Monday, January 22, 2018
a well regulated trap
As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.
I relish stories of the past in the way people coped with problems, before everything became illegal and the police state became a business to create criminals of Americans.
This story is about a black and white photo I discovered which looked puzzling, but it reveals an ingenuity that people had in dealing with large predators which were making them starve and weaken them to death.
Back in the day, horned owls, the bird hawks, caused huge damage to farm and ranch families, as much as coyotes, bobcats, fox, mink, coons etc... The predatory birds though were of particular concern as how did one get rid of something that usually ate fresh meat, flew through the air, and you can not set traps on the clouds.
The answer was something called the pole set which is what this old photo is of, but it is beyond even what I have heard about. All animals, including you, have tendencies, and for horned owls which like killing pet cats or eating the brains out of turkeys, because that is the choice portion and leaving the rest to rot, they have a natural tendency as do Cooper's hawks of perching on dead trees.
The farmers and ranchers noted that they also perched on the highest wooden fence posts.
Someone figured out after loosing their chickens or their turkey flock to an owl killing their flocks, to put a trap on top of a fence post.
The premier location according to the old timers was of course by their flocks, but there were additions to enhance the method. As most of these old homesteads did not have a great deal of trees, the answer was a perch pole coming from the location a predator was most likely roosting that. That position was noted as the farmers and ranchers were doing chores at twilight and the owls would hoot before hunting, or making a raid on the chicken coop, as the hooting was their marking their territory, so other owls would not appear.
I got a glimpse of this from an old boy who had a tree grove, and had ploughed fields all around his farm, when I was a kid. I was checking cows and I could not figure out what the hell he had this fence post stuck in his field about 50 yards out in the middle of nowhere. That was his owl pole. The method he was employing is these birds are warry and like to sit in the wide open before attacking, and that pole was placed in perfect position.
He never set his poles in the ground though as most other ones I have heard of. This old guy just had it barely stuck in the ground, so when the owl was caught, the owl would knock the post over and be on the ground, and no one would ever see it.
I have heard of these old boys using telephone poles they got, wiring them to barns and setting traps 30 feet off the ground, which was effective, but dang dangerous too. That is the thing about that old plough trapper, in he used wide open spaces, as a 6 foot pole was high to an owl in the middle of nowhere.
That is what always puzzled me about these sets in how they were sort of permanent. When they got a big wind, the poles not set in the ground would tip over and if cows were around they would knock the poles down immediately. Then I found this picture as of late and while I was puzzled what this "squirrel trap" was for, it dawned on me what had been built and it was quite ingenious.
This was a portable predatory pole. It overcame what had puzzled me in how ineffective this would be in having to haul poles around and stick them in the ground, when America's regime used to advocate killing predators.
If you look at the base of this, this is an old auto rim. I think it is a broken Chevy hub, from when they first came out. I know the next piece is welded axel, and then there is an angle iron piece which the 4 by 4 was anchored to, with the "squirrel trap" on top.
Whoever figured this out, was very clever as these wooden poles on the ground had an attraction the old boys said for cats, and they would always snag some farm cat that the wife would be scowling over, so having a metal base the cat could not claw on, it was deemed cat proof and made the farmer's wife smile.
The trap on top I guess was kept in place with a hole in the trap base and nail with head off was pounded in to hold it in place.
From what I gathered, as that old boy who had that plough pole told us, is that he would average 30 owls a year. The thing is there would be dry spots, but not because the owls were not around, but because the dominant owl would not sit on poles. It might be three months before a catch was made, and then after that owl was gone, they might pick up a half dozen again.
This guy had a story of something killing his sheep, and the game warden thought it was a dog, so they set a trap by the kills, which is now illegal as the owl pole as there are laws against trapping on exposed baits, because that is how they could catch owls too, by setting on dead carcases. They set the trap and the old guy came back and found a golden eagle there. He called the game warden and the warden said he did not want to hear about it.
That eagle had been throat talon those sheep. It explained why there were two holes in the sheep throats like a vampire.
This was after the use of poisons in baits had been banned for decades, as that is how the old timers thinned out all the predators. They would get an old horse, shoot it, cut it up in bait, and work in poison and scatter it around. The old wolfers could clean out several townships of every four legged and two winged predators, much to the delight of the farmers and ranchers.
I relish the historical context of these stories, because if one visits outdoor sites now all you get is "Well that bear who ate that archer should not have been shot". That is from people who never have gone hungry because that owl ate their last chicken or raised a child and had a wolf eat the kid when they went to the outhouse.
Of course none of this should be tried at home, but it is history, and these stories and methods should never be lost out of ignorance, as it is amazing how groups of immigrants who got dumped off into a wilderness, figured out how to not get ate by that wilderness.
That is why it is featured here, as the few remaining old people who have any knowledge of this from their parents, never say a word about it, and all of those stories are disappearing.
With that, Nuff Said