This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
ADAM: You on it?
GRANT: This week, we were hunting prey and catching predators at The Proving Grounds.
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GRANT: One afternoon, I selected a stand right on the edge of a bedding area, with some major food plots just downhill from me. The wind was perfect and I was expecting deer to get out of that bedding area, on the uphill side, and swing right by the stand.
GRANT: Sure enough, just before dark, I spotted some does on the very top of the bedding area, up and moving.
GRANT: I counted nine does and I just knew there was gonna be a buck somewhere in the neighborhood. However, the cold evening got a lot colder as they faded off into the mature hardwoods, taking them, and any possible buck that was trailing them, away from me instead of toward my stand. As the temperatures drop and food sources become more limited, there's no more food growing this time of year, deer become more and more concentrated around the better cover and best feeding areas. This can actually make for better hunting than during the rut because you know exactly where they're going on a daily basis. The same is true for predators. Rabbits aren't having rabbits anymore, there's not any new mice coming out this time of year, so there's less and less food for the predators that are out there.
ADAM: (Whispering) He'll probably bed down right there.
ADAM: (Whispering) He's awful skittish, isn't he? Oh bobcat. Dad-gum-it! You go, go on the other side of the tree.
ADAM: (Whispering) He's looking right at us. Are you on it? I'm just gonna have to draw an open (inaudible). You on it?
MATT: (Whispering) Yeah.
ADAM: (Whispering) Whew! Jeez! That was awesome.
MATT: (Whispering) Hey. Good shot.
ADAM: (Whispering) That happened so fast. We were sitting here watching a button buck out in the field and I caught movement, 25 yards, looking right at us.
ADAM: (Whispering) These stands are very close together. Very close. Matt had to swing around the tree and I knew he was gonna see us, but he was looking right at us. Hey, what is it Grant always says?
MATT: (Whispering) What?
ADAM: (Whispering) Pie Yow!!
MATT: (Whispering) I'll take care of the raccoons and opossums. You take care of the…
ADAM: (Whispering) But you leave the smart animals to me. (Laughter) That is my first bobcat with a bow.
MATT: (Whispering) That’s sic.
ADAM (Whispering) Grant text me and said, “Great sunrise.” I said, “Beautiful, but so was the bobcat I just shot.” (Laughter)
MATT: (Whispering) There you go.
ADAM: (Whispering) Wow. Is there a prettier, prettier animal than a bobcat? If there is I'd like to know. Look how pretty that thing is. Wow.
GRANT: As much as I enjoy it, harvesting a few predators while you're out deer hunting will not do much to balance the predator/prey population if it's out of balance. It really takes a concerted effort of trapping and predator calling to reduce that predator population and get it back in balance with the prey species.
GRANT: That's one reason we designed Matt's research to see what's the simplest and most effective way for landowners like you and me to catch raccoons on a sustained basis.
GRANT: Minus the bucket (Inaudible), you were counting the bucket and all, weren't ya?
MATT: I was, I was. Nine pounds and…
GRANT: Yearling male, probably dispersing into the property, young weight. And the difference between fur trapping and predator trapping, predator removal, is you got to trap every year because predators really disperse a lot. Those males are gonna fill up those voids. We're almost to breeding season for coons, not quite. These young males are gonna be moving these ridge tops a lot. And if you create a void, they're gonna move in. So every year, the closer to turkey or fawning season the better. Missouri's season stops at the end of January. I'd love to be able to trap all the way to fawning and nesting season to do a better job of protecting turkey and deer.
GRANT: I got a lot of emails after we showed part of Matt's research on catching raccoons with the new traps. I want to explain a little bit more about our technique, hopefully help you catch a few raccoons on your property, maybe result in a few more fawns and a few more turkey poults next spring.
GRANT: Typically, I want to trap coons where they're coming to feed; by a pond, or by a deer feeder, anywhere where I know I've got a lot of coon sign.
GRANT: Another coon this morning here at my property. Perfect set up, got a little creek crossing with the road, creek, and where a point comes down. Three habitat types mean a lot of travel corridors for Rocky Raccoon.
GRANT: I use two types of traps so I'm catching raccoons and opossums. One is this Duke dog proof trap. I really like it cause the way it's designed, a dog can't get his paw in there, coons and opossums got no problem. Occasionally you'll catch a skunk, might catch a grey fox, but you can set these around deer feeders or houses and have no worries about catching a deer or somebody's pet.
GRANT: You know I'm gonna dispense this animal soon, I don’t want any animal suffering or causing him undue stress but there's a lot to be learned from this segment. Great location, just like a deer stand, good trap – simple to use, simple techniques – puts fur in the old fur basket. As a sportsman, I want to be humane when I dispatch any animal, be it predator or prey. When I'm running my trap line, I use these little Winchester subsonic hollow point .22's. And there's a reason why I select that ammunition for this mission. Subsonic is quiet, I don’t disturb a bunch of animals in the area. Little bit less power, I don’t want to go all the way through and make two holes in the pelt that I'm trying to save for me or my guest to use. And hollow point goes in and expands rapidly, really slowing that bullet down, doing maximum damage for a quick humane death, and again, won't penetrate to give me two holes in the pelt. That Winchester subsonic .22 is exactly what I need on my trap line. And when you're dispatching a raccoon, you want to hit right in the forehead, not on the sloping part because sometimes it would ricochet off that sloping part. So make sure you take your time, be steady, good shot right here for a humane dispatch of the animal.
GRANT: Matt, you can tell that we're almost coming into what's called prime, when the fur is the best quality. This is when the big furriers, or coat manufacturer – everybody – wants trappers to collect fur and trapping seasons are set appropriately. But, man, just look how long that raccoon fur is, way deeper than my fingers. And there's just no scars, haven't been breeding or fighting yet. Uh, that's just beautiful fur, all the way from nose to tail.
MATT: It's really dark, too.
GRANT: This one happens to be dark. You know raccoons, like deer, come in different color phases. This one happens to be pretty dark. Now urine of all animals is a big attractant to that species. So I simply just want to take the raccoon and put my fingers right inside the pelvic girdle and squeeze really hard. And you see urine coming out, making sure that urine is all voided out of the bladder right here at the trap site is a huge attraction to other coons and that scent will whiff down this creek all night long as cold air settles. Don't leave that urine in the carcass, put it right on the trap site. Once I've made sure I've harvested all the urine, it's time to reset the trap.
GRANT: Resetting a Duke dog proof trap is very simple. I simply take a screwdriver, adds a little leverage, cause you're getting tired of resetting several a day. Stick it under the spring, cock it down, put the trigger in the catch, and we're all set. I'm gonna stick this close as I can, in the rocks here, to the water line, where I just removed the urine, and the road crossing right here. Again, three travel corridors coming into one. Be onsite, just like you want your deer stand, on location. And I'm just using their cheap dog food or cheap cat food as a bait. I found that less expensive pet foods have a stronger odor and it's all about odor. Raccoons, opossums, just want a cheap meal. I'm just gonna fill the trap full.
GRANT: I like a really small kibble or pea size so they’ll get all in there and around the trigger mechanism. If it's got great big old chunky squares, the coon will just reach in and get one – may not get all the way down to the trigger. So small bits make ‘em work the trap harder, better chance of getting caught.
GRANT: An additional technique, I started doing a couple years ago, is just placing a can over the top of the trap. It fits very loosely; coon can clearly flip it off. This coon flipped it off last night and that keeps crows, squirrels, non-target animals out of your trap, and if it rains it keeps your bait from turning into a soggy mush. No problem with scent cause I got the Hansel and Gretel food everywhere. A can over your trap will unequivocally result in more catches.
GRANT: The Duke dog proof trap and the cage trap have both proven very effective at catching raccoons and opossums here at The Proving Grounds. In addition to chasing prey, I hope you get to get out and set a few traps for predators this year. You'll be rewarded with some great pelts, some awesome experiences, and maybe a few more fawns and turkey poults this spring. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
ADAM: Pie Yow!!