On our ranch we used to have a plethora of turkeys, both domestic and wild. The domestic, of course, lived in a coop near the house and the wild ones lived and migrated through a regular pattern on the north end of the ranch. We had multiple unfortunate losses with the domestic turkeys and the Little Gal was not pleased. Over time we noticed a gradual decrease in the wild turkeys coming through, as well. We’ve taken up leases on other ranches for hunting, and the Little Gal decided to take up trapping on ours because the predators have become abundant.
When the Little Gal told us she wanted to trap, we were pleased because we have trapped over the years and included her when we could. Trapping is a big responsibility because it is a daily job. Traps have to be checked every 24 hours. The Little Gal wasn’t allowed to trap during the holidays or the beginning of the year because we would be traveling too much and she would not be around to check the traps. Now that holidays are past and Hank and I are done with shows, she asked if she could set her traps and we said sure.
We have large and small live traps. In Colorado, leg traps, snares and conibears are not legal methods for trapping. The Little Gal decided to use one homemade, large live trap and one small live trap she picked out when we were at the farm and ranch store.
She hiked the ranch and looked for a good spot to place the traps. When she returned, she said she saw lots of coyote tracks in the thin crusty snow. She got Hank to load up the big trap on the four-wheeler and took him out to where she wanted to put it. He said it looked like a good spot and helped her unload it. She scooted it into the brush and then broke branches to conceal it. Next she crawled in to set and bait it. Yes, it is large enough for her to fit in and no, she wouldn’t get hurt if it slammed shut. The smaller trap was a similar set in the brush. She left them for the evening.
Wouldn’t you know?! She did the “unheard of” and right away caught something. She had imagined it would be a coyote, since she thought that was what was running the turkeys off and/or killing them on our ranch. Plus, we regularly hear the coyotes sing at 3 in the morning, but what she actually caught was a raccoon.
Raccoons are omnivorous and are great little predators. They are known to eat corn and grains, which are staples to the turkey diet. They also enjoy eggs from nests, as well as small animals, including, but not limited to, turkey poults.
The Little Gal was VERY proud of her catch from her very own set. She is growing up to with a respect for the trapping tradition. She has a small game license in our state but also bought a NOT-required “Fur Bearer” tag. She said she wants to have this tag in honor of all the trappers long ago. When I asked her, she said she traps to help maintain the predator population as well as to see what prizes she may find.
Follow Mia Anstine’s life at her excellent blog, My Many Outdoor Adventures.