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GRANT: December 17th. You will watch this on Christmas Eve morning so I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a successful 2013.
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GRANT: The real world out in the wild is not one of those fuzzy, everything’s okay, Bambi-Pambi movies. It’s a constant struggle of life and death. And when I see the balance getting too far out of whack as a conservationist, I want to do my job to bring it back in balance and I use trapping as one of my tools.
GRANT: This week we got a little bit of an early Christmas present. Especially, our deer herd here at The Proving Grounds as we had some nice gifts under a couple of different trees.
ADAM: Grant and Clint demonstrated setting the flat set right here at this very spot.
CLINT: Blend it all in a little better.
ADAM: Wouldn’t you know it? Coyote number 3 of the year so far, so that makes 3 coyotes, 2 bobcats. 27 pound male. Just like the last one.
GRANT: I work on hunting properties throughout the whitetails range and almost all of ‘em have areas where guys are driving all the time and those would be great areas to set some traps to start removing predators.
GRANT: We have a field up on the northwest corner of the property we call Rae’s Field. And the winds haven’t been good for us to hunt Rae’s Field, so we set traps along the road going to Rae’s Field and one morning, there was a jingle jingle under the tree.
ADAM: It doesn’t have – it doesn’t have very much hair left on its belly or its back flanks. That’s nasty. Look at that.
GRANT: Now sometimes coyotes will fight or get under a fence and knock a little hair off, but this coyote had mange. Mange can rapidly spread from coyote to coyote or a coyote to domestic dogs, but coyotes tend to go into a den and spread mange to other coyotes causing most of them to lose hair during the critical cold season and they freeze to death. A horrible death that’s certainly not humane. Of course, those cold coyotes are very hungry so they are going to be veracious predators out there if they survive, tackling deer or anything else they can get a hold of.
GRANT: This coyote was attracted to a dirt hole set which is simply where I made a hole under a clump of fescue grass, put some attractant down there and what a dirt hole replicates is where a fox catches a mouse or something and stores it almost like a squirrel storing a nut. Coyote sees that hole, wants to get a free meal and gets in the trap. This large female coyote, if she survived the winter, would have had several pups and put more predators out here which is exactly the opposite of my objective of balancing that predator/prey relationship.
ADAM: 24 pounds.
GRANT: Coyote number 4 of this season trapping here at The Proving Grounds. Coyote number 4 from here at The Proving Grounds happens to be a female coyote which is good because coyotes will have six to nine pups per litter on average. And during that time when they're rearing pups. They will literally take up to a fawn a day just to feed those pups. It’s the time when the fawns are new and in ag country where does are extremely productive, maybe averaging 2.3; 2.5 fawns per doe, you can have a lot of predation and no one even notices. But here in timber country where our productivity of a deer herd is not near as high, coyotes can really suppress a deer herd. That’s of a greater concern this year than a lot of years, because we’ve had a record outbreak of E.H.D., Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, from Florida to Montana.
GRANT: You take a suppressed deer herd down 50%; put coyote mortality on top of that – now we’re talking about a real concern. And that’s one reason I’m gonna aggressively trap this year here at The Proving Grounds. Finer location. Remember, we’re talking about a two inch circle on the trigger of a trap that catches a coyote is a great location. And you want to preserve that. That’s why we use that long leader to attach to the trap, put the trap right back in that hole and reset it, hoping to catch another coyote.
GRANT: Using a Duke Cage Trap this morning caught a known nest turkey predator and an opossum, American opossum. You know, one thing people don’t understand about opossums – they make a very smooth, great pelt, using some trimmings and some garments – but just a beautiful, smooth pelt. Another thing I don't think a lot of people know about opossums – they have more teeth than any American land mammal. 52 teeth. And if you’ve ever looked in the jaw of an opossum, they're sharp and daggery. You never want to be bit by one because they also scavenge or eat some dead stuff they found, like a dead deer on the highway or something. So there’s a lot of bacteria in their mouth and you can get a nasty infection, besides 52 pointed teeth just ripping the flesh off your finger.
GRANT: Now, the turkey population here at The Proving Grounds is none too high. It’s huntable, but none too high, so again, trying to balance that predator/prey population. Gonna remove some raccoons and opossums this year. This is number 1.
GRANT: I normally use dog food for my raccoon and opossum trapping. You know, they’ll come to about anything that smells like food. So, if you want to be recycling, be a good conservationist, you know, reduce, reuse or recycle, so had eggs for breakfast. Egg shells are very smelly and very attractive. Remember, these are turkey nest predators. So you put an eggshell out here and a raccoon or opossum is coming soon. And then, smelly tuna, smelly fish, there’ll be a coon in this trap soon. And the reason I put it in an old can like this is so it won't go through the bottom of the trap and rats or something else eat it and also, it really focuses the critter’s attention on what’s in the can and not the trap. I’ll put it all the way at the back of the trap at an angle like this and the third thing it does, it keeps most of the rain off of it so your bait stays good even if it rains.
GRANT: We have a raccoon this morning on the trap line here at The Proving Grounds and just a point I want to make – these Duke Dog Proof Traps are super easy and safe to set. Obviously, the raccoon is not in any pain whatsoever and I want to show you how to set those a little later, but we’re on a dry creek crossing. We’re extremely dry in a record drought here at The Proving Grounds. But creeks are still great travel corridors for raccoons and other wildlife. Now, of course, raccoons are tremendous turkey nest and turkey predators. They also will take young, small fawns, so they're a very great pelt but a tremendous predator and setting traps along where this road crosses the creek, so you’ve got two intersections of travel, is a great place to pick up some raccoons.
GRANT: Another large, fat raccoon this morning here at The Proving Grounds, but a different type trap. This is a Duke Cage Trap and I had it set in a different situation. Now, there’s a creek behind us. Maybe ten yards or so. And there’s a ditch in between so this trail goes up and around. It’s a bottleneck just like you would hunt deer on a bottleneck. Bait it with dog food in the can on the trail so get ‘em coming and going. Another predator going to the fur shed.
GRANT: When I dispense of an animal, I usually move it right off my trap sight because I think I’ll catch more raccoons here. So, there’s this nice shield here, because this raccoon would bite me if it could at all. So, I can pick it up safely here. Oh, that’s a heavy rascal. And I’m going to move it off the trail before I dispense of it and that way, I’m not getting that little bit of blood that’s going to come out right on my trap sight. And I’m gonna shoot it right in the head. And once again, we have an eggshell – eggs, of course – coons are big nest predators so eggshells not only are a visual, but a smell attractant to a raccoon. And I've got some tuna fish my family didn’t eat that’s got a little old, Miss Tracy says a little old. We’re gonna put some tuna in here. And it doesn’t take a lot. Put that back in the can and that is all there is to resetting that trap. Getting ready to take this to the skinning shed.
GRANT: Look at that rascal. (Inaudible)
GRANT: December 17th. Back at The Proving Grounds and another turkey nest marauder in a Duke trap. I just want to share with you why this set worked. We’ve got a road coming down here and a creek right there. Again, two habitat types crossing makes for a great travel corridor for raccoons. I simply had dog food in that Duke trap covered with this can to keep the rain or crows or squirrels out. I actually put a rock on top of this can. No problem for a coon moving that rock off, but I had some pesky squirrels here that were flipping the can off and making the trap empty of food before nighttime came.
GRANT: A great tip is to use a natural call or lure. And all animals have it. It’s their urine, so when you dispatch an animal. Simply press in here right in front of the hip and down and that will be where the bladder is located. Make the urine come out. Now, I've got a great call lure of an animal’s urine right there next to the trap. These cables that Clint makes and this little “D” loop he’s got me using, makes setting these traps so much faster than driving stakes and the second thing it does, if you stake this trap right here, a coon’s going to fight in a circle and mess your trap sight all up. This way the coon went over to a tree, climbed to safety, had a comfortable night and I can reset right here without the area being messed up. Golly. I just put the trap full of cat food this week. I’ll switch it up. Another important thing is take a little out and just throw it across the road. Just Hansel and Gretel I call it. So a coon traveling down this road is going to smell that; eat it; that’s going to get him excited; turn his senses on full alert. Then he’ll find the trap, stick his hand in the cookie jar.
GRANT: Predators tend to travel a lot so by trapping the main road up and down the valley at The Proving Grounds, we’re probably impacting most of the predators anyway and as soon as deer season ends on January 15th, we’ll pull a bunch of traps on the 16th and go up to the ridge tops to work on those areas where we haven’t had traps yet this year.
GRANT: I hope the conditions are really favorable for hunting at your Proving Grounds. And I hope you get outside and take a moment to enjoy Creation. And while you're doing that, think about the Creator. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
ADAM: Dang gum it. Ready? Whoa.