Friday, November 29, 2019

Thanksgiving Raccoons, First Catches for Father and Son

Corbin really wanted to get into trapping this year. I bought a few Dogproof traps and a few 110's for mink and muskrat. Our line is rather small but it is located in a pretty good area. He was really discouraged the past week and a half as all of our traps have been coming up empty. A few had been robbed but we had no animals for our efforts. One day I did a little scouting up stream from where our first traps were. I found a log crossing a stream with a pretty well used trail going to it. Looking at the other side I had assumed that raccoons or another animal that climbed were using the downed log as a bridge. The tree that fell ended up getting stuck in another tree so I don't believe that fox or coyotes are using the bridge. I plan on setting up a camera on crossing to confirm my hypothesis. I had a lot of confidence in this set but just hoped Corbin could be patient enough to wait it out.

I've been getting up early and checking the line before work.  I left enough time so I could go home and get Corbin if we had something in our traps. He is only 7 so I don't want to get him up super early and out in the cold for nothing. When he is a little older he can learn the commitment and check tracks with me every day.

Thanksgiving morning I took a ride on the mountain until it got light. I took my fishing rod with me to try to catch a fish or two to help with my sets. It took me a little longer to get to the traps, but was a nice change of pace from just checking empty or robbed traps. All of our water sets were empty. I checked the box trap I have set up for a mink.  The previous evening I had put a creek chub in the back of trap. Something had pulled the chub through the hole and ate some of the head and tail, but did not commit to going inside of the trap. I think it is a weasel or a mink.  I have plans for catching this mystery robber but that is for another post.

After checking the mink trap, I walked up the bank and saw that the one DP was untouched, but the other had the cap nocked off. This trap had been robbed two days in a row. This DP contained Corbin's home made raccoon bait consisting of Berry Captain Crunch, Blueberry Cheerios, Strawberry Rice Crispies, Small Marshmallows, mixed in a near empty jar of peanut butter. The twins taste tested his concoction and and approved.

I soon came to the realization that we had our first Raccoon in one of our traps. Boy I was pumped. I was excited to get my first catch as a trapper, and even more excited that my helpers home made bait lured the raccoon to a trap. This raccoon was a big female with beautiful colors. I was elated, but was even more excited to check the spot I had scouted two days before.

With my held high I went back to my Jeep to go and check the other spot. I walked down to the log crossing only to find that I had a double. I was very optimistic going out this morning as we had a wind storm on Wednesday going into Thursday. I guess that was just what we needed. I was blessed to have two more big raccoons on our line. One was a super dark and gorgeous female and the other was a lighter colored male. WOW!!! I can't really put into words how blessed I felt. I just had my first catch, and now had a double. I keep thinking back to the saying "If it's good enough for one trap then it is good enough for two..." That saying is why I decided to put two DP's on the crossing and it paid off for me.

I have always wanted to get into trapping, and this year was the year I was going to jump in head first. I only have a few traps, and limited time but I was going to give it everything I had, and Corbin was too. We are both all in. He was quite discouraged after our first week or so did not produce. I mean our luck was low. So low in fact that I even had a raccoon climb a tree on the other side of the stream about 10 yards from our traps on a morning check. I could have easily shot the raccoon, but really wanted Corbin to get one in one of our sets.

We were very blessed this Thanksgiving. I could not have asked for a better outcome for our first catches. Three large raccoons can put a big smile on a discouraged little boys face. It was tough keeping his moral boosted. I had to laugh when he said, "Dad, Robby Gilbert catches something every time he goes out!" I had to explain to him the Robby doesn't show how many traps don't get touched, and the Robby still probably has a few traps get robbed also. He can only put his successful traps on his show. 

I am happy that both of us picked the spots together and Corbin even made the bait on our first catch. He helped in every aspect of these catches.  He can't wait until he is 12 and can officially be a trapper in Pennsylvania. We are learning this together and having a blast.  I think that trapping is something that both of us will do together for years to come. Corbin was so excited to take his raccoons home to show his sisters and explain how he set up the traps with me. The twins are super excited every time I come home in the morning from checking traps. Maybe next year they can come in the woods with us to check traps. They like sampling Corbin's raccoon bait, and are going to try to make their own in the next week or so.

After a few hero shots we went in for Thanksgiving dinner and skinned the Raccoons later that night. Corbin's Uncle John gave him a pocket knife that day, and Corbin was pumped to get to learn how to use it later that night when he go to skin his raccoons.

We have the raccoons skinned and I have some of them mildly fleshed. I will be freezing them until I get the right tools for fleshing and tanning. Corbin wants to make a quiver for his recurve bow out of the biggest Raccoon. I am going to do a trapper display tan on the really dark one, and will also be making a quiver out of the lighter one.

We are going to give canines a try now, and hoping to catch fox mainly. I will be picking up a few traps here and there to put out a few canine sets. Corbin and the twins are addicted to watching trapping videos and learning. He's a big fan of Robby Gilbert and Trapping Time TV. It is awesome to hear Corbin's breakdowns on why we should put a trap here, and how he thinks the animals are working the area. 

Trapping is an awesome way to introduce kids into the outdoors. There are a lot of things that trapping will teach them about animal movement, animal tracks, and all sorts of other areas of the outdoors that they may never be exposed to with hunting alone. I feel very blessed this Thanksgiving, and hearing Corbin say this was The Best Thanksgiving EVER!! only made it better.