By Jed Ninefeldt
Don’t believe what you hear about trapping being animal cruelty. The traps and methods used currently are much different than they once were. What you see on TV, read in the propaganda delivered by mail, and newsprint are misleading to say the least. About a month ago, the Cloquet paper printed a horribly one-sided article, with no research done, that suggested trapping constituted animal cruelty. The only places that the laws are that lax are Alaska and Canada. Even the left wing hunters that seek to change current regulations in Minnesota are largely misinformed. We need trapping to properly manage predators. The populations of game and nongame species would drop drastically without trapping. Trapping also allows for research in the form of catch data, or trapping and collaring/tagging animals. A few bad apples in the sport doesn’t mean that all trappers are bad. Just as a few bad drivers shouldn’t mean that all people should stop driving.
Trapping breaks down into several sub groups, water trappers, long liners (snaring), and set makers. If you have limited access to land, water trapping will become your friend. For most trapping on land, the #2 trap offset coil spring will cover most of your needs. It is a little big for fox, raccoons, fisher, pine marten, but a little small for coyotes and bobcats. Most trap manufacturers use the old size 1-9; the bigger the number the bigger the trap. Coil spring traps give you the choice of two or four springs. The long spring has two flat spring steel bends on both sides. It comes down to personal preference.
Long spring pros include that it’s heavier for the animal to drag and it’s more stable in the ground or water. It cons are that it takes up more space in one’s box or bucket and requires a much bigger hole to dig when making your set.
Most of the fur does not become prime (done shedding and have winter fur) in northern Minnesota until mid-to-late October when the trapping seasons opens. The ground begins to freeze at about the same time.
Coil spring traps are more compact, taking up less room, vary in trap strength/power, and are easier to conceal. The downside is that it is less stable in sets. A set is where one has placed bait/scent and/or placed a trap. If you plan on trapping when the ground is unfrozen, many people like long springs. Coil springs require a lot smaller hole to make one’s sets, much easier to do in the frozen ground.
Miscellaneous equipment needed
A few other items you will need are drags/stakes/earth anchors, chain, swivels, tie wire, and quick links. Drags are basically a boat anchor for land and generally come in ¼” – ½” bent rebar with hooks on the end to catch the brush/dirt/tree roots to stop the animal from walking away. Stakes and earth anchors keep the animal right where the trap was set. Two stakes are driven into the ground in an X for best results. Earth anchors are a piece of flat or round steel up to three inches long attached to 8”-18” of cable and fastening device. The anchor is driven into the ground and when the animal pulls up it turns the steel in the ground, wedging it in sideways. Chain is exactly what it is, chain. Swivels are heavy duty swivels, specially made for trapping. Regardless of the anchoring system used, the swivel helps prevent cable or chain from getting twisted and easier to break. Either the chain style with threads or carabiner style so one can quickly attach or detach trap. Tie wire is just bailing wire.
Snares are used in the water and on land. Snares are comprised of galvanized steel aircraft cable, 7x7 or 1x19, in various diameters depending upon the species. The 7x7 cable is stiff and retains its shape. It is seven wires spun together and seven little bundles of cable spun to make one cable. The 7x7 has a much higher breaking strength or about three times the 1x19. The 1x19 is made up of individual strains just spun together. A snare is comprised of a loop or swivel at one end for tying off or attaching a drag. The wammy/collar is for hanging the snare with wire or wedging it onto a branch. The snare lock only allows cable moves freely in just one direction and locks in place when going in the reverse direction. Deer stops are needed when required by law and depends upon where one traps.
Body grippers, more commonly referred to as Conibears (name brand), come in a variety of sizes depending upon the species. Sizes go from #50 (3 1/2” X 4 1/2” opening) to #330 (10”x10” opening). There are a few companies that make them a little larger, but the most common sizes are the #110, #160, #220, and #330. As the number increase so does the opening size. The #220’s and #330 are primarily used in water sets for otter, beaver, and muskrat. The #220 and down is used on land/trees for animals such as the bobcat, marten, raccoon, and fisher.