Deer Management: Trapping Predators (Episode 159 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: December 3rd and a warm front is over much of the whitetails range. Deer aren’t moving, but the predators are.

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CLINT: Just enough to make him “boomp” step through here.

GRANT: If you’ve watched past years, you know I’m a trapper, but I’m a big believer in learning and changing the game, especially when you're trapping the same property over and over like you do when you're trying to remove or reduce the number of predators versus fur trapping where you're moving in new areas all the time, kind of taking the easier animals; moving to the next area so you can catch the maximum amount of fur. It was a great opportunity for my friend, Clint Cary, a professional trapper from Tennessee to come over and help me set some traps here at The Proving Grounds. He’s been trapping with his father since he was “knee high to a grasshopper” and has techniques that I’ve never tried here at The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: Most predators on our property, even if they're on the ridge or have been on the ridge, are going to hit the Big Creek bottom where all the scent goes at night with the cool air settling to the bottom, so traps along the bottom is very effective and after deer season, we’ll move some of our sets to the ridge tops.

GRANT: Okay. So, let’s hold on. So, a lot of our viewers haven’t trapped coyotes maybe or haven’t trapped one time. So, let’s just talk about flat set. You and I throw out flat set.

CLINT: Right.

GRANT: That’s part of our vocabulary, but what do you mean by flat set?

CLINT: Well, you're familiar with the technique…digging a hole; dirt hole.

GRANT: Yeah, yeah.

CLINT: A flat set is basically a trap just in front of an attractor and it can be – it’s unlimited in what it can be: a clump of grass with lure, bait, anything on it.

GRANT: We’re just making an area that’s relatively undisturbed, natural looking with some attraction that draws the coyote in there, hopefully for him to step on the pan of the trap, fire the trap and we got some fur.

CLINT: That’s right. This hole was just for the trap.

GRANT: So, we just want to get the trap down, basically, at the surface of the ground so it looks more natural.

CLINT: Right.

GRANT: And you don’t want to just pile up that debris right here because that would be very unnatural and the coyote would be sniffing that and working around that instead of where we want him.

CLINT: Exactly. He may start even digging if he sees where something else has…

GRANT: Right.

CLINT: …and dig your trap up.

GRANT: So, you’ve got a Duke #4 coil trap here.

CLINT: Right.

GRANT: And, and 4 coils means 4 springs on the back.

CLINT: Four here. One, two, three, four.

GRANT: Yup. You know, let’s just say Duke #4 and everybody can figure that out from there.

CLINT: There you go. It don’t fit in that hole right now. But I push down and I can see where these levers…

GRANT: Yeah. You're making an outline or a mold to see where you need to dig it a little bit more.

CLINT: Exactly.

GRANT: Then, I see you push in a lot on the four corners of the trap. So, what you're trying to do is make sure there’s no wiggle room. If that trap gives, it’s gonna spook them away. Automatically. Game over.

CLINT: I’m glad you brought that up. Yeah, it’s just as simple as taking your finger and pushing on each corner and I push on the levers.

GRANT: And make sure it’s set in there solid. You don’t want it moving at all.

CLINT: Hopefully, it don’t pop up from the other when you hit it. This is just peat moss that I put over mine. It lasts longer in rain. I’m going to put some, some kind of bait or lure in there and I’m gonna put some over here. I like it in two different places.

GRANT: Hmm. Hmm. Make ‘em work it a little bit.

CLINT: Exactly.

GRANT: You want those feet moving around so they get on the pan, because; and by the way, when it’s on the pad, it’s not hurting the coyote, it’s not cutting in…

CLINT: Oh, no.

GRANT: …you can catch them. Let them loose. You could accidentally catch a dog. You don’t want to do that, but if you did, you let it loose and it’s gonna scurry home.

CLINT: Yeah. Go home and be fine. Right.

GRANT: Yeah.

CLINT: And then this is grass clippings that I save from when I’m mowing in the summertime. And I’m gonna, not just over the trap, because that’s saying, “Hey, there’s a trap right here.”

GRANT: Right. Right.

CLINT: “Step right there.” So, I gotta scatter it out a little bit around, just to kind of blend it all in a little better.

GRANT: So, we’re finished with our set. You’ve got it blended in. Really, you're driving by in the pickup, no one’s even going to know the trap’s there which is what you want from a coyote’s perspective.

CLINT: Exactly. That’s right. And even in a day or two, it will look more natural than it does now. Right now, it stands out some, but you give it another day or two and it, you won't be able to tell it’s there, hardly.

GRANT: So, you know, Clint, we’ve got what? Nine or ten sets out this afternoon?

CLINT: I believe so.

GRANT: And we may knock one or two more out today, but Tracy’s got some venison fazioli cooking, so we’re going to have some supper…

CLINT: Okay.

GRANT: …and get a good night’s rest. We’ll run our traps course in the morning, see if we caught anything and continue on.

GRANT: It was a cool feeling when we came around the corner and saw that cat caught in the set that Clint had made, specifically for bobcats.

GRANT: The difference between a bobcat set and coyote set is a coyote, you don’t want anything big or boxed in or real showy, because it will scare the coyote away. But bobcat is just like a house cat. Real curious. And Clint’s got white feathers and sticks up and kind of bunch of sticks and narrowing it down almost making like a little den or a little cave if you were to go in and, obviously, it worked perfectly.

CLINT: Uh, Dr. Grant, this morning, this set was put on a drag and like you say, the cat, he’s tangled up over there, but you see how that this set is very little damage to it at all. Okay. You can still see one of my visual attractants, the feathers here. Uh, my trap bed still right here and about all I have to do is put my trap right back in where it was. That’s just how simple it is to re-make when you're using drags. Put that back in the bottom and it goes perfectly right back in to where my bed was. And he knocked some sticks over and you can see how tight that I blocked these cats in. And I just stick these in the ground. Get creative. Use some grass and whatever you’ve got around you. You don’t want him coming up from the back. Uh, coyotes – this right here would scare most of your coyotes off and you won't catch them here. But this is a bobcat specific scent.

GRANT: But that wasn’t all the fur we were going to add to the skinning shed that day. As we moved on down the valley, there was another surprise under the tree. This was a large cat that actually came to a coyote set. There was really no visual stimulus except two little holes Clint made with his screwdriver by a rock where he put scent attractants down those holes. Catching a predator at a trap location tells you that set is on site. It’s like having a good stand location. But unlike a stand, you harvest a deer, you move it away, you come back and hunt it. You really haven’t disturbed the area that much. When you catch a predator, they’ve urinated and maybe left some droppings there and scratched around and tore up the area – put an abnormal amount or scent right there. So the re-make is more important than the original set. Because you know you’ve got a good location and how you make that re-make is what determines whether that site produces again or not.

CLINT: And now we’re gonna do a re-make here. This trap, he was staked down right here. The cat couldn’t go anywhere, except for in here. And so, we’ve got dirt now and it’s bad. We’re going to have to do a little re-doing it. And for example, you see all that movement. We want that movement gone. That’s the main thing.

CLINT: Okay, now this cat that we caught and removed from the trap, he left us a dropping. And droppings are universally attractive to other predators. So we’re going to use this back on our set. We’re going to put it right out here in front of our set to attract our next predator that comes through. A dropping here in the middle. We’re going to have lure smell here and a lure smell here and we’ve got the trap right out here covered up. Okay. Now, this is the lure that I was talking about. And, as you can see, has no visual. All it is, is a smell. I’m putting it on this stick, down in the hole. I’ve got this set here all remade. You can see that it’s blended in real nice. It looks real natural. We’ve got our lure that we talked about in the holes. We’ve got our dropping that the cat left. So, now we’re going to pick this nice cat up and we’re going to go work a little bit more.

GRANT: So, removing predators such as this large bobcat does a couple of things. It probably allowed a few more fawns to make it through. Certainly more turkey poults and quail poults and provides me a great pelt from a renewable resource. There’s still bobcats here that I can share with my family or give away to others to help teach them about the balance between predator and prey. During the next few days, we’ll be setting out some raccoon traps that are geared towards removing raccoons. Now, 20 pound raccoons can certainly take down fawns. They are known to do a heck of a lot of damage to turkey poults and I like turkeys and fawns more than I care about seeing an abundance of raccoons. So, I’m going to work on pulling that balance down, allowing the prey species to successfully bring off more offspring and continue great hunting for my family and I here at The Proving Grounds. Whether you're removing predators to help your prey species out or you just want to collect a couple of furs to give away as gifts or enjoy as your family. I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy Creation. But whatever you do, take a moment to thank the Creator this week. Thanks for watching