I’ve used a lot of sleds over the years. From ice fishing to trapping, shuffling gear to backcountry camps and working around the farm, sleds are critical to getting the job done in the winter months. My first sled was a Shappel Jet Sled – a fine product for the price, but the plastic wore out after just one season of hard use and the sled pretty much fell apart. My buddy has a Viking Sport Sled that he uses for ice fishing and trapping. It’s okay.
I picked up a calf sled for $30 at a farm auction and put together a homemade hitch from parts salvaged from the dump. Years later I’m still using the thing. It’s heavy duty but too small for most of the jobs I need to do and places I go, so it doesn’t get used as much.
Other sleds have come and gone, but none have impressed me like the Otter. Otter sleds are the toughest on the market and are built to last. Designed for heavy use, they are built using a process called roto-molding, which produces a single-piece uniform construction of heavy duty polyethylene. The sleds are rugged but light. You’ll pay more, but if you plan to really use a sled, buy an Otter and you’ll pay only once.
While the Otter sleds come in a variety of sizes, I prefer the bigger sleds because I never seem to have enough room to fit all of what I’m hauling in small sleds. In my view, the best package is probably the large or magnum Otter Pro Sled with the tow hitch, travel cover and hyfax kit. The hitch is a must when towing, and is extremely well built. The cover keeps snow out of whatever you’re transporting, and the hyfax kit is a set of runners that make the sled more stable and serve as wear parts to protect the bottom of the sled from ground wear. This package will tow large loads with ease.
If you use tow sleds frequently in the snow and on ice and can afford the investment, Otter sleds are the way to go.
Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. held the first major fur sale of 2014, which will help set the stage for the fur market the rest of the season. Prices for most items were off from the 2013 highs, but compared to the low levels in the market just a few years ago, fur prices aren’t looking too terrible. It’s FHA’s job to get the most value for their trappers and they have a positive outlook on the position trappers are in considering the recent market woes. At the same time, many trappers who sold fur last year will be complaining about these prices. Take a look at the numbers and decide for yourself.
Here are some highlights:
Beaver – $32.79 average overall, with 1st section pelts selling at highest price and %. (over 20,000 sold)
Wild Mink – $17.61 average, 50% sold
Otter – $55.32 average, mostly unsold (only 12% sold)
Muskrat – $9.34 – $10.11 averages, with almost all sold
Raccoon – averages ranging from $7.90 – $36.04, wide variation depending on location. Poor clearance (only about 1/3 sold overall).
Red Fox – averages ranging from $21.84 – $86.94. Eastern and Northern skins sold extremely well, Central were mainly unsold.
Coyote – $56.90 average
The recovery success story of the wood duck in North America hinged on agencies and volunteers putting up countless nesting boxes to fill a crucial habitat need that was keeping duck densities lower than they could have otherwise been. It worked amazingly well for ducks. Could something similar work for the American marten – a popular furbearer whose numbers have declined in some areas?
In random locations throughout the range of marten species in the world, folks are installing nesting boxes in the forest to replace lost habitat and hopefully increase marten numbers.
Habitat is the most critical factor influencing wildlife populations, and furbearers like marten are no exception. Marten need very specific habitat types to survive, including den/nesting sites to raise their young and protect them from predators. Most often marten nest sites consist of a large hollow tree with a small hole carved out of it by a woodpecker. These large, hollow den trees aren’t always abundant, however, and marten can be forced to use poorer nesting sites instead, leading to lower survival.
Intensively managed forests often lack adequate nesting sites because older trees are harvested before they can rot, die and become cavity, or den trees. Without a bunch of older dying trees, nesting sites for female marten can be scarce. Without an adequate nesting site, an area can become relatively devoid of marten where they otherwise might be abundant. This is where nesting boxes come in.
Similar to a duck nesting box, a marten box is a basic constructed cavity with an entry hole just the right size. The box itself can range in size. A typical size starts at 6″x6″, but can be much larger. The entrance hole is round and approximately 2 inches in diameter.
Many trappers and groups have started putting out these boxes and are experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. They are also monitoring how many of the boxes are used. No hard data is available regarding how effective the boxes are and under what conditions they are used, but many trappers swear by them.
See the links below for more information on marten nest boxes:
News Article: Trappers Help With Pine Marten Habitat
For the first time in modern history, Delaware trappers will have a trapping season specifically for fox and coyotes. Officials at Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife are adopting rules for the season, which was created after the legislature passed a law that gave them the authority to manage the species.
The trapping season is a response to the public’s desire to manage fox and coyote populations at a more socially acceptable level and reduce human-animal conflicts due to increased populations of both people and animals. Regulated, responsible trapping can play an important role in keeping predator numbers in balance and reducing starvation and disease.
Another video from The Management Advantage.
Here’s another trapping video from The Management Advantage.
Up in Alberta, local trappers are helping with an ambitious research project aimed at learning more about wolverines and their habitat. The Alberta Trappers Association approached researchers with the hopes of learning more about the elusive furbearers that play an important role on the bush trapline.
Here’s an excerpt.
Jokinen has been involved with the wolverine project since it began about two years ago, when the Alberta Trappers’ Association approached the conservation association about studying wolverines.
“We wanted it to be trapperbased, to use our bush skills, our wildlife knowledge, and our ability to get into remote areas, good wolverine habitat,” said Bill Abercrombie, a board member with the Alberta Trappers’ Association.
The organizations developed a project that saw wolverines lured to platforms where remote trail cameras were set up, along with clips that could collect hair samples for DNA analysis.
“The knowledge the trappers have is incredible,” Jokinen said.
Last winter, about 25 trappers participated in the project.
Advancements in technology, including GPS tracking collars and trail cameras, have helped researchers in other parts of the world learn more about wolverines, and now it’s Alberta’s turn.
Despite the success of trapping as a tradition, rural income source and wildlife management tool, there are always attempts by animal rights groups to ban the practice. Here at Trapping Today we try to keep you informed on the latest trap ban attempts. Here are a few from 2013.
In Montana, activists are gathering signatures to put a question on the 2014 ballot to ban trapping on public lands. A similar attempt took place prior to the 2012 election, but the groups weren’t able to gather enough signatures, particularly in rural areas of the state.
Oregon trappers were facing a proposal to ban virtually all trapping in the state in 2014, but the polls encouraged animal rights groups to postpone the ballot initiative until the 2016 election. Shockingly, poll results indicated that only 36 percent of Oregonians even knew trapping was legal in the state, but hesitated to restrict the rights of private property owners. This indicates a severe need for public relations on the part of trappers and wildlife managers here. Similar trapping bans were proposed in Oregon in 1980 and 2000. Both failed, but population dynamics are changing and the measure could be successful the next time around.
Maine trappers are again facing a battle against animal rights activists in the 2014 election. A referendum to ban bear trapping, as well as hunting bears with bait and hounds will be on the ballot. A similar ban failed by a slim margin in 2004, but Maine is another state with changing population dynamics and a lack of public knowledge of trapping.
Note that most of the trapping bans are done via the ballot box. That’s because animal rights activists can sway the opinions of voters through the media much more easily than they can in state legislatures. This makes it necessary for trappers, outdoorspeople and property rights advocates to raise funds to launch their own public opinion campaigns to defend their rights.
Do you know of any other attempts to ban trapping practices in your state? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.