School Days: Protecting the Chickens

A young trapper and his dad trap to keep
predators away from their laying hens


My name is Michael Wolgamott and I am 12 years old. I live west of Grand Rapids, Mich. In the spring of 2007, my dad just added around 150 chickens to our flock of laying hens.  About two months later, we noticed that there were only 20 to 30 chickens left. One morning before my dad went to work, he went down to the coop and saw a raccoon with one of our chickens.

A friend suggested we trap the ’coons. So we tried it, and it worked great. It was a lot of fun, too. My dad said we’d only get rid of the ones that came to the coop. We’d focus on trapping for the fur in the fall.

Four years later, my dad was getting upset because we kept finding eggs that were broken with the yolk missing. He thought the old hens were eating all the eggs. One day, my dad got home from work early and he was happy that we would be able to get our two-hour trapline done before dark. But before we could go, we needed to do our chores. My dad asked my younger brother to collect the eggs. That’s when my brother saw the “new invader” in the coop.

My brother screamed and ran outside the coop and yelled, “Dad there’s a weasel in the coop!” My dad ran to the house and got his .22 revolver. My dad walked through the door, and sure enough, there was a big brown weasel hiding in the corner. We were waiting for my dad to get a good shot. The weasel poked its head around the corner and then, BAM! Guess what, he missed. The lucky weasel ran out of the coop. My dad noticed that something stunk. He said, “Smell that? It smells like a mink! That’s what it was, a darn mink! That’s what had been eating the eggs! We’re gonna get him!” But how? We’d never trapped mink before so we needed to think of an idea that would work.

After we saw the mink running through a hole in the chicken fence, we thought of an idea to put a #110 bodygrip trap in front of the hole that it was running through. So that night, my dad and I set the trap and put it on the front side of the fence. Early the next morning, we went down to the coop to see if we had anything. We stood there in shock and very happy that our first mink set was a great success.  We took it out of the trap and my dad said, “This is definitely going to be hanging on the mantle, whether your mother likes it or not!”

“School Days” is sponsored by Duke Traps and the Wisconsin Trappers Association. Winners receive six traps, a Wisconsin Cooperative Trapper Education video, an NTA handbook and a membership to their state’s trappers association. To be considered, send a 300- to 500-word story and photo 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.

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