Outdoor Opportunities By COL(Ret.) Grey D. Berrier II
How well do you know the woods and where wildlife is traveling? If you are a firearms hunter, based on visibility, you should be able to cover roughly 100 yards from your stand. Now, in archery season, the distance you can cover with your bow is roughly 1/3 of what you can with a firearm, but that still means you can release an arrow or bolt when your quarry is within 33 yards of your location. Doing the math on the area of the two circles, it means with your firearm reaching out 100 yards in all directions, you can cover 7,854 square yards; while with your bow’s range of 33 yards, your coverage shrinks down to 873 square yards of the woods.
Now, I ran you through that convoluted math problem to give you a better appreciation for what trappers are trying to do when they employ PA-compliant cable restraints. They’re not covering 7,854 sq. yards like a firearms hunter or even 873 sq. yards like a bow hunter, they’re trying to hang a circular piece of cable that by PA Game Commission (PGC) regulations cannot exceed 38 inches in circumference, which translates into a 12-inch diameter circle, at the exact 1 sq. foot spot where a coyote (or fox) is going to poke their head while moving about in the woods. Through experience at reading signs and knowing wildlife behavior, trappers try to select the precise locations where to employ their cable restraints. Granted, cable restraints are working 24/7 during the Dec. 26, 2018 - Feb. 17, 2019 season; but the odds are not in the trapper’s favor.
Keep in mind that PA-compliant cable restraints were only approved for use after extensive research into Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Trapping that focused on maximizing the welfare of trapped animals (they are not injured or killed by the cable restraints). The PGC certification course emphasizes that trappers cannot make sets anywhere a captured animal could become entangled in anything greater than 1/2” in diameter or suspended above the ground. There are a lot of locations out in the woods, especially now that we have snow, where abundant tracks reveal coyotes and foxes are regularly traveling; but most of these spots cannot be set due to the risk of entanglement. It becomes an educated guessing game trying to figure out what locations will work for making a cable restraint set that is still PGC regulations compliant.
When I do find a promising spot that meets regulatory criteria, here’s the process I go through to make a cable restraint set. First, I mentally determine where I want the loop to be and then determine where an earth anchor should go in relation to the potential catch circle that will avoid entanglements. Second, I drive a pilot hole with my driver and 4 lb. hammer. Then, the Berkshire earth anchor goes down the hole for approximately 15-inches using the same driver and hammer. A quick pull on the earth anchor cable turns the end piece from vertical to horizontal, ensuring a solid anchor point underground. Next a cable restraint support goes in the ground, it’s a 16-inch piece of rebar with a 16- inch piece of heavy #9 wire welded near the top. The cable restraint loop is opened to its full 12- inch diameter and suspended from 6 to 12 inches above the ground by attaching it to the #9 support wire via a 1/2’” piece of rubber tubing on the cable restraint by the lock. Finally, the cable restraint is attached to the earth anchor with a Quick Link that also includes my mandatory trap identification tag. With the cable restraint now hung at my presumed likely catch location, I may use my driver to make a few holes to erect dead weeds on either side of the cable restraint loop to help conceal the cable and also potentially funnel any traveling coyote into my waiting cable loop. It takes roughly six minutes to put in each PAcompliant cable restraint and right now I have a dozen out in the woods I’m checking on a daily basis.
The snow came after I put in my cable restraints on Jan. 14. At times, I’ve been checking traps on cross-country skis, which reminds me of my days in Alaska. Each day brings the possibility of a waiting coyote and makes the effort worthwhile! God Bless, Be Safe, and Great Outdoors! ©WBB 2019