Trapping technique

All furs are best in winter; but trapping may be carried on to advantage for at least six months in the year; i.e., anytime between the first of October and the middle of April. There is a period in the warm season, say from the first of May to the middle of September, when trapping is out of the question, as furs are worthless. The most trapping is done late in the fall and early in the spring. The reason why furs become worthless in summer is, that all fur-bearing animals shed their coats, or at least lose the finest and thickest part of their fur as warm weather approaches, and have a new growth of it in the fall to protect them in winter. This whole process is indicated in the case of the muskrat, and some other animals, by the color of the inside part of the skin. As summer approaches, it becomes brown and dark. That is a sign that the best fur is gone. Afterward it grows light-colored and in winter when the fur is in the best condition, it is altogether white. When the pelt is white, it is called prime by the fur-dealers. The fur is then glossy, thick and of the richest color, and the tails of such animals as the mink, marten and fisher are full and heavy. Beavers and muskrats are not thoroughly prime till about the middle of winter. Other animals are prime about the first of November. There is probably some variation with the latitude, of the exact period at which furs become prime, the more northern being a little in advance. Trappers are liable to begin trapping too early in the season, consequently much poor fur is caught, which must be sold at low prices, and is unprofitable to the trapper, the fur-buyer, and the manufacturer.

The skins of animals trapped are always valued higher than those shot, as shot not only make holes, but frequently plow along the skin making furrows as well as shaving off the fur. To realize the utmost for skins they must be taken care of, and also cleaned and prepared properly.

1. Be careful to visit your traps often enough, so that the skins will not have time to get tainted. 2. As soon as possible after an animal is dead and dry, attend to the skinning and curing. 3. Scrape off all superfluous flesh and fat, and be careful not to go so deep as to cut the fiber of the skin. 4. Never dry a skin by the fire or in the sun, but in a cool, shady place, sheltered from rain. If you use a barn door for a stretcher (as boys sometimes do), nail the skin on the inside of the door.

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