Yesterday the PGC released the adopted 2010-11 seasons and bag limits. Among them a Bobcat season in which all licensed furtakers can obtain one permit! Also new is a Fisher season following the same rules of each furtaker being able to get one permit. One final thing about the season change that stands out is that cable restraint season for Fox and Coyote starts on December 26th opposed to the 1st of January.
Trapping season ended yesterday. I had a fairly slow season due to a very reduced trap line mainly because of college work. I ended the season with only one possum, but I still had a good season. There is nothing quite like taking a walk every day through the snow in single digit temperatures.
I did have something new happen to trapping in my area this year though. I had my first few run ins with coyotes. One hay set earlier in the season caught a coyote with promptly pulled out of the #1 1/2 duke trap. Then Yesterday, the final day, I found another hay set with both #1 1/2 dukes set off and a jaw ripped out; with coyote tracks running away. I will need to buy some coyote sized traps for next year.
Earlier on in the year I bought a used FoxPro ZR2 for predator hunting. While I have previously gone out a few times with it I never saw anything. Then tonight when I looked outside and saw how well the moon lit up the snow covered ground I decided to go out.
My choice of guns for this hunt was the .22 revolver with the .22 magnum cylinder put in and a .22 magnum / 20 gauge over under shotgun. As I walked through the woods by my house I put the rifle/shotgun on my shoulder and upholstered the .22 magnum and carried a flashlight in my other hand. While I walked through the woods I noticed that the wind was blowing into my face so that was good, because the spot I wanted to hunt from was in the field beyond the woods.
When I exited the woods I walked until the roll in the field allowed me to see some of the field. Then in a strip of picked corn I thought I saw a shape of an animal, about 100 yards away, with its head down; without giving it any thought or planning I turned the flashlight on. After a couple seconds the shape lifted its head up to reveal to a set of glowing eyes in the beam of light. The size of the animal I thought was a little big for a fox. While I could see what I thought was a long and thick tail I wanted to be 100% sure that it was not a deer, so I waited. Soon, the animal broke into a run, with its course leading it slightly closer to me for a time. As soon as it started running I knew it was a canine by the way that it ran, so I fired at it with the gun that was still in my hand–the .22 magnum revolver. Its path of escape lead it within 50 yards of me, while I fired three more times at it. Before I could get a fourth shot off at it, however, it disappeared over the sky line.
Later that night when I followed the tracks in the snow I realized why I thought the animal looked a little big for a fox, the tracks were made by a coyote!
This was the first time I actually saw a targeted animal when I was predator hunting. The hunt could have been successful, if I had thought the situation out better. For example, the coyote had not seen me until I shone my flashlight on it also the wind was in my favor, so I had time to make a plan. What I should have down would have been to sit down next to the row of corn which would have partially hidden me, then used my caller to do a few quiet mouse squeaks, also I could have had the .22 magnum rifle read to use which would have given me much better accuracy at 100 yards!
So far this season I have caught the fox, I previously posted about, and a possum I caught just last Wednesday. There have been a lot of fox tracks around though so the fox are there. In preparation for deer season I will be pulling most if not all of my traps that way I will not needlessly stir the deer up during the season. Also its not as much fun checking traps in the middle of the night when you are tired from hunting all day. After deer season I want to put out more hay sets for fox and expand my water trapping.
A couple weeks back I added to my collection of traps 1 160 and 6 110 body gripping traps in hopes getting started in water trapping, which I have never done before. I also bought 6 #1 1/2 duke coil spring traps to help make lots of hay sets for fox.
Currently, I have the 160 trap at the end of a slide on a creek bank where I saw raccoon tracks in the snow the other day. The 110s, however, I am having trouble finding muskrat sign to set on. Whether the stream or just the part of the stream I am trapping does not have them, or I just am not seeing their sign I do not know. After deer season I plan on trapping more of the stream, hopefully I will find muskrat sign to set on then.
On a path going through a field I have been noticing mixed among the fox tracks a few larger canine tracks. While, I have never really seen any coyote tracks, in the area where I trap, before I think I might have a coyote to trap judging from the tracks. Either I will have to wait until cable restraint season or buy some bigger traps though, since I have nothing big enough to hold anything, but a small coyote.
The experiences of a hunter and trapper in Pennsylvania