MINK AND THEIR HABITS
The favorite haunts are along marshy shores of lakes, rivers, creeks and other swampy places, and where muskrats are plenty there you are almost sure to find mink. When hunting for mink the best place to find them is in old muskrat holes near the point or end of an island, and the next best place is under bridges where the approaches have been filled in with stones or logs; there are other places not so good, such as stone piles, heaps of fence rails, hollow logs, under large stumps, and have even found them under snow banks where I knew there were no holes at all.
The principal food of the mink is fish, birds and their eggs, frogs, mice and small snails, and have had them partly eat muskrat while in my traps.
I do not know whether he can kill a muskrat or not, never having seen him do it. No doubt there are many other things upon which he feeds of which I do not know, but these are the principal ones.
The mink is an animal of peculiar habits, sometimes remaining near his burrow for weeks at a time, and then suddenly disappearing and not returning for as much as seven or eight days, and all this time he is roving around in search of food, running all night and lodging in the best hole he can find when daybreak comes, and can often be seen in early morning or in evening at dusk.
The mink is not so hard to trap if you know his habits; when you find he has left his burrow do not take up your trap, for he will surely be back in a few days; when you come to a place where a mink has laid up for the day (that is, in a temporary burrow), do not trap on the route he has already traveled, for when he comes out he will go straight on just as if he had just looked in and come out, but set traps and bait; when he comes out he will be hungry and is sure to be your mink.
In going from place to place mink often travel over the same route, as between two swamps or ponds, and at times there is a well defined runway through the grass; this habit can be studied in winter when snow is deep, and also when swimming from the mainland to an island or from one island to another; they will nearly always land in the same place. Another thing, when finding a burrow look around, and if you find his dung heap you may be sure he lives in that hole; minks' dung can be told by mice hair and other remains, and if he is feeding on fish altogether looks the color of silver or the scales of fish.
I have had a world of experience trapping but very limited at catching, says an Arkansas trapper, yet plenty of both to be fully capable of solving the question as to whether or not mink are afraid of the scent of iron. It is simply this. Some mink are positively afraid of it and some are positively not so. The experience with one mink that walks into the properly concealed trap and the other old fellow who makes the short but invariable curve around the same properly concealed trap is positive proof of this, and few if any experienced trappers have not had this experience. Either use a scent the mink likes or boil your traps in ashes. Clean, wipe and keep dry, and you have a better chance on land at both kinds of mink.
My favorite water set for mink is as follows: Roll a good sized log (the longer and larger the better) to within six inches of the water's edge of a stream, pond, or lake, leaving a strip of land about six inches deep, allowing water to come in and touch log. Throw mud you remove far away. Don't step on or leave finger or paddle prints on your strip of land, which is certain to become a mink path.
As soon as tracks indicate this, from land side step on top of log and place trap in the place you have made and parallel with log, allowing water to cover well. Staple to log low down and underwater between trap and log, or if you desire to use sliding pole, place upper end of same under log at this same prepared place and under water. This log is better than the same set at root of tree, rock, or stump, for the reason of its convenience to stand or kneel on and avoid leaving sign while making set, and because when mink reaches middle of his narrow path he does not like to back out, take deep water, or climb over the log.
Should he have any suspicions, should he jump clear of your little water neck, make wider and place two traps or use the same width trap in soft mud at either edge, and when he jumps he will land deep in your trap. I caught the largest mink I ever saw with the trap in mud at edge this way and he pulled the staple and took the trap, but I found him the same day and the trap, a Newhouse No. 1, had him by the hind leg above the hock. The old fellow had been jumping my little" neck of water, so I fixed the trap to his convenience and he lit in it hard.
Harding, A.R.. Mink Trapping. Columbus, OH: A.R. Harding, 1906.
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