ONLY $7.00

(includes shipping)

 with Rob Miskosky

Warm Weather Woes

While just about everybody enjoys warm weather, there is a group of dedicated individuals out there who consider warm weather to be a complete pain in the butt! I’m talking about trappers.

I have often wondered how our neighbouring trappers to the south go about their business in the warm weather conditions they are offered. However, I suppose the feelings are mutual, they wondering about how we trap in the ice, snow and cold.

On one particular trapping forum, I chuckled when reading about the struggles some southern trappers were having when they were suddenly besieged with a rare snowfall. Many were talking about pulling their sets until the snow melted and they had dry ground again.

It’s funny how trappers from different regions go about their trapping activities. Up here in the great white North, we cry for snow because I think for the most part, we don’t know how to trap unless we can read the snow. This doesn’t hold true for all trapping, as footholding for coyotes and fox does not require snow, nor does catching beaver or muskrats. But running a long line for marten, fisher and lynx without snow is like trying to catch a fish in water with your bare hands. It can be done, but the effort for the return makes little sense.

And running that same long line on a backbreaking quad as opposed to the smoothness of a speedy snowmobile because of a lack of snow also hinders trapping performance. Again, it can be done and often is, but it is far more time consuming and hurts a heck of a lot more.

The author with a large male wolf he caught during a far too warm trapping season. The warm season resulted in many ups and downs for Alberta trappers.
My particular trapline is known for its tremendous snowfall. In fact, I usually have to shovel the snow away from my cabin’s main window at least twice a season so that I can look out of it. This year, not once did I have to grab the shovel so I could see out the window.

I was also hindered in accessing several areas of my 48-square mile trapline because the ground wasn’t frozen hard enough to accommodate the weight of my quad. In fact, I spent all of November and part of December digging myself out from being stuck. Also backbreaking work when you’re alone. And this year, I spent the entire trapping season by myself, as my regular partner and son Dakota had work commitments.

As well, animal movements and patterns also change with warm conditions and little snow. Using lynx as an example, these felines always travel snowmobile trails when there is deep snow because travel while hunting is much easier. With little snow, our trails aren’t used to the same degree, as hunting in the bush is just as easy and most likely far more productive for them. Aside from my proven lynx cubbies, I like to set on sign and lynx leave a lot of sign using our trails but not nearly as much when they spend their time hunting in the bush.

Several times this season, I could sit on my cabin deck in my shirtsleeves while skinning my catch, a task usually reserved for inside a warm cabin or skinning shed.

When I pulled my line early this year, it was because for three days I was trapping in late January in 14-Celsius weather, an unheard of temperature for that time of year and quite frustrating. The snow was melting on each side of my trails, leaving my trails sitting several inches above. Trying to maintain a snowmobile on this hardened, elevated patch of snow proved difficult and often resulted in falling off the trail into the softer side snow. The chore then would be trying to get your snowmobile back up onto the trail so you could continue on.

While I had many successes this trapping season, I also had many failures, each because of the warm weather. Trappers are meant to spend their time plying their trade in the cold, not worrying about how warm weather is going to affect their operations.

El Niño is an abnormal weather pattern caused by the warming of the Pacific Ocean. For trappers, it simply means, “warm weather woes” ... and a pain in the butt!

For previous Outdoor Pursuits click here.

Sports Scene Publications Inc.
10450 - 174 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5S 2G9
Phone: 780-413-0331 • Fax: 780-413-0388

Privacy Policy

© 2016 Sports Scene Publications Inc. All Rights Reserved