Managing Wildlife Populations: Trapping Predators (Episode 323 Transcript)

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

GRANT: Deer season is officially over here at The Proving Grounds and it’s time to get serious about removing predators.

ANNOUNCER: GrowingDeer.tv is brought to you by Bass Pro Shops. Also by Reconyx, Trophy Rock, Eagle Seed, Nikon, Winchester, Dead Down Wind, Antler Dirt, LaCrosse Footwear, BloodSport Arrows, Flatwood Natives, Morrell Targets, Caldwell, Hook’s Custom Calls, Montana Decoys, Summit Treestands, Drake Non-Typical Clothing, Howes Lubricator Products, LEM Game Processing, G5 Broadheads, Prime Bows, Redneck Hunting Blinds.

GRANT: Although the nighttime temperatures have dipped into single digits, our Duke traps have remained active.

MATT: Well, last week with the cold temperatures forecasted, Adam went ahead and baited this site with a late season attractant of mackerel.

MATT: Well, that late season attractant seemed to do the trick this morning as we rolled up and found a coon in our Duke cage trap. So, we’re gonna go ahead and dispatch this coon; rebait with our mackerel and head on down the trap line.

GRANT: When the temperatures are colder, you definitely want to use an attractant that has a stronger smell because cold, dry air doesn’t carry scent as much as a warm, moister air.

MATT: Well, you, are you, 12-1/2? Or are you…

UNKNOWN: 12-1/2.

MATT: You're 12-1/2? All right. We’re going 12. 14.

UNKNOWN: (Inaudible)

MATT: 14. Not too bad.

ADAM: I kinda figured, you know, if we were gonna catch one it was gonna be somewhere on a ridge top or close, somewhere in the hardwoods close to a den tree.

MATT: Yup. Yup.

ADAM: Which, as cold as it was last night, I didn’t figure they were gonna get too far away from the den.

MATT: Exactly. They need the, the warmth…

ADAM: But they still have to feed.

MATT: Yup.

ADAM: It’s a cold day on the trap line here at The Proving Grounds. Yesterday we had some wintry weather moved in; some really low temperatures. We had some ice, a little bit of snow, but it still didn’t stop this guy from getting in our Duke trap.

ADAM: During those cold temperatures like we had here at The Proving Grounds last night, predators aren’t gonna travel great distances in search of food. They're gonna spend more time during the night in the den staying warm. So keep your trap sites close to the den tree so if they do venture out, you're still in the game.

ADAM: If it’s been a really cold winter where you're at, find those den trees; put your traps close to ‘em so you can continue to remove predators at your Proving Grounds.

GRANT: This is great information for those of us trying to remove predators from a specific property. If we can locate the den trees and move our trap sites closer to the den trees, we’ll be on target when those coons leave the trees and go out to eat.

GRANT: Like deer, most species of predators will try to obtain more food when the temperatures are colder. They need that food to generate more body heat.

GRANT: Seeing the results of the changes we’ve made, we’ll continue with our Hansel and Gretel trails in adding a little mackerel to our coon traps.

GRANT: During the past decade, fox numbers have greatly decreased here at The Proving Grounds. And that’s simply because coyote populations are up and coyotes eat foxes. Grey foxes are doing a bit better because grey foxes can climb leaning trees. Red foxes can't climb trees and they are very subject to being predated on by coyotes.

GRANT: You may recall, a year or two ago, I caught a red fox in a Duke cage trap and I released that fox unharmed because I’m so concerned about fox populations.

GRANT: Well, I gotta tell you. It just doesn’t get much better than that on the trap line.

GRANT: It’s not just here at The Proving Grounds, but coyote populations are increasing in almost every state. In South Carolina deer harvest is way down and a large factor is coyote populations. And I just got news this morning that in California, they're decreasing the number of deer permits next year by 70,000. 70,000 permits are almost a third of their total deer harvest. And that’s due to an increase in mountain lion, coyote and wolf populations. No doubt about it – without balancing predator and prey populations, the game species may be in trouble.

GRANT: The old myth that predator and prey populations live in perfect harmony simply isn't true. I remember back when I was in college studying about the Kaibab Forest on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. And those early guys felt that fewer wolves meant more deer so no wolves meant a lot of deer. And it did mean a lot of deer. The deer herd built up so much, they destroyed their habitat and that habitat is still recovering today. But on the other hand, when we have too many predators, like in parts of Alaska or in South Carolina – big spread between those two states – the prey populations can sink – and actually sink so far, they have difficulty recovering. In areas where coyotes are removing 70% of the fawns, there’s little chance that deer herd is gonna expand or even hold its own. It’s going to decrease and can decrease to not existing. It’s important as good managers and conservationists that we actively manage predator and prey populations.

GRANT: As an example of active management – here at The Proving Grounds I target coyotes and give foxes a pass.

GRANT: Easy.

GRANT: That may seem odd since they're both predators…

GRANT: There we go.

GRANT: …but we’ve got a perfect example that explains why.

GRANT: Last week we had a coyote trap on a ridge and had a Reconyx camera that sends pictures to our cell phones in that location. We caught a grey fox incidentally. That rarely happens because the way we set a coyote trap up, it’s kind of difficult for a grey fox to get in it. But we caught the grey fox. Before we could get there, we started seeing pictures come on our cell phones of a lot of coyotes in the area. And they had killed and consumed the grey fox before we could release it from the trap.

ADAM: Every morning on the trap line is always full of surprises. This is definitely not the surprise we were expecting. As wildlife managers, it’s our job to constantly be monitoring all animal populations.

ADAM: Although there are grey foxes in the area, there’s not that many here at The Proving Grounds, but hopefully, in the following days, we’ll have a coyote in this trap.

GRANT: If you’ve noticed a decline of fox sightings or sign where you hunt, it’s probably because the coyote population is increasing.

GRANT: We didn’t have to wait long to do a little balancing of those coyotes that had tackled the grey fox, because the next day on the next ridge over, we had a coyote in one of our Duke traps.

ADAM: Man. Mangy. I could smell it right here. It smells like a wet dog.

ADAM: Great day here on the trap line. Had a pleasant surprise this morning. We pulled up; saw the first coyote of the year in the Duke trap.

ADAM: It takes a little bit longer to set an effective coyote trap, so during hunting season we focus mainly on raccoons, opossums and other nest predators. But as soon as deer season ends, we get after the coyotes.

ADAM: We’ve shared in past episodes different techniques we use for tapping coyotes. The flat set and the dirt hole set. This is a great example of a flat set along a travel corridor. Of course, just like with raccoons and opossum trapping, we focus all our traps on intersections of travel corridors. We’ve got a road running right through the middle of a food plot that’s on top of a ridge; we know predators travel up and down it, but we also have a group of trees here that the predators move around as they're coming up from the bottom and intersecting with the road. And it paid off for us this morning.

ADAM: We’ve talked throughout trapping season about the falling fur prices. Therefore, there’s not as many fur trappers out there. That’s why it’s up to us as land managers and deer hunters to continue trapping even when fur prices are down so we can keep the population in balance.

ADAM: With the rise in the coyote population, we’re gonna see declines in our prey species populations. But, also, we’ll see a decline in the less dominate predator populations like foxes.

ADAM: With coyotes being one of the biggest predators on game species, you can bet we’re gonna continue using our Duke traps to balance the predator/prey relationship.

ADAM: Ugh. Nope.

UNKNOWN: 20?

ADAM: 25. Whew. 25 pound male, covered up in mange. Umm. Winter was gonna be tough for him.

CLINT: What I picked up here for a pinpoint location is this clump of grass. This stands out to my eye which is gonna make it stand out to the coyote’s eye.

GRANT: This specific coyote was caught in a flat set. A flat set is simply where the trap is bedded level with the ground and blended in in close proximity to some structure – like some trees, a clump of grass or a rock – and a lure or attractant is placed on that structure to bring the coyote into where he’ll step in the trap.

CLINT: And I’m gonna take this…

GRANT: During past seasons, my friend and professional trapper, Clint Cary, has came to The Proving Grounds and shared his techniques of how to make a flat and a dirt hole set.

CLINT: I’m sorry?

UNKNOWN: What is that?

UNKNOWN: What is that?

CLINT: That’s our coyote chum. It’s, it’s just got a good odor to it. And the coyotes – when he runs by here, he’s gonna stop. No matter what the wind’s doing, you're at least stopping it and giving yourself a good chance of getting him over here.

GRANT: We’ll continue our trapping efforts throughout Missouri’s trapping season and try to reach our goal of balancing the predator and prey populations.

GRANT: Adam tagged a doe during the last night of Missouri’s bow season and that gave us a great excuse to get out of the cold temperatures and into the kitchen and making some more venison sausage.

MATT: Cutting board.

ADAM: Well, we wrapped up archery season here recently. And we were blessed enough on the last evening to take a nice doe, so we’re back in the kitchen today making some summer sausage.

ADAM: Since we need to soak the casings for 20 to 30 minutes in warm water, that’s one of the first steps we’re gonna take – put it in the water and begin the process of grinding the meat.

ADAM: We had the meat separated out in two different piles. But we have four pounds of venison and a pound of pork on each. We’re gonna start with the original summer sausage so the next step is grinding it through a coarse grind.

ADAM: Now that we’ve ran it through a coarse grind, it’s time to add the seasoning, mix it with the meat and be ready for a fine grind and start filling the casing.

GRANT: Our families really enjoy summer sausage but we like a little variety. This time the guys used the original seasoning in addition to the pepperoni.

ADAM: We’ve soaked the casing for about 30 minutes now. You can see it’s a lot more flexible and pliable. We’ll put this on the stuffing tube; we’ve got the meat mixed together with the seasoning; Nate’s gonna start filling the grinder; we’re gonna run it through a fine grind and start filling the casing.

GRANT: The sausages need to be chilled overnight before they're cooked. After they’ve been chilled for several hours, we cook the sausages at 180 degrees to make sure the internal temperature reaches at least 160. The last and final step – simply slice and put with a cracker or some cheese and enjoy. This is one of the favorite activities for the GrowingDeer Team.

GRANT: It will be time to plant food plots and chase turkeys soon. And we constantly get questions how we plant food plots or chase turkeys here at The Proving Grounds. A great chance to come see exactly what we do is our next Field Event which is April 1st and 2nd. We’ll spend the entire time out touring the property and learning how we establish and maintain food plots. Show you why we put our stands and blinds in certain locations; how we approach them; how we hunt ‘em. You’ll see several setups where you’ve seen us harvest deer during past episodes. We’ll also show you how we use prescribed fire to improve the habitat and if the conditions allow, actually do a small fire that day. We’ll shoot our bows and talk about everything we do to enjoy The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: I hope you take a chance to come visit with us April 1st and 2nd.

GRANT: Deer season’s closed throughout much of the whitetails range, but I hope you still take time each week to get outside and enjoy Creation. But most importantly, take time each day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.

UNKNOWN: Are you shooting video? (Inaudible)

ADAM: I was forgetting what I was supposed to…

ADAM: We’ll be back tomorrow to finish the last step when we put ‘em in the oven. A little corny to me.

MATT: Yep, I like, I…