By: Bears Butt

Is sure was nice to be able to sleep in this morning.  I didn’t set my alarm and didn’t wake up until nearly 7 a.m.  That was nice!

Today, Bob is going out to pull all his traps, he has gotten one of his Grandsons to help him with the task and it’s a good thing too, as the floats he is using draw in a lot of moisture and weigh up to 50 pounds each.  He has 15 floats out so his truck will be filled to the brim when he comes home.  I’ll keep an eye out for him to return and help unload it.

Yesterday’s ice did not melt off the water out on the trap line last night, in fact there was probably a doubling of the thickness over night which will have the rats staying in their nice warm houses…Bob’s catch rate is expected to be less than 10…

So, what happens now that the traps are all pulled?  Does the trapper go into hibernation like the rats have?  Not exactly.  First off we still have a ton of work to do with the rats we have caught and hanging in the shed.  We also have over 100 frozen and in the freezer needing to be fleshed and stretched.  The timing of thawing them out is all dependent on the ones hanging to dry in the shed.  We won’t be finished with the hides until late next week.

In the meantime, Bob will be talking to the local buyers about our rats and maybe even have some of them come and visit to look at the catch.  I promised a buyer from far off that when we got ready to sell I would contact him.  I also told him at the time that we would NOT be going to his town to negotiate a price, he would have to come here.

Speaking of Bob and negotiating a price…Bob has said over and over again to me…”You need to get paid for the rats you’re catching.  It’s not fair that you and I split the money when I’m not catching my share…blah, blah, blah…”!  I tell him over and over the same thing…”Bob, when I first agreed to help you trap and catch rats, I said, ‘you provide the traps, you pay to fix the broken traps, you buy replacement traps for the ones we lose, you buy the sacks needed to put the rat hides in when we sell them and above all else, you negotiate the price we sell them for'”!  So yes, maybe I (Wapiti and I) did catch over 60% of the total rats we caught, so what, he has the burden of all the other stuff associated with this catch…especially the negotiation part…I hate that part.  If the buyer would come through and give his best and final price right up front I could handle that…but they don’t…they want to catch the trapper which makes their bottom line higher.  Besides, Bob loves to dicker and haggle over the pennies.

So, you see, trapping is not just about going out into the swamp setting traps, checking them and taking care of the pelts…it’s much more than that…besides the sore and chapped hands, sore backs and muscles, sun and wind burnt necks and faces, broken equipment and worn out tools.  That all sounds really bad huh?  Trapping is not just about going out into the swamp setting traps, checking them and taking care of the pelts…It’s much more than that…getting out and becoming a part of nature, seeing what is out there that most people don’t get to see, experiencing a side of nature that only doing it can show you and learning new things every day to help you become a better, more appreciative person…THAT is what trapping is all about.

And it ends when the pay check comes floating in.  Until then, expect more to these daily stories.

By the way…Bob caught 9 rats today…what a great end to the trapping season!

Bears Butt

March 23, 2013

Written on March 23rd, 2013 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt

The season has ended exactly as I expected.  I have told you many times that you set traps and can usually expect a 50% (or close) catch on the first night, then 50% of that on the second night, and 50% of that on the third and by the 4th night the catch rate is close to zero, so you might as well plan on pulling the traps after the 3rd night…AND as the trapping season goes on, the run comes and goes rather quickly and yet you still catch a few rats here and there and then suddenly where you were catching lots of rats consistently, nothing gets caught.

Today, we pulled all the remaining traps and as expected, we caught a total of 3 rats!  No other traps set off, no new tracks around, no sign of any kind…the place just died basically over night.

But, the morning was a cold and windy bugger as you can see in Wapiti’s face:


I don’t know what Wapiti was wearing this morning, but as for me, Long Johns, levis, heavy hip boots,  sweater, long sleeve heavy shirt, rain coat, over coat, face/neck mask, ball cap with ear muffs, wool gloves and shoulder length rubber gloves….was I still cold?….YES!  Freezing!

But we went on about the job we had to do.  Rolling up the flagging around the clippies, pulling traps and stacking them on the toys.  Line after line until we were completely done.  By the time we were finished with the trap separation duties and loading of the truck the cold temp and wind had given way to probably 5 degrees and 2 mph…A very cold day.

Wapiti was glad the trapping season had come to an end and he is ready for a mini-vacation this weekend!  Good luck to everyone going over to the Big Small City!


I made an attempt to take a video of us high fivin and talking up the trapping season, but my battery died…sorry.

On the way home we stopped and talked to Bob…I told him we were done trapping for the season, with 60 plus traps out last night and a catch of 3 rats that is a pretty good indicator that the season is done.  And if we were planning on trapping another week, we could expect zero catches every day…that is just the way it is with trapping, especially muskrats.  At that time, Bob had also caught 3 rats, but still had quite a bit of his line left to check.

At 4 p.m. in rolled Bob…half frozen and very hungry…he doesn’t take a lunch out with him….He had already been in the shed by the time I noticed he was home and so out to the shed I went…a nice sized pile of rats lay on the floor…very nice to see…a quick count showed he caught 17 rats today!  A fine 20 rat total for the day…and a nice way to almost finish the trapping season….Bob still has tomorrow.  I figured it up and if my count is right, he needs to catch 15 rats to give us an even 800 rat total for the season.  How would that be????  But we are not counting our chickens (rats) before they are caught.  We still have a very big pile of rat hides!

Brek is scheduled to be here to skin those 20 rats tonight and Weasel is coming to help stretch the ones we dried from yesterdays catch!  This season is closing up really well.

Bears Butt

March 22, 2013

Written on March 22nd, 2013 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt

Trapping muskrats may seem like a dirty thing to do to such pretty little critters.  After all, what have they done to deserve being caught and killed?  The answer to that question is relative to where they are living.  If they are located clear out in the middle of no-where, with no body trying to improve their properties with dams, and dikes to retain water, then those little critters can live and die according to their life style.  But when they are living near places where people are trying to improve their properties then they have to have something done to get rid of them or at least control the numbers a bit.

Muskrats have very long sharp claws on all four feet and those claws are there for them to dig with.  They are almost constantly digging in the sides of the banks of lakes and streams.  They eat the roots that they expose as they dig and they live for that activity.  A small dug out place on the bank does not hurt much, but as they continue to make that small dug out deeper into the bank it then becomes a tunnel.  Sometimes they will make a large cavern at the end of the tunnel and they make it their den.  They will haul in nice warm grass and make nests in which to curl up and stay warm and dry in the winter.

Ranchers who raise cattle need water for those animals, muskrats like water and put those two different types of animals in the same vicinity and this is what you are going to begin to see rather quickly:


What you are looking at are the tunnels caved in where the cattle have stepped as they walked along the top of a dam.  The dam serves to back up the water for the animals to drink and also a road for the rancher to drive on to do his work.  When these tunnels cross completely across the width of the road or dam, the water that is backed up in the pond soon begins to leak through the tunnel, and you know what water will do then…erode and wash away the dirt on the bottom of the tunnel and continue to do so until the water level falls below the bottom of the tunnel.


This picture is of a wash out where the rats tunnel went around the end of the dams overflow outlet.

When rats get really ambitious they can dig down quite deep in the dam.  They will start high, say above the water level and tunnel straight in for a ways, then they will dig downward as they continue to cross the width of the dam.  These are the worst tunnels they could possibly dig for the land owner.  First off, the tunnel is so deep, animals will not crush in the top of the tunnel when they walk across the top, therefore there is no visible indication of any problem.  The rat tunnel may even come out the other side of the dam, way down at the bottom of the dam.  When trapping I really like to find those spots.

Well, suddenly the dam gets an influx of extra water from up stream, like that from a flash flood or just quickly melting snow and ice and the water enters the opening of the tunnel and begin its travel…its travel is always in the path of least resistance and tunnels offer just that…the erosion begins and suddenly the dam washes out with great force and cuts and erodes everything down stream in its path.



How would you like to be this land owner…his pond is now almost empty, his irrigation system can not get the water needed to irrigate other portions of the ranch, his road has deep gouges in it from the rushing and flowing water and he is faced with an expense he probably can’t afford….all because of a cute little cuddly furry critter called a muskrat.  I’m sorry folks, to me the only good muskrat is the one hanging in my fur shed!

Bears Butt

March 22, 2013

Written on March 22nd, 2013 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt

And as quickly as it begins you suddenly find yourself faced with the last day of the trapping season!  It isn’t all over yet, but the traveling to the trap lines ends today and then the rest of the trapping necessities continues.

Wapiti and I will be pulling all our traps off Club 41 today.  An early start is in order and we should be home just after noon.  We have about 65 traps still out plus the 6 float sets.  That sounds like quite a few traps, but at one point we had out over 170 traps and to me that is a lot of traps.  65 doesn’t sound like so many right now.

Our plan calls for the pulling of the Channel line first, followed most likely by the newest sets and finally the float line.  The Float line will take two trips…one for the traps and the second for the floats.  I plan to take a few pictures of some of the damage that muskrats can cause, or at least the end result of their digging damage.  It is never pretty and it’s always expensive to fix.

As I have said before, Bob is going to trap one more day.  He plans on pulling his traps tomorrow (Saturday), mostly because that is the most likely day he can muster up a helper.  He has 11 floats out and most of them are his older design, made with fir 2X8 boards and those babies soak up a ton of water making them extremely heavy to lift out of the water and carry up the bank to the truck.  They are the best floats I have ever seen as they are large, very stable and catch a bunch of rats during the season, but when it’s over they are bulky, heavy, awkward and a general pain in the butt to deal with.  His newer design (the type Wapiti and I are working with) are very light as they are made from redwood 2X6’s and they don’t soak up the moisture like fir does.  I think they should be soaked in anise oil to make them even better!  HAHAHAHA!

Today’s weather calls for scattered snow showers, colder, with highs in the upper 30’s.  Not the normal warm day to be pulling traps.  But after yesterdays fun and cold ride it will be just fine for what we have to do.

Expected catch today is just 6 rats.  Even though we loaded up the bait sets with extra carrots yesterday, I’m thinking that the rats are all nested up and resting right now…saving themselves until next year!

Lunch will be a half sandwich of chicken, chips and lots of water.  I may be eaten at home rather than in the field…we will see.

Bears Butt

March 22, 2013

Written on March 22nd, 2013 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt

Away promptly at 8 a.m. and out to the trapping fields by 9 a.m….it snowed this morning but just a skiff and out there it was even less, but to make up for it, God made sure we knew it was still almost winter.  A very cold 15 mph wind was kicking up out there and made our noses run really good as we ventured out to check the lines.  My hands were near frozen when we came in from the Channel line with our big bag of 2 rats.  We sat in the vehicle until they thawed out and we got some hand warmers working.  I’ll tell you, when the thumb on my right hand gets cold, I’m cold all over.

As we sat there we made a plan for the rest of our lines…check the floats and those other traps in that direction, then hit the newest sets and finally come back to the end of the Pollock line and begin pulling traps.  With that decided, off we went!

I wasn’t too surprised not to find many rats in traps, but Wapiti came through with the highlight of the line with a double catch on one of his floats!  Good Going Wapiti!

The weather was sunny, but that danged wind just would not give up.  It did warm a bit by the time we were done, but still too cold to just stand around BS’n.  Once the Pollock line was pulled and we were back at the truck we counted our rats…12…Now 12 doesn’t sound like many, but it is quite a few in reality…We will take it!

We separated the traps and bagged them up, tossed them in the truck and headed for home…it was just after 1 p.m.  On the way home we caught Bob checking traps on the side of the road and stopped to jaw jack with him a bit,  He had just taken a rat out of a trap…we told him how many we had and asked him about his count so far….He was guessing he had 6 or 7, but was not real happy about the total…A raccoon had gotten a couple of his rats back up the line a ways.  For Bob not to know exactly how many rats he had caught is unusual for him, and so I’m reading between the lines when he said what he did to actually mean…the season is over.

So, I’m actually writing this while I wait for Bob to get home with his total count and will finish it once we get done with the skinning shed chores.  If the website continues to stay up I’ll post this tonight, if not…I’ll post it sometime…

As I was waiting I called the Weasel to find out if he was going to come over to help process rats tonight or not, he said he was planning on it.  I asked if he might be able to come sooner than the usual time (5 p.m.) he said he might and then I went out to begin getting  the dried rats ready to flesh.  Soon the Weasel showed up and helped finish getting them ready with me.  I would flesh and he would stretch…good deal!  And we went to work.

About an hour later here came Bob and he was carrying a bag of rats…as he entered the shed I said…You are carrying the bag of rats..that means you have 16 rats…he didn’t say a thing just went about what he was doing and then dumped the bag…15 rats!

15 RATS!!!!  He kicked Wapiti and my butt again!  And a total of 27 rats for the day!  Excellent….this is a very nice way to end the season..we are over 730 rats now and should break the 750 mark by Saturday!

Brek is on his way over to skin these 27 rats and we are all waiting to get the job done for the night.

Bears Butt

March 21, 2013

Written on March 21st, 2013 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt

(The website was experiencing problems this morning, so I wrote this in Microsoft Word and pasted it here today)

Wapiti and I had a good day yesterday but Bob had a better day, he brought in 24 rats and combine those with our 18, we had a 42 rat day!  Super Good!

Brek came a bit on the late side and skinned like crazy to get the job done.  In the meantime, Bob, Weasel and I put up the rats we had dried from the day before.  The shed is so full of rats at this time it will soon be time to put them in burlap sacks for storage.  That my friends is a good problem to have as a trapper.

Today is a day to pull more traps.  Wapiti and I have decided to pull the Pollock line today.  I made up a bunch more carrot bait and laced it heavily with anise oil for the “last night of the trapping season 2013”.  We will bait the sets with this extra powerful attractant in hopes of catching one or two extra rats tonight.  If it works it just might set the precedents for future rat trapping using bait.

I gave Wapiti the option of sleeping in today, but he chose to continue to leave home at 8 a.m. and then we will get back home earlier and he can get some much needed “home duties” done this afternoon.  Sounds good to me…I too can get some much needed things done, but still need to be available for “shed duty” when Bob gets in with his catch.  There is always something that needs to be done, whether it be sprucing up around the shed, in the shed or on top of the shed.  I checked the security cameras and trail cameras yesterday and everything with them is working properly, which is a very comforting to know.

So, what to expect today:

A strong storm came through last night, lots of thunder and lightning, rain, wind and today it’s expected to snow.  A typical spring time storm…comes through with a high power force and is gone quickly…rats don’t like it…what rats we will have in our traps will have come from them moving before the storm and just after the powerful front passed.  A spring time snow does not negatively affect their movements.

As the water levels are dropping all across our Club 41 lines, the Channel line should produce 5 rats, Pollock Line 1, Floats and old new sets 5, Newest sets 3….14 rats for today.

Lunch will be a half sandwich of processed ham, chips and lots of water.

Bears Butt

March 21, 2013

Written on March 21st, 2013 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt

Ah, some time to rest!  Wapiti and I got out to the trapping fields in fine shape today.  The weather was cool and spitting rain, but not totally unbearable.  We did get our butts wet as when we left the toys to go check traps, we came back to wet seats…such is life.

The lines were all very much off from what we have gotten used to.  The Channel line only produced 4 rats and one of them was damaged.  Three of the 4 rats we caught were caught in 3 of the 5 new sets we made yesterday on this line…but overall not at all what it has been producing lately.  Once we got through with that line we knew we were in for a very poor production day over all.  But that is to be expected during a rat season.  Feast or famine and when the famine comes, it comes all at once.

We continued to make our rounds and had decided to check the Seeps line(s) last as we were going to pull all of those traps.  Remember we have a beer bet on the total number of rats we catch from there today…Zero or one and Wapiti owes me a beer…Two we tie…Three or more and I owe Wapiti a beer.

After checking all the traps except the Seeps traps we only had 14 rats in the bag.  The 45 traps we set yesterday only produced 9 rats!  Remember, newly set lines of traps usually come close to 35% production and sometimes closer to 50%.  Are the male rats so worn out from running that they are laying in their dens trying to regain strength?  While the females are all denned up making nests?  I’m not a muskrat specialist so I don’t know, but they sure have disappeared and I know we have not caught all of them.

Well, with 14 rats in the bag we headed for the Seeps line(s) to pull the traps.  I was very much surprised when I caught my first rat when I pulled trap number 10 of 18…then another when I pulled trap number 16.  I thought for sure Wapiti would not be catching any rats, but the odds were definitely in his favor at this point.  I left the two rats in the traps and hung them off the front of my toy and continued to travel down the line pulling traps…and then it happened again on trap number 16…rat number 3…I’ll gladly pay the beer!  And once I was done pulling the remainder of the traps I headed around the end of the line and back up toward Wapiti’s rig…he was still out pulling traps, but was just about done.  I made sure he would be able to see the 3 rats hanging in the front of my rig and I went about doing business that needed to get done with the traps on my rig.  Soon Wapiti came in with his last few traps and we loaded them up and tied them on.  He then told me he had caught one rat and asked how many I had caught.  I just pointed to my rig…He laughed and we high fived!  4 rats!


So back to the rig we went to put things away and have our lunch!  18 rats in the bag and that is it for the day!  Now one would think we would be disappointed not to have caught our expected 42 rats or even come closer to that goal, but when you think about it, 18 rats is going to be close to $180 when they sell and what’s wrong with that?  Nothing!  Besides, what is Bob doing on his line?  If he does half what he did yesterday we will net 28 rats for the day, and that is nothing but a good thing!

Time ticked away and pretty soon in pulled Bob.  I jumped up and headed over to help him haul in his bag of rats.  I knew it would be a big full sack…I carried it to the shed to dump it on top of our 18 rat pile and then asked him if we needed to count them…he said he had counted it twice…go ahead and dump it…how many, I asked….24 was the response!  YES!  Another very fine day of trapping.  Now the tables have turned…instead of us being the ones carrying the load of caught rats, it’s Bob’s turn!  42 rat day!  Woooppppppeeeeee!

It was about 5 when Weasel came up to help with the rats.  He and I went to taking down the remaining dried and stretched rats and put them on hangers.  Soon Bob came out to help, but he couldn’t do anything until I stretched some.  I started to brush off the rats that were dried from yesterday and when I had about 10 done, Weasel took over that task to allow me to start fleshing them.  Now the process was going great….Weasel brushing them out, me fleshing, Bob stretching and Weasel hanging the stretched hides…a GREAT process.  I was beginning to stress a bit as 6:30 approached and still no Brek…I could just see us finishing the fleshing/stretching and then be faced with 42 rats to skin…it would take us until midnight…just about then here came Brek!  I was sooooo relieved to see him.

He finished the skinning just about the same time as we finished the fleshing and stretching and we were back to our homes just before 8 p.m.  A long day, but a very good one!

Bears Butt

March 20, 2013




Written on March 21st, 2013 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt


Wapiti calls this “Area 51” because it is such a strange place to be trapping rats.  I thought that same thing when I first went into the property, but soon became acquainted with the how tos and where fores of the club.  These rats are not the same as those living in other areas.

Today is our last Wednesday to trap this year.  We are seeing fur slipping and the run is over according to brother Bob.  You will find out in this story why he is saying that.

A good start to yesterdays adventure and we were out at the Club about 9:40…quickly donning our boots and gloves and hit the trail…There was some ice covering most of the water bodies, except where there was a flow.  The traps I checked just didn’t seem to be in the right places.  There had been plenty of rat activity during the night but the traps just were not being stepped on…well, except for one…


Looking closely at the mud trail going toward the trap, you can see foot prints and tail drag marks leading toward the trap…why did that rat not get caught.  Most if not all the good old carrot pieces have been munched up, but no rat caught.  He had to have been all over that trap…let’s look closer…


The spring portion of this trap is pushed down deep into the mud…the pan is depressed and the dog is almost to release the jaws…that was one lucky rat that came to visit last night.  This is the second time this has happened with this trap and so I replaced it with a lightning fast trap that will catch that rat should it re-visit tonight.

As you can see from this picture the water has receded from our trapping area quite a lot.  This trap will have to be pulled today as the water is now over 50 yards from this set.  No rat in its right mind would ever venture that far to get a bite of carrot…but then…this is Area 51!

Wapiti and I checked all the traps we had out before we decided it was time for lunch.  We were stepping fast and furious and when it was all said and done, the rat count for the day exceeded 40…in fact it exceeded 41 (Club 41) by one…a 42 rat day for us!  Had the rats that were dancing all over up on the channel line actually stepped in the traps we would have been over 50 rats…but we will take a 42 rat day anytime!

After our great 15 minute lunch break, we were off and running again to get some traps set.  I must say right now that we did take a few minutes on the channel line earlier to set 5 traps up there.

I wanted Wapiti to see the rest of Club 41 and so we traveled the mile or so down the road to the end…the culdisac (sp)…I told him that we needed to set the dams that were placed up toward the vehicle from this point and we began our quest to find sign and holes.  A rat came out twice for a quick visit while we were trying to find our first set place…I told Wapiti the first rat came out, poked its head up and saw us…it thought to itself…”I’ve got to go tell Eddie what I just saw”…so it dove down and back into the den to tell Eddie….of course Eddie called “No Way!  There have not been humans around these parts for over a year”!  And then of course he had to come out and see for himself…which he did.  Today we hope to have them both caught.

We continued to travel back up stream using the old road way that followed the channel down to the end…when it was time to call it a day, we had set 45 traps.  Again, not a bad day for a couple of old guys in mud up to our…you know.

Earlier when we were finished checking the seep lines, I had caught 10 rats and had one set off trap with nothing in it, out of 18 sets, while Wapiti had 3 rats out of his 14 traps…13 rats in an area I figured had 10 rats total in it…We discussed the area and I told him we needed to pull the traps tomorrow and that we had caught the two little families of happy rats, which were all now quite dead…he thought that humorous…then we made a beer bet.  He thinks there are still a bunch of rats in there and that we should catch half that number again today…6 or 7…I told him then about the happy rat families…our beer bet is…I say we will (might) catch one rat…he says three…a 2 rat catch nullifies the bet…I hope I lose the bet!

Speaking of bets, the beer bet set up on the Channel line produced a big old fat rat again today.

Up at the skinning shed, Bob came in with a sack full of 15 rats…how is that for a total of the day?  57 rats for the day!!!!  We will take it! Our Saviors, Brek and Weasel showed up and did their thing.  We pulled down 60 rats and placed them on hangers and hung the ones we fleshed and stretched.  It was just about 8 p.m. when we called it a day.

Bob insists that the run is over.  Where he has had a lot of rat activity the past few days is now void of rat sign, tracks in the mud and even water….he does not expect to catch even half the number of rats he caught today, tomorrow…we will see.  I do think the run is over myself, but even if it isn’t our trapping days are now numbered into the “under one hand count”…for Wapiti and me…today, tomorrow and Friday.

Weather for today is 80% chance of rain…put on your wet weather gear Wapiti…it is expected to rain all day today, tonight and then turn to snow by tomorrow afternoon.  Not a fun way to end the season, but we have to deal with what we have.

Today we are going to of course check all the traps, but we will also pull the “Seep line(s)”….I hope again that I lose the bet to Wapiti on that line count.  We opted to keep the “Pollock line” going because we caught 5 rats there yesterday and there just might be 5 more out there.  $50 is worth leaving the line one more day.  Any trap we pull from here on out will be put in piles by Bobs garage for fixing and sorting later this Spring…the season for them is over.  Kind of a bitter-sweet thing.

What can we expect for a catch today?  Channel line – 11 (5 new traps), Pollock line – 3, Floats – 3, Old, new sets (I didn’t tell you this before, but Wapiti calls it the Dumb ass Wapiti line) – 5, Seep line – 3 (benefit to Wapiti..I say zero), New sets – 17….42 rats.

So, there you have it for today…a lot of work in the rain…we just have to keep our heads down and our spirits up.

Lunch today will be a half sandwich of bologna and cheese, chips and lots of water.

Bears Butt

March 20, 2013

Written on March 20th, 2013 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt

I felt a little excited yesterday as Wapiti and I headed West.  We had no interruptions in our travel, we got a great start to the day and everything was going great.  We were anticipating 20 rats for the day and lots of time to set many more traps.  A perfect Monday of the last week ahead of us.

And it was just as anticipated and did turn out just as planned.  Well, almost….The checking of the existing traps only yielded 19 rats instead of the expected 20 and we did lose two to predators.



Neither one could be salvaged…goodbye nearly $20….But when all is considered we could have lost a whole lot more rats this day.  Out here the water level is dropping daily as the ice melts farther down stream and the backed up water ways are draining rapidly.  All last week we were having to move our traps down to the waters edge even if only a few inches.  Today we were looking at caught rats up to 5 feet away from the water.  All the traps I checked had to be moved.  And so to lose 2 rats was not such a bad day at all.

Wapiti really saved the day on his sets of 3 floats at the Big Dam…At the truck the count was 14 and we needed one trap at each of the 6 floats to connect in order to make our hoped for 20 rat day…My floats had at least one trap not visible from the distance and so my hopes were high that I had done my half, Wapiti on the other hand had one trap off of two of his floats and two off at his third…I checked mine and only caught one rat in all my set off traps…He on the other hand had 4 rats in 4 traps!  A super percentage of take on floats!  Thanks Wapiti for setting those traps in perfect places, without those rats our take would not have been close to the 20 we hoped for.

Now it was on to set more traps and set traps we did…at days end we had set 76 traps out!

Driving back home Wapiti said, “You know, after all day at it, I’m tired, but I don’t feel like my butt is kicked like last week”.  Could this mean that he is beginning to toughen up on the trap line?  I think so…this is good for the mental as well as the physical part of the body.  Taxing, sure, but very good for ones health…as long as the bulls don’t get you.

Bob is already home from his trap line by the time we get there and Wapiti packs our 19 rats to the shed where we find a sack filled with rats laying on the floor.  Bob has a surprise for us we are sure, other wise he would have dumped them out.  As it turns out though his surprise is just that he caught 20 rats and was proud of it.  He just wanted to see how many we caught first…he kicked our butts with that one rat!  Good job Bob!

On a negative side, Bob lost 10 rats and most of them were taken by raccoons…At one of his sets, a float he has 4 traps on, he had caught 3 rats, all 3 were dangling under the float in the water, completely submerged and all 3 rats had been eaten!  I declare a war on the masked bandits and wish everyone reading this would take 10 or more of them out this coming year.  Those 10 rats would have meant Bob would have brought in 30 rats today and would have given us another near 50 rat day…it also means that we lost nearly $100 from our fur check….Bob pulled his line from the internal workings of Pete’s ranch and is now completely trapping the frontage road.  That will make his job a lot easier on him then walking around checking traps 100 yards from the truck in the sticky mud and swamps.

And there you have it… a 39 rat day!

At the skinning shed, Brek showed up and I was once again very happy to see that.  The Weasel came as well to help pull down another 50 rats off the stretchers and help with the sundry tasks that are necessary in the fur processing.  Thanks Weasel for coming…again!  Your help is very much appreciated.

So, here is something I have not told you…yet…Hides drying on the stretchers need to “cure” and as they cure they get sort of like “papery”, if you will, when they get that way, they can be taken off the stretchers and placed on hangers.  At this point it’s OK for them to touch one another.  If they hold any moisture at all, the touching will mold and mold is not a good thing.  Upon feeling the hanging stretched hides in the shed, we just couldn’t make the decision as to whether they were ready or not to be taken off the stretchers and so the decision was made to wait until today to take them down.  I turned the heater on low instead of just air for the night to assist in them drying.  It’s a good thing I did too, because the night time temperature was 34 degrees.  The heat would also assist the drying of the furs that Brek just skinned.  If we are able to pull down 50 more rats today, those 39 hides will be put up, if not, we will put those in the freezer and dry today’s catch for putting up tomorrow.

As for today…..

Wapiti and I set 76 more traps, including a couple of colony traps.  One area we set quite a few traps in (32 traps, almost half) was a small seep and in my opinion, there were rats in half of the seep (one line that Wapiti set), but most of the water has gone from that place and it’s my theory those rats moved up to an area that I set, where the ranchers have made an attempt to improve some springs.  There are 4 smallish ponds they made that are about 6 inches deep, except where the springs are bubbling up and  “who knows” how deep they are.  I accidentally stepped in one as I was setting traps and I never touched bottom, I am very glad my boots are as long as they are and that I had some solid mud to grab onto or I would have probably found out just how deep it really was….in my exuberance to set traps, or find places to set trap, I have to be more careful in the future.

OK, so now that I have explained that; it simply is a fact that even though we set 76 traps, with 32 of them in “marginal” areas, we can only expect our 50% catch rate to apply to the other 44 traps.  So, on the old lines, we should expect 7 to 10 rats on the channel line, 4 to 5 on the Pollock pond line, 4 from the floats, 22 from the (44 traps) and 10 from the remaining 32 marginal traps…a total expected catch today of  48 rats…Wouldn’t THAT be nice!?!

Over on Bob’s line, he should catch another 20…NOW WOULDN’T THAT BE NICE!?!

Wapiti and I still have some areas to set more traps and so today is going to be a real “butt kicker” of a day.  We are going to have to “high ball” it or we won’t get those other traps set.  We will probably pull the Pollock line tomorrow and put those traps to rest for the season and depending on the outcome, we might pull the seep traps we set yesterday as well.

Wish us luck!  We have a rain day in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow which will only effect us and not the activities of the rats, in fact they just might enjoy the fresh water falling on their noses.

Lunch for today will once again be a half sandwich of corned beef, chips and lots of water.

Bears Butt

March 19, 2013

(Date was originally printed March 29, 2013, my error…Thanks Wapiti)

Written on March 19th, 2013 , Daily Trapping Events
By: Bears Butt

This weeks weather is almost perfect to keep us motivated to trap our last week of the season.  Highs in the mid 40’s most of the week with one day in the mid 50’s.  A good chance of rain on Wednesday, slight breezes most days.

I could never be a full time professional trapper, or for that matter, a full time professional outdoors person of any hobby.  I guess I’m just too lazy to do it, or perhaps I like to mix things up in my life…some fishing, some hunting, some trapping, some hiking, some do nothing days…..Right now I can feel a stiffness in my hands, knuckles actually, from setting traps and fleshing skins.  The small of my back twinges now and again, my neck is sun burnt and I have a receding cold sore…all the effects of the past few weeks.  On a positive note I have a fresh outlook, no cabin fever and feel more healthy than I did a month ago…gotta love it.

Today is going to take a small toll on us as we HAVE got to set a lot of traps.  Our toys are loaded with traps higher than I can see over on Wapiti’s toy and the bulk of mine ride behind me.  Between us we have over 125 traps and so there should be no excuse for not setting at least half of them today.  Maybe the strange deformed roping steer with the long pointing horns will keep us at bay in the seep up by the ranch….but I doubt it.

I don’t have names for the areas I think we will get set today, but right now I’ll call them, the seep and the deep.  Both hold a lot of rats (usually) and this year seems to be a year with more than usual numbers (which is good for us).  We are in an area and distance from home where we are back to two rats paying for the gas (Peterson’s was a 3 rat area).

Expected catch for today, with two nights for the rats to get caught, but also two nights and two days for the predators to find those caught rats….the channel should kick out its usual 10 or 11 rats.  Pollock pond, 2, the drainage out of Pollock 5 and the floats 3….20 rats for the day is my guess.  The predators will get 2 of those 20, but with any luck the hides will be salvageable…we will see soon.

The rigs are gassed for the journey and lunch is predictable after yesterdays wonderful meal…add to the sandwich of corned beef, some chips and lots of water and there you go!  Only a 15 minute lunch today and we might as well take it with us as we set traps.  Wapiti might want to bring extra water to wash his hands, I’ll just wipe mine on my muddy boots.

Bears Butt

March 18, 2013

Written on March 18th, 2013 , Daily Trapping Events | Stories, Ramblings & Random Stuff From an Old Mountain Man is proudly powered by WordPress and the Theme Adventure by Eric Schwarz
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Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.