2015-16 Season Review
It was quite the 2015-16 New Hampshire fur-trapping season, and to be honest, I feel like it flew by faster than any season I’ve took part in. Every year I start to get the jitters by early December that I’ll end up with only a couple prime pelts to show for five solid months in the back country; and every February I’m falling asleep in the fur shed skinning out my 15th or 16th skin in the wee-hours of the night! This season was certainly the year of the otter, with eight beautiful pelts ready for the tannery by the end of March. The mink made their regular visit, with three more on the boards by the end of February. I thought for sure this would be a slow beaver year. I targeted primarily otter and figured that was pretty much all I would wind up with based on the lack of beaver sign on my regular line. However, every time a flat-tail wound up in the trap, there would sure enough be another new castor mound or fresh chew stick along the banks of the brooks and streams I traveled. One change up that I feel greatly impacted my otter numbers was the utilization of “bottom-edge” style sets along the riverbanks. As I stated in a previous article, this season was more of an experiment and the “bottom-edge” style 330 Conibear sets paid off with increased otter and beaver catches. If you haven’t tried setting your Conibear-style traps along the deep, steep banks – I encourage you to give it a shot!
Surprisingly enough, muskrats were few and far between this year; despite a dozen or so 110 size “bottom edge” sets dotted along the trapline. This is a stark contrast from last year’s successful muskrat harvest, and I think the mild temperatures and below-average snowfall amounts played an integral role in species movement. Word amongst the locals was that the long-line coyote trappers had a hard time bringing in the seasoned adult dogs this year. Fisher season was especially tough this year due to the high acorn mast, low snow-pack, and (in my opinion) the influx in swelling bobcat populations in New Hampshire.
On the touchy subject of bobcats, I’m sure you’ve all heard by now that the NH Fish and Game Department’s proposal to reinstate a limited bobcat hunting and trapping season has been withdrawn. This was clearly a classic case of consumptive conservationists winning the battle, but losing the war. I’m told the reasoning behind the department’s decision to withdraw their proposal (which was supported by hunters, trappers, and the rational thinking state biologists), was purely political with immense pressure from stuffed-shirt legislators. Legislators, mind you, who wouldn’t know wildlife if it pranced into their suburban backyard and stole their thousand-dollar toy poodle. Since the initial announcement and battle over bobcats in New Hampshire over a year ago, I have made a ton of new friends and contacts, received an overwhelming amount of support for this webpage, and rubbed elbows with some very important and integral folks who support regulated fur trapping in New Hampshire and nation-wide. I'll admit it was not easy for me to let this "bobcat thing” go easily; I have a lot of “Live Free Or Die” Yankee fight in me, and I take it as a personal attack when the wild resources of my homeland are perverted and mismanaged; especially when that mismanagement is carried out with a truck-load of “red herring” and bureaucracy.
I have a blurb on the Live Free And Trap homepage summing up my thoughts on the rationale behind the season proposal; it’s a mute point going forward as far as I’m concerned. Although I will say, (and mark my words): You will see other wildlife species’ health and numbers plummet as the bobcat populations swell unregulated in New Hampshire going forward. A wise man once said “It’s hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it’s damn near impossible to win an argument with a fool.”
On a positive note, I had the opportunity to write a very rewarding article for Canadian fur advocate website “Truth About Fur”. It’s very humbling to be given this opportunity, and I was proud to present some of my views to a broader audience. I encourage any of you who haven’t read it to CLICK HERE and give it a read. It’s a little longer than most blog posts, but I think the content speaks for itself. Special thanks to the staff at Truth About Fur for giving me the opportunity to write for them!
The LFAT website and logo are slowly receiving an overhaul. I am also updating the pages with more relevant content as I move forward with a broader support-base. I also have a ton of content on the horizon for the LiveFreeAndTrap.com blog articles. Stay tuned! If there is anything revolving around trapping or the wildlife control industry that you would like me to touch on – just ask!