Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Anderson: To catch a wolf, by snare or trap

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 17, 2012 - 6:57 PM

As a kid growing up in the Twin Cities' northwest suburbs, Matt Steffen often pedaled his bike with a milk crate balanced atop one fender.

He wasn't riding to a nearby Dairy Queen or burger joint. But to a marsh, then a creek, and a marsh again.

In the milk crate were traps, some leg-hold, some body-gripping.

"Fur prices were pretty high then,'' he said. "A large muskrat pelt skinned and dried could bring as much as $6. That was a lot of money to me.''

Today, Steffen, 48, still traps, though coyotes and fox, not muskrats, are his primary targets.

"I don't trap as much as I did when I was a kid, because I don't have the time,'' he said. "I guess you could say my trap line has gotten smaller and smaller over the years. A couple of years, I didn't trap at all because fur prices were so low, there was no money in it.''

Now, it could be said, Steffen has regained his trapping mojo. He's among an estimated 700 trappers who have been given a Department of Natural Resources wolf trapping permit.

"A wolf pelt might bring about $500,'' he said. "But if I get one, I'm not going to sell it. I'll keep it.''

• • •

Trapping is widely misunderstood, and probably always will be.

To the uninitiated, the pastime (or, in some cases, occupation) is cruel to the point of barbarism.

But to trappers, spending time in the state's woods or farmlands, attempting to outwit a coyote or mink or fox is less sport than lifestyle, and one in which even small successes can be difficult to achieve.

Perhaps never more will the state's trappers be tested than when the lucky ones who drew wolf trapping permits scatter among the hinterlands beginning Saturday in an attempt to outfox canis lupis.

Not only will they have to beat the wolf at its own game -- cleverness -- they'll have to beat the clock, too.

That's because the total target harvest, or quota, the DNR has set for the state's inaugural wolf season is 400 animals. It's expected when the first wolf season ends Sunday, during which only hunting, not trapping, was allowed, about 150 will have been killed.

That leaves 250 to be taken -- if they can be taken -- during a second season that allows both trapping and hunting.

And if Wisconsin's wolf season is any indication -- more than half of the 80 or so wolves taken there have been trapped -- trapping wolves in Minnesota will prove more effective than hunting them, so much so that the 400-animal quota might be reached relatively quickly, perhaps within a month's time.

• • •

Steffen will seek his wolf not with a trap but a snare.

He prefers snares because they're cheaper than traps, and because they kill a captured animal quickly. Leg-hold traps, conversely, catch an animal and hold it until a trapper arrives and kills it.

"When an animal is caught in a snare, it's natural for it to lunge forward, and keep lunging,'' Steffen said. "When it does, the snare draws tighter.''

Minnesota's rich trapping tradition dates to the days of the earliest voyageurs. Their trips by freighter canoe across Lake Superior to what is now the North Shore are well documented, and they were among the first white people to travel through what is now the boundary waters.

Their destination was the vast furbearer-rich lands surrounding Lake of the Woods and beyond.

Similarly, the earliest relationships between whites and Native Americans who inhabited what is now Minnesota were founded in large part on a trapping economy.

Today, that tradition lives on among the state's 7,000 or so trappers, many of whom set traps or snares only occasionally.

Yet all agree the woodsmanship and animal knowledge necessary to be a successful trapper is a skill set worth preserving, no matter how urban-centered the state becomes.

"I do most of my trapping around the Twin Cities,'' Steffen said. "I trap coyotes and fox. Coyotes are challenging. I've never trapped a wolf. But I'm sure they're like coyotes, or smarter. They'll be a challenge.''

• • •

Steffen will set his snares in the state's Arrowhead region, north of Duluth, country he's scouting this weekend.

He's hoping snow falls there soon, because finding wolf tracks is the first step in finding wolves.

"I'll probably set my snares a quarter-mile or so apart,'' he said. "I'll look for trails, and I'll also make my own trails and try to draw a wolf to them using bait.''

Friends of his who hunt deer have saved carcasses for him, which he hopes to place strategically near his snares.

"If I make my own trails, I'll use an electric saw to cut saplings, because I don't want to leave gasoline smell around the baits,'' he said. "If you want to trap successfully, you don't leave any scent. You don't spit or urinate or smoke anywhere near the baits.''

All of Steffen's traps will be deodorized using a product called Snare Dip, then packaged in Zip-Loc or similar bags for the trip north.

The undertaking will be expensive. Motel, food and equipment costs, along with travel costs between his home and the North Shore, will add up.

But the experience will be worth it, he said, just like when he was a kid riding his bike to trap muskrats.

"The challenge is my motivation,'' he said. "That and there are too many wolves in parts of the state.

"It'll be cool to be part of it the first year Minnesota allows wolf trapping.''

Dennis Anderson's Twitter name is @stribdennis • danderson@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 84 FINAL
Miami 100
Detroit 105 4th Qtr 0:02
Brooklyn 110
LA Lakers 97 4th Qtr 0:53
Sacramento 106
Philadelphia 96 4th Qtr 0:29
Orlando 88
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Washington 92
Indiana 62 3rd Qtr 7:11
Minnesota 53
New Orleans 67 3rd Qtr 6:42
Oklahoma City 64
Colorado 1 3rd Prd 2:46
Detroit 1
Dallas 5 3rd Prd 5:05
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 1 2nd Prd 7:28
Boston 1
Carolina 0 2nd Prd 7:54
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 2nd Prd 7:43
Chicago 2
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
FIU 69 FINAL
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
ULM 50 FINAL
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
USC 75 FINAL
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 59 2nd Half 0:03
Alabama 60
North Dakota St 48 2nd Half 3:23
Kent State 48
San Jose St 39 2nd Half 11:54
Washington St 57
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
IUPUI 62
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
NC A&T 43 FINAL
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
NJIT 50 FINAL
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 68 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Arkansas 71
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Oregon 59
St Francis-PA 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 72
UNLV 71 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 74
UCLA 50 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 86
(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 53 FINAL
Virginia 74
Miami-Ohio 27 2nd Half 8:37
(21) Miss State 52
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close