From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 11 - 11/10/99
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wintertime Pine Marten Trapping

Wintertime is the best time to trap Pine Marten as you can see their tracks in the snow and they usually use the same country to travel in to make their rounds in their hunt for groceries. They are real easy to trap if you can get to them, but one problem is how to keep them alive until you could get them home. Our live traps were large enough we could make a separate compartment for the food and water and also sheep wool for bedding. We used a big chunk of beaver meat for bait so they would have enough to eat until we could get to them. The water can was always frozen but they would lick the ice.

We would work in two to six feet of snow and had to come up with a dry place to set the trap. We would always set the trap under a big evergreen tree with lots of branches. This was good weather protection from the wind and falling snow. I made a base with a lot of green branches, at least a foot thick and big around enough as the trap would not tip over. After setting the trap, the entire thing, except the door where he went in, was covered with another foot of branches, and this could handle a couple of feet of new snow and still be in working order. We ran the traps every other day so they weren't in the traps too long. The big secret was to keep them dry. I made some transportation cages - 4 in. by 4 in. and 1 foot long to bring them home in, and this could be placed right behind the windshield of the snow machine and covered with a small tarp. I had to use pretty thick mittens to make the transfer from the live trap to the transporting trap because of his long front teeth. One female ran up my arm so fast she was gone before I was ready. They evidently smarten up pretty quick because we never did catch her a second time.

We had a good 2 feet of new snow on one run up Skyline Drive to the wilderness boundary, and we couldn't handle it because of pulling sleds with all the necessary equipment. Gary and Chuck Raper went with us to break trail and Gary took his camera with him to take a few pictures. Skyline Drive was an easy run and we were in a few marten tracks usually from Mulligan Park and on up. On one run up with Tom Astle we had a fresh track beside the road in a brush pile that was there for burning by the Forest Service. We set a live trap in the brush pile and had a nice female marten in the trap on our way back down. Some good luck connected with this one. Cliff Brewer mainly went with me on the Skyline Drive run and we had a lot of fun and saw some really pretty country and a lot of snow.

The big problem on this run was so many people using the same route, and us trying to hide the traps out of sight and brushing in our tracks so it wasn't so obvious. We had pretty good luck at this, except one time a NOLS group, out of Lander on a winter hiking trip, came up and had a dog with them. I don't know what kind of a dog he was but he had a pretty good nose on him. He evidently could smell the bait and scent we used as he found each and every trap, but didn't bother a thing at the set.

Another time we were in a big blowing snowstorm and couldn't see very good and had to go like mad to keep moving. We were doing fine until right at the trailhead at Elkhart Park. A couple of guys were roughing it and had pitched their two small tents right on the road in our snow trail. We couldn't slow down for fear of getting stuck and veered off the trail to miss their tents and almost did except one of my skis hooked in one of their tie down ropes that was snowed under. It was the tent they had their gear in, and the tent went with me for a short ways, and really scattered heck out of things. The rope finally broke or came loose and we kept going. We looked back to see them clawing their way frantically out of the other tent, waving their arms at us and yelling and looking pretty mad and we were glad we hadn't stopped for a customary visit. The only thing I could think of was - what a heck of a way to get woke up. We would go on the Forest Service trail to the wilderness boundary, then back down a big ridge behind White Pine Lodge, so we didn't have to go back by the campers. It was a very interesting circle.

To be continued . . .

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Copyright © 1999 The Sublette County Journal
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The Sublette County Journal, PO Box 3010, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3713
Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul