Sunday, March 8, 2009

7 March 2009, 6:15 am

I jolt awake from the sound of my alarm. I switch it off, roll over and close my eyes. But only for a moment. Getting out of bed is easier with wildlife as an agenda. Spring is coming: a flock of Red-winged blackbirds flies over our house, and an American robin serenades us as we haul some gear out of the garage. Ben and I pack all the camera and audio gear into the car, and eat our breakfast on the way. Fenris is being puppy-sat by his grandparents today because what we are doing won't be a good activity for him.We pull in at the Stull Interpretive Center shortly before 8am. The recent weather has been warm, and only the deepest snowpiles remain as dirty memories of their former whiteness. This is a great relief because clear ground and above freezing will give us much better chances for our catch. Samantha arrives, quickly followed by Carrie and then a fourth vehicle pulls in.
A couple of weeks ago, Marshall contacted Carrie as a result of the newspaper article in the Erie Times. He's a self proclaimed hobby trapper with the Pennsylvania Trapper's Association. Some hobby--90 traps makes our operation seem miniscule. He's here today to help us set our trapline, teach us some new tricks, and probably increase our trap success. I'm thankful for his help because it's been almost ten years since I set traps before the beginning of this project and I'm sure I've forgotten some details.
Marshall focuses on trapping Canines: fox and coyotes, so he certainly understands and appreciates the difficulty of our task ahead.
We drive to the trailhead and begin hauling all the necessary gear out of the backs of our cars:
me camera and sound equipment plus a precautionary umbrella, and Carrie and Marshall their trapping gear. We don't have the benefit of even a slight amount of snow to enable loading up a sled, so everything is carried: camera, tripod, microphone, boom pole, camera packs, traps, rebar stakes, bucket, lures, shovels, sledgehammer, cotton balls, gloves, rain gear, and the ever important umbrella.
It's a slightly misty morning, warmer than it has been in a long time. But the threat of rain is in the sky, and the warm, damp air hints a chill now and then. Dark clouds are overhead. We have about two hours before the forecast says it will surely rain.
Marshall makes quick work of six traps. He spreads the line out longer than we had done prior to this, but puts the traps in groups of two. Two here, there and at last, about the halfway point down the trail. He reminds us to surround the trap set with 'decorations' to encourage the coyote to step exactly on the trap pan. Sticks and grasses make mini-fences to encourage good footwork on the curious-coyote's part. Marshall reminds me of other small details that I had forgotten, and does do some things differently than how I was taught; an important point in switching up sets when trapping starts to dry up.
We begin our hike back to the cars, and Carrie finds fresh scat on the trail: still warm! While
she's taking her measurements, GPS point, and collects the specimen for later analysis, it begins to rain. We plan to focus our efforts on one end of the park for now, and try setting at the opposite end again sometime later. Our emotion is optimistic, excited, and the knowledge that it is just a matter of time.
We celebrate at Panera with lunch. Just in time, it's pouring!

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