School Days: Trapping an Alpha

Trapping an Alpha

Tyler Ponvon
Dunkiek, New York, Age 16

It was a cold, crisp October morning when I first saw it. It was stalking prey along a fence line and was easily the largest coyote I had ever seen in the wild.

Because the wind was blowing toward me, I sat still — undetected. The coyote was a magnificent creature with thick, reddish-brown fur. It must have sensed my presence or heard my heart beating, though, because the animal stopped dead in its tracks and quickly disappeared.

That was the only time I saw the coyote, but I would find his large tracks in the mud from time to time.

Whenever I would find a track, I thought it would be a real accomplishment for me to trap that coyote. Soon, I had set that as my goal.

My dad, brother and I trapped some, but we never trapped for coyotes. We like water trapping.

I asked Dad for help, and he showed me how to make proper land sets such as dirtholes and flat sets. He stressed the importance of clean traps and equipment.

I wanted to catch the coyote on my own, so Dad loaned me a few #13/4 coilsprings and lure.

My first task was to pick the best locations. I searched the field that I watched the coyote in.

I located a crossing near the end of a fence line that led into another pasture. At the crossing, I set a dirthole with lure and urine, then a flat set with a different lure. They looked good to me.

At another location, I spotted an old log at the end of a field. I made a modified dirthole with the bait under the log in a small hole. I added a little urine on the log, but no lure.

I had high hopes for the sets. Dad said it takes time, though, because coyotes cover a lot of territory.

I checked my sets faithfully all week, but only caught two opossums and a nice red fox at the log set.

On the eighth day, I had a small female coyote at the flat set. It was exciting, but it was not the big dog. I had hoped it was the alpha male.

The next week, I went bow-hunting with my grandfather. I asked him to go with me to check my traps. He agreed. When we got to the log set, it held another red fox. I was pleased, and I hurried to the last sets.

As we approached the sets, I could hardly contain my excitement. Held by a front foot was one large coyote.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. He was beautiful!

When we got home, we took a lot of pictures. The neighbors stopped by when they saw us.

I actually caught the leader of the pack! I’m sure that coyote’s offspring are running the fields. They will be my next challenge.

Win Traps and a Membership for Writing:

Young readers who share their stories in The Trapper & Predator Caller can win six traps, a trapper education video and an NTA handbook. A membership to their state’s trappers association or a membership to the Wisconsin Trappers Association for nonparticipating states is also included.

To be considered, send a 300- to 500-word story and a clearly focused original photograph of the trapper or hunter with a catch, kill, fur or trap to: School Days, The Trapper & Predator Caller, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990.

The best stories capture the excitement and joys of trapping and predator calling experiences.

School Days is sponsored by Duke Traps and the Wisconsin Trappers Association.

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