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Trapping Season is Underway


Trapping Season is Underway

As the deer season was winding down, those of us who are trappers were already setting steel in the ground. December 1 marks the beginning of the South Carolina trapping season that continues through the end of February. And as deer hunters who spend so much time and money managing our herd, if we are not trapping we are missing a key component of our management strategy.

In South Carolina, we are allowed to trap all furbearing animals across the state with no limits set for trappers. A commercial trapping license is needed from the DNR to trap legally. Furbearers include; Coyotes, Red Fox, Grey fox, bobcat, raccoon, mink, muskrat, opossum, skunk, beaver, otter and weasel. Of these, the coyotes, fox, bobcat fall into the predator category while the raccoon, opossum and skunk are known as nest predators. The former are important because of deer and the latter for saving our turkeys and quail.

We have advocated for years the importance of a quality predator control program for your property. You can do everything right to produce great deer. Plant the best food plots, establish bedding and fawning and nesting cover, establish sanctuaries, and manage the number of deer removed from the land. And try and control the genetics, let the bucks get older before they are killed. But of you are not controlling to some degree the predation of your deer, you are leaving out one of the most influential components.

It has been well documented what the coyote is doing to the population of deer in the southeast. Landowners who do not employ some type of predator control on their property are going to face an uphill battle when it comes to keeping quality animal and increasing the population of animals on their ground.

Basically there are two methods, learn to trap or hire a trapper. While it is true that hunting coyotes is a lot of fun. For predator control, it is not effective management. You can only be effective while afield with a gun when hunting. But when trapping, the trap is there when you are not, waiting patiently for the coyote to come by and visit. The trap doesn’t get cold, or bored or even tired. It works just as well at 2:00 am as it does at dawn. The only effective manner of controlling predators in your property is through trapping.

The same is true for nest predators. Raccoons, Opossums and Skunks are the biggest threat to all ground nesting birds. With the decline of raccoon hunters and the reluctance of people to allow raccoon hunters on their property, trapping for these nest predators is the best method of removing them from the property. Similar to other predators, raccoons are fairly easy to catch and there are usually a lot more raccoons on your property than you realize. One example of this is on one piece of property I trapped a few weeks ago, we set out fifty raccoon traps around the property of slightly over five hundred acres. In three days of trapping we removed eighty-three raccoons. Yes, that is right, eighty-three raccoons and fifty seven opossums. The property was covered with them and this is not that unusual in today’s world.

Regardless of how you implement your trapping plan, make sure you get a plan and work it to improve the overall success of the game you want to manage on your property.