TRAPS, SNARES, DEADFALLS AND PESKY VARMINTS
By Steven E Stillwell
This article is for informational purposes, so proceed with caution and check your State’s regulation book before setting any traps. In a survival situation, a person has to do whatever it takes to stay alive, so in essence, there’s THE LETTER OF THE LAW, and there’s also, THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW. When I was a police officer, we discussed this philosophy, because it might be necessary to break a law in order to avert danger, or save someone’s life. We called this, EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES, because of viable threats, or an emergency! A civilian speeding to the hospital because their child is severely injured would be a classic example. To sum this disclaimer up, obey the laws, but, ALWAYS DO WHAT’S MORALLY RIGHT.
Nuisance trapping is allowed in most states, especially if varmints are killing livestock, or destroying your crops. If you have chickens, you’re going to encounter predators, this is inevitable! Bobcats, Coyotes, Opossums, and Raccoons are the furbearing mammals that will try to penetrate your coop and kill your birds. Raptors, such as Hawks or possibly Eagles will hunt them during the day if they’re free-roaming. And, don’t forget that your precious pets, tiny dogs, or small cats are easy prey if left unattended. So the question remains; how can you circumvent these problems and guard your animals?
PLEASE TAKE NOTE; Eagles and Hawks are federally protected, and it’s against the law to kill them, but you can legally take some proactive measures to detour them.
ONE OF THE BEST DETERRENTS IS A RELIABLE FARM DOG. German Shepherds, Great Pyrenees and Sheep Dogs, are some of the popular choices, but other breeds are suitable, especially if they bond with your family and livestock. Canines are loyal, but they’re also territorial and protective. Larger dogs will usually protect the smaller ones in their pack. My Yorkshire terrier never goes outside by herself. Most predators, including raptors will avoid bigger dogs, and if you have more than one, the odds are even better.
SCARECROWS ARE SMARTER THAN YOU THINK. My coop, and the outside run is totally enclosed with Chicken-wire, and I have two decoys situated on top. A bobble-head owl, and a black crow decoy were inexpensive to purchase, and these work well during the day. Hawks, Crows and Owls hate each other and they’re mortal enemies! In the past, I’ve used full size scarecrows to ward-off unwanted pests in my garden. If you have some old clothes, a touch of creativity, and a good imagination, they’re easy to make.
THE EXPERTS DIDN’T DEVELOP THEIR TALENTS OVERNIGHT. If you’re going to be an efficient trapper, observation skills should be at the top of your list. Understanding animal patterns, habits and food preferences are an integral part of this equation. Box-traps, snares, deadfalls, and spring-loaded leg-hold traps are some of the popular devices and strategies that an outdoorsman can employ to capture various mammals. Each method requires a certain amount of finesse, and like the old saying goes, PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. A seasoned trapper can also handcraft catching, or killing devices in the field from raw materials with a few simple tools, some wire, and cordage, but this isn’t as easy as it sounds. A lot of trial and error is involved, and it might take several dry runs to get it right. If, and when an animal escapes, AND SOMETIMES THEY WILL, stand-back, take your time, and investigate the surroundings! Most of the time, you’ll figure out where you went wrong, and you’ll be able to correct your mistakes.
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