It’s easy to become complacent between trapping seasons, taking a well-deserved breather and assuring yourself you have plenty of time to prepare for the next season. But don’t let it sneak up on you. Here are three crucial things every trapper should be doing in the off-season to prepare for the following year.
- Fix tear-ups
Note: Being from Colorado, I can only speak to cage traps. Footholds, conibears, and any other body-grip or instant-kill traps were made illegal in 1996. If you were lucky enough to be successful this past season, it’s likely some part/s of your trap need attention. For the short time an animal is in the trap, they can cause some serious damage. Bobcats and fox can tear at the wire structure of the trap and bend it or even break welds.
A common issue with cage trapping is the trigger rod running from the pan to the door becoming bent out of shape. Non-target animals such as mountain lions and coyotes can also do a number on cage traps. I have had traps rolled down a mountain or dug out of the ground and flipped over. As you can imagine, the trap requires some TLC after these encounters. The off-season is the ideal time to inspect all of your traps, fix holes, and straighten things out.
2. Prepare bait for next year
It is never too early to start filling the freezer with bait. There is no shame in picking up roadkill! The issue during the summer is the temperature outdoors: You’d have to be pretty quick to find a kill for it to still be salvageable. Along with stocking up on bait, taking the time to organize your scents will save you time and frustration on the first day of the season. Make sure everything is still labeled, wiped clean so it doesn’t stink up the house, and easy to grab when you get that itch to set the first trap.
3. Stay politically aware
Unfortunately, the groups that are actively working to end trapping do not take time off. The fight to keep our trapping rights is year-round. We need to stay alert and educated. There are plenty of activities in which trappers can get involved during the summer months to get together with other trappers, educate the public, and just have fun! The National Trappers Association holds a convention every year, and most states with trapper associations do the same. These are family-friendly events with games, food, booths, raffles, and more!
These events also provide an excellent opportunity to connect with other like-minded sportsmen, which can be challenging, otherwise: During trapping season we are all out running our own sets, trying to give each other space. The off-season is a great opportunity to band together and make invaluable connections.