HOW TO CATCH MINK
This little animal, which is much, like the weasel, has, of late years, become so valuable, that no pains is spared to obtain his hide. It is but a few years since that a mink skin would not bring above thirty cents: The value of the fur was not known. At this time, although he is so small a creature, a prime northern skin is worth from ten to twelve dollars. The mink is shaped much like the otter, and although he appears to be no more fitted for swimming than the weasel, yet the water is his home. He eats fishes and frogs, and craw-fish, and now and then gets into the barn and steals chickens, and goslings, and clucks, and crawls into the cellar and eats up the sausage meat, and whatever he can lay his jaws to. He is a pilfering little rascal, and yet so simple and foolish that he will run into a naked trap. For the sake of something to eat, he runs up streams of water and crosses the land from one lake to another,—a regular renegade. He burrows in steep banks, or under old roots, or in the rocks. The young are brought forth in May or June, in litters of five or six,—black looking little things.
To catch this animal, you have only to be acquainted with its habits. He follows streams of water, hunting every nook and corner for something to eat. Place your trap near the edge of the water, (so that it will be covered about an inch deep,) directly in front of a steep bank or rock, or something on which you can hang your bait, about eighteen inches above the level of the trap, which must be so close to the shore that the mink cannot get to the bait without stepping on it. The bait should be fresh fish or frogs, or the head of some bird or fowl. He is very fond of brains.
Another plan is to set your trap on the land about two feet from the shore, covering it with a few leaves, moss, grass, or loose dirt, or anything that will not prevent the jaws from closing. Hang the bait about eighteen inches above it, and scent it with a mixture made of equal parts of honey, sweet oil, and essence of peppermint. About a teaspoonful of this on the bait will cause them to come from a long distance. Some use wooden traps, with which they are quite successful.
The following is a good plan: Set your traps about two feet back from the water, and from forty to eighty rods apart, up or down the stream. Then walk over the line, drawing after you the carcass of a muskrat, or a roasted crow, or almost any fresh meat; and any mink that crosses this line or trail will follow it to the trap. It is also a good plan to set your trap where the mink must walk over it to get at the bait. He is a great fellow to catch muskrats, which he loves to eat, and you may bait the trap with muskrat carcass and set it in a rat house, where you will often find handfuls of little fish that the mink has brought there. In the winter time he travels along springy brooks, pulling out frogs, and here he may easily be caught. You may also catch them in winter at the sides of big springs, or along the springy sides of ponds and swamps, where they like to roam.
Thrasher, Halsey. The Hunter and Trapper. New York: Orange Judd and Company, 1808.
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