Wisdom from the WOODS - Duck Hunting

Feb 24, 2015

Duck hunting at Green Oaks east of Fisk, south of Highway 60 was very popular as the timber flooded just about every fall and the ducks used the area for feeding.   Mallards in particular used the areas under the oak trees for their food.  That area now is farmland but the memories about hunting remain as fresh as if they just happened.

One trip over there, Dad came upon a trapper who was looking for a trap he had set on a log in that area and couldn’t locate the log where he’d made the set.

Dad had seen the set and also the mink that was in the trap.  The trapper had a tow-sack with some coon he had caught and Dad made a trade.  “If you will give me a coon, I’ll show you the mink.”  The trapper agreed and Dad took him to his set.  It was a big boar mink and the trapper told Dad that he had some really nice young coon but was quickly told that he wanted the biggest one he had.  It took a big coon to feed the bunch around our table and Mom could cook an old coon as good as a young one.

That incident triggered my interest a little more to expand my trapping if I got the chance to do any more.  Dad, my brother Richard, and I did a lot of duck hunting at Lake Wappapello and we saw a lot of raccoon sign along the bank of the lake.

There were still some home sites around Chaonia Landing and that is where most of my trapping took place.  I quickly learned that the lake bank around the river channel was too open to the public and duck hunters sometimes saw a raccoon in the trap on their way to the duck blind and added a raccoon and trap to their daily kill.

I have watched a lot of trapping shows on TV and most of them showed how to make a set for raccoon or muskrats.  A lot of work went into the set and I learned from an old-timer that if you are after raccoon, you don’t need any bait; just a piece of aluminum foil wrapped around the trigger of the trap is all you need for a raccoon. Their curiosity will get them and you don’t need any kind of bait.  If you want to bait a trap, I use grape jelly in a live box trap.  Raccoons and opossums are about the only critters that will go into a trap for grape jelly.

Very few people trap with any sincerity, I set a few traps one year around the house, trying to catch fox, bobcats or coyotes.  All three species were pretty plentiful as we couldn’t keep chickens because the wildlife caught them.

My trapping here caught cats, a few opossums, a couple of crows, and one skunk.  I didn’t skin the skunk as they weren’t worth the effort it takes to get their hides off without bursting the scent gland.

On one trap run at Chaonia, Dad took my car as his truck was acting up and he had a skunk in the trap.  We had been told that if you kill a skunk dead in one shot, it will not spray.  Wrong Dad wrapped this one in a paper grocery bag and then a burlap bag and you guessed it, it smelled up my car.  He skinned the skunk and got $1.50 for the hide.  I spent $8 for disinfectant to kill the smell.  The fumigation worked pretty well but the smell rejuvenated every time it rained.  That was the last time either of us messed with a skunk hide.

I have been asked which outdoor activity, hunting fishing or trapping did I find more enjoyable.  My real quick answer would be coon hunting.  Deer hunting came close but if you asked me during the summer, it would probably be fishing.  I love the feel of a strike and the tug of a big catfish on a trotline or limb line.

I’ve rambled along enough for this time but plan some interesting and some amusing things that have happened along my hunting and fishing trails for future articles.