Categories: STEEL TRAPS AND THE ART OF TRAPPING.
This animal, as will be seen by our illustration, has a long, slender
body, something like the weasel, to which scientific family it
belongs. It inhabits the greater part of North America, and is also
found abundantly in Northern Europe. The color of its fur varies
considerably in different individuals, the general tint being a rich,
dark brown. The chin and throat are light colored, sometimes white,
and this spot vari
s considerably in size in different individuals,
sometimes extending down on the throat to a considerable distance.
The total length of the animal is from thirteen to sixteen inches,
its size being variable.
The fur of the mink is excellent in quality, and has for many years
been one of the fancy furs of fashion, a good prime skin often
bringing from ten to twelve dollars. The introduction of the fur
seal, however, and the universal demand for this as well as otter
fur, has somewhat thrown the mink into comparative shade, although
extra fine skins will still command high prices.
The mink is an aquatic animal, inhabiting small rivers and streams,
and living somewhat after the manner of the otter. It has a most
wide range of diet, and will eat almost anything which is at all
eatable. Fishes, frogs, and muskrats are his especial delight,
and he will occasionally succeed in pouncing upon a snipe or wild
duck, which he will greedily devour. Crawfish,
snails, and water insects of all kinds also come within the
range of his diet, and he sometimes makes a stray visit to some
neighboring poultry yard to satisfy the craving of his abnormal
hunger. A meal off from his own offspring often answers the same
purpose; and a young chicken in the egg he considers the ne plus
ultra of delicacies. The voracity of this animal is its leading
characteristic, and is so largely in excess of its cunning or sagacity
that it will often run headlong into a naked trap. Its sense of
smell is exceedingly well developed, and through this faculty it
is often enabled to track its prey with ease and certainty. The
mink lives in burrows, in steep banks, or between rocks or the
roots of trees, and the young, five or six in number, are brought
forth in May.
The chief occupation of the mink consists in perpetual search for
something to eat, and, when so engaged, he may be seen running
along the bank of the stream, peering into every nook and corner,
and literally leaving no stone unturned in its eager search.
Taking advantage of this habit, it becomes an easy matter to trap
the greedy animal. Set your trap, a Newhouse No. 2, in an inch
of water near the edge of the stream, and directly in front of
a steep bank or rock, on which you can place your bait. The bait
may be a frog, fish, or head of a
bird, suspended about eighteen inches above the water, and should
be so situated that in order to reach it, the mink will be obliged
to tread upon the trap. The trap may also be set in the water and
the bait suspended eighteen inches above it, by the aid of a switch
planted in the mud near the trap. It is a good plan to scent the
bait with an equal mixture of sweet oil and peppermint, with a
little honey added. If there is deep water near, the sliding pole,
page 145, should be used, and if not, the spring pole in every
case, in order to prevent the captured mink from becoming a prey to
larger animals, and also to guard against his escape by amputation,
which he would otherwise most certainly accomplish.
The trap may be set on the land, near the water's edge, baiting
as just described, and lightly covered with leaves or dirt. Any
arrangement of the trap whereby the animal is obliged to tread
upon it in order to secure the bait, will be found effectual.
The trap may be set at the foot of a tree, and the bait fastened
to the trunk, eighteen inches above it. A pen, such as is described
on page 144, may be constructed, and the trap and bait arranged as
there directed. Minks have their regular beaten paths, and often
visit certain hollow logs in their runways. In these logs they
leave unmistakable signs of their presence, and a trap set in such
a place is sure of success.
Some trappers set a number of traps along the stream at intervals
of several rods, connecting them by a trail, see page 153, the mink
being thus led directly and almost certainly to his destruction.
This trail is made by smearing a piece of wood with the medicine
described at page 153, and dragging it on the line of the traps.
Any mink which crosses this trail will follow it to the first trap,
when he will, in all probability, be captured. A dead muskrat, crow,
fish, or a piece of fresh meat dragged along the line answers the
same purpose. The beaten tracks of the mink may often be discovered,
and a trap set in such a track and covered with leaves, dirt or the
like, will often be successful.
Minks may also be easily caught in the dead-fall. Garrote trap
or a twitch-up, baiting with fish, muskrat, flesh, or the head
of a bird, of which the animal is especially fond. A liberal use
of the medicine is also desirable.
The fur of the mink is in its best condition in the late autumn,
winter, and early spring, and the animal should be skinned as described
for the fox.