Trapline Preparation: The Pre-Season Scouting Run

Woods Path

This is a portion of Jim Spencer’s story “Scouting and Other Pre-season Chores,” which appeared in the September 2014 Trapper & Predator Caller issue.

By Jim Spencer

Whether you trap public land, private land or both, it’s always a good idea to make one quick run over at least a representative part of your trapline not long before the season opens. Running the entire line is the best option, because man-made changes and natural events like drought, flooding, fires, storms and other things can drastically alter the quality and type of habitat in an area during a summer. This in turn can have an effect — good or bad — on the number of furbearers that habitat will support.

Whether the changes are good or bad, it’s helpful to know about them before steel-stringing time. It won’t do you any good to carry a peach basket full of muskrat traps to that marsh you trapped last year if the farmer drained the marsh over the summer, or almost as bad, if disease got into the ’rat population and wiped them out. And if that snaggy old 40-acre patch of woods where you caught so many raccoons last year has been cleared for the latest Wal-Mart, it’s best to know that before the season starts so you can make other plans.

Refer to your post-season trapping notes, and re-visit those places where you noted good furbearer sign or good-looking habitat. Make up-to-date notations as you learn what’s going on at each place. Then, between this final scouting trip and Opening Day, make any revisions necessary to your trapline route and strategy.

Then wait for the big day, get a good night’s sleep and hit it with everything you’ve got.


Spencer’s full “Scouting and Other Pre-season Chores” story appeared in the September 2014 Trapper & Predator Caller issue.

You can pick up a copy of the digital issue on

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