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Fox Trapping by A.R. Harding
I always enjoy reading trapping books from "the good old days." It's fascinating to see how methods have evolved, and just as interesting to see what techniques remain the same. One of the things I like most is the style of writing from a century ago. There's always a turn of phrase or memorable quote from these old timers. I recently stumbled on this old fox trapping book by A.R. Harding from 1906. It is available free online at this link. Here's just one snippet from page 11 that I find very amusing (click "read the whole story" below).
Now let me first give you a few pointers on fox trapping. First,
forget everything you have bought from humbugs and use common sense;
second, study the habits of the fox and you will have better success.
Third, be sure and have your traps in proper shape so the fox can't
smell the iron; fourth, be careful in making a set, use the wooden
paddle or gloved hand in placing dirt over trap; fifth, be sure that
your bait is not scented with human scent, and use cat, skunk, or
I have bought scent for many years, but the best scent I can find is
skunk essence or oil of anise. Skunk essence and honey equal parts,
but never use skunk essence in early winter, as it will be a failure.
I have trapped fox for many years and I am very successful and lucky,
and every fall I believe I learn something.
Another thing, never get discouraged, for it is grit that counts.
When a fox turns the trap over reset it and place another trap in the
bed, and you are liable to catch him the first night, but if this
fails, turn trap bottom side up and he will get fooled, sometimes,
not always, for fox trapping is uncertain.
In the first place, when an animal gets into a trap he tears around
for a while, says G. F. Moon, of Dakota, and if the trap be lightly
clogged so he can move around, the trapper most generally finds his
game when he visits the traps. On the other hand, let the trap get
fastened solid and the animal sets his reasoning powers to work; he
finds out that he can chew from the under side of the jaws of the
trap, and that too without giving himself any pain, and finds that he
can easily slip the trap off from the stump of his leg.
Man has been known to do the same thing, when by accident he has been
caught by the leg by a tree or a large rock falling on him. Surely
the animal showed as much reason as the man. I once had a large fox
trap set in a hollow log. The log was about the size of a barrel. A
she fox got into the trap, and as the trap was a good bit out of the
way I did not visit it for several days. When I did visit the trap
the snow was all tramped down by foxes around the log and on the
inside of the log by the fox in the trap. There were the remains of
several rabbits and one whole rabbit fresh killed, one fresh killed
quail and feathers enough to have been on a couple more quail. Now
the question arises, "Did the other foxes let instinct guide them to
feed the unfortunate fox in the trap? Or did they use their power of
reason?" I leave that for others to answer.