The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

Sports

September 27, 2007

THE GREAT OUTDOORS: 'Fisher cat' is rare, but I was lucky enough to trap one

When going to college in the Adirondacks, trapping took up my spare time when I didn’t have classes. Raccoons, fox and muskrats were the major furbearers caught with a few mink, skunk, weasel or beaver here and there.

One day, while cutting through a balsam fir swamp, I saw a set of unfamiliar tracks in the snow. Checking some books in the library that night, I determined they were fisher tracks, an animal that is not common even in the North Country. The trapping season was open for them so I decided to give them a try. Besides, a female pelt was worth about $40 at the time.

This member of the weasel family is dark brown with a moderately bushy tail. They weigh around 10 to 12 pounds for most males with 20 being tops. Females only weigh five to seven pounds but their fur is finer.

I learned they were long ranging nomads and frequently took porcupines for food. In fact, they were considered a major control for the “porkies.” Being very agile and quick, even in the trees, they are known to catch squirrels.

The next weekend, I went home with a classmate who lived in Ogdensburg and was also a relative of one of America’s famous old trappers E.J. Daily. He spent all his years in the Adirondacks trapping and making trapping lures. We had visited E.J. before and I could not wait to ask him how to catch a “fisher cat” as the locals called them.

He told me to locate a spot where someone had dressed out a deer and set a trap there as fishers home in on these places. “Kill a porkie and drag him along your trapline from set to set and then set a trap where you leave the porkie,” E.J. said.

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