Conibear Trap: GROUNDHOG

The groundhog snare has been setting consistently. The problem is he’s either wiggling his way out, or I find my wire cut. Admittedly I used spiderwire fishing line instead of steel, but groundhogs have excellent teeth and claws and it’s become apparent to me that snaring it isn’t going to work. I’m not around when he’s snared to see what’s going on, and it renders the snare ineffective as a result. When he’s snared, all he’s got is time to work on it.

The snare is a really simple tip up – there’s a cinder block balanced on my fence with a branch under it acting as a prop. The line is tied through the block, through one of the diamonds in the fence, tied to the prop and then went to a loop. So far it’s been tripped three times and if I haven’t gotten the hog in three tips it’s not going to happen. At least two of those had the groundhog in the snare because the loop was chewed on or frayed. The idea was the spider wire would constrict the groundhog but I’ve come to realize the fundamental problem is that it’s too near a fence and growth the groundhog can prop himself up on. He gets snared, but the funnel effect from the brush gives him enough purchase he can work on the line before suffocating, and the spiderwire is of such high quality that it won’t snag on itself either direction.

I was thinking about buying a hav-a-hart trap but frankly the one for groundhogs starts at $70. My Economics of Caring end at about $20 (about the cost of losing one carbon arrow) so the pricepoint for a live trap was well above what I was interested in. Part two was the goal really never was a live trap, the snare I set was fully intended to go around his neck and I was just going to use the maul to dispatch him humanely when I found him. If I got on him quickly enough I was going to throw him in a box and drive him to the far end of the park, but frankly I briefed my wife we were going to find a hog hanging from the fence one morning.

After two weeks and three trap tips I was largely fed up with the operation and I had taken a shot at him with the bow. The bow doesn’t track like the rifle does through brush, so I was even going to nail him with the rifle with subsonics. I wasn’t sure a subsonic 22 was going to put him down, so this was easily the most grisly of options. I happened to be browsing the internet for better snare designs and someone mentioned the conibear trap. To make things even better – the trap is designed as a kill trap. And finally it has the last requirement which is important: the whiskers for the trigger are inside the body of the trap vertically, so I don’t need to worry about larger animals (like our deer population) stepping into them and having their legs broken. The neighbors cat may end up being a casualty, but she typically jumps over the fences and doesn’t go into the earth under them, so I think we’re OK. The local sporting goods shop had the #160 which is exactly the size I wanted. They also had the trap tool, which is basically the worlds largest set of snap ring pliers. Since I figured I could use those also I purchased them.

Total cost was $25, which is a bit more than I wanted to spend but now I have a trap set I can use over and over again.

This is why no-one takes PETA seriously

Dogs need your voice right away. Please take a few moments now to send a message directly to the NFL. Michael Vick is going to be released from prison any minute, and in light of recently released government evidence that he enjoyed putting his own family “pet dogs” into the ring with fighting pit bulls, PETA is urging the NFL to make Vick take a test for anti-social personality disorder (ASPD), or psychopathy. Vick seems to fit the profile for ASPD, which includes lying, manipulating others, enjoying others’ suffering, and being aggressive and charming. If Vick has ASPD, the NFL needs to know. That’s because people who have ASPD cannot be truly remorseful and are likely to repeat the anti-social behavior that pleases them. If he isn’t a psychopath, that’s fair enough, but if he is, he shouldn’t ever be presented to children as a hero. He needs to take the test!

Please help us keep the pressure on by sending an automated letter to the NFL today asking it to require that Vick pass a brain scan for ASPD and the accompanying psychological evaluation before the NFL even considers the possibility of allowing Vick back into the league, where he will be in a position to influence many fans, including countless children. Your letter will be sent directly to the NFL, letting it know that we will not rest until appropriate action has been taken. It is reasonable to try to figure out if Vick can be reformed or not.

Please cross-post this e-mail and forward it to others who might be interested in speaking out against dogfighting. Visit PETA.org for more information about dogfighting and to learn about ways that you can make a difference.

Thank you for your continued support and for all that you do for animals!

Sincerely,

Heather Whidden, Activist Liaison
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
HeatherW@peta.org

I unlinked everything but the e-mail address to prevent them getting too many hits. I’m not advertising for them. Now, in regards to “get them tested for ASPD”, frankly guys, you’re talking about someone who already offers themselves up for participation in bloodsport. It really shouldn’t shock you that someone who is comfortable with some level of physical violence (hitting) such as a boxer or football backer feels that some level of violence is sporting and appropriate. More on the point, people who enjoy watching these kinds of things (football fans) probably are comfortable with it also.

Incidentally you can use their “Talk to the NFL” form with your own message. Using PETAs own avenue of attack, I removed the body of their mail and added my own message.

Dear Roger Godell

I subscribe to the PETA newsletter because I hate everything they do and stand for. Personally, I love football, hunting, and man-stuff. It turns me on to be able to talk to the people PETA seeks to slander mercilessly through their own website.

Football is supposed to be violent and competitive. I see nothing wrong with Vick’s behavior as nature is violent and competitive itself. Life feeds on life and it’s been that way for the last million years and I enjoy that fact every time I eat a steak.

Don’t listen to these homos and continue keeping football raw and real. Buy Vick a big bloody steak for me next time you see him and tell PETA to shove it. What would football be without violence? A bunch of men hugging each other.

Post Deer Season Wrapup and One Year Homebrew

The last day of flintlock hunting and I’m empty handed. Not from lack of effort, mind you, but more from the weather. There’s a reason they didn’t fight battles in the civil war when it was the middle of a snowstorm.

My brother and I had been hunting the farm all day. I was using the flintlock but having serious doubts about this being a good idea. The problem was a constant wind (I’ve never winded the flintlock, I had no idea what the drift was) and when they called for six inches of snow, they were talking about “over the course of the day”. It was snowing when we got there, there were periods of hail, and it was snowing at sunset.

I had followed a deer trail from one side of the farm to the other end, the deer was there but having seen no deer beds and nothing but tracks, I doubted the deer was stopping. Given the weather I figured it might have gone to the pines on the far side but it went straight through. I knew the tracks were recent because they were on top of the snow but since the deer didn’t bed down, it wasn’t waiting for me or anything else. I took this as an opportunity to hike around the other areas to check for tracks or beds. Even in the places you would expect to find deer (acorn mast), there were no tracks and no beds. I checked mostly point to point, there’s no sense in line hunting alone. My brother doesn’t own a flintlock and has no interest in it so he was out with a shotgun for small game.

I had resigned myself to sitting on top of a hill in some light cover waiting to see if the deer would circle around. I had about 1h30m until sunset, so I figured it would be cold and boring. It managed to be both. With single digit temperatures in the valley and windchill on top of that, taking off my gloves to type on my phone quickly turned into OH GOD MY FINGERS ARE SO COLD THEY HURT. I was never so pleased with shoving my hands down my pants in public as I was Saturday on that hill.

Suddenly, a deer! Hunting goes from slowly poking around to sheer excitement with nothing in between when game is found. My brother was up the next hill over chasing a snowshoe hare when a deer came crashing through the bushes trying to avoid him. The deer was as suprised he was there as he was suprised he nearly got run down by the deer. I had heard the whole thing and suddenly my well placed stand with brush behind me became a liability as I tried to bring the gun around. I finally brushed the snow off the sights and found a lane to shoot through. I pulled the trigger and…

I actually watched the spark blow sideways off the frizzen and fall into the snow. George Washington’s ghost was laughing at me.

I reset the lock rested the gun again, and once again pulling the trigger lost the spark in the wind. I was trying to fire between gusts but deer rarely sit still and my firing lane was crowded anyway. There was a very real chance the deer would spook, especially since the lock isn’t exactly quiet and the delay between sparking and firing is enough to let the deer “jump the string” over enough distance. Given this was about a 50 yard shot, I was worried. One more spark in the snow.

Ripping my hat off, I supported the front of the gun on a thorn bush, aimed, then put my hat over the pan. This time the spark landed in the pan, but didn’t catch. By now the flint and frizzen were getting polished, where the face of the flint matches the frizzen so well it can no longer scrape the surface. Figuring I needed fresh powder I took down the gun and opened the lock to see that my pan had collected a layer of snow with all this false firing. I dumped out the pan and cleaned the rest with my fingers, which were now hurting again since I had discarded my gloves to help with the aiming and priming.

I pulled the powder tube over the pan and pressed the button. Nothing came out. Looking down the tube, it was also filled with snow, and to make matters worse the button to dispense powder bound in the down position. If George Washington were laughing before, his entire regiment was laughing now. I started to look for a place to lay the flintlock before realizing that six inches of snow is more than enough to lose a rifle in. I resigned to holding it across my chest in my elbows while I unscrewed the powder horn’s lid. I managed to dump powder into the pan wholesale (and all over me and the ground with the wind) and shove the horn in the snow upright with the lid laid on top.

Bringing the sites back onto the deer I see… Nothing. The deer probably winded me because she took of running away from my stand and onto the neighbors property, far and away from the longing sights of my gun.

The woods win again.

But all wasn’t lost, my brother shot a squirrel at about 25 yards, I was suprised he connected with it. We took it home as our only prize that day.

Dad always lightly fried up squirrels in butter, but Dad also really sucked at the whole preparing the other white meat. His squirrels always came out too small and cut to hell. There had to be a better way – and there was! In a stroke of brilliance, he prepped the squirrel shirt-and-pants, soaked the blood out, and what could we replace the blood with? BUTTER. How do we get it there? 15PSI. What do we use? PRESSURE COOKERS.

“But butter is insufficient!” you say?
ADD BACON.

The squirrel, now stuffed with bacon and butter, went into the pressure cooker along with about a half cup of water. We didn’t want to completely die. Actually we just wanted to hydrogenate that oil, as hydrogenated oil is the most flavorful of all the oils. Put the lid on, set it for chicken (lower heat) and let it roll for 20 minutes. The result was a forkable culinary delight. I could hear my brothers heart from across the room as he enjoyed the bounty of the woods.

To celebrate the end of deer season, I pulled out my mad elf clone. It had been sitting in the fridge lagering for an entire year, and this was the last growler from last year. How was it? Completely lacking in carbonation, which pissed me off. The growler top gave up at some point and all the carbonation seeped out. However, it wasn’t oxidized. The cherries were completely gone, but it was still tart, and very dry on the finish almost to the point of mouth puckering. It would have passed wonderfully well for a lambic if I chose to blend it. With it’s new status as a barleywine, we both enjoyed a pint before realizing it had refermented in the bottle. The ABV had gone through the roof, and after a pint and a half we were well on our way to being sloshed.

New Years Review

The stout I made is starting to go funky and a bit musty, probably because I tossed the coconut in without enough boil time to really sanitize it. The coconut never really manifested as a flavor anyhow. The beer had the smell in the first week then completely died. Frankly I’m chugging the stuff playing Gears 2 every weekend just to get rid of it.

The All Grain IPA came out great, it’s easily the best beer I’ve made to date and I’m completely sold on all grain. It’s a brilliant blond color reminiscent of Chimay’s triple. It’s probably the clearest thing I’ve ever made, and what sold me was the “fresh cereal” taste. I’ve made IPAs before, but with extract, but the complexity of beer comes from the grains, and you can’t get that with extract. I almost wish it was less hoppy so I could taste more of the delicious delicious grains.

Also I kinda wish I didn’t lose 5 bottles to trub, but whatever.

I haven’t tried the Chamomile beer experiment from Sacred and Herbal Beers. That one gets one more week in the bottle since I’m afraid of how much sugar it called for. It probably tastes like tea.

Flintlock season is almost over, dad was the only one who got a shot. Because his buddy talked him into not taking the fouling shot, he missed the deer. I saw everything but deer. Red squirrel, black squirrel, gray squirrel, chipmunk, fox, coyote, all types of birds and a bear track but no deer whatsoever. My wife was the only one who got a shot in regular rifle season and it’s because I pretty much pushed her into the deer patch that usually pays off. It did, but she got so excited she merely shot the trees and gave the deer a good scare.

I Had a Wonderful Birthday

I had a wonderful birthday yesterday thanks in a large part to my wife and my parents. Of course, I got the XBOX 360 with the 60GB drive as my Christmas (Yuletide?)/Birthday present, so this was simply a bonus on top of an already excellent birthday. We went to Iron Hill and the food was fantastic as were the beers. The only problem with Iron Hill is that it’s very easy to get pallet fatigue because the food and beer are both excellent. The service occasionally is questionable but otherwise it was a nice sit down with my parents, my brother, and my wife. Thank you all.

My wife also started going hunting with me. While the Marlin 39 is only good for small game, it’s all she needs and frankly I’m just happy to have her go out with me. That was a better present than the XBOX. Hopefully we can keep that up as a family tradition also.

Squirrel for Dinner?

Gray squirrel from French Creek

Gray squirrel from French Creek

While I don’t have quite the recipes that The Mad Fermentationist does, I would still like to contribute this to the internet recipe dump. I bagged two fairly good sized squirrels at French Creek State Park, with the handy dandy Baikal shotgun (Remington Spartan sold stateside). The subset of huntable land in that area is SGL43. The 12ga #6s in “heavy field load” from Remington have restored my faith in the shotgun, last year I had #6s in some crap no-name shell and had several rabbits live to see this hunting season. While not quite as fun as the 17HMR, the shotgun is a perfectly serviceable weapon in close woods. The Heavy Field Load version of the shell shoots these shiny, almost silver pellets.

To prepare a squirrel you have to fill a pot with salted water. Salt it enough the meat drops to the bottom of the pot easily. Put the skinned and gutted squirrels in the pot and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The osmotic pressure brings out the blood and other nastiness that makes meat taste “gamey”. The next day quarter the squirrels as best as possible. Prepare a fresh pot of water, wash off the quartered squirrels and place them in the fresh pot. Bring this to a boil to lightly cook the squirrel. Remove squirrel and discard water and scum.

Now, if you want to use the squirrel in a pot pie (traditional cooking), you can easily debone them at this point. Use the squirrel just like chicken. I prefer pot pie topped with bisquick and my wife used some really chunky soup mix which worked exceptionally well.

If you want to eat the squirrel like wings, this works well too. I reserved some bacon fat to cook with and me and Travis fried up a squirrel in that. The result is chewier than chicken but they’re delicious. They definitely have their own taste, and the bacon adds a good smoky flavor to it. The Bounty of the Earth, which I’ve wanted another copy of since forever, has a recipe in there for curried squirrel, we’ll try that next.