*Why Hunters Should Support Trapping*
By: Buckshot
10-02-02

The cold crisp October morning air hits my face as I step out from my truck, in the predawn light I hear a trap chain rattle in the distance. A little excitement at the first stop... I wonder what lies ahead as my first catch of the season. I look through the leaves ablaze with autumn colors and thank God for the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the land. I near the trap and the coyote is in a frenzied state fighting the trap. When she gives up on the trap, she turns to me and I hear a low growl. Yes, old girl it is the end of the line. I quickly dispatch her and remake the set.

I often wonder why people say, " I never see any coyote or fox", so they assume they must be in low numbers. The truth is the predator populations are at an all time high. To understand why you don't see predators you must first understand them. A predatorís life depends on smell and hearing. I believe they smell much better then deer and that is why you don't see very many when you are deer hunting. I have witnessed predators at a distance. A normal hunter walking through the woods and the predator is slowly sneaking away from them unseen and unheard at 300-400 yards, sometimes farther. That is the main reason you seldom see them.

But it is time for the hunters to understand predators and what they are doing to the game populations of North America. The first myth I would like to dispel is that predators only eat the sick and the old prey animals. This is true, but the reason why may surprise you. Predators are lazy, so they take the easy prey animals first i.e. the sick and the old. After all the sick and old prey animals have been eaten, then does the predator magically become full??? No, then they start on the healthy population of the prey animals. Because of such high numbers of predators, we are all witnessing a decline in game and songbird populations.

Also because of a lack of harvest the coyotes are killing dogs and cats in record numbers. It is an old wise tale that coyotes don't kill dogs. I have read too many reports of dogs being stalked, killed and eaten by coyotes. In fact, coyotes were known in Massachusetts to wait until people left for work to come in and hunt the neighborhood for dogs and cats.

But we have a record level of duck population you say. Well, when the ducks were in low populations, trapping for raccoons, opossum and skunks was non-existent. . Because of this these animals in the spring survive by chasing the mother birds off the nest and eating the eggs. When the price of raccoons pelt started to climb in 95-96-97, trappers once again stepped into the trapping business and high numbers of raccoons were harvested. No one has ever done a study using the harvest figures of predators compared to the harvest figures of ducks. But I firmly believe the two figures would clearly show a pattern. In fact, if a study was done with a computer model, in 10 years we could have the exact numbers of predators to be harvested every year to keep the population at the carrying capacity of the land.

Yes, it is true, we want some predators to help keep the prey animals healthy but we also want game animals to hunt. Just like game animals, predators can and do become overpopulated. We need to harvest the surplus every year. This will help in many areas. First it will help the game animals recover to higher numbers. Disease like rabies will be reduced. Once we again start harvesting the predators our domestic dogs and cats will be safer from attacks.

A lot of state wildlife biologists have taken on this attitude of hug a predator. This is from the classes in colleges teaching that nature can take care of itself. One little fact left out of the equation was that man is a predator and the minute you remove man from the equation then you throw off the whole Eco-system. Man has harvested animals for 10's of thousands of years. We are part of nature. In the same token we have always been keeping the predator in check. But with invent of the animal rights movement and the attack on fur coats, the prices for furs have dropped and because of this the predators are out of control.

I wrote back in 95 when Arizona banned leg-hold trapping that soon the coyotes would lose their fear of man and attacks on children would happen. I was right you see, in the wilds you are either predator or prey. Plain and simple. When man stops being the top predator the other predators then look at us as food. That is why children are being attacked. Dogs and cats also. The Early Native American understood to be in balance with nature you must become part of nature. To truly walk in harmony with nature we must stand firm in our role as the top predator. Not to walk in cruel hard stance but to harvest the surplus each year. A simple plan to help nature stay in a healthy balance.

But what hunters need to understand is the simple fact you can not control predator populations with hunting, only with traps can you help nature stay in balance. Too many hunters have said I would rather shoot them. But the fact is with new improvement on trap design the trap becomes only a restraining device and is quite humane. The improvements include an adjustable pan screw so you can set the pan tension to avoid non-target animals. Offset jaws that are laminated. lamination is the adding extra metal like #9 wire 1/4 inch round stock or 3/16 inch flat stock. With this added on to the top of the jaws of the traps you double the holding surface of the trap. What this accomplishes is the pressure of the trap is not pinching and causing pain but displacing the energy of the trap over a larger surface. This causes more comfort for the animal and less stress.

Swivels were added so when the animal rolls and twists the trap moves with the animal so the animal can't kink the chain up and cause himself injuries. Add on shock absorber springs. This spring is placed in-line on the trap chain, so when the animal is restrained in the trap and staked solid he pulls on the trap chain and the spring works just like your shock absorber on your car. Again more animal comfort. In fact this type of trap design is more comfortable then rubber jaw traps that close solid. So you see trapping is quite humane. Now the big point every hunter needs to realize. Animal hunting patterns.

A coyote single, double or in a pack has a set territory and they hunt this territory to establish a basis on the needs of food, shelter and water. A coyote has a 9-day range. This means that the coyote tracks you see which are smoking fresh, that same coyote will not return to that area for 9 days. Of course this is just a general statement because if there is a large prey animal down the coyotes will sit on it and feed until it is gone. That is why it so hard to hunt coyotes because there patterns can change and you never know when they are coming through. They may come through the area one time just at dusk and the next time through could be afternoon, early morning, 2:00 am etc.

A day early, a day late, 2 days late etc. The only way is to trap them. This is for northern states, I saw in Texas a 3-5 day range.

Raccoons are become nuisance animals everywhere again because of a lack of harvest. In fact in the south, like in the Carolinas, raccoons with rabies has come to epidemic proportions. This is natures way of thinning out over populations of animals. The only reason this disease is spreading so fast is because of a lack of harvest. What we need is a new Davie Crocket movie to come out so that fur hats come back in style and the harvest again starts happening.

Hunters must step up and support trappers. With proper education we can win this battle against the anti's. We have all seen the true agenda of the animal rights movement. No use of the wilds including trapping, hunting fishing and even walking in the woods. It is time we all united together and say no more. The American people are generous and will rally behind a worthy cause, but when they have been told half-truths and when they find out, then the support will come back in full force supporting us. Hunters, it is time to start trapping, if 10% of hunters in America started trapping the predators we would soon see a small game population explosion.

I hear hunters talk about the great pheasant hunting here in Michigan back in the 50's. Lets look at the difference. In the 50's predators were trapped and hunted not only for the bounty but also for the fur. This kept the predators in check, the results, grand pheasant hunting.

The first year Delta duck foundation did their study in the Dakotas on ducks. They hired a trapper to protect the nesting hens in one area, The other study area had no trapping. The study clearly proved beyond a doubt the value of trapping. The area that was trapped had a 71% success rate in hatches. The area with no trapper, a dismal 14% success rate. Imagine the same study done in your favorite pheasant hunting spot. Or favorite grouse hunting spot or favorite quail spot or favorite rabbit spot. I would love to see that study.

Once hunters realize the trapperís goal is to help, and become trappers themselves, the sooner the small game populations will rebound and we will again enjoy the fabulous pheasant, quail, grouse etc. small game hunting. It is also a great way to spend quality time with your children. I e-mail with many young trappers who are looking for help and desperately want to become trappers.

This is really good because we have a new generation of trappers coming into the field. We all need to promote this. The young trappers are waiting for someone to support them. We need to say fur is good, fur is natural, fur helps mother earth stay in balance, and fur is beautiful. By openly supporting trapping we can change peoples minds and tell the anti's their days are over.

This will help us all for we all know the battle for hunting rights is far from over, we need to educate our fellow hunters on the need for trapping and all of us need to stay together. Remember the old saying "United we stand , divided we fall".

That is the Anti's goal... to divide us, to put each of us at each other's throat, and to fight among ourselves as they strip each group of their right to hunt bears with dogs, to trap, to bow hunt, to hunt with a dog for birds, to walk to a distant trout stream and cast a dry fly for a rising trout. We must ban together and no matter what, stand united!

Bruce Buckshot Hemming is also the author of "Buckshot Modern Trappers Guide For X-treme Safety, Survival, Profit and Pleasure" Available direct through Buckshot Trapping Supplies, amazon.com, b&n.com. For wholesale for your store you can contact the publisher Quiet Wheel books direct at 1-800-838-8854.

If you want more information you can check out Buckshot's Trapping Tales at http://www.buckshotscamp.com call for a catalog at 906-482-2831, Or write to BTS, P.O. Box 482 Houghton, MI. 49931.
Bruce Hemming



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