CategoryTrapping

This category houses all my trapping posts.

Skinning My First Rabbit… Join Me in the Fur Shed!

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Welcome back everyone! After the satisfaction of my getting my first catch, it’s now time to put this natural resource to use. I’m after a pair of rabbit fur mitts for next season. That means getting my first catch skinned out and eventually tanned. Join me in the fur shed. Let’s get to work skinning that rabbit.

WARNING!! This video contains graphic images of animals being processed for fur. Images may include blood and/or animals with their fur and skin removed. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!!!

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Welcome to the Fur Shed.

Ah… the fur shed! With it’s kerosene heater, bottle of whiskey and unmistakable feeling you’ve gone back in time! It’s awesome. Very nostalgic. Furs, traps and gear line the walls, and bits of scrap fur lay here and there on the floor. The fur shed is purpose built, and there is no mistaking what goes on there. This is a man cave, if ever there was one!

Skinning in the Fur Shed

Welcome to Tyler’s fur shed. Tyler was kind enough to let us film this video in his warm and comfortable fur shed. The atmosphere was awesome. Traps, furs, whiskey! It was great!

You can see in the background of the shots above and below, a coyote and two foxes that we had just skinned prior to beginning the rabbit. These were my first canine skinning jobs and I enjoyed the work immensely. It was a great learning experience. These furs were donated as practice furs for me to work on. I have one of the foxes tanned up and hanging on my wall at home now.

Anyway back to business. I admire my catch one last time and then get to the business at hand. Turning that catch into a rabbit pelt.

Im going to be skinning this Snowshoe Hare

Here I am, still so proud of my first trapping catch, admiring the beautiful specimen.




Let’s Get to Skinning .

Now the step by step process is much more fluid in the above video, but here are the basic steps I follow when skinning a rabbit. I’m sure I could break it down into even more detailed steps, but to be honest I feel that would over complicate things. It’s actually not rocket science and you just gotta get in there and go for it. Your first skin or two might be a little jagged but you will learn really fast. It’s a simple learning curve.

Step 1

You need to start somewhere and most trappers start skinning from the hind end. The first thing you need to do is cut a ring around both ankles and remove the rear feet.

Skinning Step 1... Making the Ankle Cuts

The first cut you make is a ring around both ankles.

Step 2

You need to open the pelt up so you can pull it off the carcass. First identify the line from the ankle to the vent. You can see a fairly slight change in the color and direction of the fur on most animals along this line. Use this line as your guide. You open the fur from the ankles to the “vent”. The vent is the skinning term for the poop shoot. But we don’t say poop shoot. We never say poop shoot! Unless we do say poop shoot. In which case we just say poop shoot. Anyways… it’s the vent.

Skinning Step 2a... Identify Ankle to Vent Cut Line

You should be able to easily identify a change in color pattern following a line from the ring cut at the ankle to the “vent” of the animal. This is the line the next cut will follow.

Skinning Step 2b... Making Ankle to Vent Cuts

After removing the feet you now place the knife under the skin. Make a cut, following the fur color line, to the vent. Do this for both hind legs.

Skinning Step 2c... Ankle to Vent Cut Finished

Here is what it will look like after you open the fur from the ankle to the vent. Do this for both hind legs.




Step 3

Now it gets easier. You will feel you’ve really gotten somewhere after completing this step. You’ve already opened it up on one end so now all you need to do is pull the pelt away from the flesh. You can basically think of pulling off a sock. Just roll it down off the carcass.

Skinning Step 3... Removing the Fur

Now that the lower portion is opened up it gets really easy from here. Simply pull the fur off the rabbit as if removing a sock.

Step 4

Remove the front feet and pull the front legs out. The only tricky bit to this part is getting it started. What you need to do is poke your finger through the sinew under the “armpit”. Right between the skin and the meat. Once you have this accomplished you can use the front legs to pull against, removing them from  the pelt. Do this for both front legs.

Skinning Step 6... Pull Out the Front Legs.

Once you roll the fur down as far as the “armpit”, remove the front feet and then pull the front legs out of the fur as if pulling them out of a sleeve of a coat. Do this for both front legs.

Step 5

Now you just have to finish up and cut the pelt free of the carcass. Basically just continue pulling the pelt off as you did before up over the neck and as far up over the head as you can. For species like mink, muskrat, otter and others this is a must. These species must be perfectly removed from the carcass to be marketable. In the case of rabbit, they aren’t even typically sold at large fur auctions, so it doesn’t really matter. I was trying to see if I could do it on this rabbit but I blew it. Rabbit skin is very thin.

Skinning Step 5... Finishing Up Over the Head

This last step is just a way to get all the usable leather and fur you can. Continue to pull the fur off over the head as far as you can.

Step 6

Once you have the pelt free of the carcass you simply split it straight from vent to chin along the belly to open it up… Then open the front legs, identifying the same sort of fur patterning as you did for the rear legs.

Remember to open your pelt up and salt it well to remove moisture and preserve it till tanning. Lay the pelt fur down and salt directly on the bare leather, making sure to cover all areas of the pelt. I did not show this in the above video. I should have, I’m sorry. I will show it in the tanning video I have planned for the near future.

My Furry Prize.

With the skinning done and opened up I admire how clean and soft it is. A job well done I’d say. Typically with farmed rabbits I had been cutting the heads off and going in from front to back, so this was a bit different for me. I’m sure I’ll get more proficient with time.

Beautiful Fur

Again I beam with pride. I have skinned rabbits before, but this was special. I’ll never forget my first catch as a trapper!

So again, I’d refer to the video above for more detail, but there you have it… Rabbit Skinning 101! As mentioned above, I plan on doing a tanning video in the near future. Stay tuned as this future article and video will complete the process of turning my catch into usable fur.




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Snaring My First Rabbit! Come see!

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I’m so excited right now! You can see it on my face as soon as the video starts! I snared my first rabbit! I got home and got right to editing so I could share with everyone. A pristine snowshoe hare! So white and clean in his deep winter coat. Just beautiful! Join me and see my first catch!

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Making the Find.

So I headed out to check the line again. As a trapper you have to be patient. That comes with the territory. You do your best… then wait it out.

I didn’t know if I would be successful or not. In the interest of getting that first catch recorded though, I took the camera. Man, was I glad I did! After finding a few empty snares, I came around the bend on my little snare line and there… just off to the left under some low cover, was a rabbit in one of my snares! I actually was mildly shocked for a few seconds. It took a moment to register that I had actually made that first catch. I was soo excited!

Finding the Rabbit

Here you see the rabbit just as I found it. Snared cleanly and quickly around the neck.




The Look on My Face!

At this point, after making the find, I set up the camera and began filming. I wanted to let my viewers know I had snared my first rabbit. This was what I had been waiting for! My face beaming from ear to ear I began to express my excitement.

It takes commitment to get into trapping. Here in New Brunswick you have to take a trappers safety and certification course to be legal to trap. I had to travel one hour each way everyday to a nearby town where a course was being held. We have laws on which traps are allowed for specific species, as well as for the seasons we are allowed to trap within. Needless to say getting the education and knowledge to begin an activity like trapping is a lot of work. I was feeling very fulfilled to finally make my first catch. The effort and the time had been worth it. The feeling was memorable to say the least. I’ll never forget it!

The Happiest Smile Ever

This picture was taken from just seconds after I discovered my first catch ever! I was practically bubbling with excitement.

I’m a lot of things before I’m a trapper. I’m a son, a husband, a father, a brother, and employee… you get the point. So to take on a new hobby and really give it your all takes some sacrifice. I’m a beginner with a lot to learn, but catching that first rabbit was a great feeling. You just have to try it.

Hoisting My Trophy

Held up high, my prize files me with a sense of fulfillment and relief that I actually finally had achieved success. I had invested much time in effort to get this far. Very proud moment.




My Prize, A Perfect Snowshoe Rabbit (varying hare).

Fully grown, with a perfect winter coat, my Snowshoe Hare or Snowshow Rabbit, was beautiful. I just call them rabbits typically.  Call them what you will… this one, as far as rabbits go, was a beauty!

For more information on the Snowshoe Hare see the link below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowshoe_hare

Admiring My Catch

Just a perfect specimen. I was very proud here, and also very excited to have the camera with me. I was very happy to share my excitement with everyone.

Common Hare

With their winter fur pattern in full effect, these guys are really hard to hunt without a dog to flush them out. If they are sitting still you likely wont even see them.

The season came and went in a real hurry! I hope to get a lot more snares down next season and really make a go of it. For now, I’m just glad to have made this first catch. Looking forward to spring muskrat season now. Stay tuned!




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Checking the Trap Line and Improving the “Funneling”

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Hey everyone… let’s go check those snares! After my last video I went and placed 7 more snares for a total of 9. I spent a lot more time “funneling” around them to guide the rabbit towards the snares. Let’s go see if my efforts paid off.

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Just a Quick Trip Out to Check the Line.

Working a 40 hour week as many of us do, finding the time to check snares or to have a hobby like trapping at all can be tricky. Many trappers end up running out at night to check their lines. Needless to say this is a bit inconvenient, but one does what one must. I fight on the front lines as a weekend warrior as well!

I put these particular snares in a few days prior and had done a better job with the funneling than in my first few attempts. It really does make a big difference. These being some of my very first snares I’m still learning every time I touch the wire!




Improved Funneling Around the Traps.

For snares to be effective, you really want to do everything you can to direct the targeted species to the snare or trap. This is called “funneling” as it creates a natural guidance towards the snare. In the chance that something does come along near the path of the snare, the funneling will block their way from going around snare. The path of least resistance will be the opening where the snare is.

It’s really easy to do too, as everything you need to do a good job of it is right there in the woods. Branches, sticks, leaves, rocks, anything really can be placed in such a way as to direct traffic towards the snare. Experiment, use what’s on hand. You can’t really do it wrong. You can do it poorly maybe, like me on my first few snares, but any amount of funneling increases your chances.

Use natural funneling

In this instance I used a naturally occurring fallen branch to tie snare to. I also added some additional twigs and sticks to hide things in.

Funneling Around Snares

Using small well rooted trees that occur close together you can easily fill in around the snare.

Thankfully “funneling” is not a difficult task. The more time you spend at it the better your chances and the easier it will be. Just try to picture how the animal might see the ways around the snare and prevent that if possible.




The One That Got Away!

Upon checking one of my snares I found the brass line stretched out as tight as could be and the snare itself was snapped right off the end! There are really only four possibilities.

  1. A predator heard the distress call and came in shortly after and snatched it.
  2. A rabbit got snared poorly, possibly around leg and got away.
  3. A human discovered the catch and took it.
  4. Something much larger found itself temporarily detained by a tiny brass snare.

Now I presume to think a coyote or a fox got it. My reasons? There are a ton of coyotes and fox in my area! Lol. A few centimeters of fluffy powder had fallen that AM. Under this very recent light powder, there was hard packed snow that had previously experienced a mild thaw and refreeze. This would have made passing undetected before the powder fell very easy on top of the frozen crust. Can I say for sure this is what happened… nope! If it did, the culprit must have taken the catch somewhere else to make a meal of it. There was no sign of blood or struggle.

It’s also possible the rabbit got snared around leg only in which case he would easily have been able to escape. This is also a likely possibility. In which case the small loop with nothing to hold it shut would have eventually sooner than later just fallen off.

Then there is the possibility of human interference. Do I think another trapper came and took it? No not really. I mean it’s possible, but it’s a remote spot and only accessible on snow shoes. Seems a great length to go to for a single snared rabbit.

It’s also possible that the aforementioned predator themselves got snagged up and quickly broke free. This also lines up with the hard packed snow conditions. It would have been hard to tell it ever happened unless it had happened after the powder fell.

No matter how you figure it, something got away! I had something in that snare and it was gone. I have been thinking about it ever since, deliberating over the possible causes. You be the judge.

Snapped Snare Line

I can only assume that either the rabbit got leg snared and broke free, or a predator took my catch before I could return.

Future Success?!

I can’t say, but tune into the next article to find out. You’ll be glad you did! And stay close to Outdoor Adventurecraft as we get underway with our Winter Expedition Series.




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Tying My First Rabbit Snares. Come learn with me!

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Having just taken my trapping course a few months ago, it was high time I got out to lay my first snares! So I headed out on a beautiful -20c Canadian day! I even had a chance to have a fire and fry up some baloney too. I hadn’t had a chance to chill out in the bush for a long time! Join me… learn something and relax by the fire.

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Newbie Disclaimer!

This video captured what where literally my first two snares ever! Before this video, I had only ever read about or seen videos about how to tie a basic snare. I took my certification course recently as required by law here in my province. What you see here is me diving in! I’ve got a lot to learn. I am by no means a source for expert trapping advise. What this video does demonstrate is that anyone, regardless of skill level, who has an interest, can enjoy trapping! Just go for it! Get legal and stay safe!

Just little ol' me tying some snares

Just out on a nice day learning to tie my very first snares. I was very happy to get my trapping hobby started.




How to Tie Rabbit Snares.

A snare is the most basic of traps. It’s both primitive and modern. It’s been used for thousands or years. In modern times snares are often brass, stainless steel or even braided steel wire for larger species. Because of the simplicity of design they can be made simply out of any strong cordage material. Thus the interest shown by the bushcraft and survival community.

All you will need is some snare wire, a pair of wire cutters, and your hands. Let’s get started. Anyone can do it.

Step 1 – Wrap Short End Around a Twig.

This is pretty straight forward. Starting with about 4 feet of wire, take the last 3 inches and make two wraps around a small twig. Some people only use 1 wrap, that’s fine too. I do two wraps because it creates a locking ring to better prevent the snare from reopening.

Create the Snares Locking Loop

Start by wrapping your snare wire around a small twig.

Step 2 – Twist Short End Back Around Wire.

Using the twig with locking loops in one hand and with the tip of short wire and the rest of the wire in the other, simply start twisting the twig. The shorter wire will twist back down around the length of the rest of the wire. It helps to start with the end of the wire and the rest of the length angled apart at about 90 degrees. This method is nearly foolproof and virtually guarantees a tight even bond between the two sections of wire. This method uses the twig as a perfect handle to simplify to job.

After you’ve twisted the short end down the longer end about an inch if you still have extra I just started wrapping it back up towards locking loops. In my beginners opinion this seemed to add friction to the twists and further prevent escape. You want a strong snare.

Form the Snare's Locking Loop

Twist the short end back along the wire ensuring the locking loops wont open back up when snare is under load.

Once you are finished twisting your twig handle till the locking loop is tightly formed and secure, you can simply break the twig at the point where the wire goes around it and presto it’ll pop right out. See above video for clarification.

Step 3 – Thread the Loop.

This is the part that turns your wire into a trap! Once you thread that locking loop with the long end you basically have a slip knot or snare that will tighten on anything that gets caught in it and tries to pull against it. Aim to make your snare loop a little bigger than your fist.

Thread the Locking Loop

Simply bring the long end of the wire back through your locking loop and you should start to see the snare forming.

You can start to see how that second loop acts as a lock now… When the snare is pulled tight, without the second locking loop you have just a strained loop that the long end might move back through. With the second locking loop, when under strain the inner loop is able to bind 360 degrees all the way around the wire thus preventing slippage or loosing off of the snare. Try both and test them by putting a piece of firewood through the snare and look at the results of the second locking loop.

Step 4 – Put a Bend in Wire to Prevent Unwanted Movement.

So now that you basically have the snare finished, you will notice at this point the whole thing just sorta moves around where ever based on the springy nature of the wire. Wire has metal memory and can take some convincing to get to do what you want it to.

I make a gentle round 180 degree bend back along the snare and then a gentle bend 90 degrees up. This creates a pocket in the snare wire for the locking loop to rest and holds the size you set the snare too

Get Kinky With You Snares

You need to bend the snare loop to prevent the locking loop from sliding out of its desired position.

Step 5 – Celebrate your first snare.

You are now a trapper, albeit an inexperienced one who has never caught anything yet! It’s a start and you should be proud! Dance a little jig!




Step 1 – Wrap long end around tree more than once!

You may need to experiment with the right amount of wire to start with to make sure you can wrap around more that once. You want to rely on that friction of the wraps around the tree rather than the twists you place in the wire. Wrap any remaining wire around the tree until you have no less than 4 inches of tag (more is fine) to lock it on to the snare.

Setting Snares

Make sure you put plenty of wraps around the tree you intend to use. Rely on that friction not just the twisted wires.

Step 2 – now twist the tag and snare Together.

One tip I have noticed, is try to engage both wires in the twisting. Don’t simply wrap one wire around the other. Try to make both wires wrap around each other. This can be achieved by angling both wires away from each other 45 to 90 degrees as you wrap them around each other. Get a nice obvious spiral going with the two wires marrying together nice n tight. Again if you get slack, wrap it back towards the tree.

Step 3 – position Your snare.

Set snare opening to just larger than your fist and set about 4 fingers above the ground. This is no hard science. Just try to imagine the size of your target and position of head when coming down the trail. Set accordingly.

Setting Your Snares

How you set your snares is important. I use large fist size snares set about 4 fingers off the surface of the snow or ground. In this set you can see I choose the location because there was already some natural funneling available. This can actually often be the case if you are observant.

Step 4 – Funneling.

In trapping, funneling refers to closing in around the trap in such a way to guide target towards the snare. This increases the odds of a catch. Is it 100% necessary? No. Will you catch more with good funneling? It’s very likely. Use your best judgement. If you have a really obvious game trail that is well traveled, too much change to the scenery may make the target suspicious of the change. You may get lucky with what is called a blind set, a snare set unhidden unbaited on a well traveled trail.

In the above video I lacked much by way of decent funneling. If you check out my next video in the series, you can see much more attention paid to funneling around the snares. This helps to guide your target towards the snare. In the next video I come back after setting out many more snares to check them and to snow the funneling I worked on.

Some Time to Myself! Finally!

Not many snares were set on this my first outing. I wanted some time to myself to relax and enjoy a fire. After a few days, I went back out and put out a bunch more snares. The more snares out the better the chance of results.

Having found a nice piece of dry standing wood, I went to work processing it down. I didn’t need a big fire. Just a small cooking fire.

Harvesting Dry Standing Wood

Getting fuel for a little fire. It’s good to take some time to relax.

I decided to use some dry tinder I had been storing in my bag. It had been in there for a long time and I wanted to cycle it out. I had made a primitive folded pocket for the tinder from a rabbit pelt. It was tied shut as one would a parcel with natural jute twine with a bow on top so it could be opened easily. More tinder can be collected and my stash replenished next time I’m out.

Birch Bark Tinder

I always carry dry tinder material with me. When dry tinder is available at site I prefer to use that, however sometimes I just want to cycle my stash. The oils in Birch Bark all but guarantee a fire.

Using the birch bark from my pack and a brush bundle made from dead spruce and fir twigs I found at site, I was easily able to light my standing dead wood fuel. This gave me sometime to warm up and reflect by the fire. A fire in the woods by myself offers me untold peace and replenishes me deeply. It had been too long and this was much needed. The whiskey I brought added a nice touch too!!!

Reflecting by the Fire

This sorta thing needs to happen often if I’m to be a balanced individual! Seriously, sometimes I just need to stare into the fire and work out my priorities. That’s where it all seems to make sense.

To wrap things up I had a little baloney fry and was able to share a few more thoughts with the viewers of the above video. I thanked them and I thank you the reader here too, for joining me to learn something and experience the outdoors via my adventure on that day. I had a great time, learned a lot, and am happy to share the experience with you as best I can.

Frying Some Baloney

Having a bite to eat in the cold winter air is awesome! It doesn’t matter that it’s just a slice of plain old baloney. To me… in that moment, it was heaven!

Till next time… Don’t eat yellow snow!




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Tracking Small Game

New Video @ Outdoor Adventurecraft on YouTube!

I was out hunting for rabbit, partridge and squirrel on a mild winters day so I brought the camera along. I did not have an opportunity to harvest anything on this day,  however I did have a chance to talk a little about gun safety, knife sharpening and tracking small game

While this is no comprehensive guide to tracking, I hope you can pick up a few ideas for your next trip out. The atmosphere was great and the time in the bush was very relaxing. Join me for a beautiful walk in the woods.

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Tons of Snow makes for easy tracking!

Late 2016 has seen an insane amount of snow fall here in eastern Canada. In and around the trees the snow often is 2 feet deep. This was shot in late December, it’s now January as I write this and I can’t wait to see how much snow we get in 2017!

Finding and identifying tracks and game trails is very easy in the snow. Having taken my trapper certification course in the summer of 2016, it’s a great way for novice trackers like me to learn.

Deep Snow

I do sometimes wear snowshoes, but I find them cumbersome for hunting. Needing sometimes to crawl in tight spaces to retrieve game.

On this day it was very warm and I was only wearing long johns and pants, with two layers of wool socks in insulated work boots. Additionally just a t-shirt and heavy sweater. I was actually sweating!




Tips on Gun Safety.

Walking about on uneven terrain with a gun can be very dangerous! It’s important to keep your safety on and your finger well out of the trigger at all times! With multiple layers of crust and differing snow densities, progress was often unpredictable and jolting. You could easily have an accident if not diligent about gun safety.

Gun Safety

Please please please be careful out there friends! One mistake could be fatal. Some mistakes you will not be around to make twice.




Small Game Tracking.

As I progressed deeper into the woods, the game signs became more and more evident. Here’s a few descriptive pictures showing some tips on tracking small game in the snow.

Natural funneling. Tracking Small Game

Notice how game is blocked left and right and passes through center of frame. This would be a great place for a snare.

Game trail near tree. Tracking Small Game

Notice how the snow is packed down into a trail as they move to go around this tree. You can also see under the fresh snow the dirty marks from their feet.

Rabbit Tracks Tracking Small Game

Hopping down the bunny trail! Notice the direction of travel as they land on their front feet first then rear feet before taking next hop. Tracking rabbits is really easy!

Real nice trail! Tracking Small Game

Again, really obvious rabbit trail. You can see the depression and the discoloration very clearly. This tells you that you are hunting in the right area.

Obvious Rabbit Hutch Tracking Small Game

This entrance led into a clump of downed trees and roots. With lots of snow insulating it I bet they are very comfortable in there.

The key to tracking is observation. You need to get used to the typical lay of the land, then look for where it has been changed by the passing of animals. This is obviously way easier in the snow! I had it pretty easy. As I grow in experience, I look forward to tracking in all seasons.




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