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GRANT: This is number 26 of the year, here at The Proving Grounds. Now, we’re only trapping about…
GRANT: … and so, when we roll this out, we’re down to the leather. There – there’s no fat that’s gonna spoil or anything and then you’ll turn this inside out and put some salt on it, right?
GRANT: It’s January 31st, and it’s the last day of trapping season in Missouri, which is always a sad time for me, but as I reflect back on a very successful trapping season and new techniques I learned, I’m pretty excited about that, and sharing those with you.
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GRANT: It’s Friday, January 28th, and Brad and I have two missions this morning. We’re running our trap line and we’re rechecking our trail camera survey sites. That means checking batteries, and memory cards, and putting corn out, if necessary. And one of our first stops, we’re blessed that we have a beautiful raccoon. Just check the shiny pelt out on this rascal. Just another male, this is number 26 of the year. Want to spend just a little bit of time, this morning, talking about the trap we’re using here and predator control on your land.
GRANT: The whole design behind a dog proof trap is that it’s such that a dog cannot get its paw in it. Dog proof traps have that going for ‘em. The second thing is, just cause they’re small size, much smaller than a big box trap, you can get two or three dozen in one five gallon bucket, and three dozen traps is a lot of traps.
GRANT: Coons are very visual animals, so I want that sticking up, so they see it. I don’t want this hidden like a coyote trap. I want it very visual.
GRANT: We want to continue to refine our techniques, and that has evolved in how we cover our trap. Because when you’re leaving it in the same place, week after week – as you do for coon trapping, where you know there’s a coon trail, but you want to get those older, wiser coons – you want something to cover it up, so rain doesn’t impact your bait, but crows and squirrels can’t get in there and trigger your trap, or steal your bait, and hence, comes the big peach can, or the big tin can. Metal cans are visual. They see a lot. Coons check ‘em out in garbage cans all the time, and they just flip that can off, get in there and start removing dog food and get caught. The metal can is probably the best advancement I’ve come across for using this style of a dog proof trap.
GRANT: Cage traps are normally associated with trapping in urban environments, or smaller animals like raccoons and opossums. Now, I use cage traps here at The Proving Grounds, even though it’s a pretty remote piece of property, because they’re easy, effective, and a great way to have my children involved and I catch animals. It all works. But we usually don’t catch a little bit smarter animals, like foxes, in a cage trap. But come on along – let me show you a great experience we had this week here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Well, another great surprise here on the trap line at The Proving Grounds. We have a gray fox. You remember an episode or two ago, we caught a gray fox in a dogless trap. We’ve caught one in a cage trap, and the reason is, is that Brad, when he moved this trap really skillfully put it back in the weeds, and leveled it out, made kind of like what we call a covey set. It’s kind of covered, more natural, did the Hansel and Gretel trail with some dog food. You know a fox is a canine, and it was very attracted to that dog food, so it went in, hit the trigger, and there he lays. Beautiful pelt, but again, I prefer prey species – you know turkey, deer, quail, rabbits. Predator species, I don’t interact that much with, except we’ll do some calling tomorrow morning. Now, I love to trap, so I want to tip that favor in favor of prey species, here at The Proving Grounds. It’s a management decision I’ve made, and I just want to educate people to know you can do that. It’s a choice you make, so you can attempt to remove predators, or you can let predators run wild and have a few less prey. Because no matter what anyone tells you, predators eat prey species. There’s competition there. I eat prey species, so there’s a direct competition.
GRANT: I was super surprised, and pleased, to find that gray fox in a cage trap. But to make it even more attractive, for gray foxes, or bobcats, or other predators, I want to remove that urine out of the gray fox. One thing to always check, when you dispatch a predator, is if there’s any urine in their bladder. And I simply want to put it right over the trap site. I don’t want it five feet away or at the door. I want it right where that animal’s gonna come smell the urine, and expose its under area like this, and just press. Think about where the bladder is – if you’ve cleaned a deer – because some of you may not have cleaned a predator. It’s gonna be right in here. Just open it up and squeeze really hard. Always check that bladder to see if there’s any urine in there and put it right there on the trap site. You know your trap site’s good, because you’ve caught a member of the species there, so you know your location’s good. Make it super attractive, by putting that fresh urine right there and you’ll be a much better trapper.
GRANT: We removed 29 raccoons, 13 opossums, 2 gray fox, and 1 skunk from The Proving Grounds this year. That’s 1,500 acres. Now, if you think about those 45 animals moving for months at a time, no doubt, that’s thousands of miles of ground cover – not counting what they can smell. There’s no doubt in my mind, several hens will have a nest successfully this year, because of those 45 predators we removed, and probably, a few fawns. Because if a big raccoon stumbles on a brand new fawn, the fawn’s not mobile, it’s just two or four hours old, there’s no doubt in my mind, that coon’s probably gonna consume that fawn.
GRANT: One of the great things about trapping season being over is that we can finish processing the pelts and get those furs back, to either keep in our house, or give away as gifts.
GRANT: I get a lot of questions about what to do after you harvest fur. I mean a lot of us got jobs, or something, and, gosh, we can’t run a trap line before work and then spend an hour skinning out, or whatever. So that’s where Pete comes in. Pete’s my neighbor, and – and we’ve known each other awhile, but Pete’s a taxidermist – a great taxidermist. So what I do, literally, is just drop off fur. Fur, being the whole carcass of a predator, at Pete’s place, after I run my trap line everyday – uh, for more days than Pete likes.
PETE: Yeah. Sometimes.
GRANT: And Pete skins and fleshes.
GRANT: Skinning is simply removing the pelt off the animal, just like you would remove the pelt off a deer after you harvest it.
GRANT: Fleshing is simply removing all the meat, or fat, excess tissue off the inside of the leather, or the skin of the carcass. If you leave that on there, it will spoil, or take a long, long time to dry. And then, once the fleshing process is completed, they cover it with a thick layer of salt. And that salt, of course, draws out any moisture and makes that pelt dry, so you can ship it off to a tannery. And then, we get back beautiful pelts that I either give away to clients, or friends, or my wife puts ‘em around the house. So it’s that simple. You don’t have to be running a professional skinning shed, to remove predators from your property and feel good about it. You can catch these, this renewable resource. Find you a local taxidermist. Just negotiate a price. Say, “Hey, if I bring you ten coons, what’s it gonna cost you to, you know skin, and flesh, and dry out, so I can send ‘em to the tannery?” And it’s not much money at all. Pete’s real expensive, but most people aren’t. And, uh, and then you got the beautiful fur, so don’t think you can’t participate in controlling predators, just because you don’t want to take care of the fur. It’s much simpler than you think, and it’s a great way to use a renewable resource and protect our game species.
GRANT: It’s gonna be a tough week, this week. Temperatures below zero, later on this week, and that’s a great time to be thinking about the standing food resources for the deer herd that’s out there now. They’re gonna take a lot of calories to come through this next storm in a healthy situation.
GRANT: So next week, depending on the weather, and everything like that, Brad and I will probably be out braving the elements, checking out those standing beans, and the wheat, and everything we’ve got going on. And we’ll report back to you what’s really carrying our deer herd through this critical stress period, so we can have big antlers next year. I hope you survive the storm, if it’s headed your way. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.