneida Community Shops
about the year 1853.

  [Illustration: OLD NEWHOUSE TRAP.]

Every piece was hand forged from wrought iron or steel. It was
roughly but strongly made and has endured for over half a century.
This trap belonged to one of the pioneers of Wisconsin who had used
it for many years. It is still in good working order, the spring
being as lively as on the day Mr. Newhouse so carefully and
skillfully forged and tempered it.



CHAPTER II.

WELL MADE TRAPS.

Among the first requisites and of the utmost importance to successful
trapping is the possession of an outfit of _well made Steel Traps_.

That the young trappers may understand what are the requisites of a
good trap we will describe in detail one that has held its own in the
estimation of the professional trappers for sixty years, and then we
will endeavor to point out wherein the many so-called "improvements,"
that have been put on the market, have uniformly failed of success.

What the main spring is to a watch, a trap spring is to a trap, and
unless the spring is made of a properly compounded steel and is of
the right form and proportion and correctly tempered it will surely
fail and make the whole trap worse than useless.

Certain mixtures of pig iron are used in making spring steel and if
these mixtures are varied from in any particular or if the steel has
a surplus of carbon, or is deficient in that element, it will not
take a proper temper and consequently is of no value. A proper
manipulation in the rolling mill is also necessary, or the steel may
be entirely ruined in rolling.

A good spring when set should show a nearly uniform curve throughout.
This indicates that it is properly tapered so as to bring a uniform
strain on the steel. The lasting qualities of a spring are greatly
dependent on the correctness of this point.

  [Illustration: A WELL MADE TRAP.]

The "bows" or holes in the spring must be of a proportion to properly
fit the jaws and have such a "twist" as will allow them to lie flat
when set, and the temper must be so moderated as not to be brittle or
"high", otherwise they may break if sprung without anything between
the jaws. For it is well known that it is a much harder strain on any
trap to be sprung thus than to snap on to the leg of an animal.

Another very important thing is to have the strength of the spring
proportioned to the size of the trap, for an excessively stiff spring
is more apt to break the leg bone of the animal and increase the
liability of "legging" as the trappers call it, while a very weak
spring may allow a vigorous animal to draw its foot out, especially
if caught low down.

And last but more important than anything else, the spring must have
just the right temper, for a bad tempered trap spring is like a bad
tempered wife, a worse than useless encumbrance. And do not let the
tyro imagine that it is easy to temper a trap spring, for it requires
a long experience and very expensive and carefully studied conditions
and apparatus to produce anything like uniform results.

Few persons realize the unusually trying conditions under which a
trap spring has to do its work, and it is safe to say that no
mechanical contrivance performs its functions with greater precision
than a well made and tempered trap spring.

A No. 1 spring weighs less than three ounces and will exert a force
of between 70 and 80 lbs., and one of these has been known to remain
under strain for over thirty years and then spring as promptly as
though just set.

The jaw of a trap should have a good wide bearing surface, otherwise
it will be apt to break the animal's leg bone, a calamity always to
be avoided, especially in dry land trapping, for as before remarked
"legging" is thus likely to follow. Anything like a sharp cutting
edge or a saw tooth is especially objectionable, for our object in
catching an animal is to obtain its fur and not to amputate its
limbs. As a prevention of "legging" the Nos. 81, 91, 91 1/2 traps,
described elsewhere, are especially designed. The pintle or end
bearings of the jaws should fit loosely in the holes to allow for
rusting and a little freezing, and there should also be a slight end
play for the same reason.

The weight and strength of a jaw should be sufficient to prevent it
from being sprung or bent enough to throw it out of its bearing when
it is set or when sprung by the animal.

Much diversity of opinion obtains regarding the proportionate size of
the pan or treadle. Some trappers like a large pan similar to that
used in the Jump trap, but it is safe to say that the greater
majority, especially among the old and experienced trappers, prefer
the smaller sizes, and for obvious reasons. When an animal steps on a
small pan he is caught to stay, but with a large one he may be
"nipped" or his foot may be thrown out altogether. At any rate his
education has been immensely advanced and it will take a trapper with
a "long head" to get him into a trap next time.

The pan should fit loosely in its bearing for as is well known,
rusting increases the size of a piece of iron and as there are four
surfaces to rust in a pan bearing, ample room must be left.

  [Illustration: LIMB GROWING THRU JAWS. This trap was made about
1875 and no part had given way from the tremendous pressure. Surely a
good Newhouse.]

The dog or latch should be thick and narrow rather than wide, as
presenting less surface for the animal to step on. It should be
curved and pointed in such a way as to hold up the pan but so as to
"go off" "easy" or "hard" in proportion to the size of the animal
trapped for. This is a nice point for each trapper to decide for
himself and it is this susceptibility to adjustment by curving or
straightening the dog that makes this old "trigger arrangement"
superior to any other that has been invented. Of course, the cross
and bottom pieces must be made in proportion to the other parts of
the trap and the experienced trapper or inspector knows how to so
bend them as to make them conform correctly therewith.

The chain should be strong enough to hold any animal for which the
trap is designed.

It goes without saying that a good swivel is indispensable, as well
as a reliable ring and wedge for fastening, and the "S" Hook
sometimes furnished will be found very convenient as a means for
attaching the trap to a drag.



CHAPTER III.

A FEW FAILURES.

We present herewith a few photos taken from a collection of
experimental traps and will endeavor to point out wherein these
failed to prove themselves of practical value.

  [Illustration: BOB TAIL TRAP.]

This trap was sometimes called the "Bob Tail" on account of its lack
of a dog, and this feature was thought to be a valuable one as there
was nothing to throw the animal's foot out, but it was found to  be
deficient in that it was not sensitive enough and it lacked any
adjustability in its setting device.

  [Illustration: DEFECTIVE PAN BEARING.]

This model was put on the market and sold for some time and seemed to
be a very good trap. It was discovered, however, that the bearing of
the pan was too low down for a delicate set and also sometimes caused
trouble by freezing in mud.

  [Illustration: THE ALL STEEL.]

This trap was at one time thought to be good and was tried by many
trappers. It was found, however, to be very faulty in many respects.
The bearing of the pan lay flat in the mud and would freeze. The
setting device lacked any kind of adjustability and might either go
off so hard that nothing could spring it or so easily that it would
not stay set at all. The jaws which were made of thin sheet steel
were not durable.

  [Illustration: THE MODIFIED ALL STEEL.]

In this trap the method of attaching the pan was changed and the jaws
were rendered more durable, but as the holding edges were made much
thinner they were more liable to cut the animal's legs and on the
whole the trap was not improved.

  [Illustration: POOR SETTING DEVICE.]

This trap was invented to do away with the throwing out motion of the
dog. It accomplished it, however, at such a sacrifice of other
valuable features as to render it a useless invention. Its pan like
others mentioned was liable to freeze up and it also lacked in easy
adjustability and sensitiveness. Few of them were sold as they did
not meet the approval of trappers of experience.

  [Illustration: DOUBLE JAW WITHOUT DOG.]

A Double Jaw Trap was made without a dog as shown by the setting
device, although ingenious in construction, was not sensitive. The
holding power of the double jaw was good, especially in a dry land
set, as all know who have tried the Newhouse No. 91 or 91 1/2.

  [Illustration: THE DUPLEX.]

This trap was designed by a man who thought it desirable to fasten
the bait to the pan. Only a novice at trapping would think of doing
such a thing as that, as drawing the animal's attention to the trap
is sure to excite his suspicion and to catch him by the head is not
desirable, even if possible. A common trap is quite certain to only
nip him and slip off. The trap as will be seen could be used also
like a common one, but presented a very awkward appearance. A few
experienced trappers gave it a trial but none of them seemed to favor
it.

  [Illustration: THE NO CROSS.]

This style was never put on the market. There have been invented
quite a number of traps that have no cross piece but we do not know
that any of them have been sold.



CHAPTER IV.

SOME EUROPEAN TRAPS.

German Fox Trap.

The cut below represents a German Trap, as made at the present time,
and there are several German makers of similar traps. They are mostly
hand made and vary slightly in style of construction from one
another.  The sizes cover all the different fur-bearing animals, but
the traps are clumsily made and much more expensive than those of
American Manufacture.

  [Illustration: GERMAN FOX TRAP.]

It will be observed that the Pan is very large, in fact, it so nearly
fills the space between the jaws, that there is quite a good chance
that an animal would be thrown clear of the jaws when springing it.
The setting devise has no delicacy of adjustment and the fulcrum of
the pan is so low down it would be very likely to freeze solid in the
mud.

These traps are all provided with many large sharp teeth, and if the
animal is caught high up they may do great injury to a valuable pelt.

English Rabbit Trap.

This remarkably clumsy looking concern is made in England and is used
mostly in Australia and New Zealand for catching rabbits, which have
become such a pest in those far away "Islands of the Sea."

  [Illustration: ENGLISH RABBIT TRAP.]

The Australian rabbit trappers are mostly of English descent and like
their forefathers are very conservative in their ideas, so in spite
of its many defects, they stick to the use of this antiquated
machine.

Notice the size of the pan almost filling the opening in the jaw,
width of the dog both tending to throw out the animal's foot. The
sharp toothed jaws with thin cutting edges so apt to break the bone
and help the rabbit to free itself.

Note also the short half spring which the trappers say will not
endure more than one or two years use and which is stationary and
sets high up, thus making it hard to conceal.

That there is need of something better than this to keep down these
pests, may be believed, for it is stated that in spite of the fact
that over two million dollars worth of their pelts and flesh are
shipped to Europe annually, they are still on the increase.

They have lately made their appearance in regions hitherto free from
them. Owing to the enormous fecundity, they soon take nearly complete
possession of a place as it is calculated that one pair may increase
to about two million in a couple of years. Until the trappers adopt
some more efficient trap it is difficult to see how they are to make
much headway against this scourge of the land.



CHAPTER V.

PROPER SIZES.

Trappers have done much, by pushing into the wilderness after
fur-bearing animals and game, to advance civilization.  Had the
slower pursuits of logging, farming, etc., been depended upon the
United States and Canada today would not be nearly so far advanced as
they are. While in sections, the larger game is gone yet there is in
parts of the North, West and South, much good trapping territory that
will pay the hardy trapper for years to come. Even in the more
thickly settled districts, trapping can be made a good paying
business if the correct sizes are used and trappers pay attention to
the proper season to trap.

It seems that red fox, skunk and muskrat remain about as numerous in
most sections as ever. In fact, the red fox in certain sections has
only made its appearance of late years--since the country has become
more thickly settled. Trappers in most sections can rest assured that
they will have game to trap for years to come.

In the rapid development of the country steel traps have played a
wonderful part. They have subdued the monster bear and have caught
millions of the small fur-bearing animals, adding largely to the
annual income of the trapper. Steel traps have been in use for more
than one hundred years but for many years after invented they were so
expensive that they were not generally used.

  [Illustration: AWAITING THE TRAPPER.]

Of late years they have become cheaper, owing to the increased
facilities of those great trap manufacturers, the Oneida Community,
who are always looking to trappers' interest by adding new and
improved methods of manufacture as well as new traps to the extensive
line already manufactured so that now their use has become general;
in fact, the price is now so reasonable that the trapper, on his
first expedition, can have a full supply. The professional trapper,
who in the North, spends from seven to nine months in the woods has a
supply of these traps, ranging from the smallest to the largest. His
needs are such too that all of them are in use during the trapping
season. A trapper can use from 50 to 250 traps.

Trappers, as a rule, know what game they are going to trap and
consequently the number of each kind or size required. If he is after
bear, otter or beaver, etc., he can not use and tend as many as if he
were trapping smaller game, such as skunk, mink, opossum, raccoon and
muskrat.

Traps are made in various sizes. The smallest, No. 0, is used for
catching rats principally, while the largest, No. 6, is for the
grizzly bear. Other sizes and the game to which they are adapted are:
No. 1, known as the muskrat trap, but will hold mink, skunk, marten,
etc. The jaws spread 4 inches. No. 81, size of No. 1 with web jaws
for muskrat, mink and skunk. No. 91, size No. 1 with double jaws for
muskrat and skunk. No. 1 1/2 mink rat, but will hold stronger game.
The jaws spread 4 7/8 inches. No. 91 1/2, size of No. 1 1/2 with
double jaws for mink and skunk. No. 2 fox trap, also used for coon.
No. 2 1/2 otter with teeth; No. 24 1/2 same as No. 2 1/2 without
teeth; No. 3 for otter and coyote; No. 3 1/2 extra large single
spring otter with teeth; No. 31 1/2 same as No. 3 1/2 without teeth;
No. 23 otter with clutch; No. 4 wolf and beaver; No. 14 beaver with
offset jaw and teeth; No. 24 beaver with clutch; No. 4 1/2 timber
wolves and mountain lion; No. 50 small bear; No. 150 small bear with
offset jaw; No. 5 black bear; No. 6 grizzly bear. These are the well
known Newhouse brand being by far the best trap made. This brand is
put out in twenty-five different sizes.

The weight per dozen of Newhouse traps given below will give a better
idea of the relative sizes of these traps: No. 0 weighs 6 1/2 pounds;
No. 1, 9 1/4 pounds; No. 1 1/2, 13 pounds; No. 2, 17 pounds; No. 3,
23 pounds; No. 4, 33 pounds; No. 2 1/2, 23 3/4 pounds; No. 4 1/2, 98
pounds; No. 50, 132 pounds; No. 5, 135 pounds; No. 6, 504 pounds. A
single trap of the No. 6 weighs 42 pounds and it can be readily seen
that they are very strong.

The Newhouse is the strongest trap made and in fact the best for all
fur-bearing animals. A No. 1 Newhouse is equal in holding power to a
No. 1 1/2 of other brands.

  [Illustration: WISCONSIN TRAPPER, FURS AND TRAPS.]

The following letters, from trappers of experience will be found of
interest as bearing on the subject of proper sizes:

"In buying your traps, do not get too large a trap for the animal you
wish to catch. I know an old trapper that has trapped for forty years
and all he uses for muskrat is a No. 0 Newhouse trap."

"A rat does not gnaw the foot off as many trappers will tell you, but
the forefoot is very tender and as a rat always struggles very hard
when caught, it does not take very long to twist the foot off if the
trap is not set so the rat will drown. Different trappers have
different ways of fastening the traps when trapping for rats."

"I use a No. 1 Newhouse trap for mink and a No. 1 1/2 for skunk. I
notice that the Newhouse people have a new trap called the "Webbed
Jaw Trap". I think this an excellent trap to use in very cold
weather."

"Yes, these otter traps are quite heavy, No. 3 1/2 Newhouse, but are
sure to hold," writes a New England trapper who is being accompanied
by a young trapper. "You asked me what the raise plate was for; it is
for the otter to hit as he passes over, as you see he is very short
legged, and the plate sets higher than the teeth on jaws of trap, and
it will answer other purposes, as you will see when you set them.
These otter and bear traps are alright and the animal that steps on
the pan will stay or leave a foot. We have 9 otter and 4 bear traps.
Let us look at fox traps.  We have 25 "jumpers", No. 2 1/2; these are
right for dry sets.  Here are 25 No. 3 Newhouse for water sets. No. 2
Newhouse is just right for coon and fisher."

Trappers in stating the size traps that they use for a certain animal
show quite a difference. Some use a No. 1 Newhouse for coon while
others use the No. 2 and as this is a double spring, the holding
power is fully three times as much as the No. 1.

In the Northern states where the coon grows much larger than in the
South and Southwest, the No. 2 Newhouse is the trap. In the South the
No. 1 1/2 Newhouse is a good mink trap as is also the No. 1 1/2
Victor and No. 2 Oneida Jump.

The proper size trap to use for a certain animal, varies under
different conditions. If the trapper is reasonably certain that no
other species of animal than the one trapped for frequents the place
then the best size for the animal being set for is the trap to use.

On the other hand, should the trapper have out some traps for skunk,
which need not be larger than No. 1 of the best or Newhouse variety,
and any of the dens are visited by fox a larger trap should be used.
If trapping for rats and you come to "rat signs" and also where there
are coon and mink signs, a trap large enough to hold either should be
set.

  [Illustration: MINK, TRAPPED UNDER AN OLD ROOT.]

If blind or trail sets are made, it is well to have the trap
sufficiently strong for the largest animal using it. Often different
animals use the same trail or path leading from one den to another or
to a log across a stream, etc.

Elsewhere a complete description of the various makes and sizes of
traps to use is given and also full instructions about setting,
fastening, etc. This embraces the view of the manufacture, the
trapper and of the author who has had years of experience and should
be of great value to inexperienced users of Steel Traps.



CHAPTER VI.

NEWHOUSE TRAPS.

In or about 1823 the first Newhouse traps were made. At that early
date only a few of the smaller sizes were manufactured but these have
been added to until now the famous Newhouse trap is manufactured in
twenty-five different sizes. The smallest, No. 0, for rats and the
largest, No. 6, for grizzly bear. These with the various intermediate
sizes are adapted to catching all varieties of the fur-bearing and
game animals of the world. In fact, it is said that the No. 6 will
hold any living animal excepting the elephant.

Under this heading the various makes of this trap are described;
excepting the Double and Webbed Jaw, which are described in another
chapter.

Considerable of the description as given here is from the trap
catalog of the Oneida Community, Oneida, N. Y., manufacturers of the
Newhouse trap. For we believe that inasmuch as they have for more
than half a century manufactured traps (during which time they have
kept up a large correspondence with trappers in all parts of North
America) much weight should be given their views.

  [Illustration: NO. 0, NEWHOUSE TRAP.]

This, the No. 0, is the smallest size made.  Spread of Jaws, 3 1/2
inches.  It is used largely for catching gophers and house rats.  It
has a sharp grip and will hold larger game, but should not be
overtaxed.

  [Illustration: NO. 1, NEWHOUSE TRAP.]

This, the No. 1, has a spread of jaws of 4 inches.  This trap is used
for catching muskrat and other small animals and sold in greater
numbers than any other size. Its use is well understood by
professional trappers and it is the most serviceable size for
catching skunks, weasels, rats and such other animals as visit
poultry houses and barns.

This trap is one that can be used to good advantage for other small
fur-bearing animals. Trappers use large numbers of this size for
muskrat, mink, opossum, civet and marten. Fox, coon, lynx and wild
cat are often caught in this trap but we do not advise its use for
these large animals.

  [Illustration: NO. 1 1/2, OR MINK TRAP.]

This trap, No. 1 1/2, has a spread of jaws of 4 7/8 inches.  This
size is called the "Mink Trap" but it is, however, suitable for
catching woodchucks, skunks, coon, etc.  Professional trappers often
use it for catching foxes. It is very convenient in form and is
strong and reliable.

In some states where skunks grow very large, such as in parts of
Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas, as well as
other Northwestern sections this trap is much used.

One advantage in using a trap of this size for mink is that they are
caught high up and if by one of the front legs they are pretty sure
to be dead before the arrival of the trapper. If used for mink at a
water set, the animal generally soon drowns.

  [Illustration: NO. 2, OR FOX TRAP.]

This trap, the No. 2, has a spread of jaws of 4 7/8 inches, being the
same as No. 1 /2, but having two springs, it is, of course, much
stronger.  This size is commonly known as the "Fox Trap." This trap
is often used for taking badger, fisher and coyote.

Trappers sometimes remove one spring and use it for large coon,
woodchuck and even for fox as some think with two springs the trap is
too strong.

  [Illustration: NO. 3, OR OTTER TRAP.]

This, the No. 3, has a spread of jaws of 5 1/2 inches.  It is
designated as the "Otter Trap." It is a very powerful trap and will
hold almost any game smaller than a bear.

This trap is used for taking beaver and also to some extent for small
wolves and coyotes.

  [Illustration: NO. 4, OR WOLF TRAP.]

This, the No. 4, has a spread of jaws of 6 1/2 inches. This is the
regular form of Wolf Trap. It is longer than the No. 3 and has one
inch greater spread of jaws. It is a favorite with those who trap and
hunt for a living in the Northwest and Canada. It is extensively used
for trapping the wolves and coyotes in the western stock raising
regions.

  [Illustration: NO. 2 1/2, OR OTTER TRAP WITH TEETH.]

This, the No. 2 1/2, has a spread of jaws of 6 1/2 inches. This is a
single spring trap as shown. In some localities the otter grows to an
unusual size, with great proportional strength, so that the
manufacturers have been led to produce an especially large and strong
pattern. The parts are heavier than the No. 3, the spread of jaws is
greater and the spring stiffer.

The jaws are equipped with teeth to keep the otter from getting free
when once caught. The pan is also furnished with a raised plate which
can be taken off if desired.

  [Illustration: NO. 3 1/2, OR EXTRA STRONG OTTER TRAP.]

This, the No. 3 1/2, has a spread of jaws of 5 inches. This trap is
for otter, but is used more especially for catching them on their
"slides." For this purpose a thin raised plate of steel is adjusted
to the pan so that when the trap is set the plate will be a trifle
higher than the teeth on the jaws. The spring is very powerful, being
the same as used on the No. 4 Newhouse Trap. If desired, the raised
plate can be detached, making the trap one of general utility.

  [Illustration: NO. 21 1/2, WITHOUT TEETH.]

Single Spring No. 21 1/2 has a spread of jaws of 5 1/4 inches.  This
trap is the same as No. 2 1/2 but is without teeth or Raised Plate as
some trappers prefer it in this style.

No. 31 1/2 Newhouse Trap is also a single spring being same as No. 3
1/2 but without Teeth or Raised Plate. Spread of jaws 6 1/2 inches.

These traps, Nos. 21 1/2 and 31 1/2, are the largest smooth jaw,
single spring sizes that are made. Professional trappers will find
them especially valuable when on a long trapping line, as they are
more compact and easier to secrete than double spring traps. The
springs on these traps are made extra heavy.

The No. 21 1/2 is practically a single spring No. 3 and the No. 31
1/2 a single spring No. 4. These traps are used for such animals as
otter, beaver, wolf, wolverine, fisher and have been known to catch
and hold Mountain Lion.

  [Illustration: OFFSET JAW BEAVER TRAP.]

This trap is known as No. 14 and has a spread of jaws of 6 1/2
inches. This trap is the same in size as No. 4 Wolf but has heavier
and stiffer springs and offset jaws, which allow the springs to raise
higher when the animals leg is in the trap, and it is furnished with
teeth sufficiently close to prevent the animal from pulling its foot
out. The weight of this style is about 3 1/2 pounds each.

  [Illustration: DETACHABLE CLUTCH TRAP.]

This trap is known as "Detachable Clutch Trap." The trap can be used
with or without it. It is made in two sizes Nos. 23 and 24. No. 23
known as the "Otter Clutch" has a spread of jaws of 5 1/2 inches; No.
24 known as the "Beaver Clutch" has a spread of jaws of 6 1/4 inches.

  [Illustration: NEWHOUSE SPECIAL WOLF TRAP.]

This trap is known as the No. 4 1/2 or "Newhouse Special Wolf Trap."
It was put on the market to meet the demands of trappers for a new
model of the Newhouse Trap especially designed for capturing the
large timber wolves and mountain lions of the stock raising sections
of the West.

This trap has a spread of jaws of 8 inches. It is substantially made
thruout and is provided with a pronged "drag," a heavy snap, an extra
heavy steel swivel and a chain, five feet long, warranted to hold
2,000 pounds. This trap complete with chain and "drag" weighs about 9
pounds.

  [Illustration: SMALL BEAR TRAP.]

This trap is known as No. 50, spread of jaws 9 inches. It is intended
for catching small sized bears. In design it is exactly like the
standard No. 5 Bear Trap, only that the parts are all somewhat
smaller. Weight, 11 1/4 pounds each. This trap is also used for
catching Mountain Lion.

  [Illustration: SMALL BEAR TRAP WITH OFFSET JAWS.]

This trap is known as No. 150, spread of jaws, 9 inches. It is
similar to No. 50, excepting that the jaws are offset, making a space
five-eights inch between them. This allows the springs to come up
higher when the bear's foot is in the trap and thus secure a better
grip. The chance of breaking the bones in the foot are also lessened.
Weight, 11 1/4 pounds each.

  [Illustration: STANDARD BEAR TRAP.]

This trap is known as No. 5 or Black Bear.  The spread of jaws is 11
3/4 inches.  Weight of trap 19 pounds.  It is furnished with a very
heavy and strong cable chain.

Bear trappers whether in the Canadian Wilds, the Swamps of the
Southern States or among the Rocky or Appalachian Mountains, speak of
the No. 5 as the Standard Trap.  They are used principally for
catching the Black Bear.

  [Illustration: REGULAR BEAR TRAP WITH OFFSET JAWS.]

This trap is known as No. 15, spread of jaws 11 3/4 inches.  To meet
the views of certain trappers whose judgement is respected, the
manufacturers designed a style of jaw for the No. 5 trap, making an
offset of 3/4 of an inch so as to allow the springs to come up higher
when the bear's leg is in the trap.  This gives the spring a better
grip.  This trap weighs about 19 pounds.

  [Illustration: GRIZZLY BEAR TRAP.]

This is known as the No. 6 or Grizzly Bear Trap and has a spread of
jaws of 16 inches.  It weighs complete, 42 pounds.  This is the
strongest trap made.  The manufacturers say they have never heard of
anything getting out of it when once caught.  It is often called "the
Great Bear Tamer."

This trap is also used in Asia and Africa for catching lions and
tigers. In fact the trap will hold any animal with the exception of
the elephant and it will hold even that animal excepting possibly the
larger ones.

  [Illustration: BEAR TRAP CHAIN CLEVIS.]

This cut illustrates Bear Trap Chain Clevis and Bolt, intended as a
substitute for the ring on the end of the trap chain, when desired.

With this clevis a loop can be made around any small log or tree
without the trouble of cutting to fit the ring. The chain is made
five feet long suitable for any clog and the prices of bear traps
fitted with it are the same as with the regular short chain and ring.

  [Illustration: STEEL TRAP SETTING CLAMP.]

There is danger attached to setting the large traps when alone in
addition to its being rather difficult, especially in cold weather,
when the fingers are stiff. Should the trapper be in a boat the
setting is still more difficult.

A clamp (as shown) applied to each spring will, by a few turns of the
thumb-screws, bend the springs to their places, so that the pan may
be adjusted without difficulty. No. 4 clamp can be used on any trap
smaller than No. 4 1/2. No. 5 and 6 are strong clamps, carefully made
and especially adapted to setting the large traps Nos. 4 1/2, 50,
150, 5, 15 and 6. They do away with the inconvenience and dangerous
use of levers. With clamps a trapper can easily and safely set these
powerful traps. These clamps also come handy about the camp for other
purposes.



CHAPTER VII.

DOUBLE AND WEB JAW TRAPS.

No trapper should go into the woods without providing himself with an
outfit of traps to meet any of the varying emergencies that are
likely arise. For instance, along a deep stream it is generally easy
to arrange a common trap so that by drowning the animal it will
answer every purpose, but in a very small or shallow stream this is
sometimes a difficult thing to accomplish. In such a case if the
trapper has provided himself with a Webbed or Double Jawed Trap his
chances of finding the game awaiting him on his return will be
greatly increased.

For a dry land set, especially on skunk, the Double Jaw will be found
very effective. The fact that it catches very high up and also
entirely prevents self-amputation is greatly in its favor.

For foxes, which are often taken by the dry land method, the Double
Jawed of a size corresponding to the regular No. 1 1/2 is getting to
be a very popular trap.

So, as we said before, each trapper, tho relying mainly on the old
and well tried lines, should provide himself with a few of these odd
styles and thus add greatly to his versatility of resources, that he
may compete successfully with the ever increasing cunning of the many
four-footed fur bearers of stream and forest.

Trappers for years have contended that certain animals would gnaw out
of traps, especially where the bone was broken by the jaws and the
flesh had become numb from the pressure or from cold.

It is known that skunks especially will gnaw at that portion of the
foot or leg below jaws of trap. Where trappers have a long line of
traps and cannot visit them every day they thus lose a number of
animals.

The Webbed and Double Jaw prevent the gnawing out from the fact that
the animal can only gnaw to the lower jaw or web and is not able to
get at the flesh between the jaws or under the web.

Another animal that these traps are especially adapted for is the
muskrat. This animal's legs especially the front ones, are very
tender (both bone and flesh). A trap that breaks the bone, (unless
the animal is soon drowned) may escape by the flesh of the leg
twisting off in its endeavors to get free. Muskrats do not gnaw off
their feet as some suppose.

  [Illustration: NO. 81, OR WEBBED JAW TRAP.]

This, the Webbed Jaw, known as No. 81 has spread of Jaws of four
inches. This is one of the Newhouse makes and corresponds in size to
the regular No. 1 Newhouse.

If trappers will observe the cross section of the jaws, as
illustrated at the left, it is plain the animal can only gnaw off its
leg at a point quite a distance below the meeting edges of the jaws.
The flesh above the jaws as well as below will swell making it
impossible for the animal to pull the leg stump out of the trap.

  [Illustration: NO. 91, OR DOUBLE JAW TRAP.]

This, the Double Jaw, is manufactured in two sizes; namely, 91 with
spread of jaws of 5 1/4 inches; No. 91 1/2 with spread of jaws of 6
1/4 inches. The No. 91 correspondent in size to the regular No. 1
Newhouse, while the No. 91 1/2 corresponds to the regular No. 1 1/2
Newhouse with the exception of the jaws.

The Double Jaw traps are so constructed that they catch the animal
high up on the leg. It is no uncommon occurrence for the trapper to
find mink and other small animals dead when caught in this trap by
the fore foot. It is supposed that the circulation of blood thus
retarded stops the action of the heart.

These traps are set the same as other steel traps, and directions
given elsewhere apply to these as well.

While the Webbed and Double Jaw traps were little known prior to
1905, trappers have been quick to see the advantage derived from
using them. The Double Jaw has taken even better than the Webbed Jaw.

The manufacturers had expected skunk trappers largely to be the
buyers and this would include roughly speaking the section east of
the Rocky Mountains, south of Manitoba and Quebec and north of the
States bordering on the Gulf of Mexico. But the demand sprung up from
all parts of America. This shows that trappers are finding these
traps good ones for other animals than skunks and muskrats for which
they were especially designed.

The fact that trappers found out about these traps so quickly is due
largely to that up-to-date trappers' magazine--Hunter-Trader-Trapper,
published at Columbus, Ohio, and which reaches trappers in all parts
of America. The Oneida Community, Ltd., Oneida, N. Y., manufacturers
of these traps were and are liberal users of advertising space in the
Hunter-Trader-Trapper to let trappers know of improvements in the
trap line that are of value to them.

  [Illustration: A MORNING CATCH OF SKUNK.]

If you have never tried any of the No. 81, which is the Webbed Jaw,
or Nos. 91 or 91 1/2, the Double Jaw, we feel sure that you are not
familiar with traps that will increase your catch. We believe that
all trappers should have at least a few of these traps.



CHAPTER VIII.

VICTOR AND HAWLEY & NORTON TRAPS.

In the Victor is a good trap considering the cheap price at which it
is sold and as the manufacturers say: "Is the most popular trap in
the world."

While professional trappers use largely the Newhouse, yet in thickly
settled sections and where trappers are constantly bothered by trap
"lifters," the Victor is much used. While the trap is sold at a very
low price, yet it is the best trap manufactured in the regular or
long spring trap, with the exception of Newhouse, or H. & N.

The Victor is manufactured in six sizes and each is adapted to the
following use: No. 0, rat or gopher; No. 1, muskrat; No. 1 1/2, mink;
No. 2, fox; No. 3, otter; No. 4, beaver. The Nos. 0, 1 and 1 1/2 are
single spring; Nos. 2, 3 and 4, double. The illustration showing No.
1 represents also Nos. 0 and 1 1/2 as they are different only in
size. The illustration showing No. 4 represents Nos. 2 and 3 also as
they are different only in size.

These traps are not so strong in any part as the Newhouse and
trappers should bear this in mind when setting for the various
animals.

  [Illustration: NO. 1, VICTOR TRAP.]

The No.  1 1/2 known as the mink trap is also a splendid muskrat
trap, having greater spread of jaws than the No. 1 and being heavier
than the No. 1 is just right to catch and drown rats.

  [Illustration: NO. 4, VICTOR TRAP.]

The Nos. 2, 3 and 4 are all double spring and made for fox, otter and
beaver and while trappers catch large numbers of these animals in
Victor traps, yet the more experienced ones prefer the Newhouse traps
even at the advanced price.

The Victor is used largely for taking the smaller fur bearers. It is
sold in large quantities in all parts of the United States and
Canada.

The Hawley & Norton is made only in six sizes: Nos. 0, 1 and 1 1/2
single spring; Nos. 2, 3, and 4, double spring.

A lighter grade of stock is used in manufacturing these traps so that
they can be made somewhat cheaper than the Newhouse and altho not as
strong, they are a good reliable trap.



CHAPTER IX.

JUMP TRAPS.

While the Jump Trap has been in use in the Eastern part of the United
States for upwards of fifty years, principally in the New England and
Sea Coast States, the use of these traps in all parts of the country
did not become general until a few years ago.

The trap derives its name "Jump" from the fact that the spring is so
arranged that when the trap is touched off or sprung by an animal or
otherwise, it "Jumps", thus catching the animal high up on the leg.
Trappers that have not used these traps express doubts of their
"Jumping" and catching high on the animal's leg, but hundreds of
letters received by the manufacturers from trappers and also
published in the Hunter-Trader-Trapper prove that they do "Jump."

The manufacturers claim these points in their favor. They are
somewhat lighter than the regular form of double spring traps and the
trapper going far into the woods can carry a greater number; they set
much flatter; can be set in smaller space; springs are out of the way
as no spring extends beyond the jaws; pans are large so that no
animal can step between the jaws without springing the trap. The
traps are set much the same as other steel traps.

The B. & L. trap is manufactured in six sizes, viz; Nos. 0, 1 and 2,
single spring; Nos. 2 1/2, 3 and 4 double spring.

Some years ago the Oneida Community, Ltd., Oneida, N. Y., began
manufacturing a "Jump" trap which is known as the "Oneida Jump". This
trap has a new style of jaws. The old style was made of thin steel
whereas these have full, wide-faced jaws, so that the chances of
breaking the bone in the leg are lessened.

This trap has a chain attachment, fastening at the end of the jaw
opposite the spring, so that when the animal is caught and struggles
to get free the foot is only gripped the tighter. The trapper,
however, can fasten the chain on the end of the crossbar, opposite
dog, as there is a hole drilled there for that purpose.

  [Illustration: NO. 1, ONEIDA JUMP.]

The "Oneida Jump" is manufactured in nine sizes. This illustration
shows a No. 1. It is a single spring as are also No. 0 and 2; the
other sizes have double springs.

  [Illustration: NO. 4, ONEDIA JUMP.]

These sizes, No. 0 to No. 4, are adapted to catching the various
animals with the exception of timber wolves and bears, altho the
larger sizes are used for taking the coyote and small wolf.

The sizes adapted for the various animals are: No. 0, rat and gopher;
No. 1, muskrat; No. 2, mink; No. 2 1/2, coon or skunk; No. 12 1/2,
same as 2 1/2, with teeth; No. 3, fox or otter; No. 13, same as No.
3, with teeth; No. 4, otter or wild cat; No. 14, same as No. 4, with
teeth.

The No. 2 is a splendid mink trap from the fact that it takes little
room and can be set in many places where the end spring cannot be
placed to advantage. The No. 2 for mink and the No. 2 1/2 for coon
are much used at log sets as they lie so flat that but little cutting
is required.

The No. 2 is also coming into use as a marten trap especially for log
and notched tree sets.

The arrangement of the springs is such that the ends only extend
about an inch beyond the jaws so that the double spring sizes even,
do not take nearly as much room to set as the regular or end spring
trap.

It makes no difference what kind of a set is to be made--water, land
or snow, the fact that this make of trap takes but little room and
lies very flat, should not be lost sight of. This sometimes is quite
an advantage.

  [Illustration: A JUMP TRAP TRAPPER.]

The most successful trappers are those who use some of the various
styles of traps for there are certain sets where each can be used to
the best advantage.

The "Jump Traps" are moderate priced and being light and strong for
their size, trappers are taking to them, finding that for certain
sets they have no equal. No trapper should start out for the season
without some "Jumps."



CHAPTER X.

TREE TRAPS.

Experienced trappers fully appreciate the importance of having a trap
that when the animal is caught, it is caught to stay, and instantly
killed instead of being held a captive by the foot or leg.

Many fully realize the importance of a humane trap that will
accomplish this, and have found many good points in the Tree Trap.
Most practical trappers know that one of the most successful ways to
set steel traps for many kinds of animals, is to suspend the bait
about two feet over the trap, compelling the animal to step on the
pan of the trap in order to get at it. This may be very good, but in
case of a heavy snow fall, a set of this kind means that your trap is
snowed under, and you not only experience great difficulty in
locating your trap, but often are unable to do so at all until
spring, or when the snow disappears.

  [Illustration: THE TREE TRAP.]

In order that readers may fully understand how the Tree Trap is used,
two sketches are shown. One showing the trap set, with a mink
approaching; the other one having caught Mr. Coon, and killed him
instantly, not damaging the fur. This trap can be securely nailed to
a tree, stump or stake, and should be at least two feet from the
ground, though always in sight and easy to get to. In case of deep
snow all you have to do is to bend the nails around, loosening the
trap and renail it a few feet higher up.

How to Set.

If possible find a suitable tree over a den or close to a runway.
Leave the trap set with the safety hook holding it (don't spring the
trap unless nailed securely), place against the tree, two or three
feet from the ground; mark the distance between the lower notches in
the base of trap on the tree. Then drive two nails (six or
eight-penny will do) leaving enough of the nail head so the two
bottom notches will hook over the nail heads tightly, then drive the
nails in the two upper notches as far as they will go. This will
fasten the base of the trap tightly to the tree, which is important.

Next bait the hook; seeing that the bait is secure; some tie it on
with a string or thread. Now release the safety hook and your trap is
ready. Some trappers prefer to throw some dead grass, leaves or
boughs on top of the trap, which help to conceal it, this is a good
idea. A piece of a rabbit, squirrel, bird or chicken makes a splendid
bait. Fish is good for mink.

One great advantage of Tree Trap over many other traps is that when
it catches the animal, it not only holds, but kills it. While traps
should be looked after every other day in good trapping weather; with
the Tree Trap twice a week will do without the game escaping, as is
often the case with common steel traps, but you cannot afford to take
chances. Of course, in very warm weather, traps should be looked at
more frequently. On the other hand, during very severe weather, the
trapper need not make the rounds more than once a week. This is
important to the trapper who has a long line of traps out.

Trappers should by all means have some Tree Traps among their outfit,
in fact, as already mentioned, the most successful trappers have a
supply of all kinds of traps.

  [Illustration: TREE TRAP SET AND ANIMAL APPROACHING.]

  [Illustration: ANIMAL KILLED IN TREE TRAP.]

The Tree Trap does not weigh as much as a steel trap required to
catch the same size animals, and when set secured by safety hook,
they are compact; occupying very little space. These traps are made
by the Animal Trap Co., Lititz, Pa., and are highly recommended for
marten.

Tree Traps are manufactured in four sizes adapted to catching the
following animals: No. 0 the smallest size, for weasel; No. 1, for
mink, marten, and civet; No. 2, for skunk and opossum; No. 3, for
coon, fisher and wild cat.

This trap can be used to splendid advantage during deep snows as it
can easily be set against the side of a tree at any height the
trapper desires, thus proving what has been said before, that the
most successful trapper has some of all kinds of traps.

The greatest field for the Tree Trap is the North, yet trappers in
the Central and Southern States are already using them to a
considerable extent for coon and opossum; also for skunk and mink.



CHAPTER XI.

STOP THIEF.

STOP THIEF TRAPS are manufactured by the Animal Trap Co. A great deal
has been said for and against this trap, but like all traps, one must
know how to use them. Trappers that have taken the trouble to learn
how to set them report good results. A great many that were quick to
condemn them at first now praise them highly.

The manufacturers say the No. 1 is for squirrels; No. 2, for mink and
marten; No. 3, for skunk and opossum; No. 3 1/2 for fox and raccoon;
No. 4, for wolves. But we think the larger sizes should be used for
mink and skunk.

In trapping for mink, fish, bird or muskrat is the best bait but a
hungry mink will eat almost any kind of fresh meat. When convenient,
scatter dry grass or leaves over the trap but do not cover the hole.
If no hole is found, make one or two in earth or snow.

Fasten the trap with a chain or piece of wire to a stake or drag of
some kind, when near the water. No fastening is needed if there is no
water near. Find where the raccoon, skunk, civet cat, opossum, etc.,
frequent and set the trap in the same way as for mink. Bait with
bird, chicken and the like. Oil the working parts of trap to prevent
rust.

  [Illustration: STOP THIEF TRAP.]

The Stop Thief Trap is thought very highly of by some trappers for
use in a peculiar situation and like the New Tree Trap, tho not as
yet well known, it is likely to prove a very effective machine in the
hands of men who know how to use it.

I procure a crotched stick, writes a Pennsylvania trapper, the prongs
of which are about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and of
sufficient spread to fit the trap with which they are to be used. I
send a drawing which will make it plainer than a page of description.
The best way of setting a trap thus equipped will readily suggest
itself according to the place selected.

  [Illustration: METHOD OF SETTING STOP THIEF TRAP.]

When setting at a hole which the animal is known to be in, the wood
part or crotch may be placed next the hole or ground and there will
not be much of the iron of the trap exposed to the animal as it comes
out. Or, if setting where the animal is expected to come and enter
the hole, the trap would be best placed with the wood out. With the
latter set one would have to be careful to place the trap so that
nothing would interfere with the working.

Traps thus rigged will, of course, weigh more than the bare trap and
are more bulky and cumbersome, but where one is trapping in a
timbered country the crotch need not be cut until upon the ground
where it is to be used, or if in a section where timber is scarce,
could be placed beforehand where it is to be used, just as one would
do with stakes, rocks, drags, or clogs, spring poles and the like,
when setting steel jaw traps. Dry timber could be used instead of
green which would lighten materially. However, I prefer the heavier,
as I think it holds the trap more firmly in place, thus requiring
less fastening. Small wire is best to fasten the trap to the crotch
as mice and squirrels will cut twine.

While I feel that the Stop Thief will never begin to equal any steel
jaw trap, I think there are times when it may be used to advantage,
and I expect to try mine again the coming season and expect to do
better with them than last season.



CHAPTER XII.

WIDE SPREADING JAWS.

Occasionally I see in H-T-T, trappers advocating a large spreading
trap, writes an experienced Canadian trapper, and some even go so far
as to invite the trap manufacturers to make still wider ones than are
now on the market. My experience in trapping, which was varied and
extended over a number of years, is that it's a mistake to have a
trap that catches the animals too high up.

The best and most enduring hold a trap can have on an animal is the
paw or just above where it joins the bottom of the leg. I have found
this with beaver, foxes, marten, lynx, bear, and in fact all animals
I have caught. Just above and the paw itself is a mass of sinews and
muscle enveloped with a stronger skin than any part of the leg, and
therefore must give more resistance. I have found a fox that was
caught in a No. 2 Newhouse after three nights' struggle as secure as
if newly seized. The jaws having closed securely across the thick
part of the forepaw.

  [Illustration: TRAPPER'S CABIN AND PACK HORSES.]

Again from a shortness of a proper sized trap I once set a No. 4, for
a fox. The fox was caught between midnight and daylight, and when I
visited the trap at the latter limit (six o'clock), it was high time,
for another half hour of struggling and the fox would have been clear
and away. The jaws had caught him half way up the foreleg and snapped
the bone like a pipe shank. With his twisting and leaping there only
remained a strip of skin and one tendon that kept him prisoner.

For mink I have found a No. 0 trap, if carefully set with proper
precaution, is as good and lucky as a No. 1 or 1 1/2 trap, as some
trappers advocate. I used a bunch on a considerable sized lake last
fall. The lake had numerous small creeks and rivers falling into it.
At the junction of these with the lake I set my traps. They were all
No. 0 selected on account of their lightness. As there was a long
carry to get to the lake from a traveled route and added to the
canoe, my gun, blanket and provisions, the traps were somewhat of a
consideration, and I therefore took the one of less weight. I made
two visits to the lake before it froze and got twenty mink, one
marten and a female fisher.

When I made a water set I saw that the bank outside went down pretty
bold and I always tied a stone to the trap and thus insured the
animal drowning. Where I set on land without fail I attached the
chain to a tossing pole, thereby preventing the fur being damaged by
mice or the animal being eaten by some other. Some may question the
possibility of such small traps being for any length of time in order
as a water set, but I must explain. The lake was of considerable size
and the season the latter part of October. Such a lake at that season
of the year is not subject to any fluctuations in the height of
water.

I may say in conclusion about this particular sized trap that on that
trapping tour I only lost one mink, I found the trap sprung with a
single toe in the jaws. The trap had been a dry set one, and by
reading the signs I found some snow had melted and dripped from an
overhanging branch on to the junctions of the jaws. This had frozen
(the trap being in the shade) and prevented its usual activity. As a
consequence It only caught on as the mink was in the act of lifting
his foot, so I was satisfied it was the circumstances and not the
fault of the trap that caused the missing of this mink.

Another undesirable point about any trap is to have the springs too
powerful for its intended use. One only wants a trap's jaws to close
up sudden enough and to hold what it catches secure against any
possibility of the animal withdrawing its foot. Once you have this
it's all that's required or necessary. A trap with springs with a
strength out of reason is awkward and vexatious to open, and when the
animal is caught goes on with its continued pressure until the jaws
of their own action almost sever the paw or leg, and the animal with
very little struggling finishing the amputation.

I knew an Indian once who had a bear trap which was not much larger
in spread than a No. 4 trap. An ordinary man by placing a foot on
each spring could set it, and yet that trap was his most reliable
one. He had others too, but he took his "Davy" on that. It acted like
that celebrated motto, "What we have, we hold."

This trap was made from his own directions, and he had the jaws at
their inner edge three-quarters of an inch thick and bevelled off to
a quarter of an inch at the outer sides. As he aptly put it--"I want
the trap to hold the bear until I go there and shoot it, not to chop
off its foot."

Another point about a bear trap that I consider could be remedied
with advantage to the trapper, is to have the ordinary chains
lengthened by a few links. It is not always possible to place the
drag stick close up to the open trap, but where the chain is longer
no difficulty would be found. A few more links would add very little
to the weight or cost.

  [Illustration: TRAPPER MAKING BEAR SET.]

To a lone trapper setting bear traps miles away from any human
beings, it's a tricky and dangerous job. I consider a man so situated
should, as a precaution, carry one of those patent clamps for
depressing the springs, in his pocket. I am aware some do not use
them, as they consider them too slow, preferring a couple of short
levers jammed under a root and pressed down with the knees while the
hands open the jaws and place the trigger. Others use a piece of
stout cord to tie down one spring, while with their weight on the
other the jaws fall apart.

But accidents will happen to the most careful persons; by some
inadvertence he might get caught by the hand or thoughtlessly step
into it, and if he did not perish would have considerable difficulty
in getting out, while with a cool head and a clamp within reach he
could promptly free himself. I knew one man who lost his life in a
bear trap and another who had almost succumbed to his suffering when
found and released. There are three things with a trapper's life that
I was always extremely polite and careful with--a bark canoe, a bear
trap, and a gun. I handled these for forty years but never fooled
with them.

Had the Indian mentioned used the celebrated Newhouse traps, we feel
sure that he would have found no cause to complain. While to some
trappers the springs may sometimes appear to be too stiff, yet the
face of the jaws are wide and as the manufacturers are always in
correspondence with bear and other trappers, there is no question but
that they know and are now manufacturing what meets the views of the
majority of trappers.

We believe that of some sizes they are making the face of the jaws
even wider than formerly.

The Newhouse bear traps are furnished with bear chain, clevis and
bolt, illustrated and described under Newhouse Traps, but briefly
described here. This chain is five feet long and with clevis can be
fastened around any log which the trapper will want to use.

One thing must be born in mind, viz: That when traps are set, they
are covered, and should severe weather follow, freezing this
covering, it requires a stiff spring to throw the jaws together
quickly. Our belief is that more large animals escape from traps too
weak than from the too strong ones. Yet there are times, no doubt,
when had the spring been weaker and the face of the jaws wider, the
results would have been fully as satisfactory.



CHAPTER XIII.

CARING FOR TRAPS.

Note that traps should be examined carefully just before being set to
see if they will work properly. New traps should be thoroughly
greased with almost any kind of grease that has no salt in it. Salt
will rust traps. It is to guard against rust as much as anything else
that you should grease your traps, for in that condition they are not
so apt to give good service.

If you have a supply of traps that are badly rusted, kerosene poured
over them and let stand for a few hours will tend to remove the rust.
After you have cleaned all of the rust off possible, grease the trap
carefully and thoroughly with some good fresh grease, such as lard or
the fat of some animal. Good oil will answer if you can not get the
animal fat. Trappers can usually get an animal or two and fry the fat
from it. This is an easy task and with this grease your traps. If
this is done with old traps at the close of the season it will help
preserve them. It is a good idea, also just before trapping begins.

  [Illustration: WASHING AND GREASING TRAPS.]

With new traps it is much more important that they be greased before
setting as they will badly rust if not thus treated; old traps that
have been greased a number of times can be neglected rather than the
new ones. If possible it is best to attend to this several days
before the traps are set, so that a part of the grease will be dried
in, or evaporated so that in setting there will not be so much to get
on your hands, clothes, etc.

In this connection it will not be amiss to say that traps should be
carefully gone over before they are set, to see that every part is in
working order. There may be broken links in the chain, or other
defects. The swivel may be rusty and will not turn and the first
animal caught is apt to break the chain. Many times have trappers
gone to their traps only to find a part of the chain remaining as
some animal had broken it and escaped. All traps should be very
carefully gone over and mended, otherwise you may not only loose the
trap but a valuable pelt as well.

What is best to apply to prevent their rusting? writes a number of
trappers.

Almost any oil will answer, but perhaps animal fat is best and can be
obtained by trappers easily. Many trappers prefer to have their traps
somewhat rusty, or at least want the newness worn off. It is not a
bad idea to smear traps in the blood of rabbits or birds.

To clean your traps, boil them in ashes and water, rinse clean in hot
water, then dip in hot water with melted beeswax floating. Raise them
slowly out of this so as to coat every part. Hang up to drain and dry
and your traps are ready.

In what condition are your traps for beginning a vigorous campaign;
have you boiled them in soft maple bark or the husks of walnuts, to
stain and eliminate the coating of rust, so that they will work well
and be free of the animal scent from last season? All second hand
traps should have this attention before trapping is begun. New traps
will not take the stain until they have been used and rusted.

If it is hard for you to get soft maple bark or black walnut husks,
you can get a pound of logwood chips at the drug store which will be
sufficient for a five-gallon kettle of water. After a good dye is
made put in what traps the liquid will cover and boil 15 or 20
minutes for each lot. If the water gets low put on a pailful or so as
it boils away. If you only have a few traps use less coloring
material and less water. Logwood makes a jet black.

  [Illustration: PUTTING THE TRAPS IN ORDER.]

When the fall trapping is over, the traps will be somewhat rusty
again. Not many will go to the trouble to color them again in the
same season, but now that the weather is cold and the rusting process
is slow and you can renovate them and lubricate in the following
manner: Smear all the rusty and working parts with fresh lard; also,
the chain and swivel, and then with a wire hook or iron rod hold the
trap over a small fire until the grease is melted and smokes. The
heat will not hurt the trap so long as you do not heat the spring too
hot. When the trap is cool enough to handle, rub it well with old
paper to remove loose grease and you will have a trap that will not
play you false. A good greasing like this will last all winter.

This article will not appeal to the many, but to the few trappers who
are so situated that their mode of trapping prevents them in bringing
home their traps when the season is over. A man who has a long line
of traps set out is often at loss as to their disposal for the summer
months. To pack out on one's back a weight of iron at a season when
walking in the bush is at its worst, especially if the trapper is to
return and set up the same line the next season, is a useless labor
and a heart and back breaking job.

  [Illustration: TRAPS AND TRAPPER.]

To avoid this the best way is to "cache" them in bunches were they
are to be used again. This I know is a risky plan where John Sneakum
prowls the bush, yet it can be done in safety if one takes proper
precaution to rub out his trail. The "caching" of them is not the
only question to be considered but also to leave them hidden in such
a way that when next required they may be at once serviceable for
immediate use.

My first venture at leaving them in the bush says a Northern trapper
was in this way. I began at the furthest end of my line and gathered
them till I had twenty. These I tied securely together with a piece
of twisted bale wire through the rings. I then stepped off the main
line to a clump of evergreens and bending a sapling down bow fashion,
secured the bunch to the top and let the tree fly back to its place.

Regaining the main line I took a memorandum in my note book as to the
cache something like the following: Cache No. 1--"Bunch of twenty No.
1 traps, left opposite rotten stump on left hand side of road in
thicket of evergreens, about thirty paces away," and so on with each
deposit always mentioning some land mark as a guide to my finding
them the next autumn.

Well, this mode was not a success. It was alright as far as the
safety of the traps were concerned, but I found them in a frightful
state of rust from the action of the rain and atmosphere, and it took
an hour of my time at each "cache" to rub them into a semblance of
cleanliness. Moreover, there was a remote possibility of a bush fire
running over that territory, which, while it might not consume the
traps, the action of the flames would have drawn the temper from the
springs to a degree that would have made them useless.

The accidental leaving of an otter trap set all summer led me to
"caching" my traps under water, that is those that I could
conveniently carry to a lake or river. This otter trap when I came to
it the following fall was covered with a light fluffy rust the color
of yellow ochre. It stained my hands like paint, but was readily
washed off. I held the chain in my hand and by sousing the trap up
and down several times in the water, was surprised to see the metal
come as clear as when first the trap left the shop.

I therefore, ever afterwards hid those traps that were near a lake or
river in the water. There were traps, however, which were too far
from water to be easily transported and as the tree tops were voted
bad, I set to considering other modes of storing them. The atmosphere
being too corroding I decided to bury them underground. The result
was that the next autumn I found those that were in clay or heavy
Soil came out rusty, while those in sandy soil were very little acted
upon, but the best conditioned were those hidden under rotten leaves
or vegetable matter, so ever afterwards I kept my traps either in the
water or hidden under the last conditions.

When leaving a bunch in the water I simply tied the bunch together,
went a little to one side of the direct canoe route and dropped them
overboard in about three or four feet of water, being careful to have
some noticeable object ashore in direct line.

When next required I merely lashed a large cod hook to a short pole,
fished them up, took them aboard my canoe and washed the bunch clean
at a portage. In any case I do not think it is adding to the luck of
a trap to have them greased and hung up in or about the house. The
smell imparted to them is worse than the odor of clean iron. If I
found a trap slow in snapping I usually rubbed a little odorless
polish into the joints of the jaws and carried a rabbit's foot to use
as a brush.



CHAPTER XIV.

MARKING TRAPS.

Every trapper, like all other classes, have many things to contend
with. One of the worst, perhaps, is the trap stealer, who having once
found one of your traps will follow up your line and take them all.
If he can not find them by your tracks, he is apt to hide close by
and wait until you go the round, then follow up and take your entire
outfit of traps. To be sure that they are your property you should
mark each and every trap before the trapping season or just as soon
as they are bought, at any rate before they are set.

There are several ways to mark traps. One of the easiest and best
ways is with a file. Select your mark or marks and file on each trap.
Several notches filed on the under side of the trap will not injure
the trap and will be a good means of identifying your property,
should you ever happen upon them again. Place all the notches in the
same position and at the same place on each trap and you have a good
mark. The notches may be filed almost any place, excepting on the
spring, and they should be filed on two or three different parts of
the trap. Should the person who stole the traps attempt to file out
the notches, you can tell from the places filed if they are your
traps, as all have been marked exactly alike.

  [Illustration: MARKED AND READY TO SET.]

The trap stealer, if he knows that they are marked with the owner's
private mark, is not so apt to take them, for he knows that the
owner, should he find them in his possession, can easily prove
property. Whereas if there was no mark on the trap, the thief could
not be convicted unless seen taking them. The thief also knows that
if he is discovered, his trapping grounds will be watched. So having
all traps marked in some way it lessens the chances of their being
stolen as well as helps to identify them after they are taken. By all
means mark all your traps--you may happen on some of them
unexpectedly that have been missing for years. After you have marked
a trap never trade or sell it, as you would then not be able, should
you happen upon traps bearing your mark, to tell whether they had
been sold or stolen.

Many trappers who lose traps by "Sneakum" each year do not have them
marked. Often your traps are stolen by some one in your own vicinity
as they know they can set them.

How about this if your traps are stamped with your own initials? The
thief will know that you can identify your property, and will not be
so apt to steal as he will be afraid to set them.

When you mark your traps, never sell them, so that you know every
trap bearing your initial is your property, making no difference
where found.



CHAPTER XV.

HOW TO FASTEN.

Before a trapper has much experience he loses much of his game, after
it has been caught, by not having his traps properly fastened. Having
his traps so securely staked that anything caught can get a dead pull
is usually the way the trapper with little experience fails.

How many of you are still driving stakes into the ground and
otherwise fastening your traps so that when an animal is caught, it
pulls on the chain? In trapping for muskrat, the stake may be used,
but for any other animal, never. Even in the case of the muskrat the
sliding pole is much better. This device is made as follows: Cut a
pole or bush, say six or eight feet long, trimming off the branches
so that the ring will readily slide nearly the length of the pole. On
the end leave a few branches or short twigs so the ring will not
slide off. The other end can be stuck into the bank or tied with the
small end extending out into deep water. When a rat is caught, it
makes for deep water and is drowned. If you use stakes to fasten your
traps for muskrat, set them out into the water as far as possible so
that your game cannot get to the land and will soon drown.

  [Illustration: THE SLIDING POLE.]

The proper way to secure your trap, when trapping for other animals
than muskrat, is to drive the staple into a small bush as shown in
illustration, or the chain can be looped around the bush near the
end, with a branch or two left on to keep the chain from slipping
off. The size of the bush can be determined from the sized animals
you are trapping. If there are no bushes convenient, a piece of fence
rail or chunk will answer, altho these will not give so readily as
the bush, which will move easily with each and every lunge of the
animal caught so that its chances of getting out of the trap are
lessened.

  [Illustration: A STAPLE FASTENING.]

When your trap is thus fastened, the game will often get several feet
or perhaps rods away from the den, but it is an easy matter to find
the trap and game. If in an open field, a glance around will usually
find the bush and game, while if in the woods, a trail will be left
that can easily be followed.

The important fact that traps thus fastened give with each and every
pull and struggle of the animal should not be overlooked; in fact, if
the trap has not a firm hold, the bush gives so easily that there is
no chance for the animal to get a dead pull--that is, a solid one.
See that all traps are fastened as above described and one of the
principal causes of failure will have been remedied to a great extent
and your game will not get away after once being caught.

In case a trapper cannot visit his traps very often, or he is annoyed
by the presence of those animals that are liable to destroy his
catch, the use of the spring pole for dry land trapping will be found
very efficient in preventing the loss of game.

This contrivance is designed to lift the trapped animal high in the
air and thus both hamper it in its efforts to escape and prevent
other animals from devouring it. It is made as follows: If possible,
select a standing sapling for the purpose. If this cannot be done,
then cut a pole from some elastic wood, trim and drive it firmly in
the ground, then fasten the trap chain to the upper end. Now bend
down and catch the small end under a notched peg or root in such a
way that the least struggle of an animal in the trap will release the
pole and lift him high in the air. Of course the trapper will
proportion the strength of his pole to the size of his intended
victim.

All trappers have experienced a feeling of regret when visiting traps
where game has been caught and escaped. The ones who properly fasten
traps seldom have their game escape, altho occasionally, when not
securely caught and the trapper does not make his rounds often, an
animal will get away.

  [Illustration: SHALLOW WATER SET.]

For a shallow water set we commend the one shown above. Place a
second stake eight or ten inches from the fastening stake having
short stubs on both and the animal will soon wind himself up around
the two and drown.



CHAPTER XVI.

HOW TO SET.

Here is a very difficult question, How to Set? yet by carefully
noting the illustrations in this chapter we believe that many will be
benefited, especially inexperienced trappers. Some trappers have
continued to set their traps, after years of experience with springs
sticking straight out, that is, so that the animal will step upon the
spring first. This often warns them of the danger. Others set traps
without a sign of covering. In each instance they may catch a few
rabbits and perhaps a skunk or two, but they are not trappers and
will not catch much game.

Having decided where you are going to set, if at a den, make an
excavation the size of the trap and about an inch deep, place the
trap in the position (just at the entrance of den) and so that an
animal in going in or coming out will not step on the spring but on
the pan of the trap.

The trap should be in such a position that the animal will approach
if preferably from the end opposite the spring. If the whereabouts of
the animal cannot be determined, then the next best way for him to
approach is from the spring end of the jaws, the spring always being
thrown around towards the cross piece, out of the way.

  [Illustration: HOLE SET BEFORE COVERING.]

If setting in a path in a run beside a log or a similar situation,
set the jaws endways, not across the path and bring the pan a little
to one side of the center, as near as you can judge where the animal
will place his foot as he steps over the stick, stone or other object
you have prepared for the purpose.

Many trappers place traps well back in the den, but our experience
has taught us not to do this. A trapper who has followed the tracks
of an animal, in the snow, has undoubtedly noticed that he went to
scores of dens but turned away after going to the mouth of most of
them. From this it will readily be seen that a trap set well back in
the den would not be disturbed, while set as shown would perhaps have
caught the animal.

After the trap is set, leaves, moss, grass, etc., should be carefully
placed over the trap and chain, so that everything will appear as
natural as possible. In covering traps, use whatever kind of material
that was in mouth of den, that is, if the den was filled with leaves,
cover the trap with leaves, etc. In this illustration the trap is
purposely left uncovered so that trappers can see the position the
trap should be in.

  [Illustration: ANOTHER HOLE SET BEFORE COVERING.]

If there are other entrances to the den they should all be closed,
with the exception of the one where the trap is set. The only time
that it is advisable to close all entrances is when you are sure that
an animal is within. You are only sure of this when your dog has
holed an animal, or you have tracked one in the snow into the den.
There may be times, however, when you have your traps baited and the
bait has been taken from the inside. In such cases you feel confident
that the game is within. At such times it may be the best policy to
close up the entrance and set your trap within, yet, if properly set,
you are reasonably sure to make a catch when the animal ventures out
and also have a chance to make a catch, should an animal happen along
on the outside.

Traps should be set carefully and everything around the den left as
natural as before setting. Dig a hole for your trap and carefully
cover trap and chain with dirt, leaves or grass. Be careful that
nothing gets under treadle of trap. After once setting traps, go only
near enough to see that they are not sprung or containing game.

  [Illustration: HOLE SET AFTER COVERING.]

When setting trap in wet earth, place paper, cat tail, dry leaves,
grass or some substance under trap so that during freezing weather
the earth will not freeze to spring and jaws, thus preventing its
springing when an animal steps on the treadle. A little wool or
cotton placed under treadle often keeps the dirt from getting under.
It pays to set traps well--in fact too much pains cannot be taken.

I often read of the disappointments of a trapper when visiting his
line of marten traps to find ermine, squirrels, blue-jays and even
mice caught in place of the animal he intended to catch.

Now this is very vexatious, as the marten has departed for a district
quite distant and is thus lost forever to him. An Indian or a regular
trapper that knows his business always puts a spring twig under the
pallet of his trap of sufficient strength to bear up the weight of
these small fry and yet not too strong to prevent the larger animals
from setting it off. In trapping for beaver and otter in open water
we always use the spring to prevent mink and musquash from getting
caught. Of course these are fur-bearers and proportionately valuable,
yet there are times one does not wish to have them in the trap.

Even in setting bear traps a spring under the pallet is used to
prevent foxes, lynx, fishers and marten from springing it. This is
doubly necessary in setting bear traps for the reason that when one
has bear traps set the foregoing animals are unprime and consequently
of next to no value. The spring for a No. 1 or a No. 1 1/2 trap is
made from a lower small branch of a balsam or tamarack tree. Why I
say lower branches is because it is not so full of gum and suppleness
as the top branches, while not actually dry, it is sufficiently so to
impart a spring effect.

  [Illustration: WRONG POSITION SET.]

It is broken off about four inches in length and freed of needles.
One end is introduced into the eye of the spring and the other end is
deflected over and under the trap pan. By moving it out towards the
outer part of the pan a greater strength and resistance can be
obtained--lessening by pushing it the contrary way. For beaver or
otter traps we usually take the root of a small spruce or tamarack,
and for a bear trap, instead of putting one end into the eye of the
spring, we cut a shorter and stouter piece and bend it over like this
and it is placed under the pan; the two ends are carefully flattened
and squared off to prevent slipping.

After a little practice a man becomes quite an expert as to the
proper tension required and it is very rarely a real trapper catches
anything but what the trap was set for. This article is written for
the benefit of beginners in the profession of trapping and not as a
reflection on the knowledge of "Old Pards."

A splendid all around covering for traps wherever available (and I
speak from experience) is hemlock fanlike tips, writes a New York
state trapper. Use only the flat spreading ends with thin stems to
blanket trap--a single layer is enough for all practical purposes.
This is the general purpose covering, suitable for all kinds of
weather. The strong natural scent of the hemlock seems to inspire
confidence, overcoming animal fear and caution. It neutralizes and
makes harmless all unnatural scents so obnoxious to wild animals and
prevents under pan obstruction.

During the snowy weather, roof over the trap with brush, hemlock
boughs, bark or such, with openings on all sides. Build the roof high
and wide enough to sufficiently protect the trap and covering from
snow and sleet. A good trapper uses only good traps.

I will describe a few of my sets and hope they will be of value,
writes a Rocky Mountain trapper. The first will be a mink set and,
like the rest, is best prepared during the summer, then by the time
trapping begins the newness is all gone.

Set No. 1 is easily made by bending a few green willows in the shape
of the letter U; stick them in a row six inches apart so the top of
the bow will be four or five inches from the level. Cut some brush
and pile on top and a stake or two driven in will keep it from going
away in a freshet. This can be made in the water at a riffle or on
the bank of the stream and you will be surprised to note the fine
runway you have made.

  [Illustration: THE THREE LOG SET.]

Set No. 2 is on the same principle, but is made of logs 8 inches in
diameter and 5 or 6 feet long. It can be cut on the dotted lines for
convenience in placing bait. Set a No. 1 1/2 or 2 trap at each end.
This is as good as a hollow log.

  [Illustration: MARTEN SHELF SET.]

No. 3 is a marten shelf. Like cut, make by nailing a 2-inch stick
three or three and a half feet long on each side of a tree and cover
the projecting ends with bark--use a weight on bark to keep it from
blowing away; nail bait and place trap as shown. Use a spring pole of
some description.

  [Illustration: BIG GAME SET.]

No. 4 is my favorite for bear, mountain lion and in fact all larger
game. Choose two trees near together and place a pole from one to the
other on which to hang the bait; 1 is bait the height of which should
be varied according to the game sought and 2 is the pole on which
bait is hung; it can be nailed on or laid in forks.

In setting steel traps the beginner is generally very careless. He
simply sets his trap on the bare ground, brushes a few leaves over it
and stakes it fast, or staples it fast to a stump or tree. As a rule
he finds that the wind has blown the leaves off his trap, leaving it
bare, or it has frozen fast to the ground, or if it has made a catch
the game has escaped.

In setting a steel trap, dig a hole an inch deep and the size and
shape of the trap when set. Line this hole with dry leaves and set
the trap in it, filling in between the jaws with dry moss and
covering with dry, light substance in keeping with the surroundings.

For trapping the shyer animals the smell of iron should be destroyed,
which may be done by boiling the trap in cedar or hemlock tips. The
trap should be covered with these tips so that trap and bed all smell
alike. Do not make any tracks or have the bushes or grass trampled
down around the trap. Animals are more afraid of human signs than
they are of human scent, at least I have found it so.

In setting the trap, be sure that the jaws lie down solid or the
animal may tip the trap over by stepping on a jaw and you will think
that you have a very cunning animal to deal with.

If the trap is set at a den or enclosure, turn the spring to one side
so the animal will not step on the spring. I prefer the Blake pattern
trap as the trap may be set with the spring pointing straight out
from the enclosure and the animal steps between the jaws, not over
them. Be sure, when setting at a den or covered enclosure that the
opening over the trap is large enough to allow the animal to walk
over the trap, for if they must crawl over it they are apt to snap
the trap by pressing against it and all the trapper finds is a little
bunch of fur. In setting traps on dry land do not stake it down as
the game will often escape by pulling its foot out of the trap. It is
much better to fasten the trap to a brush drag. I leave a good stout
prong near the big end of the brush. Bend this prong down and slip
the ring over it.

  [Illustration: RING OR LOOP FASTENING.]

When making a water set I stake the trap into the water full length
of the chain. If the water is deep use the sliding pole. If you are
trapping muskrats, clean out all snags and brush from around the trap
or the rat may cut its skin in its struggles, which will lessen its
value.

Here is a method of drowning the beaver and otter which was told me
by an old trapper. Take a good stout wire about eight or ten feet
long and fasten it to the end of the trap chain. A heavy stone is
tied to the chain of the trap and after the trap is set the wire is
stretched up or down stream and fastened to a stake driven in the
bank under water. When the game is caught it plunges into the water
and the weight of the stone and trap pulls it down to the bottom. The
trap and game are secured by pulling up on the wire. I have never
used this method, but think it would be all right.

If the trap is a "bolt" double spring, place the trap on the knee and
press down spring and insert a nail--six or eight penny will
do--under the jaw on the opposite side from the trigger or trip,
being careful to insert far enough to hold and not slip out. Then set
same as a single spring trap.

If the trap has the slip in jaws, drill a small hole in the bottom
piece just below the holes which the jaws are in for a nail. One
spring will hold the pan up. When set, press the other spring down
and pull out the nail. One trial will convince anyone that this is an
easy and quick way to set a double spring trap. I have never tried
this on anything larger than No. 4 wolf trap. Hundreds of times have
I said things that I would not say in Church or Sunday School while
setting one of these traps in the snow. Trapper language will come
forth when one pinches his fingers on a cold, frosty morning.



CHAPTER XVII.

WHERE TO SET.

Knowing exactly where to set in all cases can not be told unless the
trapping region is seen as well as each den, but in a general way
some points can be given that will prove of value. Favorable places
to set can be made to include a number of situations. By this we mean
that many take a good part of their catch each season at places away
from the dens or homes of animals. Time and again have we seen traps
set along creeks, in the woods, at drift piles and other places where
there were no dens. Yet these trappers knew that fur-bearing animals
frequented such places.

A trapper always should be on the outlook for signs of game. These
include dung at dens, tracks at dens and along creeks and low wet
places, feathers and bones at dens, etc. A close inspection of dens,
will also show long hairs, if the same is used much by animals just
before the fur begins to get good, as they then shed many of the long
hairs. The experienced trapper knows from these just what kind of an
animal is using a certain den, and of course he knows what sized trap
to use and how to proceed to set the same for the capture of the
game.

  [Illustration: CAUGHT WITHIN THE LIMITS OF CHICAGO.]

An important thing for all trappers to learn is to distinguish dens
used by fur-bearing animals from those of rabbits, etc. This can be
done in several ways: Long hairs of skunk, opossum, coon, etc., are
frequently found in the entrance to dens; tracks of these and other
animals should be watched for; pieces of bones and feathers near dens
is also a good indication that game is in the near vicinity--at least
it may be known that it has been there quite recently.

There is as much in knowing the locality that game frequents as there
is in how to set traps. The person who has made a study of the habits
of fur-bearing animals knows pretty well the locality that each
animal frequents. By this we mean that he knows that skunks, in the
fall, are often found in open fields, in sink holes, etc., while
later in the season they are found on higher land. This applies to
the hilly sections in particular. Opossum and coon he knows are apt
to be found in the dense woods, and mink along streams and swamps.

Trappers who have long lines of traps will find that it saves time
and walking to have their traps bunched; that is, where they set one
trap, should there be many dens, they should set two or three more.
After doing this they can travel some distance before setting others,
unless extra good dens are found, or other dens directly on their
route. We have known three traps, within 100 feet of each other all
to contain game, but this is an exception. More often, to be sure,
they are all empty when the trapper makes his round. Yet it often
pays to have traps bunched as an animal may go to several dens and
turn away but enter another only a few feet distant. The trapper who
has only a few traps will do best by scattering them and baiting each
trap.

  [Illustration: FOX, WOLF OR COYOTE TRAIL.]

Along some bluff there may be a score or perhaps a hundred dens, and
to set a trap at each is out of the question, with the trapper who
has an abundance of traps, as well as the one who has only a few. At
such places it is best to set your traps where there are the most
signs. Traps set here should be baited and the bait placed back in
the den, beyond the trap.

  [Illustration: FOX, WOLF OR COYOTE ON THE RUN.]

It is not necessary to set traps in the dens to catch your game,
altho that is considered one of the best places, for some animals
have no certain dens, but hole up for the day, wherever daylight
finds them. By this we mean they enter the first den they find. This
being the case, trappers who know the locality, that is the feeding
grounds of game, are most successful. Should you set your trap in the
entrance to some den and no animal live there or pass that way there
is no chance of being rewarded for the trouble.

As is well known, most fur-bearing animals are carnivorous, feeding
on flesh, and the trapper who can locate the place, that is the
hunting grounds of the game he is trapping, is usually successful.
Along creeks in the mud and sand, look for mink and coon tracks. If
they are found often, their dens are not far off. Both of these
animals are much given to traveling along creeks and low swampy land
and we have seen at such a place bait nailed to a tree, some two feet
from the ground, and a trap nicely set just beneath it. The trap too,
was set in the right place, for game was caught. It may be that in
your trapping rounds you will come to a den where a rabbit or some
bird has been devoured. Often you find that it has been eaten close
to the entrance. Here is just the place to set your trap for if the
animal is not now within it is apt to return.

The various sets made by trappers may be divided into three classes,
known as land, water and snow sets, altho each can be varied to suit
different cases. The land set is used for all land animals and
includes sets made at dens in trails, paths, etc.

  [Illustration: MUSKRAT TRACKS.]

Snow sets are largely used for the shyer animals such as fox and wolf
altho trappers use this set for any land animal when they think
conditions right. Traps when set for foxes and wolves are usually set
just before a snow fall, if the trapper is enough of a weather
prophet to do this.

The water set is used mostly for otter, beaver and muskrat. Mink and
raccoon are also caught in large numbers in water sets. Fox trappers
in the Northeast catch many foxes in springs at water sets before
hard freezing weather sets in.

  [Illustration: MINK AND OPOSSUM TRACKS.]

I will give an excellent method of trapping animals on land writes an
Ohio trapper. Fasten your bait to the body of a tree about a foot
from the ground and near a den or other place frequented by the
animals you want to catch. Dig up the ground at the foot of the tree
and cover the loose earth with leaves, also place your brush drag
near the tree and after the animal begins to eat the bait, set your
trap right under it and about six or eight inches from the tree and
fastening the trap to the brush drag. Replace the leaves over the
trap and cover the chain with leaves or dead grass. Do not disturb
anything around the trap but leave the drag, etc., just as it was
before the trap was set.

For mink fasten the bait on the side of a log, one end of which rests
in the water and the other on the bank of the stream. The bait should
be at least ten inches from the ground. Set your traps under the bait
and staple the chain to the log. The first mink that comes along will
pass under the log and stopping to investigate the bait will get his
toes pinched. The best covering for this set is dead grass, leaves or
snow. The best bait for mink is the head of a fowl or a piece of fish
or muskrat.

About trapping mink in their den; first, if you find a den where a
mink is living, says a trapper, don't by any means mash the brush or
grass down around the den holes, but approach it very carefully with
not less than two traps, all set and ready to place at the mouth or
entrance of the den.

  [Illustration: WISCONSIN TRAPPER--KNOWS WHERE TO SET.]

Now look sharply to see which hole the mink uses most. You can tell
by the leaves and the grass which are worn to a sort of chaff in the
mouth or entrance of the den. If you look carefully you will perhaps
see three or five holes. You will always see two or three holes
larger than any of the rest. The smaller holes are to escape by when
any larger animal comes into the den.

If you look sharply you will notice a few inches from one of the
holes another hole which he uses. Well, make a bed and place your
trap deep enough to be covered lightly, just in front of this hole
and so that your trap jaws will close lengthwise with the hole or the
worn path. Never set your trap crosswise to a mink hole or run.
Always drive your stake level, with the ground in which your trap is
set if possible. Now go to the hole in front of the den and set your
other trap or traps in the same manner, make just as little noise as
possible while setting the traps and when leaving.



CHAPTER XVIII.

LOOKING AT TRAPS.

It is known to secure best results, traps should be looked at each
day and the earlier in the morning the better. A trapper who has out
from 50 to 150 traps scattered for a distance of ten, fifteen or
twenty miles has a good day's work before him, but the trapper who
has only a few should make his round early in the morning. It may be
that an animal is not securely caught and an early visit to the trap
will still find your game fast, whereas had you waited till later in
the day it would have escaped.

  [Illustration: PROFITABLE DAY'S CATCH.]

Some trappers are inclined to believe that certain animals gnaw their
legs off when caught. Our belief, after years of experience, is that
if an animal is caught by the leg after some hours the flesh below
the jaws of the trap becomes numb and the animal begins to gnaw it.
If the bone is broken by the force of the jaws closing, the chances
are that the animal may after a day or so escape. If the bone is not
broken there is but little danger of the game getting away. The
animal gnaws below the jaws, very seldom above.

  [Illustration: SNOWSHOEING OVER THE TRAPPING LINE.]

One mistake that many trappers make is that on the first stormy or
cold night of a prolonged cold spell, they neglect their traps until
warm weather. Experienced trappers never do this; they know that the
first night of a cold spell all animals are generally much more
active than usual--they are hunting food and a good den. It seems
that the fur-bearing animals are forewarned about the weather, or
that instinct has endowed them with this power. At any rate they are
on the alert the first night before a prolonged cold spell, and on
just such nights the largest catches are usually made. A night that
starts in only fairly cold and later turns quite cold--the beginning
of a severe spell--is the night that the professional likes to see,
or at any rate, he is out to his traps at the first sign of day.

In the dead of winter it may be of little use to look at traps for
most game. Altho some animals, such as the mink, fox and weasel, do
not hole up on account of cold weather. Skunks have been known to
remain in their dens for eight weeks in winter. Several cases are on
record where these animals have been tracked to their dens, all
entrances closed, traps set within and no catch made for eight weeks.

In the Northern sections these animals hole up in December and remain
there until early in February, unless there is a very warm spell. In
other sections, in the South, they continue active throughout the
entire season. In the Middle and Central States this animal remains
in its den during severe weather only. At other times skunks have
been known to remain in their dens for a month, but in such cases the
animal has perhaps gone in on a rabbit, killed it and is living off
its carcass.

Where the trapper is after otter, beaver, and muskrat, and his sets
are made with the sliding pole or with a wire fastened to end of
chain leading to deep water so that the animal is drowned, the traps
need not be looked at daily, for the game is dead and under water, in
which condition the fur will not be injured for some days.

  [Illustration: ONCE OVER THE LINE--WHITE WEASEL.]

Mink and coon are also caught in water sets, and should be drowned by
using the same fastenings as for the water animals. It is a good idea
to tie a weight to chain near the trap, so that when the animal is
caught and gets into deep water, the additional weight helps to hold
it down and so of course it drowns sooner.

Spring poles are used in many of the Northern States and Canada, so
that when an animal is caught it is lifted several feet into the air
and out of reach of other animals, but in other sections the spring
pole is little used and trappers should get over their lines of traps
as often as possible, for there is always more or less danger of the
animal escaping or being destroyed by larger game.

The most successful trappers are those who visit their traps often.
In addition to loosing little or no fur after once being caught, they
keep their "sets" in good condition.

The experienced trapper knows that the first night before severe
weather each winter, his traps are much more liable to contain game
than on almost any other night. Why is this? Animal instinct tells
the animal that winter weather is coming, and they travel much more
just previous to cold snaps hunting food and good warm dens. At this
time, too, they go into most any den to explore it. Some trappers
neglect their traps the first cold night. This is a mistake, for the
animal often travels the first night of a cold spell as well as the
night previous. Of course they do not travel as much the first cold
night as the night previous, but some animals not suited with the den
found, stir around another night looking for better quarters.

  [Illustration: CAUGHT JUST BEFORE A COLD SNAP.]

This rule perhaps does not hold good for such animals as fox, mink,
marten and other fur-bearers that keep traveling most nights during
the winter, no matter how severe the weather, but with such animals
as skunk, coon, opossum, muskrat, etc., it does. The first night of a
cold spell early in the season and the first night of a warm spell
during the winter, trappers should have their traps in good order.

Many trappers, as soon as the trapping season opens, set traps for
all kinds of fur-bearing animals that are found on their grounds.
This as a rule is a mistake. Skunk and muskrat should be taken first,
from the fact that skunks den up with the first severe weather and
muskrat are hid under the ice. So trap these animals in earnest at
the first of the season.

On the other hand, mink and fox travel the coldest nights in
midwinter as well as the warm ones; in fact, these two animals are
most successfully trapped when some of the other fur-bearers are
denned up. Coon, however, should also be trapped rather early, as
they den up early in the season, although they come out on warm
nights. By February 15th skunk are usually running again. This
applies to central sections. Of course North and South, the
conditions vary. In the extreme south the animals keep going all
winter, while in the far North some den up for many months.

Trappers must use their judgment what to trap first, depending
somewhat upon the number of trappers in their section. The above is
meant for the trapper who is stationed for a full season at the same
place. Of course the trapper who is moving, often takes any and all
animals he can if the fur is prime.



CHAPTER XIX.

MYSTERIOUSLY SPRUNG TRAPS.

In determining the length of time to have a trap set depends largely
upon how many other traps you have in the vicinity and what success
you are having with them. It may be that a trap will remain at a den
for two weeks unsprung and during the next two weeks catch two or
three animals. Other traps may be sprung occasionally and not contain
game, but if the trapper has followed instructions as previously
given there should be little difficulty in catching each and every
animal that comes after the bait. The trap should have the animal the
first time it attempts to steal the bait, but of course it cannot be
expected to every time. A good trapper will get the animal, however,
before it fools with the bait many times.

If, on visiting a trap, you find the bait gone, replace it and set
the trap as before. The chances are that on the next visit of the
animal it will get caught. Should, on the second visit, the bait be
gone and the trap unsprung, the chances are that the animal is still
in the den and is stealing the bait from within, without stepping
over the trap. In this case, either place the bait on the outside of
trap or not use any bait for a few nights. The animal will most
likely soon venture out, if you quit feeding it, and will get caught.

  [Illustration: BAIT STEALER--BIRD.]

The ideas advanced by some that animals spring traps after turning
them over, with their noses or paws, is all nonsense. It may be
possible that they do step over the trap and knock it off with their
body, thus not getting caught. Such cases are rare, however. You have
no doubt visited your trap and found a few hairs in it. On such
occasions it was probably knocked off by the body of the animal. It
may be possible that animals have turned traps over in their
endeavors to get bait with their nose or paw, but you can rest
assured that they did not know by so doing that it lessened the
chance of getting caught. If you can induce an animal to come and get
the bait there is no doubt but that you will catch your game sooner
or later.

In regard to traps being sprung, it is possible they are set too
easy, and go off of their own accord, after the trapper has left
them. Again they may work too hard, not going off easy enough. All
these things the trapper should guard against. If the trap has been
properly set there will be no trouble from the source just named, and
traps once set the trapper should keep away from, as far as possible
when making his rounds, unless they are sprung, the bait gone or
contain game.

Should traps be sprung morning after morning without catching the
animal it is possible that if you move the trap, or better still
leave the one as before and set another, you will be rewarded.
Sometimes an animal will manage to get bait without getting caught.
At other times it may get bait without knocking off the trap. At such
times the bait is too near the trap most likely, the animal reaching
it without stepping over the trap, or if the trap has not been
properly set the animal may be going around the trap.

Just how long a trap should be left at one place if not bothered is
hard to say as so many things bear upon the question; if the weather
is cold and few animals moving they should be left much longer than
if good trapping weather. If the den has been a good one other years,
that is, if you have caught game there, then leave longer than if you
never caught anything there. If other traps are making catches near,
leave as long as you are trapping there unless you find a much better
looking den near and have no trap with you, then take this one.

  [Illustration: NORTHERN TRAPPER WITH PACK BASKET.]

When traps are sprung and pulled back into the den as far as the
chain will allow them to go, the chances are that the animals is
still in the den. On the other hand, if the trap is dragged to the
outside the game is liable to have gone away. In either case it will
likely be around again in a few nights, as having once got a meal it
will not be slow to make another visit. If the animal was caught and
only escaped after prolonged struggles is may not return for some
time and possibly not at all. Yet when a trap is set and fastened as
directed, few animals when once caught escape. Here is where proper
fastening comes into use; if the trap had a fairly good hold on the
animal and the trap was staked solid the game might have escaped but
would be so badly injured and frightened that it might never return.

  [Illustration: SOME NORTHERN FURS.]

When fastened properly to a bush or light drag, the game rarely
escapes even though the trap has only a toe hold, unless the trapper
is days in making the rounds. Should an animal escape when only
slightly injured it is apt to soon return.

In many cases where game has escaped after once being caught it is
not the fault of the trap but of the trapper. Should the bone in the
animal's leg be broken and after days of endeavoring the animal frees
itself there should be no blame attached to the trap, the fault is
with the trapper--he should have visited the trap sooner.

Many trappers believe that animals become so sharp that they will
turn traps over. This we hardly believe. At the same time trappers
have set traps upside down and caught the animals. This, perhaps, is
accounted for from the fact that the animal in reaching for bait
would turn the trap. It is usually the case that animals will go
about getting bait in a certain manner and the changing of location
of trap may be the means of making a catch.

Some years ago when trapping mink, I visited a certain deadfall that
was "down" each morning and the bait eaten. The trap was reset and
rebaited each time for perhaps a week, even after making the pen
smaller and the trap easier to go off, it continued to be down and
bait gone. By this time I was anxious, and taking a No. 1 steel trap
I carefully set it on the inside of the pen, covered it well and
rebaited the deadfall. On my round the next morning neither the trap
nor bait were disturbed.

The second morning the deadfall was down and in the steel trap was a
small mink--the smallest I ever caught. This accounted for the animal
being able to get inside the pen and eat the bait. It was so small
that when the log fell its body was entirely inside the fall. I
hardly think that small mink, which was less than a year old, knew
that it would get caught unless it was inside the fall, but its size
was such that it could easily get out of danger, and each time it ate
the bait it was in the same position on the inside.



CHAPTER XX.

GOOD DENS.

Some trappers as soon as they have caught one animal remove their
trap thinking that there is no longer any use to leave it at that
den. While this may sometime hold good in case of large game, such as
bear, panther, etc., it does not with most animals; in fact, there
are certain dens where trappers each season take from two to five or
even more animals. In the case of the larger game even they seem to
scent your bait and two bears and occasionally more have been caught
at the same place within a few days.

The fact, as a rule, that you have caught one animal in a den, should
not cause you to remove your trap. The more animals caught at the
same den the better. There is a reason why certain dens are the
favorite homes of animals. It may be because they are dry and warm,
that there is a nice bed of leaves, etc. At any rate, trappers know
that certain dens are valuable--that each season there are animals
living there--it making no difference how many have been caught the
previous winter. At such dens it will pay to leave your traps all the
season, that is, if you have other traps that are catching game in
the vicinity. Of course it would not pay to leave one trap set if you
did not have others within a short distance. As a rule where there is
one good den of this kind there are others in the vicinity, so that
you do not want to remove from that certain section.

  [Illustration: NEBRASKA TRAPPER'S ONE NIGHT CATCH.]

It often happens that two trappers trap during the season on the same
ground, one in the fall and the other later in the season. The second
one has often taken more game than the first in the same length of
time. Both were considered good trappers and of equal experience.
This only goes to show that you never know when all the game is
caught; in fact, it never is, for if such was the case there would be
nothing left to catch another season, yet when another season arrives
the game is apparently about as numerous as ever.

This shows that good dens should be looked up by trappers, if in new
trapping grounds to them, before the season opens. The best time to
look for signs is in the fall, yet many a good den has been
discovered by tracking animals in the snow to their burrow. These
extra good dens are usually located on high grounds, at least not in
swamps or very low land. It is true, however, that on low land and
along sinks and damp places there is good trapping early in the
season, but as a rule animals hunt higher and drier sections before
the extreme cold weather comes. This being true the best dens are
most always found on high and dry ground. Another proof of this is
the fact that when large numbers of skunk are dug out of a den it is
nearly always on high and dry land.

  [Illustration: NIGHT'S CATCH BY COLORADO TRAPPER.]

That there are many excellent dens along rocky bluffs, sandy hill
sides, and other like places, the experienced trapper knows. He also
knows that along the low land in early fall is good trapping. Mink
and coon are, of course, to be caught along streams at all times. It
is not necessary to state even to the amateur if muskrat, beaver and
otter are what the trapper is after, that along streams is the only
place to make a success.

Days spent early in the season looking up dens where hairs, bones,
feathers, dung, etc., are to be seen, are days well spent, for many
times has a trapper set traps at dens where within a few hundred
yards were many better ones, but not being acquainted with the
locality, he overlooked these until a snow came. Then he tracked an
animal which led him to the dens, otherwise he perhaps would not have
discovered them at all. Keep your eye open at all times for good
dens. That a large number of animals were caught at a certain den
last winter is evidence that that certain den is just the kind of a
burrow they want.

It may be that you caught all the animals that lived there the winter
before, but others have been raised since. These on their wanders for
food have found the den and have found, like their relatives of the
winter before, that it was just what they wished, hence they, too,
have returned for the winter.

At any rate, a den that is good one season is worth more to the
professional trapper than one that has never before showed signs. Or
in other words, if he has only one trap left and discovers a new den
apparently as good as the one where the winter before he made such
good catches, you may rest assured that he will set his trap at the
old den. It is possible that not a single animal will be caught this
season at the den where such good catches were made last season, but
this is an exception rather than the rule.

Old trappers will tell you that they caught so many animals at this
den in a certain season, so many the next, etc. Perhaps more skunk
have been caught at one den in a single season than any other animal.
The catching of ten or twelve at a place is no uncommon occurrence in
a season. There are a few cases on record where trappers have caught
as high as fifteen, and one instance that we know of, where seventeen
were caught at one den from November to March 10th. This was
certainly a remarkable catch.

  [Illustration: BOTH TRAPPERS--FATHER AND DAUGHTER.]

Old trappers will also tell you that signs are what you should look
for at all times. These are not only found at dens, but by watching
everywhere; signs found in the woods often cause the trapper to hunt
for dens which are often close by. Good dens are not at all hard to
tell by the experienced trapper, and if you are a young trapper and
can induce some experienced trapper to let you make the rounds with
him or pay him to spend a day or two with you, it will be to your
advantage.

During the summer months when you are running around through the
fields and woods fishing and hunting and having a good time, then is
the time to start the foundation for the coming season's trapping.
Always be on the lookout for signs and learn to read Nature's
writings. Then when the trapping season opens, you will know exactly
where to set your traps and you will be far ahead of the other fellow
that has waited till the season opens before looking over the
grounds.

I am glad to see an awakening of the trapper for the protection of
fur-bearing animals during the summer months when the fur is unprime;
also, the protection of the animal dens. In the June number of H-T-T,
writes an Iowa trapper, I called trappers' attention to Johnny
Dig-em-out and his destructive method of trapping, and I think every
trapper that has trapped in a thickly settled country will bear me
out when I say he has lots to do with the disappearance of the
fur-bearing animals. I will cite you to the buffalo for instance;
years ago the plains were covered with them, but after the hide
hunters had gotten in their work for a few years the buffalo was a
thing of the past. So, brother, let us take heed before it is too
late, or the time will soon come when trapping in the older settled
parts of the country will be a very unprofitable business.

Ten years ago in this part of the country, skunk were very plentiful;
it was a very poor farm indeed that did not contain at least one
skunk den, but now they are about as scarce a fur-bearer as we have.
The Dig-em-outs will ask, "Does it pay to trap skunk when you find a
den?" I say "Yes." Eight or ten years ago I tracked a skunk into a
den. I trapped three skunks in as many nights from that den, and
since then I have probably taken twenty-five from the same place, and
the den is in good condition yet, and each winter I know where to go
to get skunk. Brother, did it pay to leave that den? Some say it is
too slow work to trap out a skunk den; I will tell you a quick way
that I have tried with success. Build three or four pens near the
den, put a bait in each pen and a trap at the entrance of each. I
have caught as high as three in a night from one den, that way.

Now trappers, let us strive the coming season, to protect the homes
of our fur-bearers, so we can enjoy the pleasures and profits of
trapping in the years to come. Let us take the fellow that digs out
the dens aside and give him a little good advice and show him where
he is working against his own good. Many of them are nice fellows,
but simply a little thoughtless about the future of these animals.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE PROPER BAIT.

While baiting traps is not necessary when trapping at dens, yet the
trapper who baits his traps will catch more game than if the traps
were not baited. To show where a baited trap has the advantage, we
will suppose that an animal passes a den where a trap is set but not
baited. It is just as a notion takes the animal--it may pay a visit
to the den and go in, and again it may not. If a trap is baited the
chances are that if the animal passes within a few feet, it will
reach the bait.

Bait, whether bird, fish, chicken, beef offals or rabbit, should be
fresh for most animals. When trapping at dens the bait should be
stuck on a short stick, so as to keep it off the ground, and placed
back in the den, beyond the trap some eighteen inches or two feet.
Should the bait be gone morning after morning and the trap unsprung,
your game is pretty sure to be still in the den and living off your
bait. In this case it will be a good idea to change and place the
bait on the outside. If the animal is getting the bait from within,
you are pretty sure to make a catch within a few nights.

  [Illustration: PART OF CONNECTICUT TRAPPER'S CATCH.]

If trapping in the woods for coon or along streams, where they
travel, a piece of bait nailed to a tree, some two feet from the
ground, and a trap set directly under it is not a bad set. For mink,
bait can be suspended from a branch, tied by a string, to within say
two feet of the ground. To set a trap directly beneath the bait if
properly done and near where these animals travel, is a good way to
take them.

The methods used by some trappers of placing bait on the pan of the
trap should never be employed. An animal in reaching for the bait
will spring the trap with its nose, and unless the trap is a very
large one, not get caught. The correct place to put bait is where an
animal in reaching for it, will be apt to get one of its fore feet in
the trap. The way to do this can be told by a little study before
setting the trap. If the animal you are trapping is a small one the
bait should not be placed so far beyond the trap as for a larger one.

Should you find the bait gone when visiting your traps, replace it at
once and see that your trap is all right. In nine cases out of ten,
the animal will be around again in a night or two for another meal.
Persevere and you will get your game sooner or later. Seeing that
your traps are kept properly baited is an important item; also,
keeping bait as fresh as possible. After the bait has been at a trap
for a week if it has not been molested, it is best to replace with
something fresh. Do not throw the old bait away, either hang it up,
out of reach of animals or carry it away from the den. If you have
plenty of fresh bait, it will pay to replace oftener than once a
week.

If you have a large quantity of fresh bait and have more than you can
use to advantage, on your traps, it can be made use of, by cutting
into small pieces and testing a number of dens. By this we mean
putting a small piece of bait at dens you think are good or show some
sign of game, but at which you have no traps. In a few days, visit
these dens again and at all where the bait is gone, rebait and set a
trap. This is a very good method and has helped many a trapper to
increase his catch.

Most trappers do not take into consideration the keen scent of the
animal they hope to victimize. To know how to set a trap properly is
far from all in the line of success. To know your "critter" at every
turn he may make and to entice him from his wonted way by means that
challenges his cunning through his appetite and yet overcome that
suspicion of place and the circumstances of immediate surroundings is
the real acme of trappers' art.

To place a bait anywhere above the trap is well enough for an animal
of less cunning than a fox. But to challenge that cunning in a fox,
better way is to bury the bait. The proper way to go about it is to
make a trail by dragging through the brush or thicket a hare,
squirrel or bird, and at the proper distances along this blind trail,
strew the feathers of some bird, or make a bed for your bait, no trap
being set, until you "take the sign" of one of your varmints.

Notice well the approaches to your intended "set." To be sure of your
game, you must notice the "run" of more than one animal at a given
place but the buried bait must be adhered to thruout your whole line.
A bait, to my experience is more attractive when it is out of sight
but so placed that your critter must work to reach it, in common
phrase "root hog, or die." By this means the cunning of your victim
is cast aside in its endeavor. Much depends on the patience of the
trapper and his real handiwork. Where a set of this kind is made or
contemplated, the presence of a few feathers are the prime
requisites. Make it appear that a carnival of flesh has taken place
and that the spared remnants lie buried just beneath. Drawing on your
game in this belief for some time before making a set, is the proper
caper.

  [Illustration: EASTERN TRAPPER'S CATCH.]

If you can procure an ancient egg you have the tidbit for any varmint
that may hit your track. You perhaps have heard much about the
so-called "scents" or oils. They in a way are good to disguise the
dreaded human odor, but may well be dispensed with and some are
entirely out of place. Time will obliterate any and all human odor,
providing you use your implements with tact and good judgment, your
bait will keep and it will draw better a day or two after the first
set. I never could teach any one much unless he went along the line
with me. Trapping is a profession and not every one is by nature
adapted for it, but some take to it as natural as a duck to water.

I get three or four dead chickens and start out. I place them along
the bank and usually tie them to some small tree so that the head
will about reach the ground. I never build a pen around them. I wait
until something get to eating them, and then I take a trap and place
it directly in front of where it has been eaten, and use more traps
if necessary. I have caught as many as three skunks around one
chicken,--have caught more that way than any way I have tried.
Brother trappers try my plan and be convinced.

The entrails of muskrat, rabbit, chicken or duck will make far better
bait than the animal or bird itself. In very cold weather I use the
oil of wild duck which I save in the fall, but even in using the
baits I speak of I invariably dig up the ground, unless it is a water
set or a swamp set on some log.

In cold weather, or in fact during the entire trapping season,
fur-bearing animals are searching for something to eat and
consequently the trap that is baited is more liable to catch than one
that is not. Fresh rabbit is an excellent bait for most animals.



CHAPTER XXII.

SCENT AND DECOYS.

It is claimed by trappers that some methods are good while others are
not. I have bought nearly all of the methods put on the market and
find that all are good if properly used, says a well known trapper.
Experience has taught me that you can catch any kind of an animal
with decoy. Experience has also taught me that you can catch any kind
of an animal without decoy. My belief is that there is one decoy that
is of great value, especially in the running season, and it is that
of the famous beaver castor. Few animals can pass it without
investigating.

You can, however, use all the decoys put together, and if you do not
set the trap properly you might as well set traps on top of a straw
stack, back of some barn, to catch a fox, and you will get him just
as quick. But if your trap is set somewhere near his haunts, on a
knoll or under vines, at a hollow stump, tree or hole, and baited
with a good piece of fresh bait, you will catch just as many if not
more in the fall, than you will with the decoy.

  [Illustration: CAUGHT WHERE SCENT IS MUCH USED.]

In winter and spring I prefer decoy, although I have caught a good
many foxes without it. During winter and spring, the main thing is to
know just how and where to set the trap. The best way to find this
out is to study the animal you wish to catch, then go after him. A
fox is almost as easy to catch as a skunk if you conceal your trap,
chain and all, and leave things as you found them around the trap.

It is well to buy some good methods, for they will give you a good
idea of your work and help you get a start. Should you try them and
fail the first time, try again. Keep right at trying and after a
while you will get to catching foxes. There is no man that can use
another man's methods as well as the discovered himself; at least,
not until he learns them and finds out how to use them. I care not
how plainly the one selling his method explains it to others, it
takes practice before the best catches can be made.

  * * *

About scents, some may be good, but most of them are worthless. I
sent to an old trapper for mink scent and it came in a plain tin can,
I used it in every way I could and mink would turn and go around it,
so I stopped using it and took to the old Scotch scent. Here is the
recipe for making it:

Take two dozen minnows three inches long, put in two quart cans
filled with water and seal. Let stand one month in warm place, then
put on bait for mink or skunk. I use no scent for mink in water sets.

If a mink is hungry, writes an Iowa trapper, and finds bait that has
been left for him, he will pay no attention to human scent, while if
he is not hungry, he will not take the bait, be it ever so fresh. A
mink will sometimes make a trail in the fresh snow by passing several
times over the same route and then never use that trail again. I have
also known otter to do the same. I caught two mink last winter, in a
ditch, setting my trap in the water. The first night I caught a
medium-sized mink and the third night I caught a small one. I believe
that I would have caught every mink that went up that ditch if it had
not froze up, and snowed so much during the time, that I could not
keep my traps properly set. If a person sets out a line of traps in
this country while there is snow on the ground, he is simply going to
a great deal of trouble to give them to some thief.

In trapping mink I watch for signs and when I locate a mink I
consider it mine and it generally is. If you bait a trap where you
may think it is a good place to catch a mink, it often happens that
you may make a good many trips to your trap and not succeed. You may
say to yourself that it is human scent that keeps them away, when
perhaps there has not been a mink near your trap. My advice to young
trappers is not to set your traps where a mink may go, but set it
where you know he is going, and you will find it no trick to catch
mink.

  [Illustration: YOUNG TRAPPERS DISCUSSING SCENT.]

In writing about "Mistakes of Trappers" an Alleghany Mountain trapper
of fifty years' experience says: The average trapper makes a mistake
in listening to some one's ideas about scents for trapping an animal,
instead of going to the forests, the fields and the streams and there
learning its nature, its habits and ways, and its favorite food. He
also makes a mistake by spending much time in looking after scents,
rubber gloves to handle traps with, and wooden pinchers to handle
bait with, instead of spending his time in learning the right way and
the right place to set his trap. For one little slip and the game is
gone, if the trap is not properly set.

We make mistakes in thinking that the fox is more sly in some states
than in others. Not long ago I received a letter from a friend in
Maine asking if I did not think that the fox was harder to trap in
some states than others, Now the states in which I have trapped are
rather limited, but I have trapped in Wisconsin, Michigan and
Pennsylvania, mostly Pennsylvania. I have also trapped in one or two
other states and wherever I found the fox, I found the same sly
animal and in order to trap it successfully it was necessary to
comply with the natural conditions.

  [Illustration: TEACHING THE BOY ART OF TRAPPING.]

The worst mistake of all mistakes is made by the one who uses poison
to kill foxes with. Let me tell you of an instance that came under my
observation four years ago in the southern part of this county. My
road was over the divide between the waters of the Alleghany and
Susquehanna. About five miles of the road lay over a mountain that
was thickly wooded, with no settlers. While crossing this mountain I
saw the carcasses of four foxes lying in the road. On making
inquiries I learned that a man living in the neighborhood was making
a practice each winter of driving over the roads in that section and
putting out poisoned meat to kill foxes.

I chanced to meet this man not long ago and I said, "Charley, what
luck did you have trapping last winter?" His reply was, "Not much,
only two foxes. Old Shaw dogged them out of the country." (Referring
to a man who hunted with dogs.) I said, "Charley, don't you think
that poison business had something to do with it?" He replied, "Oh,
h--l, there will be foxes after I am dead." This man calls himself a
trapper and is quite an extensive fur buyer.

  * * *

For fox decoy, get five or six musk glands from rats in the
springtime; put enough trout or angle worms with them to make a pint,
cork them tight and leave in the sun thru the summer, and add the
essence from one skunk (squeeze out the essence, don't put in the
bag). I have never seen a better decoy and I have used many. You can
use either one alone. I have caught many foxes with trout oil alone.

Remember the bait and scent is no good whatever as long as there
remains a trace of human odor; the whole secret is, _Be Careful_.

The beaver castors or bark sacks and the oil stones are found near
the vent in four sacks in both male and female. In taking them out,
cut clear around them, and take all out together with as little meat
as possible. The bark sacks contain a yellow substance. To get the
contents, tie a string around the hole in the sacks and rub them
between the hands until soft, then cut them open and squeeze the
contents into a glass jar or bottle. To get the oil from the oil
stone, cut the end off and squeeze it. Keep separate and mix as
directed:

1st. Take the castor of one beaver, add 20 drops oil of cinnamon, 10
drops oil Anise, and "wine" of beaver to make the bait thick like
mush.

2nd. Take the castor sacks of one beaver, add 7 drops of oil
sassafras, 7 drops Anise, 10 drops oil from the oil stone.

3rd. Take the castor sacks of one beaver, add 10 drops of Jamaica
rum, 5 drops oil of Anise, 5 drops oil cloves, 5 drops oil sassafras,
5 drops oil Rhodium.

4th. Take the castor sacks of one beaver, add 10 drops oil from the
oil stones, and beaver's urine enough to make the bait like mush.

  * * *

For beaver bait, get six castors off of beavers, one nutmeg, 12
cloves, 30 grains or cinnamon and mix up with a little whiskey to
make in a paste or like mixed mustard. Put in a bottle and cork. In a
few days it will get strong, then use as a bait on pan of trap.

You catch no foxes if there is any human scent around, says an
Eastern trapper. I will tell you how I set a trap for fox in a brook
of running water. Have your trap free from rust (beeswax is good to
prevent rust on a trap); have on a pair of water-proof boots, put the
bait on a rock about two feet from shore, and set trap on a rock
three inches from shore. Cover trap about one inch with moss; have it
rise above water, and place a rock for reynard to step on before he
steps onto the trap rock. Put a few drops of scent on the bait, of
the right kind, and be sure the trap is under water; handle bait and
moss with sharp stick. Now I am sure you would catch no fox if you
worked from the bank. Always walk in water when going to trap.

I will give a pointer on using decoys or scent for making trails,
writes a Western trapper. Take a piece of sponge, run stout string
thru it, pour on your medicine and then place the sponge in the
hollow of the sole of your rubber boot, bring the ends of the string
up over the instep, cross them and tie on the back side of the boot
and it will make a trail that a mink or coon will follow a mile or
more.

  [Illustration: TRAPPER'S HOME IN COLORADO.]

The slyer animals, such as the fox and mink, soon learn to associate
all fancy smells with danger, and then most scents act as warning
instead of a lure, writes an Ohio trapper. For mink bait I think a
fresh muskrat carcass is about the best of anything, because muskrat
is their common food and therefore they are not nearly as liable to
be suspicious of it as of some strange scent, such as amber oil,
anise oil, oil of cinnamon or oil of lavender, one or more of which
is nearly always used in combination scents.

I generally take a hen carcass, smear it with the musk of a muskrat,
and use it for a drag, as it will make a trail that a mink is pretty
sure to follow to the trap which should be set in a hole near an old
stump or log if such a hole can be found, and then covered with fine
dry dirt, rotten wood or what is better than either, the feathers
from the chicken carcass which has been used as a drag. I find it a
better way to cut the bait into small pieces and use several pieces
with each trap, but if only one piece is used it is best to stake it
fast. If an animal only has to make one trip into the enclosure to
get all the bait he will not be as apt to be taken as if he made
several trips, which he is pretty sure to do if the bait is cut into
small pieces and scattered around in the enclosure.

There seems to be quite a difference of opinion among trappers as to
the "attractive" value of Scents and Decoys. Some praise them, while
others consider them of little value.

In our years of experience as Editor of the H-T-T we have read
thousands of trappers' letters from all parts of America, which in
addition to personal observation when on the trapping line, enables
us to say that "Scents" and "Decoys," if rightly made, prepared and
used are of value.

There is no question but that the sexual organs of the female secured
"when in heat" and preserved in alcohol is a great lure for the males
of that specie.



CHAPTER XXIII.

HUMAN SCENT AND SIGN.

There is a great deal said just now about the human scent theory,
writes an Illinois trapper. Some claim that you can catch no animal
if there is any human scent around, and they hardly take time to set
their traps properly for fear of leaving scent. I always considered
that the most important thing in setting traps was to cover them
properly, and to disturb things as little as possible.

When your traps are set everything should be as natural as before. By
that I mean that when you are trapping for the shrewdest game, such
as fox, mink, otter, wolves, etc. For other animals such as skunk and
muskrat, you need not use such caution, for they will blunder into a
trap no matter how carelessly it is set. Still it is always best to
cover your signs properly for you can never know what animal may come
along. If your traps are carefully covered you are as liable to get a
valuable pelt as a low priced one. Use care in setting; study well
the nature and habits of the game you are trapping, and you will be
successful. Never begin trapping until the fur is prime for one prime
skin is worth more than five or six poor ones.

  [Illustration: A FEW DAYS CATCH.]

Among trappers there is a variety of opinion as to the different kind
of baits to use, and also as to the different ways to avoid the smell
of iron or steel traps. Some boil their traps in willow bark; others
dip their traps in melted tallow or beeswax.

I have had a fox get into my snowshoe tracks and follow a long ways
because it was better traveling. Now that shows he was not afraid of
human scent writes a Vermont trapper. Now about iron. How often does
a fox go through a wire fence or go near an old sugar house where
there are iron grates. That shows he is not afraid of scent of iron.

Once there was an old trapper here, and the young men wanted him to
show them how to set a fox trap, and he told them he would, so he got
them out to show them how, and this is what he told them. "Remove all
suspicion and lay a great temptation." Well there it is. Now in order
to remove all suspicion you must remove all things that are not
natural. A man's tracks, and where he has been digging around with a
spade or with his hands are not natural around a spring, are they?
No. Well then, there is where the human scent question comes in. By
instinct he is shown that man is his enemy, and when a man has pawed
the bait over he uses his sense and knows that danger is there, for
it is not natural.

Now I have a question at hand; in one place he is not afraid, and
around the trap he is afraid. Now, how does he know when to be afraid
and when not? I think because when he sees a piece of bait in a new
place it is not natural.

Once last winter I knew where there was a dead horse and I used to go
by it, and one day my brother was with me, and of course he knew that
I could get a fox there, so to please him I set a trap, and not
another fox came near. Well, I smoked that trap, boiled it in hemlock
and then smeared it in tallow, but the fox knew and never came within
ten feet of it again, when they were coming every night before. When
I went by there before I set the trap I left as much scent as after,
and how could he tell when there was a foot of snow blown there by
the wind after I set my trap?

Now they don't appear to be afraid of human scent or iron in some
places and around a trap they are, so now why should they know where
to be shy? Well, because it may be in an unnatural place, but what
tells him it is in an unnatural place unless it is instinct or good
sharp sense.

As for scent, I know that rotten eggs and onions are natural,
although the matrix of the female fox in the running season is very
good scent; also skunk or muskrat scent or decayed fish, as it gives
out a strong smell.

  [Illustration: THE INSIDE OF NORTHERN TRAPPER'S CABIN.]

One word to the novice fox trapper. You must make things look and
smell natural around the spring, and put before them the food which
God has provided for them, and you will have success. Place the trap
in the mud of the spring, and a sod on the pan of the trap. Use one
that has not been handled by the hand of a human being.

I will give some facts on human scent and human signs in South
Carolina. Now I have not trapped "ever since the Civil War"; I have
never trapped "all kinds of fur bearers that inhabit the Rocky
Mountains", but have trapped every fur-bearing animal of upper
Carolina from muskrat to otter, writes an experienced trapper.

The mink and fox are the animals most trappers referred to, we have
no foxes here to catch, therefore I am unable to say anything about
Reynard. Mink in the Carolinas are not afraid of human scent any more
than any other animals, but they are afraid of human signs in an
unnatural place. It is a common thing to find mink tracks in my path
where I visit my traps every day, they are made late in the
afternoon. I have set my traps almost at night and have had a mink in
them next morning. I used no scent or bait, and mink are very scarce
here, too.

My favorite set is in cane brakes and runways, using no bait. When I
first began to trap, mink were not so scarce as they are now, but
there are a few left yet. Not many years ago nearly every night I
would have a muskrat's hide badly torn and sometimes the rat
barbarously murdered and half eaten up.

One writer says, take bait and scent and set a trap properly, then go
a little farther on and set a trap without either bait or scent, and
see which trap you catch a fox in first.

  * * *

Now we notice that this writer brings in the bait every time. We are
very much in favor of bait, and make bait one of our most essential
points in trapping the fox. This writer says that those "no scent"
men are the ones that say fox are afraid of human scent. For our part
we do not claim anything of the kind; on the contrary, we claim that
it is the signs that we make that the fox is shy of.

I see there are a great many talking about mink not being afraid of
railroad irons and barb wire fences writes a Louisiana trapper. Well,
I guess they are not, but some of them are afraid of human scent
under certain conditions, while under some other conditions they are
not.

Find a place where they are liable to come, and tramp and tread
around just like an unexperienced trapper would do, taking an old
rusty or new trap, handling with naked hands and set either concealed
or naked, stick a chunk of meat up over it on a stick, and then
remove sticks and stones making a disturbance. This will make mink
afraid of human scent in that place. A great many are afraid of a
bait stuck up on a stick if there is human scent around it, so I
think it is a combination of these; namely, disturbances, human scent
and the unnatural place to find food that scares them away. Yet they
are not all that way by any means.

Now let some of these fellows who think animals are not afraid of
human scent try to catch an otter that has been caught before and got
away, and they will think differently. I caught one last winter, that
had his front leg off within an inch of the shoulder. I also caught a
coon that had both front legs off high up, and strange to say this
coon was fat and in good condition. He wasn't a very large one, and
his teeth were badly worn off. He must have looked funny walking
around on his hind feet like a bear, that is the way he walked for I
could tell by the tracks.

I see a great deal of discussion about mink being afraid of human
scent writes a prairie trapper. I think there is a difference between
mink concerning this: some mink are afraid and others are not.

Last winter I caught a mink in a trap but he got away before I got
there, and that mink after getting loose, followed the tracks I had
made the morning before for about a quarter of a mile up the river
before he turned in close to the bank. Now he didn't seem to be
afraid of human scent.

Again I have walked up to a mink path, carefully set and covered my
trap, and then carefully walked away in my old tracks, but never a
mink would I get, nor would the mink even go along that path any
more. I have even walked up to a path when I had no traps with me and
then walked away, and altho the path had been used every day before,
it was not used again for about nine or ten days.

I once set a trap at the bottom of a muskrat slide without covering,
and although I had walked all around there and my trap was not
covered, I got a mink.

I wish to say that mink are not afraid of human scent and in proof
will tell a little experience I had with a mink while trapping for
muskrat, writes a Massachusetts trapper.

One night I came to one of my traps which contained a muskrat that
was partly eaten. I knew it was the work of a mink. Going on up the
stream a short distance I had a mink, and I allowed that this mink
would steal no more muskrats, but on investigating I discovered that
this mink was coming down stream, while the one that had eaten the
muskrat was going up, and after all I had not caught the thief.

Next night the same trap contained a muskrat partly eaten and I
determined to catch the mink. I took the rat out of the trap and
fixed for Mr. Mink by setting a second trap about three feet from the
first one. I then started to look at other traps and was not gone
more than an hour, and on returning to these traps I found that I had
already caught the mink, and it was a big one and very dark. If this
mink had been afraid of human scent he would not have returned.

In regard to human scent it does seem to me that after a man has
trapped for a number of years he ought to know something about it,
writes a trapper of the Great Lake region.

I do positively know that human scent will drive most animals away. I
have been a great lover of taking the otter. Brother trappers, how
many of you that have trapped the otter, but what have found out that
he can tell that you have been there if you are not very careful, and
he is not very much sharper than mink or fisher.

I do think that all animals can scent a human being. I have caught
almost all kinds of fur-bearing animals this side of the Rockies, and
I don't know it all yet, but I do know the nature of all the game I
trapped, and that we must all know to make trapping pay.

In regard to scents, will say that undoubtedly the most taking scent
for male fur-bearing animals is that taken from the female during the
mating season. Yet there are other things that will attract them
sometimes.

I believe there are times when the female mink can be trapped more
easily with the blind set, in fact at least one-half the mink I ever
caught were taken in that manner, without any muskrat meat.

I believe that a party may have and use all the scents, baits and
methods in existence but without some knowledge of the animal sought,
and also a little practicable common sense, and knowledge of setting
traps he will meet with indifferent success.

Trappers are divided as to their views on "Human Scent and Sign".
Some of the old and experienced ones think there is nothing to either
for as they say they catch the shrewdest animals without any trouble.
This is true but the trapper of years of experience knows how to set
his traps without leaving "sign."

There is no question but that the shrewdest animals "look" with
suspicion upon "sign" or anything out of the ordinary especially at
their den or places where they often frequent.

  [Illustration: COYOTE TRAPPING ON THE CATTLE RANCHES.]

The hunter knows that deer, bear, fox and other animals rely upon
their sense of smell as one of their ways to evade them. Is it not as
reasonable that they smell a trapper when on his rounds?

Of course after the trapper has made the set and gone, his scent will
gradually leave and the "sign" is probably the cause of the animal
keeping away, should it continue to do so.

That human scent is quite noticeable to animals is proven from the
fact that bloodhounds can follow a man's trail or scent even tho it
has been made hours before. Yet after a day or so the scent is lost
and the best bloodhound cannot follow it.

Do not the same conditions apply to the scent left by the trapper
when setting his traps for wolves, foxes, mink, otter, beaver and
other keen scented and shrewd animals? It surely does, and after a
few days, at the farthest, the "human scent" is all gone.

This being true, then it must be the "sign" that keeps the animal
away. Again, it may be that the animal has had no occasion to return.

Where the trapper has just set traps for foxes or wolves and these
animals visit them within a few hours they perhaps are aware that a
person has been about as both "scent" and "sign" may be there.

To overcome "human scent" and "sign" the trapper must leave no "sign"
and as for "human scent" it will leave in a short time. In visiting
the traps do not go near unless disturbed.



CHAPTER XXIV.

HINTS ON FALL TRAPPING.

Before the readers of the H-T-T receive the November issue the death
sentence will have been passed and executed upon many a luck-less
fur-bearer whose hides will be "on the fence," for in many states
trapping can be done at any time, more is the pity, writes a Michigan
trapper and buyer. In Michigan no trapping is allowed until November
1st, which is plenty soon enough. Last season I saw many hundreds of
skunk, coon and mink and also opossum skins that had been taken in
October and were only trash. It was a worthless, wasteful slaughter.
Muskrats are the only animals that may, with reason, be taken during
the first half of October and yet it is better to wait until general
collections are good.

I will first ask the amateur if he uses the precaution to stake his
rat and mink traps at water sets with bushes instead of stakes. They
do not attract the attention of hunters and other stragglers and
especially boys as does the new whittled wood of a stake; sometimes
it is necessary to go still farther than this and cut a short stake
and shove it entirely out of sight under water or mud.

  [Illustration: EASTERN MINK--NOVEMBER CAUGHT.]

When you find where a rat is working slightly in many places along a
bank and you do not know just where to place your trap, dig a little
place in the bank at the water's edge and up above it and set your
trap in the entrance under the water a half inch. This will attract
the rat and you will most likely get him. It helps to pin down a
rat's leg or other small portion of the carcass in the excavation
just mentioned. Rats will not eat the meat, but it is sure to draw
them into the trap; and then by baiting with rat flesh you will often
get a mink.

After you have caught a rat at feeding signs or in any other
inconspicuous place and you do not get more after two nights, it is
well to move your trap to a new place. I generally trap three nights
on one stretch of ground and then take up all except now and then one
occupying the most favored positions; the remaining traps will catch
the stragglers and the traps you remove and reset will be on guard to
a purpose.

Be careful and do not dry your furs by the fire. I saw many lots of
rats last fall and into the winter that would break like glass, the
skins had been made so brittle by the fire-drying process. It makes
the pelt side look dark and unprime as well.

In setting for mink, follow water setting as long as possible and set
under over-hanging roots and banks where the tracks are seen or where
a log lies up so as to permit the mink's passing under and, in short,
wherever the game is most apt to pass thru or under as is the mink's
habit. Where there is no timber and the banks are low, then the main
dependence is on making a trench as described and pinning down a
portion of muskrat.

  [Illustration: MUSKRAT HOUSE.]

I will also say that I have found rat houses a capital place to catch
mink. Both coon and mink visit rat houses that are nearest to shore;
knowing this, after you have caught off the rats, dig a hole in the
side of the house and throw in a portion of a muskrat. Set jour trap
at entrance covered with water or thin mud and if there is a mink or
coon that visits the house you will get him if things don't go
contrary, the trap fail to get hold or some other ill luck occur.

When a coon is expected a long hardwood stake should be used. I have
had a number blunder into rat traps, chew the soft popple or willow
stake all to pieces and go off with the trap. And they have never
returned one yet.

A word more on the mink question. When I find a place that mink are
most sure to pass thru or under, I do not use bait. Especially if the
mink is old and cunning and has been trapped, or one that has been
nipped by a trap and become "bait shy." For these I make blind sets
only. My trap and chain is under water and also my stake.

The trap is barely covered by water or mud and an old leaf or two
that is watersoaked is laid on the trap. If I think there is a chance
for the mink to avoid the trap, I lean up an old chunk or dead stick
against the bank with the lower end just beyond the trap next to deep
water. It is plain to be seen that if he goes behind that prop he
will hear something drop. I have caught many a mink in this manner
that have eluded all the trappers in my neighborhood.

Several years ago an old trapper and myself fought a friendly contest
in our endeavor to catch a sly old dog mink. He traveled on a creek
which was a mere thread. My competitor was a strong believer in bait
and before a week had passed he had tried muskrat, fish, birds and
frogs. The mink passed nightly but ignored all these offerings, the
main reason being that a meadow near by teemed with mice.

Calling the mink a "bad one," he invited me to try my hand. He had
about a dozen baited traps set. I took one good No. 1 Newhouse and
selecting a place where the bank was undermined and the mink's track
could be seen on a shelf, I placed my trap next to the bank, placed
the leaves of a long soaked weed over the trap which was barely
submerged. I then took a large weed that was full of branches and
thrust it in the bed of the stream, so close to the trap that the
mink would be liable to pass between it and the bank. The next
morning I met the old trapper coming back from his round. "Well, did
you get 'im?" I asked.

"No, but you did and I killed him for ye and he's a whalin' big one,"
he added rather dryly. His disappointment was but poorly disguised
and like the "fox and grape fable" he comforted his chagrin by
saying: "He probably blundered in, with so many traps set, how could
he help it? I'd a ketched 'im in a night or two." I did not dispute
this statement, but kept a deal of thinking.

All thru November skunks will be visiting old dens looking up winter
quarters to suit and wandering with their usual lawlessness. By
placing traps in the entrance of these holes you will catch some of
the striped gentry, but your catch will be vastly greater if you
bait. Many skunks only look down a hole and do not enter, which they
would do if you place a bait of muskrat, rabbit or chicken below the
trap at each setting. The skunk is such a glutton that altho he may
be gorged to repletion he will still try to encompass more if it is
food to his liking.

Quite a number of trappers wish to know how skunk catching can be
done without odor. Boys, don't be afraid of the odor. Wear old
clothes and discard them at the close of day. The perfume that the
first skunk gives off when you dispatch him is an advantage to you.
It draws others. So having caught one, keep your trap there. I have
had a trap set at a den for a long time without its being disturbed,
but as soon as I caught one several more got fast in quick
succession.



CHAPTER XXV.

LAND TRAPPING.

Following animals are trapped on land and in what is known as land
sets: Wolf, marten, bear, weasel, mountain lion, badger, fisher,
lynx, wild cat, civet, skunk, ring-tail cat, and opossum.  Fox are
largely trapped on land, but in some sections they are taken in water
at bait sets; mink and coon are trapped on land as well as in the
water.

Wolves, being one of the shrewdest, methods for catching them will be
described first.

WOLVES AND COYOTES.

Find an old trail that the coyotes use, plant your trap in as narrow
a part of the trail as possible, fasten trap to a good toggle, bury
the toggle to one side of the trail. Have a blanket while doing the
work. Place all dirt on the blanket. After trap, chain and toggle are
put in place and wool has been put under pan, cover all nicely with
dirt from the blanket. The dirt should not be over one-fourth of an
inch deep. Leave everything looking as it did before you began.

Now have an old stick (not a fresh cut one) the size of your wrist
and long enough to reach across the trail and lay it about eight
inches from the trap and crosswise of the trail. A coyote won't step
on the stick, but will step over it every time. Use caution and leave
no human signs and you will get your coyote. This method is used
successfully in Texas, says a wolf trapper of that state.

The wolf is a pretty hard animal to trap, writes a Minnesota trapper.
Whenever he gets near a bait he is always shy and that is because he
can smell iron, but if you put a trap in his track and he comes along
he will walk right in and get caught. That is because he thinks there
is no danger in his own tracks. There are many times that he falls a
victim to the trap that way. I will describe a set most trappers use
here in the winter when there is snow on the ground.

They take some horse manure and haul it out on some plowed field and
make two heaps not very high and in one of them they put the bait and
in the other the traps. Four traps are mostly used, secured to a log.
Care must be taken not to cover the traps too much. The best bait, I
think, is the entrails from a hog.

Trappers for wolves should not use smaller than No. 3 traps. The No.
4 is known as the wolf trap and will be found suitable for all
sections. If wolves have been feasting off the carcass of a sheep,
calf or other animal, set your trap there. If you have plenty of
traps a half dozen set within eighteen inches of the carcass and
carefully covered up, should make a catch.

The trap and fastening, a weight and clog, be it remembered, should
be covered. If you dig up the ground in order to conceal the clog,
have a basket or something along to put the earth in and carry away
some distance. Everything must be left as natural as possible.

Another method is to hang up a dead chicken and place a trap directly
under it. Hang the fowl about three feet high.

The secret, at least one of them, in trapping is to leave everything
as natural as possible after setting your trap. Most animals will
regard with suspicion if there is much change around their den. In
the case of skunk it perhaps is not so particular, yet the trapper
who carefully conceals his traps will be well repaid for so doing.
Even when trapping for skunk you never know what animal may come
along.

Then to be ready, adopt the rule of always carefully covering your
traps. We all admit that the fox and wolf are shy animals and are
rather difficult to catch, yet they are frequently caught by trappers
who are only trapping for opossum or skunk. These trappers, of
course, had their traps carefully hidden. While fox and wolf are
among the smartest animals, yet they can be caught, as the thousands
of pelts sold annually is evidence. See to it, trappers, that every
trap is set and covered properly and you will be rewarded some
morning on visiting your trap by a fox or wolf if they are many in
your section.

  [Illustration: WOLF CAUGHT AT BANK SET.]

Now a word about trapping those cute little coyotes, writes a
California trapper. The best way to catch anything that walks on four
legs is to make a fool of them. Some people may think that is "hot
air," but I know better.

The best way to fool an old coyote is to take a fresh sheep skin and
drag it, you riding on a horse, for a mile or so in the hills near
where your man is in the habit of going, (now be sure you don't touch
it with your hands) until you find an open hill not too high. Have a
stake there before hand and your traps set. The traps should be left
lying in the sheep pen for a week before setting.

When you get to the stake, hang your pelt on it, so when the wind
blows the pelt will move. Mr. Coyote will be sure to find the trail
you have made and will follow it until it sees the pelt, and then he
will walk around it for a night or so, but he will not get too near
the first night or three or four nights, but he will try to pull the
skin down and he will forget about the traps and everything else and
will be taken in just like all the other suckers.

My outfit consists of the following, writes a well known Western
trapper: Sixty No. 3 Newhouse single spring otter traps (I find they
will hold any wolf and are easier set than double spring traps), an
axe, 60 stakes 16 or 18 inches long, 12 or 15 pounds of wool or
cotton, wool preferred, 20 stakes 10 or 12 inches long, a piece of
oil cloth or canvas about 3 feet square, a light wagon and team, a
good rifle and four stag hounds. The hounds are trained so stay on
the wagon until told to go, and will nearly always get a coyote when
sent after him.

In setting traps I choose a high knoll or a bare spot on the
range--often the bed of a dry creek--where I see plenty of signs, and
then proceed as follows: Stick one of the small stakes where I want
the bait and from 20 to 24 inches from it lay a trap and stretch the
chain straight back, drive stake through chain ring and drive down
below the surface of the ground an inch or more. Then fix two more
traps the same way at the opposite points of a triangle. Set your
traps and place a good wad of wool under the pan so that rabbits and
other small game will not spring it, and then proceed to bed the
traps and chains, placing all the dirt on the canvas.

Now place your bait (I always use live bait if weather is not too
cold, but have had good success with dead bait). Lay an old dead hen
or other fowl in the center and drive small stakes through it into
the ground firmly; cover end of stake with wing or feathers of bait.

Now step back and take dirt from the canvas and cover traps 1/2 or
5/8 inch deep; also cover your own tracks, and brush over all with a
bush. If traps are well set it will be hard to tell where the traps
lay. All dirt that is left on canvas should be taken away some
distance and dropped. In using live bait proceed the same way with
traps, only bait should be tied by the feet with a good stout cord
and place a can of corn and one of water within reach of fowl, both
cans to be set into the ground level with surface. Do not go nearer
to traps than to see that they are not sprung and do not shoot or
club game in the traps, but choke to death with a copper wire on the
end of a pole; a good stout cord will answer the same purpose. Wipe
all blood off traps before setting again and brush out your tracks as
before, and above all, don't spit tobacco juice near your traps.

After catching one wolf or coyote, do not use more bait, as the scent
is strong enough to draw all that comes near. I do not use any patent
decoy or scents, as I consider them useless for any game. The only
scent I use is what I make myself, and then only use it from February
to April. In the summer I gather up four or five bitch dogs and as
fast as they come in heat I kill them and take the organs of
generation and pickle them in wide mouth bottles with alcohol enough
to cover. I sprinkle a few drops on a stone or bush, stick in center
between traps, but use no other bait. This is also good for fox.

The above method is the same as I learned it from an old Hudson Bay
trapper, Pierre Deverany, who was born in 1817 and had trapped all
through the British possessions and the Rocky Mountains, with whom I
trapped for several years.

LYNX, FISHER, WILD CAT.

Here is the method for the capture of a lynx. Where lynx follow up
trails, build a house around a tree, of brush, etc., leaving a small
door fronting the trail. Cut a rabbit or bird and tie it to the tree
in the house. Place a No. 4 or 14 Newhouse trap at the entrance,
covering with cotton or wool and boughs. Fasten your trap chain to a
clog; drag a rabbit up and down the trail past the house.

For a fisher build a small house and use No. 1 1/2 Newhouse trap and
bait with rabbit, bits of deer meat with the hair and skin left on is
also a good bait. Use a sliding pole or heavy drag, as the fisher
sometimes chews the drag to pieces.

Wild cat are trapped about the same as lynx. There are a great many
caught by making a cubby or enclosure where they cross or frequent in
search of birds, rabbits, etc. The bait is placed back in the cubby
and may be either bird, rabbit or fish.

The No. 1 1/2 and No. 2 Newhouse are used principally, altho the
Victor No. 3 and Oneida Jump No. 4 are both adapted to wild cat
trapping.

  [Illustration: LYNX CAUGHT IN STEEL TRAP.]

The methods given for catching wild cat, lynx and fisher can and are
used by trappers for each of these animals. That is, the set
described for wild cat can be used for fisher and lynx, the lynx set
for fisher and wild cat and the fisher set for lynx and wild cat. In
other words, a set for any of these animals is good for all three.

MARTEN.

To begin with, when trapping for marten, says an Oregon trapper, use
only the best traps--No. 1 or 1 1/2 is plenty large enough--in fact,
larger traps cannot be used conveniently, for the reason that when
the ground is covered with deep snow and your traps are all fastened
high up on trees you must set them with your hands. With nothing to
rest your trap on except your knee and with fingers like icicles it
will require all the strength in your left hand to mash together the
spring of a good No. 1 1/2, while with the right you adjust the pan
and latch.

Do not fool away your time with a few traps, but of course just how
many you can use depends on how thick game is. View out your
prospective line during summer time. Some important essentials are:
pick out a line in very heavy timber, preferably along some high
ridge; work gradually up or down hill and avoid very steep places; a
line free from underbrush is desirable unless snow gets deep enough
to cover it all up; run your line as near straight as possible; avoid
making sharp turns for your blazes will at times be very hard to see
owing to snow on the bark of the trees and once off the line it may
be hard to find.

  [Illustration: MARTEN CAUGHT IN SHELF SET.]

Do not make camps too far apart, eight miles is far enough when the
snow is soft and deep. Get your traps all strung out before snow
comes and have everything ready so as to lighten your work when the
time comes, for, even then, it will be hard enough.

Now, in setting traps, you cannot pick out likely places--hollow
trees, etc.--do not leave the line even for a few feet to set one in
that hollow tree else the trap is apt to be forgotten and lost. Give
every tree where a trap is left some mark to indicate its presence.

Use wire staples to fasten traps to the trees and they should be
fastened three or four feet above the ground. Set the trap or bend
the spring around to fit the curve of the tree. Now drive a 12 penny
nail in the tree an inch or so, place the trap so that the cross
piece rests flat on the nail and drive two smaller ones between the
spring and your trap rests same as if set on the ground. Nail small
piece of bait (squirrel, rabbit, or bird is best) eight or ten inches
above the trap.

If you desire to shelter the trap, drive a couple of wooden pegs
above the bait and lay on a piece of bark or some boughs--this is not
necessary if traps are to be looked after regularly, for you can keep
the snow brushed off. A large piece of bait is not necessary, but in
rebaiting do not remove the old bait, just nail up another. Sometimes
I have a half dozen baits by each trap. It is well to try each trap
occasionally to see if it will spring with just the right pressure.
If the bait is scarce, set the traps any way and you will soon have
enough birds and squirrels.

  [Illustration: SHELF SET AND FASTENING.]

In visiting the line, always make your pack as light as possible,
four or five pounds of bait, a hatchet, a few nails and staples and a
small Stevens 22 cal. pistol is all you will be apt to need for one
hundred traps. If you are a trapper by nature, you will know where to
put the traps, close together and where there is a probability of
making a catch. Some places I put a trap every fifty yards and some
places one-half mile apart. Keep your traps freshly baited and do
something with each trap every three or four days, if nothing more
than to rub a piece of bacon rind or rabbit entrails from the top of
the snow to the bait. A drag is good at times and in some places.
Scent is good if bait is frozen.

WHITE WEASEL.

When trapping weasel, writes a Northern trapper, I set my traps near
small streams or in swamps, old ditches, beneath old roots and under
shelving banks, near running water, and sometimes they may be caught
in woodchuck holes. The white weasel and all other weasel are regular
dummies, going headlong into a trap, even if they are in plain view.
You don't need to cover up your trap at all unless you want to, as
the weasel will walk right in to get the bait and click bang and you
have your weasel hard and fast.

The best bait for weasel is rabbit heads, chicken heads and
squirrels. The same sets will also catch mink, but the traps must be
covered in that case unless you are making blind sets. I have caught
a good many weasel in my mink sets and then again, I have caught them
in old muskrat holes or dens along the banks of small streams and
also near river banks in deserted rat dens.

  [Illustration: SQUIRREL CAUGHT ON STUMP.]

White weasel or ermine are found in Canada and the New England States
as well as all other states bordering on Canada, but rarely farther
south.

These animals, like all of the weasel kind, are active in their
search for food and are easily attracted to bait. They are the
smallest of the animals now being sought after by American trappers
for their fur. The No. 0 is used in taking this animal, altho many
trappers prefer the No. 1 and 1 1/2 as they catch high and the
trapper usually finds the weasel dead on his arrival.

MINK.

My father was a successful mink trapper but only trapped when they
became bothersome says an experienced trapper. He made mostly dry
sets. He would look carefully at a hole in bank of stream or pond,
then cut out a place for the trap, drive a stake in bottom of the
trap bed, coil trap chain around it and set trap on top, then cover
with finely cut grass, a big leaf or writing paper and lastly with
the material he took off the top trap bed. Then he cleared all extra
dirt away and put the bait in the edge of the hole or under the edge
of a stick or stone, if there was one near the hole.

I went with him once and I said, "Some trappers stick the bait on a
stick." He looked at me and said, "You young goose, did you ever know
a mink to eat part of a muskrat and hang the rest on a stick?" He
used bird, muskrat and fish for bait. If bird, he tore some feathers
out and made it appear as if some mink had dragged the bait there and
hid it.

For a mink that is not hungry, I find an old muskrat den or a runway
through a drift pile is a good place. The great trouble with these
two last sets is, the rabbits are liable to get into the trap instead
of the mink. There are a good many ways to catch mink, and there are
mink that will evade a good many well laid plans for their capture.

My most successful plan for catching mink is this: I get a hollow
log--it needn't be a long one--and if it is open at both ends I close
up one end, then a little back of that I put my bait. Now at the
other end if the entrance is not slanting so that the mink would run
into it easily, I make it so. I then put the trap inside, about a
foot from the entrance. The mink will run into the log because he
smells the bait, or simply because it is the nature of the beast to
make the run of every hollow log he comes to. Finding the other end
closed he will have to come back and he is sure to be caught either
going or coming. Trailing bait along the ground and up to the back of
the log makes the results surer, as mink are great on the scent.

About mink. One man said mink would not take anything dead unless he
was very hungry. Now Brother Trappers, you all know a mink will take
anything he finds dead and drag it into a hole if he can and when you
find where a mink has dragged something into a hole that is a never
failing set for if he is not in the hole when you find it he will
sure come back to it.

RACCOON.

Hollow trees in swamps are the favorite denning places of the
raccoon, writes an Eastern trapper of years of experience, but in
some sections he is found nearly as often in holes among ledges. If
there is a rocky hill or mountain side on your line, inspect it
thoroughly. The occupied dens may easily be told by the trodden
appearance of the ground about the entrance and an occasional tuft of
hair on the projecting edges of the stone. Here are the places for
your traps.

Set your traps just outside the entrance, cover well with leaves and
rotten wood, and fasten to a clog. We say outside the entrance, for
if the trap be placed at a point where the animal is obliged to
assume a crouching posture, it will be sprung by the creature's
belly, and you will find your trap empty save for a fringe of hair.
Even if the dens show no signs of recent occupation, a few traps can
hardly be misplaced, for the raccoon, like every other animal,
frequently goes on foraging trips long distances from his actual
home, taking up temporary quarters in places like those above
described.

  [Illustration: RACCOON CAUGHT IN ONEIDA JUMP.]

Whenever there is a brook or creek in the vicinity of good raccoon
ground, look along it carefully for signs. The raccoon follows the
streams almost as persistently as the mink in quest of frogs, fish or
clams, and his track may be easily found along the muddy borders, the
print of the hind foot strikingly resembling that of a baby's bare
foot. He is a far less skillful fisher than the mink, usually
confining himself to such unwary swimmers as venture up into the
shallow water near the bank. He seldom if ever I believe, goes into
deep water.

If you find evidence that a raccoon is patrolling a stream, place a
trap without bait at the end of every log affording a crossing place.
The raccoon seldom wades or swims when he can find dry footing.

If you wish to trap the raccoon by baiting, you will find nothing
that he likes better than an old salt fish skin that has been made
odorous by being well smoked. It is not a bad idea to do the smoking
near where you are to set the trap. Build up a little stick fire in
the woods, hold the fish skin impaled on a green stick, over it until
it is thoroughly heated and smoked through, and an odor will be
created that will pervade the woods for rods around. And of course if
this scent reaches the nostrils of any near-by ringtail that is
sleeping away the day, he will lose no time after nightfall in
tracing out the source of the appetizing smell, and endeavoring to
make a supper off his favorite food. Mice, squirrel, frogs and
chicken heads are all good baits, and they are equally good for mink.

Most trappers prefer the No. 1 1/2 Newhouse for raccoon although some
use the No. 2 double spring. The Oneida Jump No. 2 and 2 1/2 are also
good coon traps as is the H. & N. No. 2. The Stop Thief No. 3 1/2 is
also used for coon.

FOXES.

Now I will tell you how foxes can be caught on land when the ground
is frozen, writes a New England trapper. Take a large bait, entrails
or anything that a fox will eat, and put it in some field where the
foxes travel; put out with this bait three bags of buckwheat chaff.
Don't set any traps until foxes begin to eat bait and walk on chaff.
Then take a No. 2 Newhouse trap, smoke it over burning green fir
boughs, and smear it with equal parts of oil of amber and beeswax;
also, smear the chain and use leather mitts to set trap with, for it
is no use setting unless you do. Bury the trap about a foot from the
bait, and cover it with chaff. Make everything level and natural.

When you catch a fox, take him out with mitts on and set again if you
haven't a clean trap to put in its place. Always set a clean trap if
possible.

  [Illustration: RED FOX CAUGHT AT DRY LAND SET.]

My way of catching foxes, writes a Georgia trapper is as follows: I
get a lot of dry dust, put it in the hen house and let it stay until
I get ready to make my sets; then I take what I can carry handily in
a sack to where the foxes "use", dig a hole deep enough for my trap,
place a piece of burnt bacon in a hole, cover it up with the dust,
burn more bacon, letting the grease drop on and around the dust.

I fix a good many of these places but I do not set my traps the first
trip. The next trip I carry my traps with me. If the foxes have found
my bait they will dig it out. I then set my trap in the bottom of the
hole, driving a stake down in the hole to fasten the trap to. Cover
the trap chain and all with dust. I do not put new bait in the hole,
but burn more bacon on top.

Try this, brother trappers, and watch results. Do not set traps where
the bait has not been disturbed. Carry away all fresh dirt and handle
your traps with gloves. In water trapping, form a natural surface
over your traps and you will get furs.

I see different ways to catch the fox. They are all right but no
person can tell another and guarantee success. The man or boy who
sets right will get the fur but careless ones will not. I am going to
tell amateurs and boys the secret of an old time trapper. He is alive
yet and I guess had a few traps set (altho over eighty years old.) He
told me the secret and said at that time he had never told any one
but me.

First put out offal of butchering such as beef head; pick out a good
place where foxes travel; at the same time, singe the fur on a rabbit
or two and put near where you want to set trap; commence baiting
early and go there often. Go past close to where you want to set a
trap; don't tramp around much but go on thru, not leaving the end of
your trail there; renewing bait and singed rabbit fur as needed.

When ready to set traps, boil them in ashes. Then after drying,
fasten traps to bottom of a barrel and burn slowly a lot of rabbit
fur under them; handle as little as possible. Set carefully and catch
your fox if you can and you can if you are careful enough. He said he
caught fifteen in one place that way in one winter. Fasten trap to
drag so he can go away and not spoil set.

My best method is to set my trap in an old log road or path where
there is no traveling done. We should set the trap level with the
ground. The trap should be a No. 2 Newhouse which is the best fox
trap made.

OPOSSUM.

The opossum is not a cunning animal and takes bait readily. It is
found in the Southern and Central States principally. This animal
cannot live in the extreme north as they die from the severe weather.

They are caught principally in No. 1 Newhouse traps, at dens or
places they frequent in search of food. Almost any fresh meat is good
bait: rabbit, squirrel, bird, chicken, etc.

  [Illustration: OPOSSUM CAUGHT IN NO. 1 NEWHOUSE.]

The trap can be baited when used at den but this is not necessary.
Along their trails and in thickets they visit a piece of bait
suspended a foot or so above the ground and trap under, carefully
covered, will catch the opossum. They are also caught by building a
pen of stakes, or chunks and stones placing bait in the back part and
setting trap in front also at hollow logs where they frequently live.

No. 1 Newhouse trap is used a great deal for this animal, although
the No. 1 Victor will hold them; No. 2 Oneida Jump, or No. 2 Tree
Trap, are proper sizes to catch this animal.

The Tree Trap can be used to advantage in catching opossum as this
trap is so made that it can be nailed to a tree or stump and baited.

BADGER.

The badger is a strong animal for its size, and also slow in its
movements. The No. 2 is as small a trap as trappers generally use.
The traps are set at the entrance to their dens, carefully covered
and should be fastened to a moveable clog.

In setting for badger the trapper should carefully remove enough
earth to bed the trap level. A piece of paper or long grass is then
carefully placed on trap, and this covered lightly with the same
material removed in making the excavation. This set is apt to reward
the trapper. If care is taken in making this set a fox may be caught,
as they sometimes frequent dens used by badger.

SKUNK.

A Skunk is one of the easiest animals, whose fur is valuable that
there is to trap. This animal is one of the first to become prime in
the fall. Likewise it sheds early in the spring. When the weather
becomes severe they den up, coming out only on the warmer nights. In
the North they are seldom out after real winter begins, while in the
South, they seek food more or less throughout the winter.

The greatest number are trapped at their dens which can be easily
told by the long tail hairs found in and near the mouth of den. These
hairs may be either white or black, but are usually both--one end
white and the other black. These hairs are from three to five inches
in length.

  [Illustration: BLACK SKUNK IN NO. 1 1/2 VICTOR.]

The dens can also be told by their droppings or manure which is
usually found a few feet to one side of the den. Skunk "droppings"
can be told by observing closely as it contains parts of bugs,
grass-hoppers, etc., the skunk being very fond of these.

At such dens place your trap which should be a No. 1 Newhouse, No. 1
1/2 Victor, or No. 2 Jump. While catches may be made without any
covering it is best to secret the trap carefully for a fox might
happen along, or if near water, a mink.

The best place to put the trap is just at the entrance of den so that
an animal in coming out will get caught also one going near to the
den, but not entering as they often do.

Remove the earth sufficient to bed the trap so that after it is
covered the covering will be on a level with the surroundings. Make a
covering with whatever you removed. If there is grass in mouth of
den, cover with grass, if leaves, cover with leaves, etc.

Another good set is to find where skunk are feeding, digging for
insects, or their trails leading from one den to another, and make a
cubby, placing bait in it, and setting trap. Bait should be rabbit,
squirrel, chicken, bird, or in fact, almost any kind of meat.

  [Illustration: BAITED AND CAUGHT AT CUBBY SET.]

CIVET.

Civet or civet cats are caught much the same way as skunk. This is
the little spotted animal often called pole cat, and smaller than the
skunk. Skunks have a spot on the head and two stripes while the civet
has several stripes and these sometimes run across the body instead
of along the back from head to tail as on the skunk.

This animal is caught much the same as the skunk, but being much
smaller does not require as strong a trap and the No. 1 of most any
make will usually hold this animal. Bait the same as for skunk.

RING TAIL CAT.

The Ring Tail cat or Basarisk is found principally in Texas, although
there are some in California, Oregon and Washington. They can be
trapped by baiting with insects, frogs or mice. The No. 1 Newhouse,
or No. 1 1/2 Victor, or No. 2 Oneida Jump are correct sizes for this
animal.

The traps can be set about as for skunk or may be placed on logs and
baited or the bait can be nailed to a tree that they frequent, the
trap placed beneath and carefully covered.

BEAR.

Bear are caught after finding a place that they visit in search of
food, by building a "cubby", made by driving old dry stakes in the
ground so as to form a V-shaped pen. Then cover all except the
entrance with green brush. This should be three feet high, about two
wide, and about three or four feet long.

If a rock or old log is laying where the cubby is to be built it can
be used for one side. The "cubby" must be built strong or the bear is
apt to tear it down and secure the bait without getting caught.

The bait can be a piece of dead horse, hog, sheep, or most any
animal, and the more it stinks, the better. Fish is also good bait.

Stake the bait back in the cubby, and set the trap at the entrance.
Cover carefully. The trap should be fastened to a clog weighing
thirty pounds or more. This clog should be several feet long and if a
few knots are left on so much the better.

The Nos. 5, 15, and 150, are all adapted for black bear, while the
No. 6 is especially designed for grizzly bear. It is the largest trap
made.

  [Illustration: THERE TO STAY--IN A NEWHOUSE.]

In setting bear traps the Newhouse champ, described elsewhere, is
much used. It is not very safe for a lone trapper in the forest to
undertake the setting of a powerful steel trap without clamps.

MOUNTAIN LION.

Mountain lion are powerful animals yet they are successfully caught
in No. 4 1/2 Newhouse traps.

  [Illustration: MOUNTAIN LION SECURELY CAUGHT.]

If you find where mountain lions have killed an animal and left part
of it there is the place to set a trap for they are almost sure to
return in a night or two.

This animal is also frequently caught by setting a trap where deer or
other game has been killed. The chances are good if there is a lion
near it will smell the blood and be attracted to the spot as many
hunters know that have killed game, dressed and left it until the
next day, to find on returning that a lion had been there and helped
itself.

In setting for this animal the trap should be fastened to a
clog--never solid--as they are quite strong.



CHAPTER XXVI.

WATER TRAPPING.

Here is where the steel trap reveals its superiority over all other
traps, for the homemade ones cannot be used for water sets. Strictly
speaking all the "water animals" that are valuable for fur are the
otter, beaver and muskrat, although large numbers of both coon and
mink are caught at water sets, as they frequent the streams, ponds
and lakes, a great deal in search of food.

In the New England states, as well as some other sections, foxes are
caught in water sets mostly at springs. They are generally trapped
this way in the fall and early winter before freezing weather.

BEAVER.

The beaver, as I know him, is a very shy and cunning animal, always
on guard against danger, which makes it pretty hard to trap, unless
the trapper thoroughly knows his ways and habits. My experience has
been wholly confined to the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and
State of Washington, writes a trapper of experience.

The beaver lives along streams or lakes. On streams he builds dams,
thus making a reservoir or lake. Sometimes he builds a dam at the
outlet of a natural lake, thus raising the height of the water. After
he has prepared his dam and built his home, he commences to gather
food, which consists of branches of trees, bushes, and even small
trees themselves. He always chooses tender, green ones. These he puts
in the bottom of the lake or stream in his hut or lodge. If he be
disturbed at any time he will stop work for several days and live off
the boughs already gathered and sunken, and it is almost impossible
to get him until he commences to gather again.

He usually does his work among young sprouts which grow along the
bank of his lake or stream. Sometimes he will go a short ways up the
stream and float the boughs down to his dam or hut, and then sink
them to the bottom, so when the ice gets thick he has sufficient food
sunk in the water to last him.

  [Illustration: BEAVER, TRAP AND TRAPPER.]

There are several different ways to trap him, but I only know of two
or three, and will attempt to give them. The first thing is a No. 3
or 4 Newhouse trap with a long chain and big ring. Then the best way
is to take some bait, (described elsewhere), cut some small twigs,
one for each trap, and having found the dam of a family of beavers,
put on a pair of rubber boots, or remove your boots, and wade up
stream along the shore, or go in a boat to where they have been at
work gathering the sprouts. Be very careful, and don't step out of
the water on the land so they can see your tracks or scent you, for
should his suspicion become aroused by any human smell the beaver
will stay in his home for several days, thus making it tedious work
to trap him. When you have a place selected where the bank is steep,
fasten your trap chain to a strong stake beneath the water. Then
fasten a heavy rock to your trap and dig a flat place in the bank a
few inches beneath the water, placing your trap thereon. Then dip the
twig into the "madcin" and stick the upper end in the ground, just
out of the water, and leaning over the trap. Now your trap is ready.

The beaver comes out of his hut as it grows dark and starts toward
the ground where he has his feeding place. As he swims along up the
stream, his nose comes in contact with a familiar smell, and he will
swim right up to the twig to investigate. As his foot touches the
ground the trap springs and he at once plunges for deep water. The
stone rolls down to the bottom and pulls him under and he drowns in a
short time. He makes no noise to scare the rest, and before he has
time to gnaw off his foot he is drowned. In this way you can catch
the whole family.

Another way is to cut a hole in the top of dam and set the trap just
below the top of water just under the hole. Just as soon as he comes
out his eyes tell him his dam needs fixing. He goes at it at once,
and all the rest help him. He gets into the trap often before the
eyes of the rest, and they will leave the place at once never to
return.

Another way is to cover the trap carefully in the path where the
beaver goes from the water to his feeding grounds, but doing this it
is liable to scare the rest of them entirely away.

OTTER.

The otter is a pretty hard animal to catch. When I set a trap in an
otter hole, I cut a chunk of snow with an axe a short distance away
and set over the hole, covering it all over with loose snow. That
prevents it from freezing up for some time.

The best time to catch otter is in March when the first thaw comes. I
have kept traps set all winter for an otter and then got him in the
spring. The trap should be set a little to one side of the hole in
ten inches of water. I caught an otter once in an otter hole so deep
that I had to put in an armful of cedar brush, so as to make it the
right depth, and when he came to slide around there he got a
surprise, writes a Colorado trapper.

  * * *

To trap otter cut a log about 18 inches in diameter and about 7 or 8
feet in length, then cut half off five or six inches of one end of
the log. Now float your log with the cut end down. Fasten your trap
chain to the side of the log. Float your log to just below the point
of a stream or a little above an otter slide.

See that the log end on which the trap rests is below the water so as
to give the otter a chance to climb onto the log to investigate the
scent which should be "Oil of Anise" smeared on to a stick and set
upright on the log. If you use good judgment in placing your
log-float, you can count the "balls" on the otter's feet at every
set.

I find where the otter comes out of the water, writes an Arkansas
trapper, to dung, or slide, as some term it, and I take a No. 4 steel
trap and set it where he comes out of the water and about two inches
under. Great care should be taken in setting a trap for an otter, not
to go too close to the slides. Have a pair of rubber boots and wade
in the stream along the edge to where the slide is. Set your trap so
as to leave everything just as you found it, as near as possible; if
handy, set from boat. No bait is required.

  [Illustration: LARGE OTTER CAUGHT IN NO. 3 NEWHOUSE.]

Fasten your chain to a pole, say 6 or 8 feet long, leaving some limbs
on one end to prevent ring of chain from coming off and wire the
other end to a bush or something of that sort as far out in the water
as you can so the otter can get into deep water and drown. Have a
pole driven in the ground out in the water so the otter will get
tangled around the pole. This will prevent him from getting loose,
because he has no purchase to pull as he would have if out on the
bank.

I "hung up" three one night last fall. When I went to my traps I
found one otter that measured 6 feet from tip of nose to tip of tail.
I found an otter toe in one trap, another trap being taken off by an
otter, as the chain pulled loose at the spring. I was fortunate in
finding the otter that got away with the trap four days later,
tangled up in some vines about two hundred yards from where he was
caught; he measured 5 feet and 11 inches.

MINK.

An excellent way to catch mink is to take a fish, cut it in pieces
and tie all of them except one or two onto a large stick and fasten
it out about two feet from the shore in shallow water. Set your trap
about half-way between the shore and the stick and have it fixed so
that the covering will make a little mound above the water. Throw the
other pieces of fish down on the shore and you will get every mink
that comes along. Be sure that your trap is staked in as deep water
as is possible, so they will not get away.

In setting any trap it is a very good thing to have rubber boots and
stand in the water while setting. Some trappers say it is foolishness
because they are not afraid anyway. Well, I have caught mink in an
uncovered trap that was in plain sight and then again I couldn't get
them to come near with the trap under water. Some mink are more
careful than others and if you set for the wisest ones you will be
sure to get them all.

I will give you a good mink set, writes a Minnesota trapper. Here is
a trail along the edge of the water. Let us follow it until it takes
to the water. In order to pass around a projection in the bank where
the bank is so straight up that it is necessary for the animal to go
into the edge of the water to pass around this obstruction, and in
the edge of the water not more than two inches deep, level a place
for the trap and press it down into the ground until the jaws are
level with the surface, being careful to remove all mud from under
the pan, giving it room for free action. Stake the chain back into
the water full length and press it down into the mud.

After doing this get a handful of dry dirt, pulverize it and let it
fall gently over the trap, thoroughly covering it at least for a
quarter of an inch, even and smooth in all places. Now about eight
inches on each side of the trap place a small weed stalk an inch or
two above the ground and directly over the path and if you will put a
few spots of mud on it just where it crosses the path to give it the
appearance of being rubbed against, you will catch every mink that
runs this trail from either direction, and without bait or scent.

MUSKRAT.

When setting traps stake well out in the water, so that when the
animal is caught he cannot get to land, and nine times out of ten
when you visit the trap your game will be drowned. The trap should be
in about three inches of water where rats frequent. If set 3 inches
or deeper the trap is more apt to catch by the hind leg, which, being
large, the bone is not broken so easily. For bait use white corn,
apples, parsnips or turnips.

  [Illustration: MUSKRAT CAUGHT IN A DOUBLE JAW.]

The idea advanced that the muskrat gnaws off his foot when caught is
erroneous. There are times, however, when the trap has broken the
bone in the leg and if the trap is a strong one, the animal frees
himself by plunging about until the pressure of the jaws have cut
thru the flesh. The flesh of the muskrat is not strong and when the
jaws spring together, if they break the bone in the leg, which
frequently happens, then the rat often frees himself before the
arrival of the trapper.

It is a good plan when making the round of your traps to carry a
stout club with which to tap game over the head, killing it, should
it be yet alive when you arrive. The entrance of the muskrat's den is
usually under water, unless the streams are very low, then you can
often find them.

In the mouth of these dens is an excellent place to set traps, as
game is passing in and out quite often and if traps are baited you
are pretty sure to catch game in a day or two. Where rats have made a
path from the water up the bank is another good place to set a trap.
The trap should be set just at the edge of the water.

It is a good idea to cover up your trap, even when trapping for
muskrat, for with continued trapping they become sly and learn to
shun traps. Along the bank of most all streams green grass can be
secured and this placed over your traps will enable you to catch game
that otherwise would shun your trap. The trap should be baited, but
the covering up of trap and chain will greatly help in catching game.
The earlier traps are visited in the morning the better, for should
the game still be alive there will be less chance of it getting free.

COON.

Now just a word about trapping coon in water. Set trap in water and
bait with fish. Now the right way to use fish is to cut it up in very
small pieces, drop some on the ground and some in the water and when
Mr. Coon comes along he will find that fish on the ground and then go
to feeling in the water and the first thing he knows he is in the
trap.

  * * *

Here is my most successful set for coon. Find a log with one end out
of water, and one end running into the water. Place a trap on the log
an inch or so under water. Cover it with wet leaves all but the
treadle. Then place a few grains of white corn on treadle pan. Mr.
Coon will as sure put a foot down to investigate as he runs the log.

FOX.

I go around every fall in August and look for places to catch sly
reynard, says an Eastern fox trapper. I look up all the warm springs
back in the hills and dig them out and leave a stick or rail there
for a clog. I leave it just where I want it, so that they will get
used to it.

About the middle of October I go and bait every place, using a piece
of chicken or muskrat about as large as a butternut. I place it on a
rock in the middle of the spring or about a foot from the bank and
put a stone half-way between that and the bank just under water. Then
I take a stone, the thinner the better. You can find enough of them
around a ledge where the frost has scaled them off. I lay it on the
rock that is just under the water so it will stick out of water. It
ought to be 2 inches across each way.

I use the scent of the skunk on the sole of my boots so as to kill
the scent and handle the bait with a "knife and fork," never with my
hands. It won't be long before the bait it gone when I am ready to
set my traps, then I move the middle stone and put the thin one on
the pan of the trap so it will just stick out of the water. Try this
and you will get your fox. Scatter three or four drops of fish oil
around trap.

SPRING TRAPPING.

When setting traps for beaver and otter in the early open water,
writes a Canadian of experience, the greatest difficulty and
annoyance the trapper has to contend against is the varying depths of
the water caused by the melting of the snows during the day and the
running down of the levels during the frosty nights. This, of course,
applies more to rivers than to lakes, but as the rivers open so much
earlier than the lakes it is on them the early trapping is
prosecuted. It is most exasperating to visit one's trap in the
morning and find by the signs that the beaver or otter had paid his
visit and that the trap was out of order by being a couple of feet
under water, or high and dry up the bank.

To avoid this close observation of the working of the water must be
taken note of by the trapper. Weather conditions is a factor to be
reckoned with. A rainy night and a cold frosty one have, of course,
different effects, and must be considered with all their bearings by
the would-be successful trapper. The best time to make a set or final
adjustment of one's trap is as late in the afternoon as possible.
Then one sees how much the stream has risen since morning, and
calculate by his judgment how much it will recede during the coming
frosty night. Or if rain has set in or is imminent before morning,
how much further the rise will be.

  [Illustration: A MORNING'S CATCH OF RATS.]

With these daily and nightly variations of the water, of course,
traps must be visited each morning and evening. It is therefore good
policy at every early visit to make a level mark near each set,
whereby in the evening when the trap is to be properly adjusted, the
day's changes can be noticed with accuracy. Small streams, of course,
fluctuate more than large rivers, the latter generally showing a
steady increase in volume from the beginning of the break-up until
the lake ice is all melted. There are many tributaries of large
streams that one can easily jump across early in the morning, after a
sharp frosty night, which are positively raging torrents at sundown.
On streams with such wide variances in depth, trapping is almost
impossible. At all events, a good deal rests on chance. One has to
manage his trap with a large amount of guess work. Streams with a
breadth of an acre or so move up and down with a greater degree of
uniformity, and the trapper who pays close attention to the movements
of the water and weather conditions can set his trap pretty
accurately for business. A river such as I have mentioned last, whose
feeders are a considerable distance up stream, generally falls a
third of what it rose during the daytime. Thus, if you find that
since morning the level has risen nine inches it will be safe to set
your trap six inches under water. By this calculation there would be
three inches over the jaws at the lowest ebb next morning, the night
before being cold and dry.

I have caught both otter and beaver in traps set on a half submerged
log, a place which makes an ideal set on waters that are liable to
vary in height, as the log moves with the change of height and the
trap is always in order. Another good place for a trap is on a
floating island when such can be found, but these favorable places
are not always obtainable. A beaver or otter will be caught in deeper
water in the spring than in the fall. In the spring they swim about
with more vigor and consequently displace more water in front of
their breasts, their feet thereby, setting off the pan in what would
at other seasons be too deep water.

A piece of castorum is the general lure used by most trappers for the
animals I am treating of. In fact castorum is used for almost any
animal. But a stronger "draw" for beaver or otter is a drop or two
from the scent bag of the animal. The contents of this sac can be
emptied into a small vial and carried about in the trapper's pocket
to be used when required.

A small twig dipped in this and stuck in the bank back of the trap
will cause any otter or beaver swimming past to come straight for the
trap, regardless of consequences.

In setting a trap for these animals care must always be taken to
douce all about the trap before leaving. This can be done from the
canoe or boat by flipping water with the flat of the paddle. A
difficulty in setting spring traps is the planting of a picket to
hold the trap. The banks are generally frozen even for considerable
distance under water, and driving a picket or stake is impossible.
One good way to overcome this condition when procurable is to fasten
the trap chain to a good sized flat stone. Have a wire from this to
the shore tied to some willow or root, and if anything is caught,
with the wire you can drag everything ashore.

When stones are not to be procured a young spruce can be cut ten or
twelve feet long of a size at the butt that the trap chain ring will
pass over. Leave a good tuft of the head branches, removing all the
rest down to the butt. The ring thus being assured of a clear run
down to the tuft, the trap is set and the end of the pole made secure
to the bank either by a piece of wire or by a cord. If the latter,
care must be used to tie close down to the prong and the cord
carefully covered with mud or something else to hide it from rabbits
or other animals that would surely gnaw, thereby endangering the loss
of your trap and animal.

Trapping, like everything else, to make it a success, must have
proper attention. A man who sets a trap haphazard and visits it only
occasionally cannot expect to be very successful.

SALT SET.

I use both the bait and blind set; the water set I think is the best,
that is, in bitter cold weather when the ice is thick. My way of
making, I call it the ice set, writes an interested trapper, is to
take a piece of oil cloth or an old buggy top cover will do, and put
about 5 pounds of salt in same and sew it up, having it about 2
inches thick. Don't make it too solid, leave it loose enough so you
can work the most of the salt around the edges to bed the trap in.

Now puncture with a needle to let the fumes of salt through; cut a
hole through the ice at edge of the water, scrape out hole to bed
salt in; but first put a stone in the hole and bottom and side it up
with stones to keep the mud from clogging the needle holes. Now you
will wonder what the salt is for; simply to keep the ice from
freezing the hole shut. I had nine of that kind of sets last winter
and trapped 7 mink. The hole will never freeze shut. Always set trap
under water.

Last winter I told my better half that I had better take my traps out
of the run where I trap, as I couldn't make a water set, because they
froze up over night. She said, "Why don't you put salt around your
traps?" That put me to thinking so I got an old piece of oil cloth
and got her to make four bags for me on the sewing machine; I put a
sack of salt, 5 pounds in each one, and used them as I have
described.

BAD WATERS.

The marshy lands that are tributary to the Atlantic extend for
hundreds of miles along the Maryland shore of Chesapeake Bay. These
lands are sometimes entirely covered with a brackish water forced up
by the tides from the sea, while at other times they are covered by
the fresh water brought down by the flooded rivers from the higher
lands of the back country.

Upon these vast extents of boggy wastes large numbers of fur bearing
animals, mostly muskrats are annually caught, and many trappers make
a good living from the fur and the meat which as "Marsh Rabbit" is
served at the Bon Ton restaurants of the neighboring cities.

The water of these marshes varies much in its component parts at
different places on the coast, caused by the varying quality of the
streams which flow through them. This is plainly shown by its effect
upon the traps used by the trappers of the different localities.
While in some places the springs will stand apparently as well as in
fresh water streams, in others they break very badly.

  [Illustration: THE BLACK WATER MARSH.]

Formerly at one point known as the "Black Water" region the trappers
often lost nearly one-half their springs in a few days trapping,
owing to the action of this peculiar water. Just what the cause of
this action is has not yet been fully determined.



CHAPTER XXVII.

WHEN TO TRAP.

The proper season to begin trapping is when cold weather comes. The
old saying that fur is good any month that has an "R" in does not
hold good except in the North. Even there September is too early to
begin, yet muskrat and skunk are worth something as well as other
furs. In the spring April is the last month with an "R." In most
sections muskrat, bear, beaver, badger and otter are good all thru
April, but other animals began shedding weeks before.

The rule for trappers to follow is to put off trapping in the fall
until nights are frosty and the ground freezes.

Generally speaking in Canada and the more Northern States trappers
can begin about November 1 and should cease March 1, with the
exception of water animals, bear and badger, which may be trapped a
month later. In the Central and Southern States trappers should not
begin so early and should leave off in the spring from one to four
weeks sooner--depending upon how far South they are located.

At the interior Hudson Bay posts, where their word is law, October 25
is appointed to begin and May 25th to quit hunting and trapping with
the exception of bear, which are considered prime up to June 10.
Remember that the above dates are for the interior or Northern H. B.
Posts, which are located hundreds of miles north of the boundary
between the United States and Canada.

The skunk is the first animal to become prime, then the coon, marten,
fisher, mink and fox, but the latter does not become strictly prime
until after a few days of snow, says an old Maine trapper. Rats and
beaver are late in priming up as well as otter and mink, and tho the
mink is not strictly a land animal, it becomes prime about with the
later land animals. The bear, which is strictly a land animal, is not
in good fur until snow comes and not strictly prime until February or
March.

  * * *

With the first frosts and cool days many trappers begin setting and
baiting their traps. That it is easier to catch certain kinds of
fur-bearing animals early in the season is known to most trappers and
for this reason trapping in most localities is done too early in the
season.

  [Illustration: JUST AFTER THE SEASON OPENS.]

Some years ago when trapping was done even earlier than now, we
examined mink skins that were classed as No. 4 and worth 10 or 15
cents, that, had they been allowed to live a few weeks longer, their
hides would have been No. 1 and worth, according to locality, from
$1.50 to $3.50 each. This early trapping is a loss to the trapper if
they will only pause and think. There are only so many animals in a
locality to be caught each winter and why catch them before their fur
is prime?

In the latitude of Southern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, etc., skunk
caught in the month of October are graded back from one to three
grades (and even sometimes into trash), where if they were not caught
until November 15th how different would be the classification. The
same is true of opossum, mink, muskrat, coon, fox, etc.

  * * *

Skunk are one of the animals that become prime first each fall. The
date that they become prime depends much on the weather. Fifteen
years ago, when trapping in Southern Ohio, the writer has sold skunk
at winter prices caught as early as October 16, while other seasons
those caught the 7th of November, or three weeks later, blued and
were graded back. Am glad to say that years ago I learned not to put
out traps until November.

That the weather has much to do with the priming of furs and pelts
there is no question. If the fall is colder than usual the furs will
become prime sooner, while if the freezing weather is later the pelts
will be later in "priming up."

In the sections where weasel turn white (then called ermine by many),
trappers have a good guide. When they become white they are prime and
so are most other land animals. In fact, some are fairly good a week
or two before.

When a pelt is put on the stretcher and becomes blue in a few days it
is far from prime and will grade no better than No. 2. If the pelt
turns black the chances are that the pelt will grade No. 3 or 4. In
the case of mink, when dark spots only appear on the pelt, it is not
quite prime.

Trappers and hunters should remember that no pelt is prime or No. 1
when it turns the least blue. Opossum skins seldom turn blue even if
caught early--most other skins do.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

SOME DEEP WATER SETS.

When the rivers and lakes are fast bound with the grip of winter, it
is not always convenient to find a suitable place to set a beaver or
otter trap under the ice, says Martin Hunter in the H-T-T. The shore
line may drop away into too deep water to set at the bank, or, it may
be uneven rocks which preclude the possibility of making a safe and
sure set.

When such conditions confront the trapper, it is good to know how to
set a trap in deep water. It was a Mic-Mac Indian who showed me how
and on several occasions I have found the knowledge very useful and
profitable. In fact, more than once had I not known this, the
conditions were such that it would have been utterly impossible for
me to have set in the usual way. In after years, during my sojourn
amongst Montagnais, Algonquins and Ojbway Indians, I never came
across any trapper of these tribes who knew how to set a trap in deep
water.

For beaver especially, what better place than in the proximity of
their lodge? And what more successful time than in January or
February, when their winter supply of wood has become sodden and
slimy from months of submersion.

Then cut an opening in the ice, off from the lodge entrance, and
introduce a birch or popple sapling into the hole, cover the opening
up with snow and come back in a couple of days, chisel about the
protruding sticks and pull them out. Oh! where are they? You will
find only the stumps in your hand. The beaver has come and cut the
succulent young trees off close to the under surface of the ice and
towed them away to his lodge. Now, if you could only set a trap there
and place more flesh food you would most likely get that beaver, but
the water is deep. Your baiting hole is away from the shore thirty or
forty feet and you measure the depth and find six or seven feet of
water. Again you scratch your head and are sore perplexed.

But, my fellow trappers, it is right here where I step in and show
you the way to overcome the difficulty. Had I not caught beaver under
such conditions I would not presume to teach others, but I have
trapped them this way and always with success. And as for otter,
setting in deep water is much surer than at an opening in a dam or
other place which is likely to freeze up and put the trap out of
order.

Now if you will follow me I will describe a "deep water set" in as
clear a way as possible, so that any ordinary trapper ought to be
able to use it successfully. Cut a trench in the ice thru to clear
water, fourteen to eighteen inches broad by four feet long; clear
this hole free from any floating particles of ice, cut (dry if
possible) a young spruce or tamarac, twelve to fifteen feet long.
Have it three or four inches in diameter at the butt end, branch it
off from end to end and rub off with axe blade all loose bark.

Introduce the small end into the water obliquely, shoving it down in
the mud or sand of the bottom, with the butt end resting on the ice
at one end of the opening. If the pole is too long to get the proper
angle, take it out and cut off the surplus. This dry pole is to set
the trap on and has to be at the proper incline so that when the
beaver is swimming while cutting the bait sticks, he sets off the
trap. When the pole is in the proper position, mark with your axe or
chisel about twelve or fifteen inches under the level of the water.

Now take out the pole and hew a flat surface, at the spot previously
marked, about a foot long. Slant your pole sideways and drive in the
corner of your axe half an inch under the hewed flat surface, drive
the axe until the pole is almost split in twain. If the opening wants
to close back too tight, introduce a small sliver of wood. Now set
your No. 4 trap; run the ring up the pole above where the trap is to
rest and secure it there with a piece of wire or a small staple.
Force the spear part of the bottom of the trap into the split, chuck
up to the main bottom part that engages the ends of the jaw. The trap
is now in place.

  [Illustration: DEEP WATER SET TRAP FASTENING.]

When there is a muddy or sandy bottom, the better way is to allow
enough length of pole to bury a foot or so into the bottom. This will
hold the pole secure and prevent rolling. Now take two nice, young,
juicy popple or young birch, branch them off clear to the small end
and have them six to nine feet long; put them in small end first and
place one on each side of trap, five inches from it and about the
same above. These pieces of food wood can be kept in proper place by
packing the butt ends down on the solid ice and putting snow and
water on top.

If it is at all cold it will get solid in a few moments. Next process
is to cut fifteen or twenty young spruce trees a couple of inches in
diameter and about five feet long; place these straight up and down
outside the popple wood. This will form a fence at each side with
spaces four inches apart. Right up at the end where all your work
centers, a few dry branches can be forced in and down to prevent the
animal from cutting away the food from the back. With a little
practice you can have all this fixed to a nicety.

The beaver entering from the lower slope of the wood and swimming up
to gnaw the sticks close to the ice, sets off the trap and in his
struggles he pulls it clear from the cleft and in a few moments is
drowned. After all is in shape the opening in the ice is dusted over
with snow and left to freeze.

In visiting the trap at the end of two or three days, it is only
necessary to chisel a very small hole to see if the trap or bait are
displaced. This can be readily ascertained by lying flat on the ice,
partly cover your head with your coat or blanket and with your face
close to the hole all objects in a few moments will become clear.

For otter set, the trap pole is made in the same way, but instead of
popple or birch, a small fish is used for bait. Skewer it from the
dorsal fin thru to the stomach and suspend it above and back of the
trap at the proper distance. As it appears in its natural position in
the water and the skewer is hardly visible, an otter swimming past
takes it for a live fish and in dashing for his meal gets caught.

I have found this set very successful in creeks and small rivers,
even in setting out from the shore.

Otters, like mink, have their feeding grounds on lakes and connecting
rivers and are sure to skirt the shores in swimming down or up
stream. If the stream is very broad it will be as well to have a trap
on each shore and thus enhance the certainty of getting his fur.

The best fish for an otter set is white fish or trout a pound and a
half to two pounds. By changing the bait once a week your trap can be
kept set all winter without getting out of order.

  [Illustration: SKINNING A BOB CAT.]

Back of this article I mentioned "chisel." A chisel is almost a
necessity to a trapper, especially if the ice is thick. With only an
axe the trapper gets splashed all over and when this freezes he is in
a most uncomfortable state. A good strong ice chisel can be had in
the ordinary one and a half-inch carpenter's mortising chisel. Have a
hole drilled thru both sides of the socket about three-quarters of an
inch from the rim, carry a stout screw in your pocket and the chisel
in your bag or bundle.

When necessary to use the chisel for ice trenching, cut a dry sound
young sapling, six feet long, take off most of the bark and point the
end the required length and shape off the socket by knocking the end
of the handle against a nearby tree or rock. The chisel becomes
firmly fixed. Now introduce the screw into one of the holes and with
your axe bang it clear thru and out on the other side. The screw used
for this purpose should be one and three-quarters inches long.

When finished with your chisel, if not likely to be required again at
that place, it may be chopped off the handle and at your first fire
the socket part can be placed in hot ashes or close to the blaze
until the wood stump is so charred that it will readily scrape out,
securing the screw for another time. Ice chisels are indispensable to
any one trapping beaver, otter or mink, and no Indian would consider
his outfit complete without one. I have seen them made out of the
prong of a deer antler. This was before the imported article was
introduced into the far back country. The horn was sharpened to a
cutting edge at the business end and the shank lashed to the handle
with deer skin thongs.



CHAPTER XXIX.

SKINNING AND STRETCHING.

Much importance should be attached to the skinning and stretching of
all kinds of skins so as to command the highest commercial value. The
fisher, otter, foxes, lynx, marten, mink, ermine, civet, cats and
skunk should be cased, that is, taken off whole.

Commence with the knife in the center of one hind foot and slit up
the inside of the leg, up to and around the vent and down the other
leg in a like manner. Cut around the vent, taking care not to cut the
lumps or glands in which the musk of certain animals is secreted,
then strip the skin from the bone of the tail with the aid of a split
stick gripped firmly in the hand while the thumb of the other hand
presses against the animal's back just above. Make no other slits in
the skin except in the case of the skunk and otter, whose tails
require to be split, spread, and tacked on a board.

Turn the skin back over the body, leaving the pelt side out and the
fur side inward, and by cutting a few ligaments, it will peel off
very readily. Care should be taken to cut closely around the nose,
ears and lips, so as not to tear the skin. Have a board made about
the size and shape of the three-board stretcher, only not split in
halves. This board is to put the skin over in order to hold it better
while removing particles of fat and flesh which adheres to it while
skinning, which can be done with a blunt-edged knife, by scraping the
skin from the tail down toward the nose--the direction in which the
hair roots grow--never scrape up the other way or you will injure the
fiber of the skin, and care should be taken not to scrape too hard,
for if the skin fiber is injured its value is decreased.

  [Illustration: SINGLE AND THREE BOARD STRETCHER.]

Now, having been thoroughly "fleshed," as the above process is
called, the skin is ready for stretching, which is done by inserting
the two halves of the three-board stretcher and drawing the skin over
the boards to its fullest extent, with the back on one side and the
belly on the other, and tacking it fast by driving in a small nail an
inch or so from each side of the tail near the edges of the skin;
also, in like manner the other side. Now insert the wedge and drive
it between the halves almost its entire length. Care should be taken,
however, to not stretch the skin so much as to make the fur appear
thin and thus injure its value. Now put a nail in the root of the
tail and fasten it to the wedge; also, draw up all slack parts and
fasten. Care should be taken to have both sides of the skin of equal
length, which can be done by lapping the leg flippers over each
other. Now draw up the under lip and fasten, and pull the nose down
until it meets the lip and tack it fast, and then the skin is ready
to hang away to cure.

Do not dry skins at a fire or in the sun, or in smoke. It often burns
them when they will not dress and are of no value. Dry in a
well-covered shed or tent where there is a free circulation of air,
and never use any preparation, such as alum and salt, as it only
injures them for market. Never stretch the noses out long, as some
trappers are inclined to do, but treat them as above described, and
they will command better values. Fur buyers are inclined to class
long-nosed skins as "southern" and pay a small price for them, as
Southern skins are much lighter in fur than those of the North.

The badger, beaver, bear, raccoon and wolf must always be skinned
"open;" that is, ripped up the belly from vent to chin after the
following manner: Cut across the hind legs as if to be "cased" and
then rip up the belly. The skin can then be removed by flaying as in
skinning a beef.

  * * *

Another experienced trapper says: The animals which should be skinned
open are bear, beaver, raccoon, badger, timber wolf and wolverines.
The way to do this is to rip the skin open from the point of the
lower jaw, in a straight line, to the vent. Then rip it open on the
back of the hind legs, and the inside of the front legs, and peel the
skin carefully off the body. Beaver, however, should not have the
front legs split open and the tail, having no fur, is of course cut
off. If the skin is a fine one, and especially in the case of bear,
the feet should not be cut off, but should be skinned, leaving the
claws on. I would also advise saving the skull, and the proper way to
clean it is to scrape the flesh off with a knife. When the animal is
skinned, roll the skin up with the fur side out and put it in your
pack.

See that there are no burrs or lumps of mud in the fur, before you do
any fleshing. My way of fleshing furs--there may be better ways--is
to draw the skin over a smooth board, made for the purpose and
scraping, or peeling, with a blunt edged knife. Commence at the tail,
and scrape towards the head, otherwise you may injure the fibre of
the hide. Over the back and shoulders of most animals is a thin layer
of flesh. This should be removed, and when done, there should be
nothing remaining but the skin and fur. Raccoon and muskrat are
easily fleshed by pinching the flesh between the edge of the knife
and the thumb.

For stretching boards, I prefer a three board stretcher, but a plain
board will answer. For muskrats, use a single board. Open skins are
best stretched in frames or hoops, but it is all right to stretch
them on the wall on the inside of a building. The boards shown in the
cut are, to my notion, the proper shapes, and I would advise making a
good supply of them before the season commences.

  [Illustration: SOME STRETCHING PATTERNS.]

To use these three board stretchers, insert the two halves of the
board in the skin, draw the skin down and fasten the hind legs, with
tacks, to the edges of the boards. This stretches the hide long. Then
insert the wedge between the two boards, which will stretch the skin
out to its fullest extent, and give it the proper shape. Finish by
fastening with tacks, pulling the nose over the point of the board,
and drawing the skin of the lower jaw up against the nose. Hang the
furs in a cool, dry place and as soon as they are dry, remove them
from the boards. Fox skins should be turned with the fur side out,
after removing from the board.

In using the hoop stretcher, the hide is laced inside the hoop, with
twine, the skin of the coon being stretched square and the beaver
round. All other furs should be stretched so as not to draw them out
of their natural shape. If the weather is warm and the furs are
likely to taint, salt them. A salted skin is better than a tainted
one. Put salt in the tail, and punch a hole in the end of the tail,
with a pointed wire, to let the water drain out, or split the tail up
about one-half inch from tip.

The skin of the bear is, perhaps, more likely to spoil than any
other, and the ears especially, are likely to taint and slip the fur.
To prevent this, slit the ears open on the inside, skin them back
almost to the edge and fill them with salt, also salt the base of the
ears, on the flesh side of the hide.

  * * *

In stretching, says a North Dakota trapper, we use a one board
stretcher as follows: Put on the fur after you have fleshed it, the
four feet on one side and the tail on the other. Tack down the hind
feet and the tail, then take a piece of board about 1 x 1/4 inches
(this would be about the correct size for a mink) rounded off except
on one side. Put it below the fur on the side where the feet are, tie
the front feet. When you are going to take off the fur, pull out the
small board and the fur will come off easy.

  [Illustration: DAKOTA TRAPPER'S METHOD.]

A contrivance which I have found useful in skinning is made of a
piece of stiff wire 18 inches long. Bend this at the middle until it
has the shape of V with the ends about 8 inches apart. Bend up an
inch at each end to form a hook and when skinning, after cutting
around the hind feet, hook into the large tendons, hang on a nail or
over limb, etc., and go ahead with both hands. The wire must be
nearly as large as a slate pencil and will work all right from foxes
down to mink. Trappers will find this a great help in skinning
animals after they have become cold. Young trappers should use this
simple device as they will be less liable to cut holes in the skin.
It pays to be careful in skinning animals properly as well as to
stretch them correctly, for both add to their market value.

  [Illustration: HOLDER FOR SKINNING.]

How many trappers save the skulls of their larger game? All the
skulls of bear, puma or mountain lion, wolves, foxes and sometimes
those of lynx and wild cat are of ready sale if they contain good
sets of teeth. Several parties buy these skulls for cash.

To prepare them the bulk of the flesh should be removed and the brain
and eyes also. Probably the easiest way to accomplish this is to boil
the skull with flesh on in an old pot until the meat begins to get
tender. Then, while hot, it may easily be cut away, and by enlarging
the hole at the back of the skull the brain may be scooped out. They
should be watched carefully as if boiled too long the teeth drop out,
bones separate and render the skull worthless. It is safe, but more
tedious to clean them with a sharp knife without boiling.

The dealers pay from 50c for a bear skull to 15c for a fox, tho
taxidermists and furriers often pay much more. The British Columbia
Government pays bounties upon the skulls, only I think this is a good
idea as the skins are not mutilated and depreciated by scalping,
punching or cutting as usual. Save a few good skulls and add dollars
to the value of your catch.

  * * *

Take two pieces of No. 9 fence wire about 30 inches long, writes an
Ohio coon hunter and trapper, file one end sharp, then commence at
each hind foot and punch the wire thru close to the edge as in
sewing, taking stitches an inch or so long until you get to the front
foot, then pull the hide along the wire just far enough so the top
and bottom will stretch out to make it square, or a few inches longer
than the width is better.

  [Illustration: WIRE COON METHOD.]

Put 3 or 4 nails in each side, then commence at the top and tack all
but the head, then pull the bottom down even with the sides, not
tacking the head, which lets it draw down into the hide, then tack
the head. This is an easy and good way to handle coon skins making
them nearly square when stretched.

Many inexperienced trappers stretch coon skins too long and draw out
the head and neck. This can be avoided by following instructions
given here. Coon can be cased but most dealers prefer to have them
stretched open.

  * * *

Get a lot of steel wire, says a Missouri trapper who uses old
umbrella wires, the round solid ones. Sharpen one end, take your coon
skin and run one wire up each side and one across each end.

In putting these wires in do it like the old woman knits, that is,
wrap the hide around the wire and stick it thru about every inch. Now
cut six small twigs, make them the proper length and notch the ends,
and you will soon have your hide stretched expert trapper style.

  [Illustration: WIRE AND TWIG COON METHOD.]

The advantage of this is you can carry stretchers enough for
twenty-five skins in one hand and don't have to hunt up a barn door
and box of tacks and hammer every time you want to stretch one. You
can stretch in one-fourth the time it would take to tack up on a
board, and you will have it in first class style the first time and
not have to pull out a tack here and stretch a little more there.

  * * *

I have always used the whole board (not split into two pieces and a
wedged shape piece as some do), writes a Massachusetts trapper, and
made as follows:

For mink I use a 3/8 inch board about 40 inches in length, 4 inches
wide at the large end, tapering to about 2 1/2 inches at the small
end with the edges planed down from near the middle of the board to
the edge, leaving a thin edge and sandpapered down smooth. I make the
board of this length for the reason that it sometimes happens that a
mink may have laid in a trap for several days before being taken out,
and if under water it is not always easy to determine the exact
length of time it has been in the trap, and there may be a
possibility that if put on the board to dry that having laid so long
it will taint before it will get thoroughly dry. I have seen them in
a case of this kind where several and perhaps nearly all the hairs on
the end of the tail would shed or pull out thereby damaging the skin
to a greater or less extent.

Now when I get a mink in this condition after pulling on the board
and tacking all around, I split the tail open after which I lay it
open and tack all around the same way you would with an otter skin.
By employing this means you will often save the loss of the tail by
thus tainting and a corresponding loss on the value of the skin. The
value of the mink skin is in no way damaged by this process. Some
dealers prefer to have all the skins they buy cured in this manner.

For stretching the muskrat skin I also use a board of the same
thickness as for mink, about 20 inches in length, 6 1/2 or 7 inches
at the large end with a slightly rounding taper to a width of about 3
inches at small end, the sides planed down to a thin edge the same as
for the mink boards; in fact, I prefer the same manner of stretching
all cased skins, using care not to have the boards so wide as to
stretch the skins to a width much exceeding the natural width before
it was placed over the board, but giving them all the strain they
will stand with reason, lengthwise. If stretched too wide it tends to
make the fur thinner and lessens the value of it.

I usually pull the skins, especially muskrats, onto the boards far
enough so that the smaller end will extend through the mouth of the
skin for perhaps 1/2 inch, and when the skins are sufficiently dry to
remove, all that is required is to take hold of them with a hand on
either edge of the skin and give it a sharp tap on the small end,
when the skin will come off at once. By stretching the skins on the
boards with the back on one side, belly on the opposite side, they
come off the boards looking smooth and uniform in width, and command
a great deal better price than if thrown on in a haphazard way on a
shingle or an inch hoard badly shaped, as a great many beginners do.
I have seen some shameful work done in this respect.

It is always necessary to remove all surplus grease and fat which can
readily be done immediately after the skin is stretched, otherwise
they will heat, sweat and mold to a certain extent after they are
removed from the boards, which injures both the appearance and sale
of them. It is well to look after all these little details. These
descriptions are given with the desire to help some of the beginners.
If they will start in by using a little care in stretching and having
pride in their work they will find the business both more pleasant
and profitable.

  * * *

If convenient when going into camp, writes an old successful trapper
who has pursued the fur bearers in many states, you should take
several stretching boards for your different kinds of fur with you.
If not, you can generally find a tree that will split good and you
can split some out. It is usually hard to find widths that are long
and straight enough to bend so as to form a good shaped stretcher.
You should always aim to stretch and cure furs you catch in the best
manner.

In skinning you should rip the animal straight from one heel across
to the other and close to the roots of the tail on the under side.
Work the skin loose around the bone at the base until you can grasp
the bone of the tail with the first two fingers of the right hand
while you place the bone between the first two fingers of the left
hand. Then, by pulling you will draw the entire bone from the tail
which you should always do.

Sometimes when the animal has been dead for some time the bone will
not readily draw from the tail. In this case cut a stick the size of
your finger about eight inches long. Cut it away in the center until
it will readily bend so that the two ends will come together. Then
cut a notch in each part of stick just large enough to let the bone
of the tail in and squeeze it out. It is necessary to whittle one
side of the stick at the notch so as to form a square shoulder.

You should have about three sizes of stretching boards for mink and
fox. For mink they should be from 4 1/2 inches down to 3 inches and
for fox from 6 1/4 inches down to 5 inches wide, and in length the
fox boards may be four feet long, and the mink boards three feet
long.

The boards should taper slightly down to within 8 inches of the end
for fox, and then rounded up to a round point. The mink boards should
be rounded at 4 or 5 inches from this point. You will vary the shape
of the board in proportion to the width. Stretching boards should not
be more than 3/8 inch thick. A belly strip the length or nearly the
length of the boards 1 1/4 inches at the wide end, tapering to a
point at the other end and about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick. Have the
boards smooth and even on the edges. Other stretching boards should
be made in proportion to the size and shape of the animal whose skin
is to be stretched.

You should not fail to remove all the fat and flesh from the skin
immediately after the skin is on the board. If a skin is wet when
taken from the animal it should be drawn lightly on a board until the
fur is quite dry. Then turn the skin flesh side out and stretch.

  * * *

Beginning at the left, dimensions and skins stretched on the various
boards are given:

  No. 1. Mink board, length 28 inches and 4 wide.
  No. 2. Mink board, length 28 inches and 3 1/2 wide.
  No. 3. Weasel board length 20 inches and 2 1/2 wide.
  No. 4. Muskrat board, length 21 inches and 6 inches wide.
  No. 5. Opossum board, (small), length 20 inches and 6 1/2 inches wide.
  No. 6. Skunk or opossum, (medium), length 28 inches and 7 inches wide.
  No. 7. Skunk and opossum, (large), length 28 inches and 8 inches wide.

  [Illustration: SIZE OF STRETCHING BOARDS.]

Old and experienced hunters and trappers know about the shape and
size to make the various stretching boards for the fur bearers, but
for the guidance of beginners and those who are careless about
stretching pelts, the above description is especially meant.

Trappers in Southern sections will no doubt find the boards as
described here too large for most of their skunk. In the Northeast
the mink boards will also be too large, but for this section (Ohio),
they are about correct. The general shape of the boards can be seen
from the illustration.

  * * *

One of the best ways, writes a Minnesota trapper, to take off the
skin of an animal is by cutting the skin around the hind legs or
feet, and then slitting the skin down inside the hind legs to the
body joining the two slits between the hind legs, then remove the
skin on the tail by pushing up the thumb nail, or a thin flat piece
of wood against the bone of the tail and draw off the skin.

Now commence to draw the body of the animal through the slit already
made without enlarging it, drawing the skin over itself, the fur side
within. When the forefeet are reached, cut the skin away from them at
the wrists, and then skin over the head until the mouth is reached
when the skin should be finally removed at the lips.

One thing to be borne in mind when stretching a skin to dry, is that
it must be drawn tight; another, that it must be stretched in a place
where neither the heat of a fire or that of the sun will reach it too
strongly, and it should not be washed. Large skins may be nailed on a
wall of a shed or barn.

The board stretcher should be made of some thin material. Prepare a
board of bass wood or some other light material, two feet three
inches long, three inches and a half wide at one end, and two inches
and an eighth at the other, and three-eighths of an inch thick.
Chamfer it from the center to the sides almost to an edge. Round and
chamfer the small end about an inch upon the sides. Split the board
through the center with a knife or saw, finally prepare a wedge of
the same length and thickness, one inch wide at the large end, and
taper to a blunt point. This is a stretcher suitable for a mink, or a
marten.

Two large sizes with similar proportions are required for the large
animals, the largest size suitable for the full grown otter and wolf,
should be five feet and a half long, seven inches wide at the large
end when fully spread by the wedge, and six inches at the small end.
An intermediate size is required for the fisher, raccoon, fox and
some other animals, the proportions of which can be easily figured
out.

These stretchers require that the skin of the animal should not be
ripped through the belly, but should be stripped off whole. Peel the
skin from the body by drawing it over itself, leaving the fur inward.
In this condition the skin should be drawn on to the split board
(with the back on one side and the belly on the other), to its utmost
length, and fastened with tacks, and then the wedge should be driven
between the two halves. Finally, make all fast by a tack at the root
of the tail, and another on the opposite side. The skin is then
stretched to its utmost capacity and it may be hung away to dry.

  * * *

Not alone the skulls of the larger animals, but the skulls of any
game, the skeleton of any bird, or fish, has a ready market, provided
such specimens are properly cleaned, and in perfect condition.
However, the hunter or trapper must bear in mind the fact that it is
the perfect specimen that is in demand, and that a bruise on the bone
literally spoils it for the curator.

If you will look carefully at any skull, you will notice that some of
the bones are very thin and frail, almost like a spider web. These
fine bones must be preserved if they are to be of any value to the
Comparative Anatomist, and boiling or scraping simply ruins them. So
much for the explanation. Now the method of cleaning, is by "rotting"
rather than scraping or boiling. Take the skull (or whole head) and
fix it solid in some can or jar, then fill it, or cover with water
and put away for three or four weeks. At the end of that time, pour
off the water and the bulk of the flesh will go too. Fill in with
clear water again, and repeat as often as necessary. I have found
that twice will do the work, and leave the bone in good condition.

There is a market for most animal skulls, if not damaged, and it may
pay to preserve all. In the Hunter-Trader-Trapper, published at
Columbus, Ohio, usually will be found advertisements of parties who
buy them.

  * * *

I have never had much luck with two-piece stretchers, but use thin
board stretchers in one piece with a "sword stick" on each side to
fully stretch and admit the air to both sides of the skin. This cures
the skin faster and better than when only one side is exposed to the
air, says a Maryland trapper.

  [Illustration: POLE STRETCHERS.]

When off from home, I use stretchers made from saplings, as boards
suitable are not to be had everywhere, and cannot be bothered with
when going light. To make these, cut osier, willow or hickory
switches, straight and thick as the finger, about four feet long; cut
two short pieces for rats 4 and 6 inches long and carefully bending
the long piece. Nail these in with a small wire nail at each end. A
handful of shingle or lath nails and a clump of osier sprouts will
make a full outfit of stretchers for a temporary camp.

  * * *

I know it is as much value in stretching your furs and preparing them
for market as it is in trapping, writes a trapper. If you have no
boards, go to your grocer or dry goods store and you can get all the
boxes you want for 5 or 10 cents apiece. They must not be over 3/8 of
an inch thick; if they are, plane them down smooth on both sides.

I make what I call the two piece stretcher with a wedge for muskrats.
Take a board 20 inches long, 3/8 inch thick, 6 inches wide large end,
2 1/2 inches small end. Taper back 5 inches from small end. Now take
block plane and chaffer off each side an inch or more up and round it
off. Round and chaffer small end the same, almost to an edge. Now
draw a line thru the center of the board and saw it thru.

Make a wedge the same length and thickness, 3/8 of an inch wide and
tapering down to 1/10 of an inch. If a large skin, push it in between
the halves. Bore a hole in large end and hang up in a cool ventilated
place to dry. After three days pull out wedge, and your fur will slip
right off without tearing. If the boards should warp over, tack a
strip across the large end.

The mink stretchers are made on the same plan. A board the same
thickness, 30 inches long, 3 1/2 inches wide, taper down 2 1/8 small
end round chaffer. For large mink insert wedge made one inch wide.
Taper down to 2/8. For skunk and coon they are also good, only they
are made on a larger scale.

Now a word about casing. Pull your hide on so the back is on one side
and the belly on the other. Pull nose over small end 1/2 inch. Put
two tacks on each side, now pull down tight to large end and put two
tacks each side, lay board on bench and take an old case knife,
scrape off all meat and fat and be careful not to scrape too thin, so
as not to cut the fibre of the skin. After you have scraped the flesh
off, insert the wedge and your skin will be tight. Do not stretch
your hide so it will make your fur look thin.

  * * *

This is my way of stretching coon hide; use four-penny nails and use
either the inside or outside of some old building, inside is the
best. Drive the first nail thru nose. This holds the hide for
starting. Pull each forward leg up (not out) on a level with nose and
about seven or eight inches from nose according to size of the coon.
Drive next nail at root of tail, and pull down, moderately tight.

Now pull each hind leg out about one inch wider than the fore legs
and a little below the tail nail. Now use a nail every inch and pull
the hide up between the forward legs and nose, until it comes
straight across. Next, treat the bottom of the hide the same as the
top. Use plenty of nails. To finish down the sides, drive a nail
first on one side and then on the other until finished. You will find
when done that the hide is nearly square with no legs sticking out
the sides and no notches in the skin.



CHAPTER XXX.

HANDLING AND GRADING.

MINK should be cased fur side in and stretched on boards for several
days or until dry.

SKUNK should be cased fur side in and stretched on boards for several
days. The white stripe cut out blackened, etc., reduces the value.

RACCOON should be stretched open (ripped up the belly) and nailed on
boards or the inside of a building. Some dealers allow as much for
coon cased, from any section, while others prefer that only Southern
coon be cased.

FOXES of the various kinds should be cased and put on boards fur side
in for a few days, or until dry. As the pelt is thin they soon dry,
when they must be taken off and should be turned fur side out. In
shipping see that they are not packed against furs flesh side out.

LYNX should be cased and after drying properly are turned fur side
out, same as foxes.

OTTER are cased and stretched fur side in. The pelt being thick and
heavy, takes several days to dry properly. They are shipped flesh
side out. Sea otter are handled the same as fox, lynx and marten,
that is, fur side out.

BEAVER are split but stretched round and should be left in the hoop
or stretcher for several days.

BEAR should be handled open and stretched carefully. In skinning be
careful and leave nose, claws and ears on the hide.

WOLVES can be handled same as bear, also wolverine.

FISHER should be cased and stretched flesh side out, but may be sent
to market same as foxes or fur out.

MARTEN should be stretched and dried on boards, fur side in, but
turned as soon as dried.

OPOSSUM are stretched on boards fur side in and are left in that
condition after removing the boards. Cut the tails off when
skinning--they have no value.

MUSKRAT should be stretched fur side in and a few days on the boards
is sufficient. They are left as taken off, that is, fur side in. Cut
the tails off when skinning--they are worthless.

WEASEL should be cased, fur side in. The pelts are thin and soon dry.
Leave fur side in after taking off boards.

BADGER are split and should be nailed to the inside of a building to
dry.

CIVET CAT should be cased and stretched on boards fur side in. When
dry remove boards and leave fur side in.

RING TAIL CATS should be cased and after removing boards are
generally left fur side in for market.

WILD CAT are cased and stretched on boards. They may be turned fur
out or left as taken from the stretchers, fur side in.

HOUSE CAT are cased and stretched on boards fur side in. They are
sent to market usually fur side in.

RABBITS are cased fur in and, as the pelt is thin, soon dry. They are
shipped fur side in.

PANTHER are treated much the same as bear. Care should be taken in
skinning to leave claws, ears, nose, etc., on the skin for mounting
purposes.

  * * *

My experience has been that the house which makes only four grades of
prime goods is the house that you will receive the largest checks
from for your collection, writes a Michigan collector of 50 years'
experience. So many grades quoted makes it possible for a firm to
successfully squelch you a little every time you ship and yet you can
have no reasonable excuse to complain for when you ship, you know
that in some houses there is a grade for nearly every skin you send.
So I, for one, would rather risk the fewer grades.

A trapper from Wisconsin says: For sample, say mink are worth from 25
cents to $3.00. There would be 275 prices between the extremes. Now
if he is a fur buyer I certainly pity the trappers that would have to
take those 275 different prices for their mink. A man should be able
to know the difference between grades No. 1, 2, 3 and 4, and when he
does he is then able to give a fair and honest price for every skin
he buys. If he doesn't know the difference then, he had better get a
job clerking in a hotel or sawing wood.

  * * *

Many have requested that the difference in the various grades of
skins be explained and for their benefit, as well as others of little
experience, the following may prove instructive.

Raw furs are assorted into four grades, viz: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and
No. 4. With the exception of skunk and muskrat most houses subdivide
the No. 1 skins into large, medium and small. In addition to this
many firms quote a range of prices about as follows: Mink, Northern
New York, large $6.00 to $8.00. Would it not be more satisfactory to
quote one price only?

It is generally known that Minnesota mink are large. From that state
a No. 1 medium mink is as large as a No. 1 large from Maine, where
mink are rather small. But as the dealers on their price lists quote
the various states and sections, why not quote one price only as
follows:


MINK, NORTHERN NEW YORK, NO. 1.

Large,  Medium,   Small,   No. 2,   No. 3,   No. 4,
$7.00.   $5.00.   $3.00.   $1.50.   $0.75.   $0.20.


These figures, of course, are only given for illustration and are not
meant to show value.

Furs from the various parts of North America have their peculiar
characteristics and it is easy for the man of experience to tell in
what part of the country a pelt was caught. It may be shipped by a
collector hundreds of miles from where caught, but if there are many
in the collection the expert will soon detect it. This knowledge,
however, only comes with years of experience.

Prime skins are those caught during cold weather and the pelt after
drying a few days is bright and healthy appearing.

Unprime skins are those that turn blue or black after being stretched
for a time. Usually the darker the pelt the poorer the fur. If only
slightly blued the pelt may go back only one grade, while if black it
is apt to be no better than No. 3 or No. 4 and may be trash of no
value.

Springy skins, as the name indicates, are those taken toward the last
of the season or in the spring and tho often prime pelted, have begun
to shed. The beginner is often deceived, for he thinks if the pelt is
prime, the fur is. Foxes and other animals are often "rubbed" toward
spring, which of course lessens their value.

A No. 1 skin must be not only average in size but free from cuts,
etc. No unprime skin will grade better than No. 2.

Skunk, to be No. 1 or black, must be prime in pelt, fair size and
stripe not extending beyond the shoulders. The day that only "star
black" were taken for No. 1 passed, for most trappers and shippers
know better now.

A No. 2, or short striped skunk, is prime and the stripes, if narrow,
may extend nearly to the tail. A small No. 1 or a blued No. 1 is
graded No. 2.

A No. 3 or long stripe has two stripes extending the entire length,
but there must be as much black between the stripes as either of the
white stripes.

In some of the states, such as Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas, etc.,
skunk are large and are nearly all striped the same--long narrow
stripes--but owing to their size they are worth about the same as the
eastern short stripe or No. 2.

A No. 4, broad or white skunk, is prime but has two broad stripes
extending down the back. Most dealers class skunk as No. 4 if either
white stripe contains more white than there is black between the two
stripes.

All unprime skunk are graded down to No. 2, 3 and 4 according to
depth of fur and stripe. A No. 1 skunk in stripe, but blue, becomes a
No. 2, or if badly blued No. 3 or 4; a No. 2 skunk in stripe but blue
becomes a No. 3; a No. 3 in stripe but blue, a No. 4; a No. 4 in
stripe but blue generally goes into trash. In fact, if badly blued,
any of the grades may be thrown to trash.

Muskrat are assorted into four grades--spring, winter, fall and
kitts. Spring rats are known as No. 1; winter, No. 2; fall, No. 3;
Kitts, No. 4.

No. 1 or spring rats are those taken in March and April. The pelt is
then of a reddish color and is entirely free from dark spots. A few
spring rats may be caught earlier than March, but so long as they
show dark spots they are not No. 1.

No. 2, or winter rats, are pretty well furred, but there are dark
streaks and spots in the hide usually on the back.

No. 3 or fall are not full furred and the pelt is far from prime. The
dark streaks show much more than later in the season.

No. 4, or kitts, are only partly grown or if larger are badly
damaged.

Opossum is the only animal that may have a "prime" pelt but an
"unprime" coat of fur. This makes opossum rather difficult to assort
unless turned fur side out.

If opossum have been properly skinned and stretched they will, when
unprime, show a dark blue spot on the under side at the throat. The
plainer this spot the poorer the fur.

Good unprime skins are No. 2; poor unprime skins, No. 3; the very
poor and stagey, no fur, are No. 4, generally known as trash and of
no value.

The other fur-bearers, such as mink, otter, beaver, fox, wolves,
lynx, wild cat, fisher, raccoon, bear, badger, civet cat, weasel,
etc., are graded much the same that is, all skins to be No. 1 must be
caught in season, when the fur is prime, at which time the "pelt" is
healthy appearing--never blue or black--must be of average size,
correctly skinned, handled and free of cuts or shot holes.

Skins may be unprime from several causes, viz: caught too early,
improperly handled, under size, etc. Unprime skins are graded No. 2,
3 and 4 according to how inferior they are. The fairly well furred
unprime skins are graded No. 2; the low furred unprime skins are
thrown to No. 3; the poorly furred are thrown to No. 4, while low
stagey skins go to trash.

Some skins altho prime are so small that they grade No. 3. This,
however, is the exception rather than the rule. Usually if prime, the
under size will only put the skin down one grade.

  * * *

I have bought some for a number of years, writes a collector, and
know that some trappers are like some farmers, they want as much
money for a bushel of dirty wheat as their neighbor gets for a bushel
of clean wheat. I have had skunk and opossum hides offered me that
had a pound or two of tainted fat on them, and skins that were taken
out of season, for which they expect to get No. 1 prices.

There are some who stretch their skins in the shape of an oblong
triangle and leave flesh enough on to make their dinner. Stretch your
hides as near the shape of the animal as possible; don't try to make
a muskrat hide as long as a mink, or a mink as wide as a muskrat.
Catch in season, flesh carefully, stretch in good shape, always take
bone out of tails, keep in an airy building until dry and then you
will not have to grumble so much at the buyer in regard to prices.



CHAPTER XXXI.

FROM ANIMAL TO MARKET.

Under this title, says an experienced Western trapper, I shall
endeavor to show my brother trappers how to handle pelts:

As soon as I get in from my traps (I use a team and wagon), I feed
team, dogs and self, then I proceed to skin the game in the usual
manner; when game is all skinned I put on my fleshing suit, made of
rubber cloth like that buggy curtains are made of, get out my
fleshing boards, of which I have three sizes--large, medium and
small--for each kind of cased skins except rat, which I flesh with
thumb and knife. The fleshing boards are like Fig. 1 on enclosed
diagram, made of 1 inch pine free from knots and dressed on both
sides, 3 feet 6 inches long, and for skunk 3/4 in. and 10 in. wide,
tapered up to a blunt point, edges rounded and sandpapered smooth.
These boards can be made of other sizes so as to fit larger or
smaller pelts of other kind.

  [Illustration: FLESHING BOARD.]

For a flesher I have tried nearly everything imaginable, dull knives,
hardwood scrapers, etc., but have abandoned them all for the hatchet.
I use an old lath hatchet head and use it tolerably sharp; I proceed
as follows: Put pelt on board but do not fasten, grip lower edge with
left hand, pull down hard, place point of board against breast and
use hatchet with right, pushing down and holding hatchet nearly flat;
use plenty of elbow grease; as fast as you get a strip cleaned off
turn hide a little but do not flesh on edge of board. It may not work
good at first and you may cut one or two hides, but you will soon get
the knack.

  [Illustration: STRETCHING FRAME.]

If possible take a bitch skunk for the first as they flesh easier,
and be sure there are no burrs or chunks of mud in the fur, or you
will cut a hole the size of the burr. Now for the stretchers. In Fig.
2 is what I use; it is something of my own invention, and there is no
patent on it. It is made of any wood that will split straight, and
the dimensions are as follows: Pieces are 4 ft. long by 1 3/8 in.
dressed smooth; pieces are 1 1/2 X 3/8 in.; will say for large skunks
here they would be 10 in. and 4 1/2 in. To frame you must soak or
steam the long pieces; mitre the ends and fasten with 3d finishing
nails clinched. Then place in position 1 in. from ends and fasten
with two 6d finishing nails; place in position and pull up to 8 in.
from nose and fasten: now chamfer off edges and sandpaper smooth.

I like this stretcher, as it airs both sides of pelt and will dry
them in half the time. Fig 3 shows manner of fastening pelt; on belly
side it can be drawn down and fastened to tail pieces with sack
needle and twine; it is made of two or more poles fastened in the
shape of a hoop.

In shipping furs, bale tight; do not ship loose in sack; place mink
and rat inside of skunk and other fur, and always place the toughest
pelts on outside. By bailing tight you will avoid crinkling and they
will not look mussy and will bring from 5 to 10 per cent. more. Now,
brother trappers, fleshing pelts, as I understand it, is not merely
taking the fat off, but in going deeper and taking the flesh clean
from the pelt so that if skunk, the stripe will show clear the full
length and reducing the weight by half. On February 2nd I shipped 15
skunk, all large; the lot only weighed 9 pounds including sack.

  [Illustration: SKIN ON STRETCHER.]

When stretching skunk and otter skins, if the weather is warm, split
the tails, open and tack flat. Split open half way all others that
have fur tails. Open pelts can be stretched in hoops made of one or
more poles an inch or so in diameter, and sewed in with a sack needle
and heavy twine.

In stretching do not get the pelt so wide that the fur looks thin, or
so long and narrow that it looks as if a horse had been hitched to
each end. Keep the natural shape of the animal as much as possible,
dry in a cool, airy place inside, or on the north side of a building
and away from fire.

Baling--here is where the expert trapper shows his craft, and in
baling you will see him wipe off all surplus fat and dirt and place
the heavy pelts on the outside of his pack. The lighter furs, such as
mink, marten, cat, etc., will be placed inside of the skins that are
heavier. For instance: From four to eight rats or mink, inside of a
fox or skunk. He will place the head of one to the tail of another,
the tails folded in. He now ties a cord tightly around each end,
placing them on a square of burlap, and with sack needle and twine
draws up the sides as tight as he can; then he folds in the ends and
sews up snug. Furs thus packed reach the market in good shape, and
not such as they would if crammed promiscuously into a sack.

  [Illustration: HOOP STRETCHER.]

In conclusion, boys, let me suggest a maxim or two for your guidance:
"Prime caught and well handled furs always bring top prices." "Take
pride in your catch, no matter how small."

While the heading of this chapter is "From Animal to Market" it is
well when shipping to request the dealer to grade and send value. If
satisfactory, write to send on check. If not satisfactory, have
dealer return furs.

When shipping furs under these conditions see that no green skins are
sent--only properly cured ones.

While some dealers offer to pay expressage both ways we hardly think
this fair and if no deal is made the dealer should pay the expressage
one way and the shipper the other.

The Hunter-Trader-Trapper, published at Columbus, Ohio, in the
interests of hunters, trappers and dealers in raw furs contains a
great deal of information that will be of value along the line of
shipping furs as well as trapping methods, etc.



CHAPTER XXXII.

MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION.

How to Tan Skins.

I give below several successful receipts for tanning skins and furs
of all kinds, but if you have never tanned skins before I would
advise you to make your first attempt on some skin of small value,
writes an old hunter and trapper. Remove all flesh from a skin before
putting thru the tanning process by laying it over what is called a
fleshing beam and scraping with a dull knife; the fleshing beam is
nothing more than a beam with edges rounded and a log peeled of the
bark will answer the purpose very well.

First remove the hair from the hide by putting in 5 gallons of water,
2 gallons of slacked lime, 2 quarts of wood ashes and 3 ounces of
soda. After the hair has become loose, try soaking in this mixture,
remove it by scraping it off with a stick (be careful not to let it
get on the hands, as it is very irritating to the skin). This receipt
can be altered according to the number of hides you have to tan. The
amount given here is enough for 2 or 3 hides (such as goat, dog and
animals of that size.)

Next draw the lime from the skin by putting it in a bath composed of
5 gallons of water, 2 quarts of wheat bran, 4 ounces of acetic acid
and 1/2 pound of salt. Finally put the skins in a mixture of 5
gallons of water, 1 pound of salt, 1 1/2 pounds of gambia, and 5
ounces of acetic acid. Leave the skins in each process about three
days, take them out often and pull and work them.

When you think the skin is done, take it and put it on a stretcher
like a coon stretcher, but of course altered to fit the skin you are
tanning; stretch the skin tight but not too tight and put in the sun;
at intervals of half an hour apply with a brush or rag mixtures
number three until the skin will soak up no more.

Do this about three times and then put the skin in the shade or some
cool place where there is a free circulation of air to dry. Lastly,
when dry, oil flesh side of the skin lightly. This leather if tanned
right is the best you can get, but the objections is that a trapper
in the woods does not always have a drug store near to purchase the
tanning material which is rather expensive, so I will give a few
cheap methods also.

The way the Indians tan skins in the woods is to take the brains of
the animal and rub the flesh side of the skin with them until it is
rubbed in good; they then let them dry, working and pulling them
until thoroughly dry. To tan mole, squirrel and such skins, draw the
skin over a corn cob or board and place it in the sun, then apply
sweet oil every 24 hours. After doing this about five times rub over
with fine alum.

To tan for lashes, first remove hair, then put in 1 1/2 handfuls of
alum and 3 handfuls of salt in 2 gallons of water; this leather is
all right until it gets wet, then it is ruined.

To tan for furs, rub flesh side of the skin with two parts saltpeter
and one part alum, roll and let it dry, then work soft. To dry the
hair side of skins, take two parts wheat bran and one part clean
sand, heat it and rub it in the hair side of skin till dry.

To tan light deer skins and such skins as sheep, dog, etc., put in
three quarts of rain water, one ounce of sulphuric acid and a handful
of salt; put in the skin, stir around for about five minutes, take it
out and work dry, then it can be smoked and is ready for use. I think
that by following the above directions closely you can tan any skin
that can be tanned.

Camps and How To Build Them.

The trapper who spends the entire trapping season far from
civilization must know how to make a comfortable camp or he is likely
to pay dearly for his lack of knowledge. Especially is this the case
if his trapping is done in the far North where the winters are long
and severe.

  [Illustration: THE HOME SHANTY.]

The trapper should have one good "home shanty" to be used as a base
of supplies for storing furs, etc. He should also have small camps
located along his lines at convenient distances so that he can spend
the night with some comfort if he has gone too far to return to the
home camp.

The home camp is generally a substantial log shack. It should be
located in a sheltered spot, if possible, on some little knoll or
slightly elevated spot of ground and as close to good fire wood and
good drinking water as possible. The proper size of camp depends on
the number of persons in the party. A shanty 10 x 12 feet inside is
large enough for two persons. If it is larger it will be harder to
keep warm. For a camp of this size the logs should be cut 12 and 14
feet long so as to allow for the notching of the corners. Of course
the logs should be straight and they should be as near the same
thickness as possible.

Having selected a spot for the camp and cleaned away the brush, etc.,
commence by laying two of the 14 foot logs parallel with each other
and about ten feet apart. Cut notches in the ends of these logs,
cutting down about half the thickness of the logs and lay two of the
12 foot logs in the notches. The next step is the floor which should
be made of straight poles about five or six inches thick and 11 or 12
feet long. They should be fitted down solidly on the two long logs
and may be flattened on top with an axe, or with an adz after the
camp is finished. Then fit in two more 14 foot logs which will hold
the floor poles down solid.

The door frame or boxing should be cut off square at the ends and
butted up against the door frame and held there by driving spikes
thru the frame into the logs. Use all the large logs on one side so
as to be ready for the roof. The simplest, as well as one of the
best, kind of roofs is made of poles, chinked with moss and covered
with tar paper or birch bark. The bark roof is the most lasting but
requires more work. The door may be made of split cedar, or, if cedar
is not to be found, it may be hewn out of almost any kind of wood.
For windows, a couple of small panes of glass may be fitted in
openings, cut between the logs, and all the cracks should be chinked
with moss to make it warm.

There are a number of good stoves in the market, but I prefer to make
my own stoves. A good stove may be made of sheet iron by bending it
so as to form the top and two sides, riveting an end in behind and
hinging a door in front. It has no bottom, being set in a box of
earth, but be sure that there is enough dirt or it will burn thru
into the floor. Holes should be cut in top for pipe and cooking pots
and strips of hoop iron should be riveted on inside to stiffen top.

For stopping camps along the trap lines, the Indian tepee or wigwam
is as good as any. They may be made of birch bark or tar paper and if
they are covered thickly with boughs and banked with snow it will
only require a small fire to keep them warm. If you are fortunate
enough to possess a rabbit skin blanket such as are made by the
Chippewa Indians you will not need to keep a fire at night.

Trappers Shelter.

I noticed under the head of Short Letters in January number of H-T-T
where one Bacellus of New York wishes to know something more about
camps in the woods, or how to keep dry and warm in cold and wet
weather, writes a Michigan trapper. This is how I build a camp along
a trapper's trail:

  [Illustration: A LINE SHANTY.]

I cut the logs about 9 feet long, cut them small enough so one man
would be able to handle them. If cut from dry cedar or other light
wood, they can be of good size. I lay the logs up on three sides
until the walls are about 5 1/2 feet high, then I procure two stakes
about 8 or 9 feet long with a crotch on one end; the other end I
sharpen so it can be driven in the ground outside the open end of the
camp. There are also two shorter stakes placed inside of the camp
just opposite the outside ones and tied together at top with a withe,
wire or piece of rope--these stakes are intended to hold the ends of
the logs together, and also act as a support for the roof, which is
made shanty fashion. I next place a pole about 5 inches thick by 10
feet long across from one crotched stake to the other. Now from the
back wall to the top hole I place scoops made out of split logs
hollowed out with axe. They are placed split side up and another
scoop placed over the first two. Short pieces of logs are put in
under the last outside scoops and every crack is mossed up tight, and
a bunk placed across the end about a foot from the ground, and fire
built in the center of open side. By placing 2 crotched stakes in the
ground like the first pair about 5 feet from them, and placing a pole
across the tops and then two short brace pieces between these two top
poles. After this, straight poles ten feet long, about what one man
can handle, are taken and placed all around the outside or open end
of camp. This prevents the smoke from whirling 'round the camp, and
it goes up straight.



END OF STEEL TRAPS





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