By Serge Lariviére
Obsession with numbers is not just a byproduct or going big, it is a pre-requisite of going big. And by numbers I do not mean just how many you catch, but obsessions with simple and relevant statistics.
For example, if you figure out after a few years of keeping track that on average one location out of three produces foxes on your line and you want to catch 100 foxes, it should be obvious that 300 sets should give you a fair chance, all else being equal. Now if your average goes up, say, one catch per 2½ locations, that’s all the better, because your catch will go up to 120 foxes. By keeping such simple statistics, you can roughly estimate the effort that is needed to get the catch you want.
Most trappers want to catch twice the fur, and they hope to do so by putting in only 10 percent more effort. This more often than not will fail because it is much easier to put more traps out than to get better odds at catching fur. There are still so many trappers out there that think there are secret baits or lures or sets that catch every animal that comes by. I’m happy with a 20 percent catch rate. I will just put in five times more traps.
Numbers are good to use to follow up on your goals as well. For example, if you seek to catch 300 beavers in five weeks, that translates to 60 beavers per week. If you run traps daily, your daily catch should be eight or nine beavers a day. So if you don’t have nine beavers in the truck at the end of each day, you know you are falling behind. I round up to give myself room for unforeseen circumstances. So, in the example above, I’d aim for 10 beavers a day, knowing that if for whatever reason — vehicle, work or family issues — I am behind and must skip a day (if legal) or run shorter lines for a few days, I can still reach my objective of 60 beavers a week.
I will even take this a step further and do a tally of catch during the season to identify the peak times. If I find that 50 percent of my coyote catch comes from the last two weeks of November, rest assured I will go all out during those two weeks. At the same time, if I notice a lull in catching some time in the season, this is where I might consider taking a day off from the line if I need to and if legal where I trap. I certainly won’t miss going out when most of my catches happen.