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I’m obsessed with my trail cameras and run them year ‘round, catching everything from rutting bucks to sneaky coyotes and hungry bears. Turkey season keeps me busy in the spring and I buy tags for as many weeks as possible to keep an excuse to be out there! My favorite part of the hunt is calling, and I enjoy calling turkey in the spring, coyotes in the winter, and deer in the rut. I recently started a trapline and have snares set for fox and coyotes.

Checking the Trapline

1While most people are confined to their houses because of the negative temperatures and feet of deep snow outside, my son, Jackson, and I are having a blast on our “trapline”, targeting fox and coyotes with live snares, or in Wisconsin, “Cable Restraints”.  Cable restraints work much like those Chinese Finger Traps that tightened when you pull on them, but loosen when relaxed.  For the sake of ease, most trappers refer to cable restraints as snares.  When a fox or coyote walks through the snare, they push through it much like walking through brush or vines, and it closes just behind their ears, under their chin, ideally.  As they struggle to break free, the locking mechanism tightens much like a dog’s “choke collar”.  When they finally relax and stop fighting it, the relaxing lock loosens and holds the animal in place until you check your line and quickly dispatch the animal.  Wisconsin law requires a trapper check their sets at least once a day, but in these negative temperatures, it’s good practice to check twice a day.


Fisher tracks “loping” right under the snare loop.

I have not had the best of luck, as I set up my trapline two weeks ago near bait sites of deer scraps from the November gun season.  As luck would have it, breeding season for coyotes started and much like rutting bucks that pay no attention to mineral sites, the coyotes have not touched the bait areas in weeks.  Of course, the fox are just coming into their breeding season too, so activity is at its lowest point.  I have seen evidence of this, as there have been a few lone male coyotes cruising the trails right next to my bait sites, but not detouring in the slightest.  Last week on my way home from work, I had a pair of gray fox run right across the road, a big male chasing a little female, so “the rut is on” for furbearers.  I’m not worried though, because after canines get bred, they’ll be back to scavenging and trying to consume energy they lost during the breeding stage.  February 15th is the deadline for snares in Wisconsin, so the next two weeks are crucial.  I’ve added some skunky call lure to my snare trails in hopes of enticing their curiosity just enough to make them utilize the trails that have been blazed through this deep snow where my snares are set.


Fisher feeding on deer carcass

The only activity I continue to have is a prime sized fisher that frequents one of my sites nightly.  Unfortunately, I did not draw a fisher tag this year, so he is safe for now.  He uses up my camera batteries, trips the snares in the area, and eats up my deer scraps, but he sure is good looking!  I am conflicted because the fox were using the same trails as the fisher for the path of least resistance, but I am confidence that I will not catch the fisher because they tend to “duck” under obstacles instead of pushing through like canines, and the snares are set at 10 inches above the surface, so his mink-like body can slip underneath easily.  Fisher pelts are currently anywhere from $65-$100, so if he’s around next year, I’ll be sure to try for him.  I’ve seen him the last 2 years in this area, so I’m sure he’s not leaving anytime soon.  It’s nice having him around though, because there were hardly any squirrels to bother me during bow season, as the stand I used to shoot my buck from this fall was only 125 yards from his “home tree”.

Jackson is starting to get bored with checking snares every day and not catching anything.  I’m a single mom so I have no choice but to bring him with me to check the line before I go to work in the morning.  I’ve found that pulling him on a sled is best in this deep snow, and he thinks it’s a fun time!  This weekend he actually fell asleep on the ride, so I hope canine activity increases in the coming weeks so he can see that all this hard work will pay off!



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