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The Accomplished Muskrat Trapper by A. E. Schmidt

Trapping Muskrats Under Ice in Winter


trappers prefer to use animal baits in connection with their 'rat sets at all times. This, I believe, is wholly unnecessary, excepting during mating, which occurs the latter part of February and extends throughout the rest of the trapping season. At this time, a good, dependable scent will help considerably in luring animals to traps.

There are numerous brands of scents on the market, some of which are reliable, but most of them are a farce, and are merely intended to pry hard-earned dollars from overalls pockets. The formula used in the manufacture of most of these baits is kept a secret by the makers. The purchaser, not knowing what ingredients they contain, faces the perplexing problem of choosing, or more frankly stated, guessing, as to their merits, when buying.

But, why worry about buying decoys when you can easily make them yourself? The musk of the muskrat is the best scent known for attracting this animal. It is found on both sexes, in two cream colored glands known as castors, which are located just under the skin of the belly. Remove these from every animal you catch, and place in an air-tight bottle or jar until needed. When you are ready to prepare the scent, proceed as follows: Mash the castors into a fine pulpy state; to every ounce of this mixture add two ounces of glycerine to give volume and prevent evaporation, also one grain of corrosive sublimate. Let stand for about a week and you will

have the best muskrat scent obtainable. Cork tightly and keep in a cool place. Sprinkle a few drops of this scent at every set during the spring season.

In the early spring, as soon as the first heavy thaws set in releasing the muskrats from their natural prison, they are eagerly sought because their pelts are at their best, being fully prime at this time of year. But trappers are often hampered in their operations against the lowly 'rat at this particular time, on account of the absence of signs. This drawback can be overcome as follows: Procure pieces of two by six (plank), each about four feet in length. Set two traps on each plank, one near each end, covering them lightly with dry grass or leaves. Sprinkle a few drops of scent along the plank between traps. Staple the traps to the ends of the plank and anchor the same near shore. Some trappers scatter pieces of bait on the plank, but this is not necessary, as the scent will draw them much better than food bait at this time of year.

Another method is to build a small mound in about six inches of water. This can be made of small stones, plastered with mud, and should extend about six inches above the water. Sprinkle a few drops of scent on top of mound and set trap at the bottom, staking into deep water.

Chapter 3.

Trapping Muskrats Under Ice in Winter.

The hustling trapper generally gathers a fair sized collection of muskrat pelts in the late fall, as 'rats are very active and move about a great deal at this time of the year, leaving signs in abundance at which the trapper may set his traps. Then suddenly some frosty morning as he makes his rounds, he finds the stream covered with a thin coat of ice, a sign heralding the arrival of winter. Under the thin ice the traps are setting and undisturbed just as he left them the day before. Disgusted he lifts them and quits. Right here is where many 'rat trappers make a mistake: When they find streams covered with ice, they pull stakes and quit. If these same trappers knew how to catch them under the ice, they could greatly increase their annual catch.

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