Sunday, March 1, 2009

28th February 2009

Carrie arrives shortly after 10 am for what will be a marathon-trap-prep. She brings a new propane stove which should boil the trap dye much easier than the camping stove we used before. A large pot goes on the stove and we wait until it simmers.
It's only 20 degrees out, and windy. Ben makes a wind shield out of tin foil to block the breeze and protect the flame. We wait. After about twenty minutes, we put half of the traps into the simmering water. 
To speed up our process, I take the stock pot full of wax inside and start to melt it on my stove. The traps need to boil for an hour, and the wax will take just as long to melt. Not too hot, or the wax will ignite. 
By now, it's lunchtime and we order pizza. Wait some more.
Carrie fishes the traps out of the boiling water
 with metal hangers, and they are placed on the clothesline to dry. Five all together. The next five traps go into the black, bubbling water.
Dying and boiling traps does a few things. Traps are supposed to be rusted so that they are porous and will accept the dye. Trap dye is dark brown to black and has a woodsy odor to it. Trap shy coyotes have learned the smell of metal and associate it with their experience of being in or dealing with a trap. The entire process seems more ritualized to me, because I hear of trappers that don't bother with this process at all. 
Boiling traps removes any oil from the fabrication process on new traps, and takes away any scent that the trap may have acquired from trapping animals. Old wax is also removed when boiling the traps. We do this process every time a trap has been sprung or has been in the ground too long because we want to prevent catching non-target species. We only want to catch
 coyotes, so by eliminating other animals scents from each set, we narrow the chances of trapping a skunk or raccoon or heaven forbid, an opossum. 
Once the traps are dry, Carrie quickly dips each trap into the hot wax and hangs it back on the
 clothesline to dry. Wax seals the trap up, hopefully impairing the metal scent and also lubricates the trap to make it faster when closing. After they've dried completely, they go into a plastic bin and a lid seals out any human scent.
We're now ready to reset our trap line.

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