Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014 | OUTDOORS
With temperatures predicted to dip into the 30-degree range last Sunday morning after a weeklong warm spell, I found it necessary to get outside ahead of the minor cold snap to place a few traps out for raccoons. A change in weather often brings a change in the movements and feeding patterns of critters and fish, and with limited time to do much of anything this fall, I took advantage of the time I had to trap, even if it was only going to be for one evening.
It’s still a bit early for trapping raccoons, as the first week of November seems like a better time to start, mostly because the hides will almost certainly be prime at that time and fetch better money than the raccoons considered “blue.” But after being cooped up inside for much of this fall, and my uncharacteristic delay in getting out to bow hunt for deer, something had to be done to get me outdoors, and trapping is one of those activities I’ve found as enjoyable as any other experience.
The Saturday weather was next to perfect, but nearly too warm to feel like fall. It sure smelled of fall though, as leaves fell like rain and geese flew overhead in search of recently combined cornfields. It felt good to be back in the outdoors again, actually moving instead of sitting, as it allowed for a bit of exercise. I was also able to check a couple of trail cameras, which is another exciting event in the fall.
Deer sightings are becoming more frequent now as the rut draws near, but I had very few deer to brag about or share with friends on my cameras this time around. It was late September when I last checked one of my cameras, but only two smaller bucks and a handful of does could be seen. The two bucks I’d taken an obsession with during their months in velvet seemed to have disappeared in the past month, but there were plenty of raccoon photos, far too many coyotes, a fisher and even a gray fox on camera, so trapping seemed like a better idea.
I set three traps, two dog-proof traps, as well as a dirt-hole set using a 1-1/2 coil spring trap near my in-laws property in Dunn County. Both traps work well for raccoons, and if something such as a fisher or nontarget animal is caught, the animal would be able to be released without being harmed. I wasn’t awarded a fisher tag this year either, so if one ended up in the trap it would have been released.
For a beginner like myself, dog-proof traps seem to work best, as possums, skunks and raccoons are typically the only critters that can be caught in one. Pets such as dogs and cats can sometimes roam through properties where they aren’t supposed to be, but these kinds of traps give me peace of mind to know I won’t be finding someone’s pet in one when I check the following morning, especially if I’m using the right baits and lures.
I also set another group of traps in the Prairie Farm area where I grew up. Since I was going to end up there the next morning anyway, I figured I’d set as many as I could before venturing back home again that afternoon. It was another opportunity to not only be outside but to scout a few areas for deer signs or other animals that might be roaming the woods. After about six hours of walking, scouting, sweating and picking off ticks, it was time to head back home again, hoping and feeling excited to see if my traps were going to do the job they’re designed to do.
Morning seemed to come early as it often has lately, with a newborn in the house and a daughter getting closer to her fourth birthday with each passing day. She was excited to tag along with her dad to check traps the next morning, but not before we brought along her necessary supplies. Bright pink gloves, green stocking cap, a winter coat ironically garnished with faux fur, and a tiara inspired by Disney’s popular movie “Frozen,” which has become an unpopular movie of both my wife and I as of late. But when your daughter dreams of being a princess anything goes.
After a pit stop for breakfast before the sun popped up over the treetops, we arrived at our first set of traps, and one included a large boar raccoon. My daughter seemed excited at first until a small branch tripped her up, causing a bruise and a few tears, but the knee was kissed, tears were wiped away and we were back to taking care of the raccoon. Before long we were loaded back up and headed to our next set of traps, but after only 15 minutes in the woods, Morgan decided she’d had enough and that a visit to grandma’s might be far more entertaining. She also insisted that Grandma would have treats once we arrived, as any time there’s a small injury involved, a treat is soon to follow.
So as the sun was still on the rise, I headed to Grandma’s house, dropped Morgan off for the morning and pulled the rest of my traps, knowing I wouldn’t be able to check them each morning, as the law requires. But I did manage to catch another large boar raccoon, ending a successful but short morning. I caught some fur, spent time outdoors and had a bit of quality time with my daughter, who I can’t really see being a princess trapper anytime in the near future. But I’ll certainly keep trying.