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Science of Trapping by Elmer Harry Kreps

Illustration Otter Trap Set Under Ice


a narrow place in the stream, where the water flows smoothly, and narrow up the stream by placing a bunch of old dead brush in each side, leaving a passage of about eight inches in the middle. Lay a few stones among the brush to keep them in place. Set the trap in the opening, and splash water over the brush and banks. The trap may be staked but it is better to fasten to a clog. Cut a small sapling of such a size that the ring of the chain will just pass over the butt of the sapling. Slip the ring over the clog and fasten it by splitting the butt and drive a wedge in the split, or by driving a staple over the ring. The clog may be placed on the upper side of the brush, used to block the stream, and the top may be tied to the shore, so that it will not be carried away by high water. In very small streams, a narrow passage may be made, by simply placing a few stones in either side, leaving a narrow passage in the middle, in which to set the trap.

When you can find a sharp bend in the stream, with a trail across the point, set the trap in the water, at the end of the trail. Use same care as advised for the other sets.

For spring trapping this method is excellent: if you can find one of the otter's landing places on the bank, prepare the place for setting in the fall in the following manner: Make a nest for the trap in the center of the trail and fill the nest with grass and leaves. Lay a bunch of dead brush or

a chunk of rotten wood on each side of the trail, so as to leave only a narrow passage and cut a clog and lay it in place. The otters seldom visit these places in the fall, so there is no danger of frightening them. In the spring, before the snow is all gone, go and set your trap in the place prepared, covering with the leaves and grass, and attach to the clog, covering the entire setting with a little snow. As the snow melts, it takes with it all of the scent and signs, leaving the trap ready for the first otter that comes along.

If you do not find the landing places until after the snow is gone, set the traps just the same, washing the scent away by sprinkling with water, or set the traps in the water where the otter climbs up the bank.

[Illustration: Otter Trap Set Under Ice.]

Another very good method for spring trapping, is to set the trap in the edge of the water, where the bank bluffs a little, sticking up a few fresh cut, green sticks behind the trap, and at the sides. Post a piece of the dried oil castor of the beaver on a stick, behind the trap, and about ten inches high. The ordinary beaver castor is also good. The oil castor is very attractive to the otter, and the green sticks are also attractive, as the otter mistakes them for beaver cutting. Always fasten the trap so the animal will drown, as you are likely to catch a beaver in this set.

One of the best methods of trapping otter in winter, after the streams are closed with ice, is as follows: Find a long pool of still water, where you are sure the otter will be traveling under the ice, and at either end of this pool, where the water is about ten inches deep, cut a hole through the ice, make a pen of dead sticks in the water, making the pen about nine inches wide, by twelve or fifteen inches deep. Now take a fish and fasten it to a stick, in the back of the pen, and set the trap in the entrance, staking it securely. Drive the stake about ten inches in front of the pen, and directly in front of the trap. The object in this is to cause the otter, in entering, to twist his body, in which act, he will put his foot down in the trap. Throw some snow in the hole, so it will freeze over. The bait should be renewed once a week. In case you cannot get fish for bait, use the head of a rabbit, the breast of a partridge, or a piece of muskrat. The bait should be skinned.

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