A fast moving storm moved across the mountains, dumping heavy wet snow. The eight Mountain Men had made an almost fatal error. They stayed too long in the high country. Now cut off from retreating from the mountains they must survive and winter in this valley high in the mountains in what is today Wyoming. The pass was filled with eight feet of wind drift snow that no man or beast could enter or leave until the Spring thaw. The eight men decide to spend the week hunting for food to store for winter. At the end of the week only one small deer was taken. All the hunting parties reported the same thing, the valley was empty of large game. At the end of the second week there food was completely out and the men were hungry and cold. Finally one man suggest that they trap the beaver for food. Throughout the winter they caught enough to survive. Not enough to make and easy living but enough to pull through the brutal winter. A early spring thaw in March open the pass and a small of herd of 11 buffalo enter the valley. Soon the buffalo were turned into steaks and roasts. The men had survived the winter of 1804-05.
I read this account years ago and it has effect my life in many ways. Many lessons are taught in this short story. The unprepared can die. Counting on harvesting large game is not always possible. When hunting fails their traps saved their lives. Today we have more modern equipment lightweight snares that can catch and hold the animals. How to set these snares is simple. First you need to understand the basic parts. On one end is swivel. This so the animal can twist without breaking the cable. The next part is called a support collar it looks like a small piece of spring. The support collar job is to hook on to the support wire to hold the snare at the correct height. Next is the self-locking snare lock. There are different types of snare locks. Some such as the cam lock are designed to kill the animal. Others are designed to relax once the animal is caught, like a choke collar.
Say that you want to snare the raccoon that is coming into a corn field. You walk the edge of the woods and find the trail entering the field. Normally the coons will leave sign on what trail they are using like pieces of corn stalk and if you follow the trail in sometimes you find a pile of rocks or log with pile of corn cobs around it. The coons do this a lot in coyote areas. They are vulnerable to coyote attacks in the open so they learn to grab a corn cob and enter the woods climbing on a rock pile so they can watch for coyotes as they eat. On this trail you will find a place to set the snare where the trail is narrow down. Like between two small trees or under a fallen branch, limb, or tree. You can anchor the snare with 1/2″ steel rebar stake. Or go around a tree feeding the snare lock through the snare swivel. Open the snare to an 8 inch loop and set it three inches off the ground. You can use light wire like 14 gauge wrap around the tree with a small piece coming off. Bend this over at the end and feed it into the support collar. That is it. When the coons comes down the trail he walks into the snare and is caught.
Snaring is literally that simple. No big secret trick to it. Now using scent lure to help increase your odds of catching animals. Lure are designed to attract the animal to the snare or trap. Normally lures are made out of 4-to-6 different ingredients. The difference between us and animals is that animals smell so much better, so they can tell each different part of the lure. Animals just like people have different taste. You might like Pizza Hut and your friend would prefer McDonalds. By having the different ingredients you cover a wider choice for the animals. Basically you cover something that will cause the vast majority of the animals to come visit the set. The lures are high concentration and designed to last for years and years. When using snares it is a good idea to place a small amount on a cotton ball on each side of the snare. Not real close to the snare about 2-3 feet on either side of the snare. This increases the odds that the animal will take the trail your snare is on.
Now when using a conibear trap you normally want the lure on the other side or behind the trap so the animal is trying to pass through the trap to get to the lure. My bucket set (as seen in my Beginning Trapping DVD) and some raccoon lure placed on a cotton ball. Toss the cotton ball behind the trap. This has caught thousands of coons for my students. One real good friend caught a 39 pound coon using this system. When other folks ask what he uses for bait and lure, he says that he “…can’t remember.” Like a fishermen, he told me, he has kept his lure secret so he could catch more animals. 🙂
Just like any fast moving storm you too may be caught in a life or death struggle. Remember the old Mountain Man story the traps are why they survived the winter. Today, other factors can be just as fatal as being trapped in a mountain valley for the winter. Today it could be the Bird Flu, terrorist attack, economic collapse, etc. The old Boy Scout motto applies: always be prepared because as we have seen, being unprepared could be a fatal mistake. – Buckshot (Of Buckshot’s Camp: http://www.buckshotscamp.com)