North Carolina Trappers Association December 2009 Report

President — Jimmy Pierce, 201 Rhodes St., Wendell, NC 27591; phone: 919-365-4961;cell phone: 919-801-2562; e-mail:

Vice President — Tonnie Davis, 167 Ole Cabin Rd., Roxboro, NC 27573; phone: 336-597-3619

Secretary — Sharon Underwood, Rt. 1 Box 416, Peachland, NC 28133; phone: 704-272-7876

Membership Secretary — Karen Rose, 1220 Cross Rd., Roper, NC 27970; phone: 252-793-5191

Assistant Membership Secretary — Krista Rose, 1220 Cross Rd., Roper, NC 27970; phone: 252-793-5191

Treasurer — Wayne Rose, 1220 Cross Rd., Roper, NC 27970; phone: 252-793-5191

General Organizer — David Underwood, Rt. 1, Box 416, Peachland, NC 28133; phone: 704-272-7876

Education Coordinator — Todd Menke, 2663 Tar River Rd., Creedmoor, NC 27522; phone: 919-528-9063; e-mail:

NTA Director — Tim Wilson, 5320 Stokes Ferry Rd., Salisbury, NC 28146; phone: 252-758-8191

Newsletter Editor — Vacant

Membership Options:

• Individual membership including subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $20
• Youth membership (under age 16) with subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $10
• Lifetime membership with subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $250
• Senior citizens 70 years or older with subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $12

Complete membership application on first page of association section and send dues to:

NCTA, Membership Secretary
Karen Rose
1220 Cross Rd., Roper, NC 27970


The basic trapper education program that took place at the second Annual Mountain Rendezvous graduated another 24 students Oct. 24-25, 2009, at the NC Cooperative Extension Madison County Center near Marshall, NC. Hunter safety instructors David Allen, Dustyn Reece and John Deaton organized and conducted the course. Take time to thank each one of them for taking time out of their busy schedules away from family to put on the trapper education program.

Reminder – If you have not signed up for the three-day advanced on-the-line trapping workshop April 2, 3 and 4, 2010, there is still room available. Cost will be $300, which will include all the materials, training, meals and lodging. You will enjoy the mountains, the facility and meals are always fantastic! The location is at the NC Division of Forest Resources Mountain Training Facility at 6065 Linville Falls Highway near Crossnore, NC 28616. Reservations require a $100 deposit. Full payment will be due no later than March 1, 2010. Refunds will be given if your plans change.

Speaking of education, how about a free lesson to get you started on some of the things you will learn if you attend the workshop. The question I get the most often is how do you tell the difference between a dog track and a coyote track?

How about more to think about… that not how we learn??? From my experiences and observations, identifying tracks and tracking animal sign is not always about finding the next track because if you spend time finding the next track, you might learn something about finding the next track, but what have you learned about the animal that left the track? When you spend time learning more about the animal that left the track and its ways, you often find the next track without looking!

Books will show you the perfect track neatly illustrated, but in real life, animals rarely leave perfect tracks. Things to remember when looking at tracks: track characteristics change with different substrates (sand, mud, clay, snow, etc.), tracks change with the seasons and viewing single tracks is important but might be misleading. This is why I look for tracks and the pattern the animal left behind. Often trail patterns will help you better identify the animal than individual tracks. A simple example would be that a single canine track can look like a coyote, a small wolf, a large fox or a domestic dog, but wild canines walk differently than domestic canines. Foxes walk differently than coyotes, etc. Substrate conditions can distort track sizes, but won’t alter the trail patterns as much.

Some helpful clues for your future reference and what I use to determine if the canine track is a domestic dog or coyote: The front nails of coyotes are often close together and sometimes slant toward each other where those of domestic dogs tend to spread out more and sometimes slant away from each other. The side nails of coyotes generally do not register, but domestic dogs usually do.

The heel pad of a coyote is a good distance from the front toes, but domestic dog is usually close to the front toes. A domestic dog’s track is often rounder, more robust and splayed out, has the inner toes or front toes that do not point straight ahead but spread way apart with outer pads pointing off to the sides. The domestic dog pattern will generally have much more pronounced indentation with both the front and rear foot heal pads appearing and close to the toe pads. Coyote tracks are more elongated with front toes parallel with the nails held close together. The side toes point straight forward and are tucked in close behind the front toes to give the oval shape.

’Cat tracks are asymmetrical with toes that point in a different direction from the heel pad and the two inner toes have one slightly ahead of the other as with the two outer toes. Dog tracks are symmetrical. Feline tracks are generally round and most ’cat heel pads show a double lobe on the leading edge of the track while those of canines do not. The heel pads often look oversized in proportion to the toe pads when compared to a dog.

Feline tracks generally show a curved ridge between the toes and heel pad where canine tracks have a small pyramid or mound between the toes and heel pads. They also have retractable claws so nail marks usually do not register. Bobcat heel pads are 1 1/8 inches to 1 1/3 inches wide while a mountain lion are 1 9/16 inches to 3 inches wide. Feline walking pattern has tracks alternating from one side to the other. ’Cat tracks are often wider than they are long. If you see a line or bar that runs across the pad in a track, that is unique to the red fox and is the best identifying factor. This bar is often boomerang-shaped and generally only appears in the front feet. The front feet, which carry most of the weight, are larger than the back feet.

This is true in all canines, but not as great of a difference in domestic dogs. Walking pattern is very distinct as it is very regular walking almost in a straight line. The hind track registers directly on top of the front. Domestic dog is a double or indirect register – the hind foot does not fall directly on top of the front track but instead is next to or partially on top of it. Domestic dogs rarely walk in a clean, straight line, but will wander and lope around as if it has no particular place to go. A fox usually moves as though it knows exactly where it is going.

The gray fox has semi-retractable nails. Adult red’s front tracks are rarely under 2 1/8 inches long. The gray fox tracks do not always register the nails especially those of the rear feet. The gray fox’s front heel pad looks more like a ball with small wings while the red is more boomerang shaped. The gray fox’s trail is generally wider with shorter strides than the red.

Front Track/Rear Track

Timber wolf — 3 7/8” to 5 1/2” long, 3 1/8” to 4 3/4” long
     2 3/8” to 5” wide, 2 1/4” to 4 1/4” wide

Red wolf — 3” to 4 1/8” long, 2 7/8” to 3 7/16” long
     2 3/16” to 3” wide, 2” to 3” wide

Coyote — 2 7/8” to 3 1/2” long, 2 1/2” to 3” long
 1 7/8” to 2 1/2” wide, 1 5/8” to 2 1/8” wide

Red fox — 2 1/8” to 2 7/8” long, 1 3/4” to 2 1/2” long
     1 5/8” to 2 1/8” wide, 1 1/2” to 1 7/8” wide

Gray fox — 1 3/4” to 2 1/8” long, 1 3/8” to 1 3/4” long
      1 1/2” to 2” wide, 1 1/8” to 1 7/8” wide

Bobcat — 1 7/8” to 2 1/2” long
 1 7/8” to 2 5/8” wide

Domestic Cat — 1” to 1 5/8” long
     1” to 1 3/4” wide

Mountain Lion — 3” to 4 1/4” long
     3 1/4” to 4 3/4” wide

How about that for a lesson! Come join us at the advanced trapping workshop and you will learn even more than that. You will be able to showcase your newfound knowledge and be the expert in the field on your next walk in the woods. See you in the woods!

— Todd Menke

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